Fanny's Fortune (IV)

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CHAPTER XXXVIII.

MR. TABOR ENLIGHTENED.




Mr. Tabor had chosen that very evening to confer with Mrs. Austin on the subject of the dissolution of the partnership, and he had come in shortly after Philip, and had been shown into the dining-room where Mrs. Torrance was.

    "Shall I tell Mrs. Austin that you are here, sir?" said the servant, and before the deliberate lawyer had time to reply, Mrs. Torrance answered for him.  "I will let Mrs. Austin know, Sarah.  She is engaged just at present."

    So, she had caught Mr. Tabor in her net, and was determined to hold him there for her own purposes.  She was a great believer in the power of the tongue; and being withheld by no feeling of delicacy, she determined to make full use of her opportunity of damaging Philip.  So she put on an air of profound anxiety and said, "I am so glad to see you, Mr. Tabor.  I don't know when I was ever so glad to see any one.  I have been sitting here in the greatest trouble and agitation."

    "Indeed," said Mr. Tabor, who indeed looked worn and anxious, as if the troubles of the last few weeks had been too much for him.

    "Mr. Tenterden is in the library with Ellen," said Mrs. Torrance, with a mysterious air.

    Mr. Tabor coughed to conceal his agitation.  He actually trembled as he thought of the encounter, but he only repeated, "Indeed."

    Mrs. Torrance went on glibly: "We have found out the most terrible thing against him," she said; "the most dreadful dishonesty."

    "I fear that is the right name for it, though one does not like to hear it," he answered.

    Mrs. Torrance triumphed visibly.  "Yes, it is a shocking thing.  It is robbing the fatherless, too, which makes it worse."

    Mr. Tabor winced.  "Then Mrs. Austin knows already the tidings I came to break to her?" he said.

    "Oh yes, she knows of it; only Ellen is so charitable," she answered discontentedly, "that I am afraid she does not look upon it in the proper light, as you do.  What step do you think of taking?" she added.

    "Mr. Tenterden and I are about to dissolve the partnership," said Mr. Tabor, "and the whole of the money is to be replaced.  We are very anxious that it should be managed privately.  By the way, how did the facts come to your knowledge?" he added.

    "By the merest chance," replied Mrs. Torrance, "It came into my mind to look into the last box of Mr. Austin's papers, to see if I could help Ellen with them, and I found a letter there confessing that he had made away with the money in speculation."

    "Have you got the letter?" asked Mr. Tabor.

    "Ellen has it now.  She was bent on showing it to Mr. Tenterden."

    "Why should she think it necessary to shown him his own letter?" said Mr. Tabor.  He was rather afraid of women in such matters, and wished that he had seen Mrs. Austin before the interview which was going forward had taken place.

    "It is his father's, you know," explained Torrance.

    "His father's!" exclaimed Mr. Tabor.

    "I wish you would go in and see that he does not come over Ellen with some fine story.  I never knew any one so easily gulled."

    Like a man in a dream Mr. Tabor rose to his feet.  Mrs. Torrance preceded him, anxious, in introducing him, to obtain a glimpse of how matters had been going on in the other room.

    Philip and Mrs. Austin were standing together.  He still held her hand.  The words we have recorded had just died on his lips as she and Mr. Tabor entered together.  An open letter lay on the table beside them.

    "Is this the letter?" said Mr. Tabor, advancing without ceremony and pointing to it.

    It was Ellen who lifted it and placed it in his hands, with a look at Philip which claimed the doing this was a special favour.

    Mr. Tabor took and read it in silence, and then sat down, looking so white and faint, and beginning to breathe so heavily, that Philip began to be alarmed.


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"Philip began to be alarmed."


    "Can I get you anything?" said Ellen, going up to him; and Mrs. Torrance, who had remained a deeply-interested spectator, bustled off for assistance.

    "Philip, you have nearly killed me!" said Mr. Tabor.  "Why did you allow your obstinate pride to carry you so far as this?"

    "Why did you distrust me so readily?" was Philip's retort.

    "Because your conduct had become inexplicable.  How is it you have managed to conceal the loss from Fanny for so long a time?  You must have continued paying her income."

    Philip nodded acquiescence.  Mrs. Austin added the further particulars of his plan.

    "And Francis, what has he done?" said Mr. Tabor; "has he done nothing hitherto?" he asked, a new light breaking in upon his mind.

    Philip evaded the question slightly, for he answered, "He has promised me a thousand pounds towards the repayment of the debt, and whatever more I am unable to make up before leaving England, he will lend me on my personal security and the insurance."

    "Ah!" exclaimed Mr. Tabor, reserving his opinion of Mr. Francis, "we will arrange all that.  Forgive me, Philip," and he held out his hand, which the latter took and wrung heartily, a suspicious moisture standing the while in the eyes of both.


 
CHAPTER XXXIX.

LAKES AND MOUNTAINS.


IT was like waking out of an evil dream to Mr. Tabor, to find that Philip was not only blameless, but entitled more than ever to his highest confidence and regard.  "You will surely never think of carrying out your scheme of emigration now," he said.  But Philip did think of it, and it was not without much persuasion that he was induced to give it up.  However, he did give it up, for Mr. Tabor, desiring to place the management of the business entirely in his hands, offered him the most liberal terms—terms which would enable him to replace the lost fortune in far less time than he could hope to do under any other circumstances.  He even offered to advance the whole, and make Philip his debtor to any amount required.  And this was the solution of his difficulties which Philip at length accepted.

    Mr. Tabor also took upon the final settlement of the affairs with all whom it concerned.  With Albert Lovejoy, whom he confronted with his foolish speeches, and, finding him incorrigibly impertinent, dismissed.  With Fanny, who blubbered and blundered over it, and immediately communicated a version of it to Ada, which omitted all that was unfavourable to the memory of Philip's father, and was therefore slightly vague and unsatisfactory.  But Fanny would have considered it the grossest treachery to blame the departed Mr. Tenterden.  She was certain that if he had lived he could have told them where to find the capital which to her fancy was lying unclaimed in the coffers of some unknown bank.

    But there was one to whom the story, when at length it reached her ears, communicated a severe shock, and that was the wife of Francis Tenterden.  She had hitherto placed the most implicit confidence and trust in her husband; but it was clear he had not placed the same confidence in her.  He had never told her.  That would have been pain enough of itself.  But she could remember numberless instances in which he had actually deceived her—he who had seemed so frank and open.  His very frankness was deceit.  So it seemed to her, for in the bitterness of her heart she condemned him without mercy.  Deceit was not his fault.  His frankness was not assumed: but his judgment was weak and his selfishness was strong, and the latter had triumphed.  He had resolved not to divulge the story of his father's disgrace before his marriage, lest a portion of the disgrace should rest upon himself, lest the respectability of his wife and his wife's pious little circle should be offended, and he lose her; and after his marriage he had found it impossible to confess that he had kept back so much.  And now an element of discord was introduced into their lives which had not previously existed. Indeed, it had justly been considered a very happy second marriage, for the self-indulgence which marital character of Francis had never degenerated into vice.  It had not even appeared under its true aspect to the devoted wife, who encouraged it rather than repressed it.  But the veil had been rudely torn from her eyes, and she could not help letting him see that it was.  He had often allowed her to blame Philip for his unbrotherly conduct, and now tried ostentatiously to make it up to him by kindness and tenderness which her husband in resented.

    Those gifted with insight sufficient might have seen indications of an unhappy future for the pair, of estrangement and hardening of heart, and deterioration of life, which might even issue in absolute ruin; so subtle are the workings of character and conduct, so surely do they act and react upon each other.

    At the first, Lucy Tabor went about quietly glad.  "Come and see Mrs. Tabor and Lucy," Mr. Tabor had said to Philip, that first night at Mrs. Austin's, when everything had been made clear; and Philip had followed him into the house and been welcomed with the warmest of welcomes. There was no need for him to keep aloof from Lucy any more, and he did not.  Lucy, he thought, would soon be the wife of another, and for his own sake it would be well to establish between them such relations as befitted the fact.

    The summer had come, and Lucy was drooping as she had never drooped before.  Both father and mother were very tender to her just then—very tender and delicate; but they could not help noticing, though they tried hard not to notice the change in her—how her interest flagged in all the simple innocent things her fresh and busy young life had been so full of.  She still played to her father, and sang his favourite songs, but it was an evident effort to her to shake off the listlessness which was upon her.  Sometimes, indeed, she would forget herself—or rather forget others, for she was constantly forgetting herself—and then she would sigh heavily, and sweep her hand across her brow in such a weary way.

    "She is tired," said Mr. Tabor, on one of these occasions, when she had left the room.  "I don't like her being always tired; such weariness is often the precursor of illness."

    "She will get over it after a time," replied her mother soothingly; "she is very brave, and her love for us will help her.  You are looking a great deal worse than she is."

    And it was true; Mr. Tabor had not recovered from the anxiety he had undergone, and at length he had really to give in.  The doctor prescribed entire rest, and release from business for a time, and if possible a change of scene, and Mrs. Tabor took Lucy into her confidence, and formed a very notable scheme for the benefit of both, in which each appeared to be doing everything for the benefit of the other.

    Lucy and her father were to go away together.  Mrs. Tabor was to remain at home.  She knew that if she went, she and her husband would be always together, and Lucy would be only the third, and would mope as much or more than if she were at home.  So she said she was too old to leave home for such an excursion as they had planned.  Cunning woman, she had planned it all herself, every step of it.

    Of course they would alter their plans to suit her.

    No; she would hear of no alteration whatever.

    "You are not too old to enjoy it, Lucy, that I am sure of," said Mr. Tabor.

    Mrs. Tabor was privately of the opinion that she would enjoy it more than either of them; but she was determined not to be moved.

    "You are not older than I am, Mrs. Tabor," said her husband.

    "Oh yes, I am ever so much older.  You have kept thin and spare; but look at me," and she surveyed her rather portly person derisively.  "Where should I be before I got up to the top of Scaffell Pike, I should like to know!"

    "You could go up on a pony, mamma," suggested Lucy.

    "A nice sight I should be on a pony then, with a mushroom hat on, slipping over the animal's nose at one time, and almost holding on by the tail the next.  No, no; you shall take care of papa, child—mind, I trust him to you—and you must write me nice long letters when you come home in the evenings from your excursions.  And, papa, you will take her over the very ground we went over on a certain occasion, and lodge in the very same rooms, if you can get them, in the little farmhouse under the hill, near Loughrigg.  I shall enjoy seeing it through your eyes again quite as much as if I was there myself."

    So Lucy and her father went away together to explore the fair counties of Westmoreland and Cumberland, and they took up their abode, in the first instance, in the very farmhouse at the foot of the hill, which Lucy's mother remembered so well as the scene of her first weeks of wedded happiness.  They had the same low-roofed sitting-room, looking out on the old-fashioned garden, gay with roses and sweetwilliams, and scented with thyme and with marjoram, and the same white-curtained, cosy rooms under the eaves, smelling of lavender, and inviting to rest as no luxurious London bedroom ever does.

    From this spot, in the very centre of the loveliest scenery of "the Lakes," they made daily excursions in every direction, and Lucy wrote long accounts of them to that plotting little woman at home, who was so exacting with regard to every detail, that Lucy had to lay aside all languor and indifference, and be continually on the alert, in order to satisfy her, and not to bring down upon her own head a shower of notes of interrogation concerning things which she ought to have seen and hadn't.

    Lucy was too dutiful—not in the sense of mere submissiveness, but in the sense of having a high ideal of duty, and of the worth of life, to pine a love-sick maiden, and she gladdened her father's heart by her returning gladness; and she did not count that as nothing, as love-sick maidens are wont to do.  She counted it much.  She did not think there was no more happiness for her in the world.  On the contrary, she thought of all the blessings of her lot with thankfulness and gratitude.  She knew she could not be unhappy without making others so, therefore she came to the resolution that, God helping her, she would not be unhappy.  The beauty around her helped her—was God's help to her.  She felt so small a thing up there on some great hillside, with all that lovely world beneath her feet.

    They went up Helvellyn, and the highest of the Langdale Peaks, and even mounted hoary Scaffell, where Lucy realised the truth of her mother's description, going up on a stout country pony as far as the pony could go, and then having to take ignominiously to hands and knees.  They explored every lake, spending a night at the inn at Keswick, in order to pass a long summer day on Derwentwater, and sit perched half-way up the rocky stair, down which leaps in thunder the fall of Lodore.  And they found out wonderful nooks not in the guidebooks, little brawling brooks hidden among elder and mountain ash, and tarns dimpled and smiling, garlanded with water lilies, or black and still in the shadows of the rocks; and they lost themselves, and wandered into wayside cottages, and were regaled with home-baked bread and butter, and tea out of the best china kept for ornament, and laid up stores of pleasant memories for days to come: and in doing this Mr. Tabor forgot that he was ill, which is a more effectual way of getting well than ever was found out by physicians, and is just as good as being well.  And Lucy forgot that she was unhappy, which, if not quite so good as being happy, is the next best to it, so that Mrs. Tabor had every reason to be satisfied with the results of her plotting.

    Nor did that devoted woman ever once complain of the desperate dulness which settled down on No. 2, Park Villas, in their absence; especially when Mrs. Austin and her mother went to Folkestone for a fortnight, and Fanny and Ada followed.  But she was glad enough when her absentees gave signs of returning, when her husband declared himself as well as he ever was in his life, and Lucy, wrote: "Dear mamma, it is very delightful to be here, but I think it will be still more delightful to be at home again.  I did not know that I had this thought at the very bottom of my heart till I got up to the top of Scaffell, and stood on the highest point of land in England, and caught a glimpse of the sea.  Then I felt that I was not cut out for solitude.  I did not know till then how dear that dingy old London was.  I should have been glad to have changed into a swallow, 'flying, flying, south,' only to to have dropped in upon you all at once."


 
CHAPTER XL.

MAKING A LIFE.




return to her home was not to be a return to her old, happy, careless girlish life.  She had no sooner tried to take it up again, than she found that she had left it behind for ever, and that she must make for herself a new life.  Not that the old life was one to be despised, or to be looked back upon with regret.  On the contrary, it had been good and beautiful in itself, as the blossom is good and beautiful in itself, even without its promise of fruitfulness, and has its place in this world of ours—ay, and its use, though that should perish with its beauty.  So the girlish life had been good and beautiful, but the season for it was past, and the time for the fruit had not yet come.  Such a season comes sooner or later in every life, be it man's or woman's, and on it hangs the determination of the future.

    Having been at a day school in the neighbourhood of her home, Lucy had plenty of companions of her own age, and she was allowed tolerable freedom of choice in the matter of companionship.  Her parents had cultivated her judgment and her taste, and left her free to exercise them in this as in less important matters.  Lucy, whose taste was catholic, knew and liked a great many girls as unlike herself and each other as possible in character and pursuits; the only class from whom she really held aloof were the fast girls, of whom there were plenty in the neighbourhood.  Lucy shrank from loud tones, loud costumes, and loud manners, as she would have shrunk from any other manifestation of want of refinement; but she was naturally too bright and gay to fall into the opposite extreme, and shrink into the dull, colourless routine of a life devoid of every purpose save that of living, in which only too many round her seemed to end.  One or two of Lucy's companions were considered strong-minded—more, I think, from a little aggressiveness of manner than from any quality of intellect; and Lucy had escaped the opprobrious epithet more from her extreme gentleness of temper than from any lack of the quality of strength.  In truth, the set were bright, thoughtful girls, enemies of dulness and inanity.  Instead of dawdling over novels and worsted work, they really read and really worked, and if it must be confessed, wrote.  They gained much useful knowledge, and learned to practise many a useful household art; and, of course, they had their notions, as a Yankee would say—one of these being the extreme desirability of a career, if possible a profession.  Two of them—Agnes Rivers and Isabel Story—had made up their minds to be prodigies of learning, and had passed with credit the New Cambridge Examinations as a preliminary step.

    "I wish you would join us, Lucy," said her friend Miss Story.  "You know we shall have to work very hard, and encounter the usual amount of opposition; but that is nothing.  No more idleness; no more dulness; no more don't-know-what-to-do-with-my-self-ism."'

    "I wish I had been in time for the examination," said Lucy; "but, you know, I am older than you and it was too late for me to join you; and I have no special aptitude."

    "You don't know till you have tried," said her friend; "and for want of an aim your whole life will be frittered away."

    Lucy sighed, and acknowledged that there was some truth in it.

    Mrs. Tabor was sitting by, smiling at the discussion.  She was quite in the confidence of the band who always thought her criticisms worth listening to; though Isabel and her set were a little apt to set aside the opinions of those older than themselves, on whom the new lights were supposed not to have dawned.

    "There is nothing," she said, breaking in upon the dialogue, "that may not be pursued from frivolous and unworthy motives.  Yours are neither, my dear," she pursued, nodding to her daughter's friend.  "To redeem your time, and do good in the world, are the best incentives you could choose; but then you must learn to condemn others who do the same things a very different—possibly in a humbler way.  You must not forget that there is nothing which the motive may not render worthy of the highest."

    "Thanks, mamma, for coming to the rescue," said Lucy.

    "But don't you think that by making virtue cheap and easy you make it hardly any virtue at all?" said Isabel.

    "I do not think virtue can ever be cheap enough, or easy enough," said Mrs. Tabor.

    "Simply to do good," said Lucy, "sounds very easy; but it is the most difficult thing in the world."

    "Doing good used to mean giving in charity," said Isabel, with a merry glance at Lucy; "and we know now that that sometimes means doing positive harm."  (One of Lucy's charitable objects had just turned out a failure.)

    "Now I'm not going to be condemned wholesale," said Lucy.

    "You give for the mere love of giving, Lucy—now, confess that you do."

    "Willingly," said Lucy.

    "But such charity is not disinterested," replied Isabel.

    "Perhaps not; I did not claim for it any lofty title," said Lucy; "though disinterestedness is my pet virtue, and I don't think there can be any real greatness without it."

    "That is my own feeling," said Mrs. Tabor.  "So many fail and fall short of excellence for the want of it, unable to resist the temptations to cultivate social and other kinds of success, instead of the true success, of which that is but the echo.  That will lie among your temptations Isabel."

    Isabel blushed, and played with a glove out of the boxful which Lucy was mending.  "That's a bit of work I can't abide," she said.  "I wonder you have patience to go in for it so thoroughly."

    "They are not my own," said Lucy, simply.

    "Oh! that's still worse.  Whose are they?"

    "Our next-door neighbour's."

    "Ada Lovejoy?"

    "Yes."

    "Why can't she mend her own gloves?" said Isabel; "it's too bad to put it upon you."

    "I offered to see to her things," said Lucy; for, you know, if you let everything go as she does, you must either look like a sloven, or spend a great deal of money; and she is so absorbed in her work that she has not a moment to spare.  She practises twelve hours out of the twenty-four, I am sure."

    "I wish I had some one to mend mine," said Isabel.  "The younger ones only cobble them, and I don't know what to do since Miss Adams left.  She was so good-natured; she never wanted asking."

    Miss Adams had been governess to Isabel's younger sisters; but had gone home to nurse her mother, who was ill.

    "By the way, how is Miss Adams's mother?" Mrs. Tabor asked.

    "I believe she is better," said Isabel; "only it is almost a pity, I think, that she has got over it, for the doctor says it is sure to return next winter, and every winter, until it kills her."

    Nothing more was said, and Isabel Story took her leave.  Then Lucy, blushing for her friend, and conscious of the trouble on her mother's face, went to her and whispered, "You must not think she meant to be so hard.  Isabel is very fond of her mother, and would nurse her as tenderly as Miss Adams."

    "I doubt it, my dear.  That little speech of hers shows a tone of mind which I dislike and dread—a spirit of impatience with the weak, the useless, and the suffering, which is spreading nowadays, and which is certainly not the spirit of Christ."

    Lucy sat and mended Ada's gloves till dinner-time; and dinner-time brought her father and the daily duties she did for him—little enough, but then he would have missed them so much.  Then in the evening came Ada, and soon after her Arthur Wildish, and the business of the evening commenced.

    Mr. Tabor was very fond of music; but even he had enough of it, and would sometimes beat a retreat.  Singing singly, or altogether, one by one, or in pairs, the three would remain round the piano till it was time to separate for the night—a fact of which they very often needed a gentle reminder.

    Arthur Wildish had accepted his second rejection by Lucy with a better grace than might have been expected.  Yet, in spite of this, he was as much at home in the house as ever.

    "What can he be thinking of?" was Mr. Tabor's reflection; "surely not of going on as before."

    "He has asked Lucy, it seems, if she objects to his coming, and she has answered no.  But I believe they are not going on as before," said that wise woman, with a little smile.

    "What then?" asked Mr. Tabor, lifting his eyebrows.

    "I believe he is coming for somebody else," she answered.

    "You don't mean Ada!"

    "Yes, I do."

    "Rather awkward, I think," said Mr. Tabor, reflectively, "rather awkward."

    "I shouldn't interfere if I were you, but let things take their course," said his wife.

    "No, I won't interfere," answered Mr. Tabor.  "Lucy hasn't done him much harm after all."  And unconsciously, but rather unfairly on the whole, Mr. Wildish went down a whole row of pegs in Mr. Tabor's estimation.

    And this was why sweet, unselfish Lucy sat and mended little Ada's gloves, and saw to her ribbons, &c.  She knew what a quick eye Arthur Wildish had for the little details of dress, and that he took a pleasure in seeing Ada look nice.

    "She loves no one else at least," thought Lucy, "I wonder if she will love him when she knows."


 
CHAPTER XLI.

ASHMEAD GRANGE.


AFTER Mr. Tabor's return, Philip, too, had a holiday, quite in the dead season; and though his sister-in-law wanted him to come with her and her children into Scotland, he declined, and went and hid himself in some out-of-the-way place, where nobody heard of him until he came back again, bronzed with the sun, but thinner than ever, as also were the soles of a considerable supply of boots which he was in possession of before he started.  He certainly had not estimated the inexorable cost of shoe-leather before setting out.

    The long vacation was over, and the business of the legal year was about to open briskly for the firm of Tabor and Tenterden.  Among other matters, they had coming into court a will case, which promised to be of considerable importance—the case of "Hindley v. Baselow."  It was coming into court contrary to Philip's advice.  Mr. Hindley, the nephew, was convinced that he should be able to prove his relative insane at the time the will was made, and determined to go on at all hazards, so that Messrs. Tabor and Tenterden had no alternative save to lose their client or conduct his suit for him.  And as some connections of Mr. Hindley were old and valued clients of the firm, a good deal of pressure had been brought to bear upon the mind of Mr. Tabor, who was thus led to entertain a much more favourable opinion of its success than his partner.  Philip, too, when pressed, had made the admission that such a life as old Mr. Baselow's was insane from beginning to end, though only as all sin and folly, and confusion and beastliness are insane.  The old man living down there on the dreary flat, adding acre to acre and field to field, with no enjoyment save possession, and never raising his eyes higher than his own swine-troughs, was essentially mad to Philip's apprehension.  But that was not the view likely to be taken by an enlightened British jury.  And he also pointed out that Mr. Baselow had been able to transact his business up to the end, and moreover to make that business pay.  He knew the number of his sheep and the count of his cattle, and nobody about him had ever managed to cheat him with impunity.

    Beatrice and her husband were coming up for the trial, which was fixed to take place early in November.  They had had a good deal more of each other's society lately than either of them had bargained for, and they had found it a very different thing to be companionable for a leisure hour in the evening in the stirring London streets, and to be alone for days and weeks together in a lonely house on the Essex marshes.

    From the first, their neighbours—at least, all who had the remotest claims to respectability—held aloof.  The new-comer's antecedents were well known, and were not in his favour.  None of the small proprietors or farmers of the district, who had been his equals, had ever been within his inhospitable doors, and it was not at all likely that they would seek the society of a son of his, holding at the same time so equivocal a position—a position from which it was not impossible that he might be ousted any day.  On these grounds the respectables ignored Ashmead as much as ever.

    Now at this period of his life there was nothing John Baselow craved for so much as respectability.  He held it to be the most independent, the most comfortable, the most enjoyable state of being, and he desired to begin a career of respectability at once.  Therefore, on the very first Sunday of their stay at Ashmead he drove his wife, very prettily dressed, over to church, and almost gained by so doing the suffrages he so much desired.  Almost, but he and Beatrice had had a quarrel on the way thither, said he looked so savage and morose, and his beautiful wife so unhappy, sitting as she did as far apart from him as possible, that before the service was over their neighbours had drawn the worst possible auguries concerning the future of the pair, and had set Mr. Baselow down as a worthy son of his worthy father.  Of course they compared notes when they ame out of church, and set the ball of scandal going.

    "Poor thing, she is to be pitied,—and she so pretty," said one kindly matron, with young married daughters of her own.


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"Poor thing, she is to be pitied."


    "He's his father's son—a lowering villain," said her plain-spoken husband; "best have nothing to do with them."

    "She looks quite ladylike," said a younger dame; "I should like to know where she orders her bonnets."

    "Perhaps she was a milliner," said another, coming pretty near the mark.  "You know, if she had been a lady, she would never have married him."

    "And see how he treats his foster-mother," said a third.

    "Ah, by-the-way, what has he done with her?" was the reply—a question to which there were various answers and surmises returned.

    On this latter point rumours began to circulate.  People shuddered as they heard it whispered that he had shut her up in one of the empty rooms at the top of the lonely old Grange, and meant to keep her a prisoner there for the rest of her life.  People shuddered and called to mind the horrid stories they had read of neglected creatures kept thus in inhuman misery, till released by death from the custody of cruel relatives.  Then it was reported that she had gone mad, and that Baselow had taken her away and shut her up in a lunatic asylum.  Thus the old house was in a fair way of getting a worse reputation than ever.

    Now, the only truth there was in these stories would have told rather in favour of John Baselow than otherwise.  It was true that he had shut her up and taken her food to her with his own hands; but it was because she had several times appeared in a condition of helpless intoxication.  When she was comparatively sobered, he had entreated her to go away with him peaceably, that he might place her with decent people, who would see to her, while he paid the charges of her maintenance.  But she declined this provision, saying she would rather go the union [Ed. - the workhouse]; so that he took the liberty of locking her up, and then of deporting her, greatly subdued by a continuation of enforced abstinence from strong liquors, to the neighbourhood of London, where he settled her in respectable lodgings, and paid her board and all other necessaries, making provision with the utmost care for her comfort and safety.  The sobbings and ravings which had been heard at the Grange were but those of a tipsy woman; but then respectable people could not possibly distinguish.

    Money was too, was scarce at the Grange.  There was plenty of everything else, but there was little cash that John Baselow could lay hands upon, and everyone knows that without money it is useless to begin to try to be respectable.  They could kill a sheep or a pig, and have as much pork or mutton as they pleased.  There were ducks by the dozen, and green peas by the bushel; and John was very fond of duck and green peas, and, for that matter, so was Beatrice.  There was milk, butter, eggs, flour, in abundance; but there were things only to be bought for money, and when there was no money, they had to be got on credit, and credit was difficult to obtain down there it seemed.

    Then one half the house was unfurnished, and the other half was not fit to be seen, as Beatrice said.  If she had been allowed, she could have given pretty strong evidence as to the filthy condition of the late Mr. Baselow's house—evidence as pertinent as any in showing the condition of its owner's mind.  The wainscoted drawing-room was a mere receptacle for old lumber, of which there seemed to be a preternatural quantity.  Other rooms had been used as storerooms, and were in a shocking condition.  One ground floor chamber was stained with blood from floor to ceiling—the blood of pigs which had been slaughtered there.  The dining-room was, indeed, the only room that had remained intact.  The furniture there had resisted tear and wear better than the rest.  It was dark, solid mahogany, with chairs and sofas of horsehair, little the worse for wear—that is, with the exception of one, which Beatrice, with a look of disgust and aversion, caused immediately to be expelled.  The long dining-table and the ponderous sideboard, though coated with dirt, were intact, and Beatrice had them rubbed till they shone like mirrors.  Four blackened pictures decorated the walls of this apartment, destined to be her only sitting room.  A grim-looking lady in turban and ruffles, and a villanous-looking man in a blue coat and brass buttons, represented, or misrepresented, the Mr. and Mrs. Baselow of an earlier generation; and two girls in what appeared to be white frocks, with the shortest of short waists, the one holding out what seemed like a black apple, the other, a rose of the like hue, did the same for the long-forgotten sisters of the dead miser.  Not a book, not an instrument, not an ornament was in the house; they had all been destroyed long ago, with the exception of two queer goblets that stood on the high mantelshelf, and had the faculty of making distorted reflections of everything that was within their range.  The very chairs became objects of horror, with crooked legs and bent backs when they stood opposite; and as for the human face divine, it was rendered hideous beyond expression.  Beatrice would have swept them away likewise; but they amused her husband, especially when they annoyed her by making her face at once ridiculous and detestable.

    Beatrice did the best she could for this dismal apartment, cleansing and brightening whatever would cleanse and brighten, and filling earthenware jugs and basins with such garlands of roses as were worthy of china and Sevres.  It gave her employment for a week or two to do this, and do it likewise for the bedroom and dressing-room which she had selected.  It was even more difficult, for the miser's bedroom had been squalid beyond description.  The hangings had dropped piecemeal, eaten by the moths, which nearly put out the candles the first time they were lighted, and the carpet was gone from the same cause, the remains of it lying in a corner of the lumber-room.  The chairs—they had once belonged to the drawing-room, for the seats and backs were embroided with wreaths of flowers on a ground of drab cloth—probably the girls whose effigies were in the dining-room had worked at them for years, summer and winter—were half eaten up.  Slender-legged toilet tables and washstands had given up the ghost, and were lying, wormed through, among the lumber.  A broken chair held a brown earthenware basin, and a cracked glass hung on a nail above had sufficed for old Mr. Baselow.

    It was wonderful, the improvement Beatrice made with the materials at her disposal, and a few inexpensive purchases.  For the rest nothing could be done until the case of the will was settled.  Then John Baselow intended to furnish the house in first-rate style.  But in the meantime the only glimpse of happiness which visited Beatrice was that which came to her in the course of making those rooms in the old house habitable for herself and her husband.


 
CHAPTER XLII.

REPENTANCE AT LEISURE.




she had set things as right as it was possible to set them at Ashmead, Beatrice and her husband found themselves with more leisure on their hands than they knew what to do with.  They drove about the neighbourhood a good deal at first, but they got tired of that, and of each other's society before long.  The days lagged interminably.  Their only interest was in the approaching trial, and that was not a pleasurable interest.  It began also to take John Baselow to London frequently, much more frequently, Beatrice began to understand, than there was any necessity for, and she was thus left in absolute loneliness to chew the end of reflection during many a long bright summer day.

    There was the garden—a homely one, it is true, for old Mr. Baselow had preferred the useful to the ornamental, but even he had had some sympathy with the luxuriousness of Nature—and the rose bushes still blossomed round the cabbage and potato beds.  Beatrice had gathered them diligently at first, but now they withered neglected, as they had been used to wither.  There was an old orchard, whose moss-grown trees still bore downy plums and rose-cheeked apples; but Beatrice saw the fruitage form, and swell, and plump, and colour as the days went by, till she almost hated the sight of it, so much a part did it seem of the dreadful monotony.  All round lay the flat meadows, and the long, low horizon, unbroken save by a line of feathery willows marking where a streamlet crawled along, or stagnated, or by a cluster of roofs round a grey church tower.  There was plenty of life about the place.  Cows calved and sheep ran about with their lambs, pigs littered and countless broods of chickens, and ducklings were brought forth, but Beatrice took no interest in anything of the sort.  When she had made up with her clever fingers the last new bonnet or gown, for the materials of which she had had a journey to London, almost the only thing worth living for, her occupation was gone, and the terrible weariness of having nothing to do took possession of her.

    In default of servants—for good servants were not to be had without the prospect of regular wages, and besides would not have been likely to put up with the accommodation at Ashmead, so that the pair had had sense enough not to seek to introduce them in the present stage—in default of servants a man and his wife had been brought in from one of the cottages on the property.  The man was a labourer—a great rough, hulking fellow; the woman, a small, rather pretty-looking creature.  They had one child, a girl of ten, who was thrown into the bargain as it were.  The man was to be allowed to go to work as usual, and the woman was to earn the house-room and food of the family.  In her girlhood the women had been a respectable servant, and she was remarkably quick and clever, as was also her little girl, so that Beatrice was better off for service than she at all aware of.  But she was by no means a gainer by Mrs. Baffles' society.  She, poor thing, had had so doleful an experience of marriage, that she was not only ready to pour out the sorrows she had endured, but to prognosticate the like sorrows to all who entered on the same evil estate.  Three of her children had been born dead through overwork and ill-usage.  She had been beaten; she had been starved; she had almost been frozen to death, and she was but seven-and-twenty, and she poured out her desperate experience of matrimony for the benefit of her sympathising mistress, Beatrice being forced into sympathy by solitude.  Mrs. Baffles had already formed a very bad opinion of her master, and it was she who had set afloat the rumours concerning his cruelty to his mother, in which she herself firmly believed.

    One day John Baselow had left Ashmead early and gone up to town by one of the morning trains, saying that he would not return that night.  After a long day's absence Beatrice did not make returning home as agreeable to him as he thought he had a right to expect.  He had just replenished his purse by the sale of some of the stock, and had promised himself a little pleasure, as a reward for the not very pleasant business which he had to transact in seeing the lawyer who was managing his case, and in the periodical visit to his mother's quarters, in order to pay her board, which he had guaranteed a month in advance.

    He might say what he chose about business, however, Beatrice knew that he was bent on pleasure, and she wanted to share it.  She had asked to go up with him, and he had refused to take her.  But that was no reason why she should stay moping there all by herself.  She could surely go up to town without asking her husband's leave.  She wanted to know how they were getting on at home—whether Jerry had recovered (poor Geraldine, on whose grave the grass was growing green already); whether Ada still lived with her cousin, and what father and mother and Albert and his wife were about.  The desire to see them had come upon her often of late.  She was discovering, rather to her dismay, that she had a heart after all, and that the memories of home were stirring it strongly.

    To-day, no sooner had she begun to long for home, than she resolved to gratify her longing; and no sooner had she formed her resolution than she began to act upon it.  She dressed herself without delay in her plainest and quietest things, and started off for the station, about a couple of miles off from the house.  She was so far fortunate that she almost immediately caught a train, and modestly seating herself in a second-class carriage, was soon whirling along the line to London.

    When she arrived at the London terminus, she hailed an omnibus and proceeded on her journey.  Ere long she reached the familiar main road, and was set down close to the door of the house which she had left as Beatrice Lovejoy.  She hurried up to it, oppressed by a feeling of consciousness for which she could not account, and which made her shade her face with her parasol, and keep her eyes steadily fixed on the ground.  At length she stood before it, and was about to lift her hand to the knocker, but she had almost fallen forward, for the door stood wide open.  She advanced a step or two and looked into the front parlour.  It was empty.  It seemed as if the painters were in the house, for there stood on the hearth a bucket and a brush, but no one was there.  She stood still for a moment, and the life she had lived there passed before her eyes with a vividness she had never before realised the possibility of.  Turning away, she passed up the stair, which echoed as the stairs of empty houses echo.  She looked into every room; each seemed to have some old story written on its walls.  A feeling of loneliness, of desolation, almost made her weep.  She quitted the house without knowing what she should do next.  Timidly she ventured to knock at the next door and inquire where her friends had gone to.  The woman who opened it recognised her, but treated her as a stranger, evidently more than doubtful of her respectability.  Beatrice asked if she knew where her neighbours had gone to?  It was a difficult question to ask, for it revealed her ignorance of what she ought certainly to have known—the abode of her own parents.  More than ever doubtful of her, the woman answered that she knew nothing about them, adding that she always kept herself to herself, a statement which she made as if it contained the sum of human wisdom.


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"It was empty."


    Beatrice turned away, hiding her hurt. She was feeling faint, for she had breakfasted early and lightly, and had still a long journey before her, so she went into the shop of a third-rate baker confectioner, and bought a penny bun, with which, and a glass of cold water, she regaled herself, debating in her mind the while whether or not she should cross London's extreme breadth, and seek from Fanny some information concerning her family.  She had just made up her mind to do this, when, turning a corner, she ran up against her husband.  But for the actual contact causing both to start and stare, they would have passed unrecognised and unrecognising.

    "What are you doing here?" cried John Baselow, in a voice of angry astonishment; "I thought you were safe at home."

    "I am safe enough here," replied the Beatrice.

    "I ask you what you are doing here?" he shouted.

    She looked at him defiantly.  "I have been to see my father," she said.

    "What business had you to come without letting me know?" he replied, thoroughly enraged.

    "I did not think of it till after you were gone," she answered.  Her instinct told her that the tug of war had come, and that if she yielded she would be this man's slave for the rest of her life.  They stood still, glaring at each other, and Beatrice did not flinch.

    "Well, and where are you going now?" he asked.

    "Home," she thought fit to answer.  She did not care to pursue her purpose that day.

    "You'll be sorry you married me if you do this sort of thing often," he said.

    "For that matter," she answered, "I'm sorry enough already, and I mean to do as I please."

    Beatrice certainly was not a manageable person at the best, reckless and defiant she was still less so.  She looked dangerous.

    "The sort of woman to get a man into a regular mess," was her husband's flattering opinion of her.

    He turned with her, however, and saw her into the omnibus, and on leaving her he touched his hat mockingly, an action of which she took outwardly no notice, but which roused her passionate and vindictive temper to the utmost.

    Once at home, Beatrice gave way to her passion, and indulged in fits of hysterical rage and weeping.  Calm succeeded storm, and storm succeeded calm in her ill-disciplined mind, till she had completely worn herself out; then she went to bed and fell asleep from exhaustion before the evening light had faded from the sky.  How long she had been asleep she did not know, but she was suddenly awakened by the cash of some heavy body falling.  She started up, and listening intently, thought she heard a suppressed scream.  She jumped out of bed, and opening her bedroom door, stood rooted to the landing, while the man and his wife below carried on a horrible altercation.  Beatrice's blood was rising and her heart beat wildly as she heard the poor creature pursued and taken, pleading all the while to be let alone for fear of waking the mistress.  Beatrice was brave; she hastened back to her room, threw on some clothes, and went down-stairs, making as much noise as she could.

    "There's the mistress coming," she heard the woman say, who immediately came out of the kitchen and met her on the stair, entreating her to return.

    "He will murder me—he will murder both of us!" she whispered.  But Beatrice went on.  She paused, however, on the threshold and looked in.  The drunken wretch had flung a chair at his wife's head.  That was the cause of the noise which had resounded through the house and awakened its sleeping mistress.  There he was, a strong, terrible beast, and Beatrice wavered, though he looked cowed when he saw her.  Just then she happened to see the key in the lock outside the kitchen door, and adroitly, and without the least appearance of terror, turned it on him, and left him to his own reflections, commanding his trembling wife to come and sleep in her room, where she made a bed for her on the floor.

    Beatrice was learning to make herself formidable, if need were.  In the morning she went down and released her prisoner, waking him at the same time, and threatening, to his dimly apprehensive mind, a number of penalties unknown to the law, if ever he transgressed in the same way again.  At the same time she resolved in the same way again that nothing should induce her to stay another night alone at Ashmead.


 
CHAPTER XLIII.

"HINDLEY V. BASELOW."


THE case of "Hindley v. Baselow" was not a cause célèbre.  It was very quietly disposed of, one dark day, at Westminster Hall, in a thinly attended court.  Beatrice and her husband were there, and Beatrice looked unusually beautiful under the veil which she kept over her face to hide the flush of anxiety and excitement that had settled upon it.  Both she and her husband had suffered a good deal during those final weeks of waiting—neither of them confessed to the other how much; neither of them sought the sympathy of the other.  John Baselow was doubtful of the issue of the case, on which for him so much depended, because he was doubtful of his father ever having any good intent toward him, and he had naturally communicated his doubt to Beatrice; and Beatrice had not assured him that it would make no difference to their happiness, as most young wives would have done, fully believing also in their own anticipations, however fallacious.  Neither had he whispered, as married lovers will, that with her he held a prize greater than wealth or worldly inheritance.  There was certainly no romance about Beatrice and her husband.  The question which had absorbed them day and night was, whether they were to be sent back from whence they came, into the crowd of strugglers for bread, or were to grasp the reality of that wealth and position, whose semblance had been tantalising them for those months past.  They coveted wealth now as they had never coveted it before.  There was no longer any possibility of happiness for them apart from it.  They positively shuddered at the prospect of the life which might once have satisfied them both—he at his desk in the City, she at the cares of the little household which a City clerk could maintain.  They were each too selfish to imagine what the depth of the other's disappointment would have been in the event of the loss of their cause, else they would have displayed a little more sympathy when the end came—a sympathy which might have gone far to sweep away the barrier which was rising between them.  The case broke down even before all the witnesses had been heard on the side of the defendant, the jury declaring themselves satisfied that old Mr. Baselow, up to the time of his decease, was in full possession of his faculties.

    Philip was in attendance at court, and but for him so would Fanny Lovejoy have been.  She had proposed bringing Ada and Lucy, as they were very anxious to hear the result; but a hint from Philip had sufficed to keep them away.  Philip was a purist, and be feared that the facts of this man's impure life might be brought out during the trial, and therefore desired to keep Lucy and Ada away from it.  But Fanny was to bring them to the Hall in the afternoon when the trial was expected to be over, and Ada was to meet her sister there for the first time since her marriage.

    Beatrice had made another effort to see her family.  She had written to Fanny, and ascertained the address of the lodging to which her father and mother had removed.  Ada had refused to communicate with her.  Ada was like a musical instrument of great compass, passive till struck, and then capable of waking up into tones of wrath, as well as of love.  And her wrath was the wrath of love.  She loved Beatrice still, though her heart was hot against her for her cruel desertion.  Beatrice's mother, too, resented her conduct, and refused to be a party to the reconciliation which Beatrice sought.

    The latter had no sooner received the address sent to her by Fanny, in as formal a manner as possible, for Fanny, acting under Ada's influence, was no longer slipshod and undecided, than she set her husband completely at nought, and announced her determination to go and see her parents at once.

    "Very well," John Baselow had answered, "do as you please; but mind, I have nothing to do with them.  I don't want any hangers-on of my own or yours either."

    The home of the Lovejoys had been once more completely broken up.  Albert was going about idle, with very little prospect of doing anything else, only that Philip, whom he had so deeply maligned, was interesting himself to obtain some kind of appointment for him; and Albert's wife and children had been joyfully taken possession of by her relations, who most devoutly hoped that some special providence might intervene to prevent the necessity of their ever being again a burden to their husband and father.

    Therefore Mr. and Mrs. Lovejoy had taken lodgings for themselves and for Albert in a small house, not so far removed from the centre of things, and the old people maintained themselves and their son as best they could.  Mr. Lovejoy had, at Philip's instance, succeeded to the post vacated by his son; but where the son had been barely tolerated, the father was speedily on a footing of special favour with every one in the office, from the highest to the lowest.  The responsibility, if not the emolument, of his office filled his imagination.  He magnified it, and it magnified him.  He was delighted with his position, with his occupation, and with his associates, who were, for their part, delighted with him.  Mr. Cator looked up to him as an authority on affairs of domestic economy, which he could discuss freely with a man who was able to dignify the humblest subject, as Mr. Lovejoy dignified it.

    When Beatrice, in pursuance of her determination, visited the address she had obtained, she found her mother all alone, and the reception she met with was not quite affectionate.  Mrs. Lovejoy was sweeping out her rooms in attire which, to her daughter's mind, was ostentatiously menial; Beatrice guessing shrewdly that her plain cotton gown and coarse holland apron were protests against the gentility of the rest of the family.

    Mrs. Lovejoy offered her daughter no salutation, either by word or act, and left her to open the conversation.

    "How are you, mother?" said Beatrice, who was proud and uncompliant, but knowing that her mother was the same, had come prepared to eat a certain amount of humble pie.

    "I'm very well," said Mrs. Lovejoy, stiffly.

    Her mother treated her as a stranger, and she looked like one there in her nice dress, which was not so fine as it was fresh and bright; nevertheless she went on, "I made up my mind," she said, "that I would come and see you in spite of him."

    "In spite of whom?" her mother asked, knowing perfectly well who Beatrice meant.

    "My husband," was the answer.

    No response save a contemptuous "hem."

    "Won't you speak to me, mother?"

    "Best not, perhaps," Mrs. Lovejoy answered, "I've got little to say you'd like to hear."

    "How's father?"

    "Pretty well, thank you."

    "And Ada?  I suppose she's with her cousin still."

    A mere nod of assent.

    "And Jerry?" Beatrice went on.

    This time Mrs. Lovejoy turned upon her daughter a never-to-be-forgotten look of anger and of sorrow.

    "Jerry is in her grave."

    "Oh, mother! I did not know," cried Beatrice, the tears coming as she looked down at her bright dress.

    "Then you ought to," said her mother, sternly, and turned upon her with a volley of reproach.  "I wouldn't mind the way you left us," she cried, "if you had not been so hard to her.  If you had been a good sister to her, she might have been alive and well.  I blame you for her death.  I tell you it lies at your door."

    "Blame me!" said Beatrice, trembling, but really unconscious of fault.

    "Yes, you," her mother retorted.  "Do you remember when she caught that first cold, you wouldn't lend me money to get her a pair of boots, and she got her feet wet and wet again, and it was the death of her?"

    "Mother, I didn't know it would hurt," said Beatrice, stung to the quick; "you know she has often and often had wet feet before, and they did her no harm; and, for that matter, so have I.  And you know, too, that when I lent you money I never got it back again, and had to go without decent things myself.  I hadn't a chance unless I turned hard."

    "Well, you've had your chance then," said he mother, turning away.

    "I always meant to help you if I could," said Beatrice.  "Do you want any money?"

    "None from you," replied Mrs. Lovejoy, neither to be won nor bought.

    "I've saved this," said Beatrice, holding out her hand with some coin in it; but her mother would not see, and she was obliged to return it to her pocket, deeply mortified.  "Good-bye, mother," she added, without sitting down in the house.

    "Good-bye," repeated Mrs. Lovejoy, sitting down as soon as Beatrice had left, and indulging in some rare and bitter tears.  But when Mr. Lovejoy came home, and heard that Beatrice had been there, he rejoiced.  Only too placable and ready to forgive, he was sorry that his wife had treated their eldest girl so harshly.  "Look at the way she left us!" repeated Mrs. Lovejoy.  "Have you forgotten that you nearly died of it?—fell down in the street in a fit; and Jerry—that she died because of her sister's hard-heartedness—have you forgotten?"

    Mr. Lovejoy had not forgotten, but he needed to be reminded of the dark side of things, and he was quite willing to consign them to oblivion; and so he had written to Beatrice, and lamented his absence on the occasion of her visit.  Such is human nature, however, that Beatrice valued that letter less than she would have done her mother's slightest word, and so she had never come again, and she had not seen her father till she saw him sitting opposite to her in court, trying hard to encourage her by look and smile, and contributing in no small degree to the excitement under which she laboured.

    When the case was over John Baselow rose from his seat, and leaving Beatrice's side without so much as a congratulatory pressure of her hand, went over to speak to his lawyer.  Beatrice, too, rose and left the court, walking calmly and steadily, but with a faintness at her heart which almost blinded her, and made her feel that she wanted her husband's arm to lean upon. It was her father who met her in the doorway, made way for her, and led her out.  Standing on the steps of the court, he took both her hands in his and said, "God bless you!"  The simple words moved and melted her, and she stood for a moment clinging to him, while one or two dry sobs shook her frame, while from the bottom of the hall Ada saw them, and hastened toward them where they stood.

    Fanny had duly escorted Lucy and Ada thither at the hour named by Philip, which was that of the rising of the court, and they had paced up and down under its spacious roof but a very little time when the case was concluded, and Arthur Wildish hastened out to communicate the tidings to the little party.  He knew they were coming, and with even more than his usual restlessness had rushed out of court several times to see if they had put in their appearance.  And at last he had been rewarded by seeing Fanny sailing into the hall with a young lady on each side of her.  Then he had hastened back to hear the conclusion, and be the first to carry the report of it.  And there he was, striding down the hall in his gown and wig, his gown flying out behind him in the eagerness of his movements, crying as he reached them, "The case is won!" completely forgetting that, in identifying his interest with Ada's, he was separating himself from that of Mr. Tabor and his respected client.  But, then, he had managed to decline being junior counsel on the other side, without violating the etiquette of his profession.


 
CHAPTER XLIV.

IN WESTMINSTER HALL.




bless you, my child!" repeated Mr. Lovejoy, soothingly; "and I hope you and your husband may live long and enjoy your good fortune."

    Was it good fortune after all?  Beatrice doubted it, standing there, leaning on her father for support; doubted it for the first time—not, alas! for the last.  But to have somebody to believe that it was good fortune was something; and there was Ada advancing also—Ada and a barrister, who had stood opposite to her all day, and had evidently taken the greatest interest in the case; a friendly interest, too, Beatrice had thought, for she had more than once gained encouragement from an exulting flash from the eager blue eyes of the handsome stranger when a point was made in their favour.

    But how did Ada come to know him, and to know him intimately it seemed?  He was talking to her with animation, and she was answering with ease, and with the slightly imperious air which Ada unconsciously wore.  And how lovely the girl had grown!  A pang, almost of envy, shot through the heart of her sister; for was not Ada free as well as beautiful—free, and not likely to part with her freedom as she had done?  One more glance sufficed to show her, penetrating as she was, that this man was Ada's lover.

    "Who is he?" she asked, mechanically.

    "Who is who, my dear?" asked her father, slightly bewildered.

    "The gentleman with Ada," said Beatrice.

    "Oh, his name is Wildish," replied Mr. Lovejoy in a whisper; "and he is engaged to that young lady behind, Miss Tabor, Mr. Tabor's only daughter."

    "The young lady with Cousin Fanny?"

    Mr. Lovejoy nodded.  "She is very pretty, is she not?" he added.

    "Not so pretty as Ada, and Mr. Wildish is of the same opinion," said Beatrice, cynically, much to her father's alarm, as she began to descend the steps to meet them.

    The girls kissed each other, and Mr. Lovejoy introduced Beatrice, who stood surrounded by the little group, when her husband came out to look for her.  It was Mr. Wildish, conspicuous in the midst, in his wig and gown, who drew her attention to him.  She turned, and he beckoned to her rather boorishly, and did not advance.  Quite deliberately, she said good bye, and went to join him, her father, after a moment or two of hesitation accompanying her.

    Mr. Lovejoy saluted his son-in-law with his usual courtesy; but Beatrice did not introduce him.  She was sufficiently glad that her husband was civil, and he was civil.  It was his habit to be civil to gentlemen, and Mr. Lovejoy, dressed, in his best, and enjoying the triumph—the only one indeed to whom it came as a triumph unalloyed—looked and (what is more) felt as a gentleman.

    "Who are those people?" he said to Beatrice, as he led her away, when her father had left them.

    "They are my friends," she replied coldly, adding with some exultation, "the old gentleman is my father."

    "Why didn't you say so?" growled her husband.

    "I thought you didn't want to have anything to do with them," she answered.

    And the two left the hall, George Baselow murmuring something unintelligible, but unpleasant, leaving the group standing as Beatrice had left it, variously impressed by their behaviour.

    Almost immediately Philip joined the party, and attached himself to Fanny, as he found that Mr. Wildish intended doing the honours of the hall to Ada, who it appeared had never been there before, Lucy, who had been frequently, remaining also by Fanny.  With them he continued to walk up and down, evidently a little impatient at the length of the dissertations bestowed upon Ada, an impatience which was not lost upon Lucy, and which added to her constraint in Philip's company.  She was painful shy with him now.  It was one thing to sacrifice her feelings—as she had dreamt of—to raise him from the depth of dishonour, to shield him from despair and quite another to suffer him to discover that he was loved unasked, though worthy.  And ever since that confession of hers, which had been passed over in such delicate silence that she could scarcely believe she had made it, she had been morbidly afraid of betraying herself, and actually overdid her coldness and reserve.  But Philip only set it down to indifference.  She was answering him at random, not because she was anxious to conceal her interest in the speaker, but because she had no interest at all in him or his speech.  It vexed him to think this, and then he was angry with himself for feeling vexed.

    Instead of feeling profoundly relieved at what had taken place, as his friends expected him to be, Philip had been gloomier than ever.  A stain rested on his name which could never be removed.  That stain was the sore point with him now.  It had wounded him in secret before, but now that it had been revealed to other eyes it hurt him still more.  It bled anew, like a wound from which the bandage has been removed before it was healed.  Had he been able to carry out his plan it might have been otherwise.  He might then have felt that he had redeemed the wrong as it was intended that it should be redeemed, and that it would live in no memory save his own, and there only as a thing blotted out for ever.  But he had been defeated, and that defeat involved disgrace.  Not that he was one of those who pass lightly over such wrongs provided they pass unpunished.  The unpunished and unpunishable dishonesties were perhaps more hateful to him than any other; but he may well be pardoned the sophistry which would have substituted, in such circumstances as his, his own virtue for his father's crime.

    As it was, he said to himself that he was dishonoured,—that the burden which he had taken upon his shoulders had been removed only to substitute another which never could be lightened, and which he would ask no one to share with him.

    What a contrast he was, pacing up and down there moodily, to Arthur Wildish, who was so light, and bright, and full of wisdom too in all the lighter affairs of life.  He could not help seeing the contrast himself, and making an effort to be gay.

    But instead of rewarding his effort, Fanny heaved an immense audible sigh, which checked him at the outset.  He had fancied that Fanny increased his constraint, as cyphers increase the sums they are added to on either side the balance, and he could hardly help laughing when she heaved that tremendous sigh.

    Lucy looked grave.  "We are tiring you to death, Fanny," she said, meaning that they had exhausted the physical powers of their kindly chaperon, which was the truth.

    But Philip chose to read the little speech in his own perverse fashion.  He shook hands hastily with both her and Fanny, and saying, "I will send Mr. Wildish to you," left them, and cut that gentleman short in his prelections, by sending him back to Fanny, telling him and Ada that both she and Lucy were tired of waiting.

    Fanny, of course, protested that she was not tired in the least, and was taken at her word.  Arthur Wildish wanted to stretch those long limbs of his by walking with Ada under the lamplights, and the party were at Charing Cross before he found the cab which they had proposed to call.

    Meantime Arthur had found out that Ada had not seen the abbey even.  "I should like to be the first to show it to her," he said.  "Will you and Lucy come with us to-morrow?"

    He said this to the good-natured Fanny, whom he was intent on victimising, and Fanny promised—she would have promised anything in the stage of exhaustion which she had reached through maintaining the perpendicular for some hours, and so they were driven home for the present.

    On the morrow, however, they were all under way again for Westminster.  They were to meet Arthur in the hall, where he was, of course, waiting for them, and from which they crossed over without delay to the abbey.

    It is like passing into another world to enter that place.  The dim light, the awful beauty, the solemn hush rendered audible, as it were, by the sound of subdued voices and chastened footfalls, strike the hearts of most with reverential feeling, and under this influence the little group stood still within the sacred precincts, before advancing, each experiencing the momentary check to the current of their thoughts.  Lucy felt the simple and sincere devotion which was natural to her, but Ada almost drew back with a look of trouble on her face.  She said afterwards that it seemed to take away her breath like the attempt to sing in a key too high for her.  Arthur was speedily absorbed in observing Ada, but Fanny, who had not recovered from the fatigues of the previous day, no sooner saw herself within reach of a comfortable seat in the vacant chancel, than she hailed it with unfeigned thankfulness, and declared her intention of sitting there and waiting till her companions had gone the round of the cathedral.  And Fanny did not think it strange when Lucy proposed to remain with her.  Something of eager light in Arthur's face, something which she had seen there before, told her that it would be acceptable, that he would like to have Ada all to himself.  Was it unnatural that she should feel a little chilled at heart to be thus set aside?  It was not that she wished Arthur at her feet again, as some might have done.  It was a deeper feeling—the feeling that love itself could change, that touched her with sorrow and made her glad that she could sit there by her silent friend, and indulge in thoughts too deep words or tears.

    Ada and her companion were speedily out of sight, and long before they had returned, Fanny was fast asleep, with her chin upon her breast, and Lucy had lost herself in the wide regions of reverie.  They both started when the pair reappeared, Fanny from her slumbers, Lucy from her waking dream.  The latter looked for some change in Ada's manner; but change there was none.  She had had all the freedom and unconsciousness of a child about her when she disappeared with Arthur down the aisle, and she had the same freedom and unconsciousness still.  Surely he had not spoken.  Or (for he was looking graver) was he doomed to disappointment in this quarter also?  There was a third possibility which struck Lucy: perhaps Ada had accepted him as coolly as she had accepted his presents and his attentions, without in the least understanding how much it involved.  It was a possibility which roused all Lucy's sympathy on behalf of her quondam lover, and she watched Ada in the hope of discovering the least sign of affection for him, but in vain.  What she did discover showed her that she was right in her surmise that Ada had appropriated her lover without remorse.

    When the two girls were alone together that evening, "Lucy," said Ada, abruptly, "I thought Mr. Wildish was engaged to you."

    "No dear," replied Lucy, "there was never any engagement between us."

    "So he says," returned Ada.

    "Has he said anything to you?"

    "He wants me to be engaged to him," said Ada, smiling.

    "Well dear?"

    "I told him I didn't mind," said Ada, "if you didn't care for him.  He will take me to concerts and all sorts of places.  Why wouldn't you be engaged to him, Lucy; don't you like him?"

    "Not well enough, dear, and I don't think you do, or you would not talk in that way," said Lucy.

    "How much ought I to like him?" said Ada, laughing; "and how am I to know when I like him enough?"

    "Absurd child!" said her companion; "you will know when you feel it—when you like him better than anybody else in the world."

    "I don't like him as I liked Jerry," she said, her eyes swimming till they became infinitely tender.

    "That is different," said Lucy, gently.  "Can't you understand, Ada?  Do you like to be with him better than to be with any one else?"

    "I like best to sing to him," said Ada.

    "That is something," returned Lucy; "but, perhaps, it is only for the reason that he can best appreciate you."

    "Yes," she answered thoughtfully; "but sometimes when I sit by myself I like it better, for I fancy that I am singing to thousands, and they all feel just as he felt one night when he knelt and kissed my hand.  And do you know, he wants me to give up being a public singer altogether."

    "You will do it, Ada?" said Lucy, to whom nothing would have been more easy—nay, more desirable.

    "I don't know," said Ada.  "It seems to make me greater and better to think of it; there is all the difference"—and she laboured for expression—"between my common life and that other life, that there is between this house and yon great abbey."

    The speech, almost beyond her own understanding of it, was not beyond her listener's sympathy.  "I am glad you do not care for money, Ada, as I once thought you did."

    "I think I only care so much for it because I care so little," said Ada.  "When he promised me everything that riches could give, I did not care at all."

    "I am glad of that," said Lucy.  "You will try and love him for himself, dear, will you not?  He is very good: I know very few better."

    "Only Philip," said Ada.

    Lucy blushed crimson.  Could this little chit have discovered her secret?  But Ada only spoke her own late appreciation of Philip's worth.


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"Could this little chit have discovered her secret?"


    "But why should Arthur want me to give up being a singer?" Ada added discontentedly.

    "Because he wants you all to himself," said Lucy.

    "That is selfish, isn't it?" said Ada, laughing.  "I don't think I want him all to myself."

    "Then you had better tell him so at once," said Lucy, gravely, for it was clear to her that, whatever Arthur might fancy, Ada remained unwon.


 
CHAPTER XLV.

THE BAZAAR AT ST. LUKE'S.


MRS. TORRANCE congratulated herself on the cessation of her cares for the present.  Ellen's matrimonial prospects seemed once more in complete abeyance.  Philip, it is true, had not been banished in disgrace: his honourable character had to be acknowledged; but it was not difficult to do this when Philip held aloof.  The obnoxious papers, which had led to the former frequency of his visits, had been disposed of.  The very boxes in which they had rested had been removed out of their places under the book-shelves; and where they had been the polished floor shone clear and vacant.  There was nothing special to bring Philip to the house uninvited, and, as he was not invited, nothing brought him.  So that on this score Mrs. Torrance's mind was at rest.

    It was equally at rest on Mr. Huntingdon's account.  Clara Huntingdon was a frequent visitor; not so her brother.  His absence was more marked than Philip's, for as he had come for no special reason, there was no special reason for his ceasing to come.  He seemed to have delegated to his sister the duty of visiting Ellen; and, indeed, he had taken it for granted that she would not wish to see him.  It appeared likewise to Mrs. Torrance that the clergyman had no intention of getting married.  It was rumoured that he was about to take a small house in the neighbourhood, and bring up his father and mother to live with him there; and Mrs. Torrance soon obtained confirmation of the rumour from the lips of Clara herself.

    The winter set in, and Mrs. Torrance began another set of curtains, having finished the others for "dear Julia," justly flattering herself that they would stand the tugging they were sure to get from Julia's children; and Ellen worked for those same children, read her novels, did her housekeeping, saw her quiet neighbours, and went to church on Sundays, the even tenor of her days unbroken.  Her mother looked at her face, always mournful in repose, and saw no trouble there.  And Mrs. Torrance began to feel dull.

    There was no one to come in with the news of the day, and to get up a dispute with which would last till bedtime.  There were no squabbles with servants, no disasters to children.  The house was dull, so was the neighbourhood.  It was too respectable.  There was not a scandal to be heard of, and Ellen discouraged even gossip—had not liked her asking Clara about her brother's intentions with regard to taking a house.  Mrs. Torrance began to languish for a little excitement; and, lo! the excitement was at hand.

    It came in the shape of a visit from Mr. Huntingdon and Clara, who called together to ask Mrs. Austin to take a stall at the forthcoming bazaar.  The ladies of the congregation of St. Luke's had proposed a bazaar for the purpose of raising money for a spire to the church, which had been left unfinished as well as in debt.  The debt was still crippling the modest income of Mr. Huntingdon, and he had given his consent to a mode of raising money which he was assured was by far the easiest and most successful.  He was not very clear as to what it meant; but he was told that he need give himself very little trouble about it, the ladies would manage it all, with the assistance of the very active churchwardens, whom they had enlisted in the cause.  Clara was quite clear about it, and did not like it; but did not think it wise to interfere against it.  Ellen, too, was a novice at this sort of undertaking, and would have declined the honour, but her mother interfered.  Mrs. Tabor was to take a stall, and there was nothing to hinder Ellen from doing so.  It was just what Mrs Torrance liked—plenty of work, and plenty of gossip and rivalry, and trying of spirits, and so the interview ended in Ellen accepting the post.

    The preparations were warranted to take months, and did.  Mrs. Torrance laid aside her curtains as much too homely, and took to all sorts of herculean labours, and Ellen who disliked fancy work, dutifully laboured under her directions, doing endless grounding, as the least objectionable, seeing that it left her free to follow her thoughts.  Mrs. Tabor and Lucy were equally busy, and Fanny began works innumerable, which Ada was called upon to finish.  The whole terrace was kept busy, and numerous other terraces, rows, and roads besides.  It must have been a perfect boon to the neighbourhood in the employment of so many idle hands.

    Endless were the resources, boundless the ingenuity of the workers.  They did wonderful things in worsted, in beads, in silk, in thread, in straw, in paper.  The new corner shop, opened by a pale, sad-eyed widow with two slim, delicate girls in their first mourning, did an unexpected and increasing trade.  The shop was named the "Fancy Repository," and had been in a state of extreme stagnation until the bazaar was inaugurated.  But the widow had good taste and her girls had supple fingers, and besides supplying the materials above mentioned, they had to sit up many a night executing the work which their customers had planned and intended to finish, and adopt as their own.  So the widow was able to pay her Michaelmas rent when it was called for, and could see the rate-collector enter her shop without trembling where she stood, because the amount in her little money-box was so sadly inadequate.  She even welcomed the rate-collector with a smile, and in her heart she blessed the bazaar, and in this instance, at least, it proved a blessing.

    During the winter several working parties were held in the drawing-rooms of the little coterie of Park Villas, parties at which a variety of useful articles were manufactured by fair fingers, and thrown into a common stock to be divided among the stall-holders.  They were very quiet parties, and the amount of work done was not inconsiderable; but though they were called "Bees," they had very little resemblance to the American institutions of that name, which last through a long summer day—nay, several of them—accomplish thoroughly some great piece of work, and require immense preparations in the way of providing sustenance for the workers.  Here they had a dish of tea and some thin bread-and-butter at four p.m., to enable them to go on for an hour or two.  There was much reading, too, of "poems" and "selected passages," generally by an elderly lady, and so thoroughly dull and decorous were the meetings, that Lucy Tabor, laughingly listening to Mrs. Torrance's animadversions, suggested, that, instead of "Bees," they ought to be called "Drones."

    But one occasion was illuminated by a novelty.  Ada Lovejoy played and sang to the to the company, a larger one than usual, which had assembled at Mrs. Austin's.  Her singing was, of course, very much admired, but one lady remarked rather loftily that she was too much like a public singer, and somehow it oozed out that to be a public singer was poor Ada's ambition, and she was thereupon privately tabooed, only, happily, Ada did not understand that it was so; her friends, however, understood it for her.

    The next evening Ada spent at the Tabors', when Arthur Wildish was there, and she gravely informed him that she had made her debut—had appeared in public for the first time.

    "And never told me," he said angrily, for some of the contemptuous things that had been said had reached his ears.

    Instead of explaining her innocent little jest, Ada, resenting the tone in which he had spoken, chose to stand upon her girlish dignity.  "Why should I tell you?" she said, raising her stately little head, and giving the least possible sniff with her delicate little nose, whereupon there ensued a pretty little lovers' quarrel; which, however, was not made up at parting as it ought to have been, in spite of Lucy Tabor's explanations.


 
CHAPTER XLVI.

BAZAAR AT ST. LUKE'S.





winter had passed away into a late and wintry spring, and the early summer had come at a bound.  In the last days of May, amid sunshine and soft winds, the trees had shaken out their leafy banners, and the flowers had come in troops as for a festival.  The first three days of June bad been fixed upon for the holding of the bazaar in aid of the building of the spire of St. Luke's, and as it was to be held under canvas the state of the weather had been a source of much anxiety to its promoters.  It was a hazardous experiment, that of erecting tents in the meadow behind Park Villas, and trusting to the tender mercies of an English sky; but it was a matter of necessity, not of choice.  There was not a public room to be obtained—there was no such thing in the district; how should there be? There was no public life there.  It was an assemblage of units who had hardy a tie to each other, and who cultivated toward each other scarcely a sentiment more human than a feeble curiosity.

    The preparations were to be completed by noonday on the first, when the bazaar was to be opened by an ex-Lord and Lady Mayoress—or rather by the latter, imported for the occasion.  From earliest dawn the ladies had been busy arranging their stalls, and they had really succeeded in making a very fair display.  There were suspended above them the inevitable festoons of red and white roses in the still more inevitable glazed calico; but more than all the colours of the rainbow glowed on the tables beneath, and on the persons of the fair holders of the stalls, while the gardens and conservatories of the entire neighbourhood had been laid under contribution for the supply of flowers, which had been placed under the care of the younger ladies.

    At noon the bazaar was duly opened and the proceedings commenced.  Elderly ladies made their appearance, surrounded by bevies of daughters, and made limited purchases.  Younger mammas brought troops of children, who invested in dolls and other playthings, and speedily betook themselves to the sward outside, the sunshine, and the music.  Lucy and Ada with their compeers got somewhat dispirited as the afternoon wore on.  The elderly ladies and the children did not want their bouquets, and pretty button-hole nosegays were out of the question.  For once Mrs. Torrance became a source of consolation to her friends and even the public; she occupied a prominent position in front of her daughter's stall, in the arrangement of which she was making minor improvements continually.  Over her head, displayed bannerwise, was her magnum opus in the shape of a large hearthrug, on which was depicted a life-size lion with his feet on the yellow sand of the desert, and his head under the shadow of a palm-tree.  For grandeur of conception and delicacy of execution in the shadings this work was the admiration of all beholders, and Mrs. Torrance was justly proud of it.  It was one of the great features of the bazaar, and was not to be sold but raffled for before its close.  Sitting under it, Mrs. Torrance comforted all who came to her by her way of saying, "Wait till gentlemen come."

    About five o'clock they came dropping in, the younger and more zealous, who had dined on a mutton chop in the City, along with the elder and more obtuse, who had yielded to pressure, brought a pocketful of silver coinage, and intended to get home in half an hour or so to a comfortable dinner.  The proceedings of these latter gave the utmost satisfaction; they bought their own roses at sixpence a piece and stuck them in their button-holes.  Pincushions, needle-cases, book-markers, and what not were offered to their notice, and met with promiscuous purchasers, at least until one complacent buyer had paid the penalty of his indiscriminateness by thrusting his hand into his pocket, and bringing it out again with a rapid change of countenance, stuck over with needles like a species of porcupine, a treacherous article of the needle-holding class having given way in the interior of that receptacle.

    Then the papas as a rule departed under promise, alas! in many instances of a speedy return, but the brothers remained.  They were only beginning to enter into the spirit of it.  Their own sisters might not be particularly interesting, but other people's were, and some of them were very pretty besides.  Lucy and Ada were doing a thriving trade, for the young gentlemen were highly discriminating, and whereas paterfamilias was content with a sweet smile and a pretty timid request to purchase, they seemed to prefer to make their purchases from the hands of the prettiest of the saleswomen, and this greatly to the disgust of at least one spectator who had recently come upon the scene.

    "What has brought Philip here?" said Lucy to herself, as she caught sight of his tall figure in the doorway.  Mr. Tabor had just passed in, not unnoticed, for he was surrounded at once as a fresh victim.

    No one had asked Philip; though everybody had asked almost every creature known to her, no one had thought of asking him.  Perhaps for that very reason he was there.  Mr. Tabor had been talking over some business with him, and had said abruptly, "By the way, I dine in solitary state this evening; you might come up and help me through it―my womankind are to be at the fancy fair.  I must go and join them for an hour in the evening, but you needn't go unless you like."  And so Philip was there; and he stood in the doorway, surveying what was pleased to call "Little Vanity Fair," with what he believed to be calm indifference.

    Calm indifference, indeed!  There was not a man—no, not a woman there—less calmly indifferent to anything that affected his fellow-creatures, however lightly.  Presently he has noticed Lucy, looking flushed, and, he thinks, happy, with Arthur Wildish by her side.  She is decorating him with one  of her nosegays.  That is all a matter of course; but Philip glances behind him with a vague desire to retreat from the stifling tent.  He sees Mrs. Austin sit clown with a slight air of weariness, leaving the business to her mother, and he thoroughly sympathises with her.  He will go over to her and ask if he can be of any use.  A very pretty girl accosts him, making a little display of her bright eyes and pearly teeth as she offers him a rose, and his "no, thank you," is so harsh that she blushes crimson and feels inclined to cry.  A very plain child is wearily parading a not very distinguished-looking doll at the low price of half-a-crown, and Philip startles her by saying, "You look very tired," and by becoming an unsolicited purchaser, and immediately bestowing his purchase on a disconsolate little girl, who had lost her pocket-money in a raffle for a doll bride and bridegroom, with four bridesmaids and a clergyman complete, and thereby greatly enlarging her views of the possibilities of life.

    If any one had told Philip that he was to play a prominent part in the affairs of the bazaar, he would have scouted the idea; but nevertheless such was his fate.  He had made his way, with some difficulty, to Mrs. Austin's side, and asked politely if he could be of any use to her.  She was about to thank him, declining his services, when Mrs. Torrance turned round upon them, and declared that she could make him of the greatest possible use.

    "Pray command me then," said Philip, gallantly and he was taken at his word.

    "In the first place," said Mrs. Torrance, in business-like fashion, "will you be good enough to take down that lion?"

    Philip looked up at the work of art overhead, and answered, "Certainly."

    "Here is a chair to stand upon," she continued, and forthwith Philip was standing on the chair, the observed of all observers, taking down the trophy.

    "Now you must take it round and get subscribers for it," said Mrs. Torrance, volubly.  "Here is a pencil and book for our list.  You must make up the number of subscriptions to forty; forty half-crowns make only five pounds, and it would be cheap at that."

    "But what am I to do?" asked Philip, helplessly.

    "Only get people to give you their half-crowns by hook or by crook," said Arthur Wildish, coming up.  "Shall I help to invest you as Knight of the Lion?" he added, laughing.

    There was a good deal of chaffing as to how Philip should display his lion, some suggesting that he should place it on his back; but at length he was sent out to make the tour of the tent with the rug over his arm in stiff and massive folds.  It was a position unlooked for and undesired; but Philip bravely determined to make the best of it, and mulcted Arthur Wildish of four half-crowns on the spot.

    Arthur followed in the track of the lion, seeming to have no particular duty of his own, and both the young men came to a halt at the side opposite to which they had started.  Just there a piano had been placed, in order that there might be music within if desired, in the intervals when the band was not performing without.  The daughters of a local professor of music had been engaged to sing and play.  Now one of these young ladies had become quite ill in the course of the afternoon, and had been obliged to go home, much to her younger sister's dismay and trouble.  The poor girl had done her best single-handed; but a little programme of the music had been printed, and in it was a duet which of course she could not sing alone.  Ada, who was one of her father's pupils, learning her difficulty, without consulting any one, and without considering her own feelings in the matter, at once volunteered her help.  Therefore, just before Philip and Arthur had reached the spot where the piano was, Ada stood up with Marian James to sing.

    There was a pause and a hush as her clear soprano voice rose above the general babblement, and floated the words distinctly over the heads of the crowd.  Philip paused for pleasure, for it had not occurred to him to question Ada's position there, and he was astonished to find that she possessed so great a talent; but his companion's face expressed both displeasure and pain.  He had been holding aloof from Ada.  He was wearing a rose of Lucy's in his button-hole, and he had remained near the latter as much as he could venture to do ever since he had entered the tent; but he had failed in his purpose of piquing Ada.  She had appeared totally unconcerned, and now she was openly breaking with him, throwing down the gauntlet of defiance in public as it were.

    Now, the truth was that Ada, in her perfect simplicity, had never thought of him at all.  She had not been jealous of Lucy, she had been perfectly unconcerned at his desertion, having been herself fully occupied, and she was singing away there, delighting everybody and herself included, not at all from defiance, but from pure pleasure in the exercise of her voice, for which she had found opportunity in obliging her teacher's daughter.  A number of young men had drawn nearer and nearer, crowded round the performers, and the cessation of the song was hailed by a round of applause.  One young man made himself particularly objectionable to Arthur by adding his rather noisy shouts of "bravo! bravo! encore!" to the little tumult.

    Just then the sounding of a little bell by Mr. Huntingdon in person, and the announcement that the closing hour had come, put a stop to the music and the tumult also, and Arthur Wildish, saying good-bye to Philip, rushed out of the tent.

    "He must have some other engagement," thought Philip, as he made his way back to Mrs. Austin, with his lion over his arm and his unfilled list in his hand.

    "You will do better to-morrow," said Mrs. Torrance, consolingly.

    "But I shall not be here," said Philip bluntly.

    "Nonsense," said Mrs Torrance; "you have done very well," she added, looking at the list.  "You must come and see it awarded, you know."

    "Must I?" he said in a vague way, and looking at Mrs. Austin.

    She only answered, "If you have nothing better to do, which I think is unlikely;" but he thought she looked so sweet and wistful as she said it, that he turned abruptly to Mrs. Torrance, and said, "Well, I will come."

    In spite of herself, Ellen's face lighted up, and Philip saw it, and in spite of himself felt happier.

    The Park Villa party now assembled together.  Mrs. Tabor came from the other tent, look in, very fresh and bright, Fanny, who had been acting as her satellite, sailing after her, and Mrs. Tabor immediately invited them all to a little supper, as frankly accepted as given, upon the spot.  But Philip was truly puzzled when there was a general inquiry as to what had become of Arthur Wildish, and no one, a even Lucy, could tell.



CHAPTER XLVII.

UNDER THE ELMS.


THE second day of the bazaar promised to be still more successful than the first.  The day was, if possible, more brilliant, and the visitors more numerous and liberal, still it was not till after four o'clock p.m. that the real business of the day commenced.  Then the victims of what some one has called "a plead species of robbery" began to make their appearance and to judge from the reappearance of many sufferers they really had taken pleasure in being victimised.  The moment a new-comer entered the tent he was seized upon by one or more young ladies, notebook in hand, and made to put down his name to one of some dozen or two subscriptions which had been started, and before he had made the round of the stalls he was probably in for them all.  Philip, who had duly reappeared, went at once to his post, and took charge of the famous lion, which he found to be an immense protection to him, as no sooner was he assailed with any proposition to subscribe for some article, than he met it with a counter-proposition to go in for his own.

    On his first round he encountered Arthur Wildish in the doorway, who nodded rather grimly and exclaimed "You here again!"

    "I believe I may say the same to you," retorted Philip, gaily.

    "Yes, you may," said Wildish, savagely.  "I wasn't coming near the place again; but I couldn't stay way," he added with characteristic candour.

    "It seems to have its attractions," said Philip, and he looked over in Lucy's direction.

    "Yes," said Arthur, comprehending the glance to a certain extent; "she is always the same," and heaved a great sigh.  He had somehow taken it for granted that Philip knew all about the cessation of his hopes concerning Lucy.  He was aware, however, that he was ignorant of his new attachment, which under the circumstances he had not been able to mention.

    "And there is that young niece of Miss Lovejoy's," continued Philip; "she has completely fascinated the gentleman who encored so madly last night.  He must have lost his heart, by the way he is losing his money to her."

    "Impertinent jackanapes!" exclaimed Arthur, and involuntarily starting forward.

    "He is a harmless enough fellow," said Philip.  "I have been watching, and his attentions are perfectly legitimate.  He has bought a succession of bouquets, each of which he disposes of as speedily as possible by presenting it to some lady of his acquaintance, taking care that she is either sufficiently elderly or sufficiently juvenile not to mistake his intentions.  He is now investing in sixpenny scent-holders and you can trace his path by the perfumes he pours forth."

    Instead of laughing, Arthur groaned, and left his friend wondering what was the matter with him.

    On went Philip with his lion, making very little progress, for he was a bad beggar, and the competition was waxing hotter and hotter.  Each time he passed Lucy he expected to find Arthur Wildish by her side; but no.  Lucy was always standing alone.  What could Arthur be thinking of?  He seemed to be following the young gentleman who had just invested in a fresh supply of scent.

    In some roundabout way the latter had managed to obtain a formal introduction to Ada Lovejoy, but as yet had taken no undue advantage thereof.  He had asked Ada if she was going to sing, and Ada had answered no; that she merely sang to supply the place of Mss James, who had been obliged to go away, and that another had taken that lady's place, so that there was no further occasion for her services.

    So far all was well; but it is not in the nature of things to stand still at that or any other point—certainly not in the nature of youthful feelings, and those of Ada's admirer got warmer and warmer, and as they did he became more and more demonstrative, and began to attract towards both the subject and object of them more attention than was desirable.

    Finding what she considered a good opportunity, Mrs. Torrance took it into her head to lecture Ada on the score of flirtation—an offence of which she was perfectly guiltless, and also to warn her against offending Mr. Wildish, who, she frankly insinuated, was a great deal too good for her.  Most girls would either have defended themselves, or been vastly irritated by the tone of the old lady's remarks, hurried as they were.  Ada, however, was not irritated; she took the rebuke quite mutely and meekly, as far as appeared on the surface.  She was incapable of irritation.  Almost all feeling with her took the form of passion, and a passionate pain was kindling in her heart.  She had been slow to notice Arthur's desertion, for she was not exacting in a petty way; but now it forced itself upon her, and she was unable to divine its cause.  But if it should be that he was too good for her, as Mrs. Torrance seemed to say, that he was rich and well-born and well-bred, while she was poor and low—none of them knew how poor and low she had been—instead of courting him, she would cast him off.  Perhaps he would look down not on her, but on hers, if he knew all.  She would have nothing more to say to him, she thought, and wondered why the thought should give her so much and such sharp pain.

    While she was suffering from it, her admirer drew near among the moving crowd, closely followed by the seemingly aimless Arthur.

    The young man hovered a little, and Ada held towards him a basket of flowers, which was swinging in her hand.

    He made a pretence of declining.  "I think I have done enough in that way; don't you?" he simpered.


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"He made a pretence of declining."


    Not the least little smile dawned on Ada's face as she answered, "Yes, but here is a very fine one.  I am sure you will have this," and she drew a beautiful blossom from the group in her basket, and met a savage look from Arthur as she did so.

    The young man leant towards her and whispered something.  It was—"I will, if you will put it into my coat."

    Arthur did not hear, but he saw.  He saw Ada about to hand the blossom over to its purchaser.  But, instead of doing so, she crushed it in her hand and fairly turned her back upon her admirer, while her basket fell at her feet.

    It was Arthur who picked up its scattered contents and stood shielding her from observation till she had recovered her composure.  Then he took a rather wilful and unwilling little hand upon his arm, and led her away, ostensibly and rather ostentatiously, to get some refreshment.

    The refreshment (not altogether unworthy of the name) consisted, in the first instance at least, of a walk up and down outside under the elms, where the same wilful little hand underwent the tender operation of having a thorn extracted, the pain of which had to be healed with kisses yet more tender.

    Ada seized the hand of the healer and kissed it in turn.

    "So you do care for me at last," he said.

    "A little," she answered, with her lips, but her beautiful eyes, suffused and glistening, said a great deal more.

    "Not a little, Ada.  With you it must be 'all in all, or not at all!'" he said.

    "All, then!" she exclaimed; "only I have nothing to give.  The all is yours.  You are rich and learnèd, and I am poor and ignorant—I don't think you know how poor and ignorant.  No, I can't take everything and give nothing," she continued, drawing back from him.

    But he was not to be repulsed now.  He seized the little hand once more.  "Nothing to give, Ada, when you give yourself!  And you are rich," he added, with a more passionate admiration than be had ever bestowed on gentle Lucy Tabor; "you are rich, Ada —you have genius."

    "And I can give you that," she said, with sudden inspiration.  "I will never play or sing to anybody but you."

    He smiled.  "You have convicted me or selfishness," he answered.  "No—no, Ada! you free.  We will have faith in each other."

    "But you did not like my playing yesterday," she said.

    "I thought you did it to vex me, after our controversy on the subject."

    "No, but I kissed that rose to vex you; only"—she hesitated, she could not express, or even understand the sudden awakening which had come to her, partly from her own act, partly from the love and sorrow that had conquered every smaller feeling in Arthur's face, as she had been about to do what, to his refined taste, was a thing unwomanly; only Ada at the moment was a child in thought and feeling.  She would never do such an act again.

    They went back to the tent radiantly happy, Ada looking tenfold more lovely in that rosy dawn of love and joy; but they passed in unnoticed and mingled with the crowd.  Arthur was too delicate, with all his demonstrativeness, to make a parade of his triumph.

    "Where have you been?" said Philip, coming up to him.  "I have been looking out for you to invest you with the order of the lion," and he flung that huge trophy over Arthur's shoulder.

    "I have been under the elms," said Arthur pleasantly; "am I to have it?"

    And Philip answered, "Yes.  Go and lay your prize at your lady's feet."


 
CHAPTER XLVIII.

A MOONLIGHT WALK.




third and last day of the fair was a Saturday, and the bustle and excitement were consequently at their height at an earlier hour.  Philip's services had been in request, and there he was again, muttering that old monosyllable of his, but unable to resist the attraction which drew him thither.  On this occasion, however, it was a rather different kind of attraction from the merely social and friendly one which had prevailed with him hitherto.  It was an attraction of strangely conflicting pain and pleasure.  At the close of the previous day he had made a discovery, or at least half believed that he had made it.  What could Wildish mean by presenting the lion, which ought to have been handed over to Lucy, to Ada Lovejoy?  He had promised to lay the trophy at the feet of his lady-love.  What could it mean, save that Arthur was wavering in his allegiance to Lucy—nay, that he had already deserted?  Philip had no sooner entered upon the scene than he set his powers of observation to work upon the problem.  In the first place there was Arthur in his highest spirits.  He, and Ada, who seemed to have wound up her own concern, were "flying round," as our cousins phrase it, helping everybody.  Presently they withdrew to the smaller tent where the refreshments were served, for the purpose of devoting themselves to Mrs. Tabor, whose stall, with one or two others, was there.  There was everything to confirm Philip's suspicion, and he felt duly indignant at Arthur's conduct.  It was despicable.  But he felt yet more indignant and despiteful towards the recreant, when he saw, or thought he saw, that Lucy was suffering under it.

    Lucy and her flowers were, indeed, suffering from neglect.  They were drooping, and she was downcast, for she felt the neglect as any other simple, natural girl would, and the more she felt it the more she shrank into herself.  She was, in truth, too modest and too sensitive to engage in the unbounded solicitations which were going on around her, and in which the loudest and most persistent were the the most successful.  She, as well as Mrs. Austin, had sat down before their respective stalls in despair, for nothing was now to be done except by a pressure which they could not bring themselves to use.

    But at length the ordeal was over, ladies and gentlemen took their departure laden with the spoils of the day.  The things that remained were packed up and left in charge of servants.  The very decorations were being taken down, and the men were in waiting to remove the tents, the stall-holders and a few of their friends remaining up to the last.

    "What a lovely evening!" exclaimed one after another as they emerged upon the grass under the fast fading light of a serenely beautiful sky.

    "I should like a breath of fresh air," added Lucy, putting her arm within her father's.  "It is so calm and sweet, let us go just to the top of the slope."

    "Won't it tire you, my love," said her father, "after all the standing about you have had?"

    Lucy assured him it would not, and he led her away over the field, while Mrs. Tabor went home, intent on the third and last little supper with which she intended to regale the labourers.  Mrs. Torrance and Fanny accompanied her, passing before the rest of the party, whom they believed to be bringing up the rear.  But they were following Lucy's example, and straying over the field, Arthur Wildish with Ada and Mrs. Austin following with Philip.

    The evening was indeed lovely.  The last streak of colour was fading from the sky.  Its depth, its serenity, its tenderness, were unspeakable.  The moon was rising over a clump of trees on the height.  One or two stars shone up in the dim blue sky, and the air seemed to grow still and solemn with their distant light.  Perhaps it was by contrast with the scene they had quitted that the feeling of the hour should penetrate the hearts of each.  They hushed their voices, or walked on in silence.

    "I dare say you are glad it is over, Lucy," said Mr. Tabor, after a pause.

    "Yes, papa," she answered, with a sigh, "I dare say I am."

    He smiled.  "It seems doubtful," he said.

    "I am sorry to feel glad then," she returned.

    "One of your paradoxes, Lucy."

    "I can't very well explain what I mean; it is the feeling of everything coming to an end and finding us weary, that makes us feel sad, I think."

    He would not answer her; his heart was feeling sore for her, and he sought to speak in a lighter way.  "No wonder you are weary," he said; "weariness is the natural concomitant of a great deal of labour with very little result."

    "But we have got a great deal of money, which we should not have got otherwise," said Lucy, seconding his effort, and trying to speak gaily.

    "Why not?" said her father.  "It would have been quite as easy for every one to have given what they have spent during these three days, and then you would have had a great deal more money, besides the saving in time.  But you had to supply them with inferior motives, such as rivalry, love of display, and even cupidity."

    "Oh, papa! you are too severe," said Lucy.  "Many gave their work who had little money to give, and others bought it out of all sorts of kind motives, besides pleasure in its beauty."

    "Well, there is good and evil in everything, Lucy," said her father, "and in everything the good is to the good, and the evil to the evil, that is it I fancy."

    When they reached the little knoll they stood still, and turned to look back over the field.  Ada and Arthur were coming up to them slowly, prolonging the new-found pleasure which they felt in being near each other—earth's most perfect pleasure, that of loving and being beloved.  Further off, having lingered behind these, were Mrs. Austin and Philip.  The latter had lost all natural gaiety which, during those days, had lightened the prevailing seriousness of his character; a gaiety which had been a fresh revelation to his companion, who did not know that it had once been his chief characteristic.  He had sunk into silence.

    "How still it is," said Ellen softly.  "That sky is like a promise of peace."


"Peace, it is only a promise,
     Fulfilled in heaven to be;
 Only a broken rainbow
     Over a troubled sea."


He repeated the lines in answer.

    "Whose are they?" she asked.

    "Some little-known poet," he replied, "who has had his share of disappointment and sorrow, and has summoned up his experience in these four lines."

    "And yet peace is not joy," she said.  "They only seek it who have no hope of bliss."

    "A sad wise valour is the best complexion," he replied.  "Do you know whose that is?"

    "George Herbert's," she answered quickly.  "I know his 'Temple' by heart, I think."

    "He is the one religious poet I love," answered Philip.  "In this, as in other things, Mrs. Austin, you and I are strangely in accord."

    She was silent.  Her companion little thought how the words had thrilled her.

    He was looking before him at Arthur and Ada.  Something in their attitude struck him.  "What is the meaning of that?" he asked, indicating the pair before them.

    She did not at first understand.

    "They look like lovers," he said, indignantly.

    "They are, I believe," she answered, smiling.

    "Has Mr. Wildish given up Lucy Tabor for her?" he asked.

    "I think it was Lucy who gave him up," she answered; "or rather, would have nothing to say to him.  There was no giving up in the case."

    "They were engaged, surely?" he said.

    "Never," she replied.

    "Are you quite sure of it?" he asked, in an agitated voice.

    "Quite, quite.  I have received Mrs. Tabor's confidences in the matter, and there never was any engagement," she answered.

    "Then I have been making a profound mistake," he returned.  "Mrs. Austin," he went on, "your sympathy is so true and sincere, that I do not mind telling you that I have loved Lucy Tabor all my life, and that till I die I feel that I shall never love another."

    The gathering darkness kindly veiled the white sorrow that smote Ellen Austin's face.  But it also hid the new light that dawned there with more than mortal beauty.  A joy came to her keener than the anguish, mingling with it, so that she could not tell which was the anguish and which the joy.  She could hold the cup of happiness to his lips which was denied to hers.

    "You loved her when you were children," she murmured, "and you love her still.  Are you sure your love is unreturned?"

    "She loved me as a child; but that is quite another thing," he answered.  "She seemed to care more for Mr. Wildish than for me." (Oh, Philip!)

    "She never cared for Mr. Wildish at all; of that I am quite sure.  But she cares for some one.  It never struck me before, but it may be for you," said Ellen, thoughtfully.  The idea—it was hardly an idea, it was the instinct of a supreme moment—grew upon her.

    "How do you know that she cares for some one else?" he asked.

    "I received a hint to that effect from her mother.  Till this moment I have held it sacred.  I never even tried to guess her girlish secret; but just now I feel sure that it is you.  I had the same feeling for a moment when I saw you together on the night of the party."

    Her companion was silent, but he was hastening onwards with increasing swiftness.  Ellen could scarce keep up with him, and together they reached the little knoll, in advance of Arthur and Ada.

    When they had all stood for a few minutes in the brightening moonlight, Lucy proposed going back.  "We have loitered so long," she said; "mamma will be wondering what has become of us."

    Lucy had loosed her hold of her father's arm, and was about to take it again, when Ellen gently stepped between them, and putting her arm within Mr. Tabor's, fairly carried him off, leaving Philip to take possession of Lucy and to follow them.


 
CHAPTER XLIX.

FROM STARLIGHT TO GASLIGHT.


MRS. TABOR had been quite ready to sit down to the supper, which had been set, by her directions, with all manner of tempting viands for her guests, and so they had gone at once into the dining-room.  The servant had turned up the gas, and they sat down, expecting the rest of the party every moment.

    "What can have become of them?"  "What can they be about?" were echoed and re-echoed in various tones of wonder and impatience, as the minutes past, and the dining-room clock showed that the best part of an hour had gone.

    At length, however, they made their appearance, Mr. Tabor entering first, followed by Philip and Lucy, and all three seemingly affected by the change from starlight to gaslight, for they came in blinking like owls, as Mrs. Tabor afterwards remarked.  But two of the party at least were making their slightly dazzled sensations a cloak to cover confusion of another sort, as that acute lady was presently to discover.

    "Here you are at last!" she exclaimed heartily.  "What have you been doing?"

    "Having a moonlight walk," replied Mr. Tabor innocently, making for an arm-chair.

    "And what have you done with Mrs. Austin?"

    "Oh, she is too tired to come in.  She hopes you will excuse her.  She is quite worn out with her exertions," said Mr. Tabor.  "She was hardly able to speak from exhaustion."

    "Do let us have some supper now," said Mrs. Tabor; "I have been starving all day on a bit of dry chicken.  Be as quick as you can, Lucy," she added, seeing her daughter quitting the room; and she motioned to the others to take their seats at the table.

    But Mrs. Tabor's comfortable arrangements seemed doomed to overthrow on that particular evening, for Philip, in a grave aside, had asked leave to speak to Mr. Tabor in private for a few minutes, and Mr. Tabor, who had not had time to subside into his chair, had started up with a surprised "certainly," and led the way out of the room.

    Of course, Philip had not intended to say a single word to Lucy on his way back to the house, except what the simplest friendship warranted.  He was in no position to claim Lucy, even if she did care for him, which was a matter of uncertainty.  And indeed, if he had chosen his own way, he would have kept aloof from her that evening, and they would all have come back exactly as they went forth.  But to find himself standing beside her, with just enough of light to meet a timid, nay, half-frightened glance, and to take her hand and place it on his arm, and feel it tremble there; to walk on in silence, with the stars shining as if they shone for very sympathy with pure and fervent love; to sigh and hear the faintest sigh in answer, was more than Philip's philosophy could bear.  And it took so very few words after all.  He began caressing the little hand that lay upon his arm, with the old gentle fondness, and though it trembled more than ever it was not withdrawn.  Then he murmured, "Lucy," and in the one universal language of love the word meant more than a million could have expressed in any other.  And Lucy answered, "Philip," and in that strange language it meant exactly the same.  Taken together they stood for, "I am yours and you are mine, for we love each other."


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"It took so very few words after all."


    Then they paused for a moment and clasped each other's hands, and linked together thus they came on through the happy darkness.

    But it was like Philip not to be able to sit down to his supper in peace, and allow Mr. Tabor to do the same; but to insist on making a clean breast of the matter first.  No wonder either that Lucy had fled away to the sanctuary of her own room at the first hint of what was impending.  Mrs. Tabor was in despair.  It seemed as if that supper of hers would never get itself eaten, for again the time passed again the question was re-echoed, "What can they be about to keep us waiting in this absurd way?"  If she had only known, I think she would have joined Lucy, who was looking out of her window over the dim fragrant fields and shedding some happy tears, and have forgotten all about her supper too.

    And meantime Philip was explaining that he had been to blame, and had said what he intended not to have said, and done what he intended not to have done; because while he was Mr. Tabor's debtor he could not seek to marry his daughter.

    And Mr. Tabor had listened for a few minutes, and had then put a stop to that part of it by giving his hand to Philip and telling him, not without emotion, that he had made him a happier man than he thought it likely he should be again.

    And when Philip again adverted to that debtor and creditor account, and signified that he must remain unmarried till he was a free man, Mr. Tabor silenced him by saying that he should have it all his own way in that particular, and that he had no objection to keep Lucy a few years longer.  "She is not one, I think," he added, "who will suffer from a long engagement.  Her mother never did, and I am glad to find her happiness secure, as we old folks could not secure it," and Mr. Tabor sighed over the inevitable.  Then they shook hands over it once more and went into the dining-room.

    This time they were received in silence.  I think the expression of both their faces, so gravely, tenderly happy, told the whole story.  However, Mr. Tabor said, looking still more explicit intelligence at his wife, "Mamma, will you go up to Lucy?"

    Then after a little pause, during which Mrs. Torrance was unusually vigilant, and Fanny fell to nodding in her chair, not having found anything special to interest her, Lucy re-appeared, followed by her mother.  And Lucy's fair cheek was flushed, and Mrs. Tabor's eyes honestly red with crying, but nothing more was said.  Only everything was known even to an onlooker like Mrs. Torrance, though everybody seemed so subdued and quiet.  And the supper was eaten at last, and the strangers dismissed, for the one who remained was no longer a stranger but a son.

    It was like opened paradise to Philip to find himself set in that family circle, and made a part of it, another link in the golden circlet which promised to be the more united that its links were so few.  Lucy might almost have been jealous of it had it been in her nature to be so, at the share which her father and mother seemed to have in her lover's heart.

    Little was said concerning the event which had so changed their relations to each other, very little indeed of all the happiness they felt was expressed in words.  As soon as Mrs. Torrance and Fanny were gone Mrs. Tabor went over to Philip, and managing to put her plump hands on his high shoulders kissed him and said, "God bless you, Philip!"  That was all.  But the four sat late and long talking as only the nearest who are also the dearest talk in loving confidence, and when Philip rose to go Mr. Tabor would have had him remain.  "We can give you a bed," he said, "if you will stay, and it is very late."

    "Too late," replied Philip; "but my poor old landlady will not get a wink of sleep if I do not return."  He had been amusing them with the details of his life in lodgings.  "And Mary," said Lucy, "will lie down on the door-mat.  You had better go," she added, always considerate for others, and her mother seconded her, and so Philip was sent home, and had a long walk in the starlight, and surely those stars were were softer and brighter than any he had ever seen before.

    Mrs. Torrance had returned home in a very amiable mood.  Instead of feeling aggrieved at having had to wait for her supper such an unconscionable time, she felt delighted at the accidental arrangement which had enabled her to witness the little scene, which had conveyed so much to her thoroughly initiated eyes.  To be present on such an occasion amply compensated her for any amount of waiting.

    Of course she was in haste to retail the intelligence she had gathered; and if her daughter had retired to her room, she was quite prepared to follow her thither to communicate it to her.  She found her in the library, however, waiting there to receive her.  Ellen was lying on a couch, out of the circle of the lamplight, and Mrs. Torrance immediately sat down in front of her and began with great volubility.

    "The moment they came into the room," she went on, "I saw that something had happened from Lucy's manner; and when the gentlemen left the room together I felt quite sure of it.  When they came back, and Mrs. Tabor was told to go and fetch Lucy, I knew it was all settled, everybody seemed so satisfied.  Well, I suppose it is a very nice arrangement, as Mr. Tenterden may have the business some day, but I never cared much for him.  He has behaved very well, no doubt, but he can't have anything but what Mr. Tabor chooses to give him.  It's worse even than that," she went on, thinking aloud; "he must still be in debt, paying off that money.  I think Lucy has got a very poor bargain."

    "Mamma, I am very tired," sighed Ellen from her sofa; "I think I shall go up-stairs at once, if you don't mind."

    "Very well," said her mother, a little discontented with the seeming lack of interest with which Ellen received her story.  "Dear me, child!" she added, "I declare you are looking quite ill.  You are white as ashes.  How little you can bear!" she ran on, as Ellen rose to leave her.  "Just look at me.  I am as fresh as possible, and I stood about twice as much as you did."

    Ellen Austin kissed her mother mechanically, while these last words sounded dreamily in her ears.  Somehow or other she reached her own room and flung herself into a chair that stood in the window.  There was light enough in the summer heavens, and it streamed into the room, and threw across the floor panes of silver, barred with black.  In the light again she sat, pale and motionless as a statue, looking over the garden, and across the field to the little slope toward which she had walked with Philip.

    And close at hand, with only the partition wall between them, Lucy Tabor was sitting in the moonlight too, and looking in the same direction, lost in happy dreams, from which she roused herself to undress and sink into happy slumber.

    But Ellen sat far into the night, till the moon had well-nigh run her course, and the stars alone were high.  Not in wilfulness and rebellion, not indulging in the wantonness of passionate sorrow, but gaining resignation and peace.  She was not a child to wear herself out with stormy weeping, and though a few heavy tears would fall—a sad relief—she strove to restrain them.  Her tender and dutiful spirit bent meekly in acceptance of her lot, and so she could murmur, as this chapter of her life was laid aside with her garments, "At least there is no regret."


 
CHAPTER L.

QUITS.





the Monday following the bazaar, Mr. Huntingdon sat reading in what served for study, dining-room, drawing-room, and all.  His sister Clara sat opposite to him, reading also, when the servant brought in a couple of letters, and handed them to her.  The first which she looked at was addressed to her brother, and was deeply edged with black, so that when Clara had read the postmark—"Norwich," her hand shook with the quick apprehension of a sensitive organisation, as she handed it over to him.

    "A letter from home," she faltered, "and I know the handwriting; but somebody is dead."

    He tore it open, and exclaimed, when he had glanced at it for a moment, "Poor old Symmonds! he is gone at last."

    But Clara was already reassured, for her own letter was from her mother, and contained the intelligence of the death of a distant connection, resident in their neighbourhood.

    "I am summoned to the funeral," said Mr. Huntingdon.

    "You will go?" said Clara; "mamma hopes you will be able."

    "I think I ought," he answered.  "We have had very little to do with the family, and they might think it unfriendly—a keeping up of old misunderstandings and rancours—not to go."

    "How strange!" exclaimed Clara, still going on with the reading of her letter; "his wife died only a week ago.  You know she was young enough to be his daughter."

    "Yes, his grandchild almost.  He must have been nearly seventy when he married, and more than eighty when he died."

    "Eighty-five," said Clara, referring to her letter.  "But who has invited you?" she continued.  "He was always surrounded by her relations."

    "It is his lawyer, who is also executor," he replied.

    "Perhaps the old man has left you a legacy," suggested Clara.

    He smiled, and shook his head.

    "Well, we had better settle about your journey at once," she said.

    The funeral was to take place on Wednesday, so that it was desirable that he should start on the morrow, and take up his quarters at home, returning on Friday evening, so as to leave a day free for preparation for Sunday.

    Mr. Symmonds, to whose funeral Mr. Huntingdon was summoned, had married an elder sister of Mrs. Huntingdon's something like half a century before.  The two families had been very closely united during the lifetime of this lady; but she had died childless, and her husband had subsequently married a young woman quite in the lower rank of life—in fact, the servant who had waited upon his wife in her last illness.  The girl, who was very good-looking, had been tempted by his wealth and position, and by the likelihood that she would very soon be left rich and free.  She had obtained great influence over him, and alienated him completely from the family of his former wife, surrounding him with her own relations, while these held aloof.

    Clara saw her brother off to Norwich on the morrow, and beyond a note received on Wednesday to satisfy her as to his safe arrival, she heard no word of him, till he presented himself to her on Friday evening, as they had settled.  She was at the window watching his arrival.  He jumped out of a cab with an air of unusual alacrity, and ran up-stairs to find her at the door.

    Taking her thin white face between his hands, he kissed her breathlessly.

    "Well?" cried his sister eagerly, for there was good tidings in his face.

    "Well, Clara," he re-echoed, "old Symmonds has left everything he had in the world to me."

    "Is it possible?" cried Clara, overwhelmed with the tidings.

    "It is true," said her brother, drawing her to him, and setting her down on the couch beside him.  "It seems he had made a will several years ago, leaving everything to his poor wife, and merely putting in my name in case of her dying before him, an event which did not seem at all likely to happen.  And yet that was just what did happen.  She was nursing him in his last illness, when she herself had a seizure, which carried her off before him—she in the prime of life, and he tottering for years on the brink of the grave.  If she had lived a week after him, instead of dying a week before him, everything would have gone to her relations.  We had a rather unpleasant scene with them after the funeral.  They abused the old man terribly, though, as I pointed out to them, they could hardly blame him for a disposition of his goods, in the case of his wife's death, which did not touch them, but his own relations.  He has some remote ones, I fancy, somewhere in the North.  But for the insertion of my name he would have died intestate, and they must have come in for the property."

    "And how much is it?" said Clara.

    "It is not nearly so much as was supposed," replied her brother.  "Some of his investments, it seems turned out to be failures, and those that remain bring in some five hundred a year."

    "But that is wealth for—" she was going to say, "us," but the word was but half unttered, and she substituted "you."

    "Why not 'us,' Clara?" he asked, reproachfully.  "It has always been 'us' hitherto.  Is it to be so no longer?  Am I to be allowed to take everything, and give nothing?"

    "Yes, it is 'us,' Charles," she returned, smiling up at him; "we are rich if you are rich.  Bt some one else ought to share it with you.  This will alter all our plans, will it not?"

    "I think not," he said; but a vivid and painful flush came to his cheek, and burnt there.  He looked on the ground, and remained silent.

    Clara laid her hand upon his arm caressingly.  "You must not let us stand in the way of your of your happiness, Charles," she said, with grave tenderness.  "Remember that your happiness is our most precious possession—far dearer to us than all the wealth in the world.  I am sure I speak for both our parents as well as for myself, when I say that you must not allow yourself to carry out arrangements for our comfort which would interfere with any other prospect of yours."

    "I have offered to make a home for you here," he said, "and I cannot disappoint you.  The old folks are looking forward with pleasure to joining us in London before the year is over."

    "I speak for them as well as for myself," she returned; "and I am sure we could not be happy if we withheld you from making a home for yourself, and having a wife and children of your own, as you might have now.  "Besides," she pleaded, "wherever we three are together we can make a home; only you took me up here, and we could not manage in that way much longer."

    "You are always generous, Clara," replied her brother; "and the truth is, I am in a painful dilemma."  He paused, and looked more embarrassed than before.

    "I wish you would tell what there was between Mrs. Austin and you, Charles," said his sister in a low voice.

    "I will tell you," he answered; and he told her how he had believed he was not unacceptable to her, and how he had proposed to win her, having enough for his wants and for those who were strictly dependent upon him, and calculating upon the wealth she would bring to maintain her position as his wife, and give her all the luxuries to which she had been accustomed; how he had learnt that she must renounce that wealth upon making a second marriage, and how he had been obliged ignominiously to retreat from, almost to retract his proposal.

    Clara listened with a troubled face; the recital pained her exceedingly.  She knew too well that she herself had been one of the hindrances in her brother's way.  But she put aside all thoughts of self as she answered, "You must go to her again, Charles, and prove to her that it was herself and not her money you wanted.  And," she added sweetly, "I have never seen any one yet whom I should like so much to have for a sister."

    "Ah, Clara, it is ten times more difficult to go to her now.  How can I ask her to renounce wealth for me, when I was afraid to risk anything for for her?"

    If you were afraid of risk, it was the risk of her comfort and your own duty, Charles.  I think you have an excellent plea.  A man has no right to risk not being able to provide for his own house, nor yet being able to do his duty to his parents.  These are risks which no high-minded woman would wish him to run."

    "I think I shall send you to plead for me, Clara," he answered, smiling.  "You always know how to say the right thing in the right place."

    "Perhaps I may plead for you," she replied; "but not now.  You must lose no time in pleading for her yourself."

    "When do you think I ought to see her?" he asked.

    "There is no time like the present," replied Clara; "I should go to her this very evening if I were you.  Now you are going to have some tea;" and she rang the bell, and sent him off to his room with the air of meek authority which she often assumed with him.

    Their meal was a very quiet one, and Clara kept away from the chief subject which filled their thoughts, and asked him to give her all the details of the last two days, which he did.

    A very anxious hour was that which followed for Clara Huntingdon, when her brother had gone upon his mission.  Those who are engaged in active effort little know what the hours of waiting are, which are to bring events over which the waiting ones have no control, but which may alter the entire tenor of their lives.  And in giving up the life which her brother had planned for her, Clara knew how much she was yielding.  The life to which she returned with her rapidly-aging parents was an altogether stagnant one.  All its movement came from the books she read, or the thoughts that stirred in her own soul.  With him she had all the interests of an active life added to these, for Charles Huntingdon had no friend save her.  He consulted her in all his difficulties, whether they came from without or from within.  She had been in the habit of receiving the minutest details of his life—a habit begun to interest her in her long confinements, and continued because on his every thought and action her spirit threw its own clear, illuminating light.  It was no small thing for her to renounce such a position as this.  To renounce it in favour of one whom she considered unable or unworthy to fill it would, however, have been more difficult still.  He, too, had given her much in exchange.  He had brought all the brightness and freshness into her life.  He had been her strength and her stay from the time when he left his bats and balls to wheel her about the garden, where he could hear the shouts of his companions in the field beyond.  There was only one other to whom she could betake herself—the Friend who is closer than a brother to those who are able to realise His Divine companionship, as she could realise it.

    And now on her brother's return, too early, she wisely judged, to betoken success, she was ready to meet him without one thought of self, and to sympathise with him in any event.  In answer to her inquiring look he only shook his head.  It was failure.  Before the evening was over he had told her all that had transpired.

    It had been very difficult for Mrs. Austin to reject Charles Huntingdon after she had listened to the confession which he had to make.  But about the mistake under which he had laboured she said nothing, acting in this with her usual delicacy; feeling that it would only embarrass him the more to be made aware of it.  She had been very delicate and very kind, and had softened her rejection so much, that Clara, after listening to her brother's recital, instead of sympathising with his dejection, said brightly, "Now you are quits.  My dear Charles, you will win her yet."


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"You will win her yet."


    He shook his head.  "It is only her gentleness, which I dare not presume upon," he said.

    "We shall see," returned Clara, "you have often called me a true prophet before now."


 
CHAPTER LI.

A QUESTION OF INCOME AND EXPENDITURE.


WHILE everything went smoothly with Arthur and Ada, and not a single obstruction appeared in their path, Philip and Lucy were doomed to see the great obstacle to their union increase rather than diminish.  After a variety of delays and excuses, Francis Tenterden failed to advance the two thousand he had promised, as his share of the repayment of Fanny's fortune, thus leaving once more the whole burden to fall upon Philip.

    Mr. Tabor, like the cautious man he was, had been contented with Philip's proposal that he should marry Lucy as soon as be was free, while he gave up the greater part of his income, as before, to that end.  Thus Philip and Lucy had entered on a long engagement, and even if Mr. Tabor had been desirous of accelerating their union—a thing which he by no means contemplated—Philip would hardly have agreed to it; he and Lucy therefore saw that happy consummation recede still further into the future, and it was impossible that they should do so without suffering a little of the sickness which comes from hope deferred.

    Francis Tenterden had been engaged, even before be came to England, it appeared, in certain mining speculations, and in these he had invested that portion of his wife's money which it was possible for him to obtain.  From these investments he had derived the large income on which he had been living, having only recently come to the knowledge that that income was entirely fallacious.  The mines from which it was ostensibly drawn were, in fact, losing money instead of making it, and all the while they went on quite comfortably, paying the large dividend they had declared by increasing their liabilities, diminishing their assets by way of making an income.  But the time had come when their credit was shaken, and it was impossible any longer to realise the money invested in them, that was sunk beyond recovery, and the two thousand pounds were not forthcoming.

    Moreover, Mrs. Francis Tenterden, having learnt to distrust her husband with a deep and bitter distrust, made herself mistress of this and other facts, connected with their income and expenditure, and refused for her part to go on any longer as they were doing.  She was determined that no more excuses should be offered to Philip.  But instead of these a full explanation of how matters stood.  She had also come to a secret resolution which she was about to declare, and which she calculated upon Philip's help to aid her in carrying into action, and that was to assume the reins of government, and to hold the purse-strings henceforth in her own hands.  Ever since she had come to a knowledge of the respective parts which her husband and his brother had played in the matter of the missing fortune, she had exalted in her own mind the latter at the expense of the former.  Thus it was that, against his will, Philip had found himself called upon to arbitrate between Francis and his wife, and to witness the change which had taken place in their relations towards each other.

    "You will agree with me, Philip," she said, after Francis, acting under strong compulsion, had made a statement of his affairs to Philip—which, however, was far from putting them at their worst—"you will agree with me that even in that case we ought not to live as we are doing—at more than double our real income.  But it is a great deal worse than that.  I believe that we ought to set down the whole of that money as lost."

    "I quite agree with you," said Philip, from one to the other.  "In any case it would be the better course."

    "Nonsense," said Francis; "because I cannot lay my hands on two thousand pounds all in a minute, you jump to the conclusion that the money is lost.  Have you not had money regularly to meet all expenses?"

    "But we shall not have it long," replied his wife; "and we ought never to have had it at all, I suppose.  I have taken advice on the matter, Francis," she continued, while her husband looked more and more discomfited and annoyed.  "I went to-day to an old friend of my father's, and he tells me that these mines are turning out ruinously."

    "I do not think you ought to have taken step without my knowledge; you ought to have consulted me," said Francis gloomily.

    "Perhaps not," she answered coldly; "but I had my children's interests at heart."

    "It is not their money that will be lost, if it is lost at all," he returned.

    "No," she answered bitterly.  "My late husband left all that he possessed in my power.  My own fortune—what I had from my father," she explained, turning to Philip, "is settled on the children, and amounts to about a thousand a year."

    "I do not see that it is necessary to trouble my brother with our affairs," said Francis hastily.

    "I would not like him to suppose that through any fault of mine that you had been rendered unable to help him, or rather, to take your share of a responsibility which ought to have fallen equally on both."

    It was the first time she had spoken out plainly on the subject, and allowed her husband to see the full extent of her disapprobation.  Francis felt at once humiliated and resentful.  The mode of treatment which his wife had adopted was far more galling than any amount of reproach or anger.   It was also a mistake on her part, seeing he was her husband, to destroy his self-respect so completely.

    Mrs. Tenterden was a good and conscientious woman.  She would have thought it shame and sin to be angry, but worse in its effects than any anger was her cold, severe disapproval, and worse still, her desire to exonerate herself.  It was like a sentence of separation between them, which would rise up hereafter to prevent her from stretching forth her hand to save him while he might be saved.

    Much as he had learned to like, and to respect, his sister-in-law, Philip pitied his brother exceedingly.  "It could do no harm to decrease your expenditure, Francis," he said kindly.

    "You might as well advertise our failure," replied Francis gloomily.  "We must keep up our establishment at least."

    "And help to deceive people," said his wife.  Philip blushed for his brother.

    "I cannot be a party to it," she continued.  "I should consider that it was bringing disgrace upon my children; I wish to take a smaller house and have only a couple of servants, as the children's education and other expenses have to be considered."

    "And among other expenses," said Francis bitterly, "the expense of keeping a husband."

    She did not contradict him.

    "You can easily find work at your profession, Frank," said Philip, with a look of the old brotherly kindness which went to that brother's soul.  Philip had pointed out the one way by which Francis could redeem himself, and that touch of tenderness inclined him to accept it.  There was still a struggle, but at length he yielded, and the scheme of work and of retrenchment was begun.  As this story has little to do with Francis Tenterden, here we shall leave him, but not seldom in the future was Philip's hand stretched forth to help him, and recall him from wavering.  Philip himself had learned the lesson of patience and long-suffering with wrong-doers.

    Thank God it is not alone among the high in place and power, not alone among the learnèd and the famous, that there are such men as Philip Tenterden.  A modern poet had described the host of mankind marching through the world as a feeble wavering line, ready to perish in the wilderness, plagued with thirst, overawed by the rocks that rise around them, divided by faction, threatening to break and dissolve but for the servants of God who lead them.  They, in the hour of need, appear like angels radiant with Divine ardour.  Languor is not in their hearts, weakness is not in their word, weariness is not on their brow.  At their voices panic and despair flee away.  They move through the ranks recalling the stragglers, refreshing the outworn, re-inspiring the brave.  Order and courage return; eyes rekindle, and prayers follow their steps as they go.  Thank God there are non-commissioned officers, too, among that host to whom even such a description as this would apply without exaggeration, and Philip Tenterden was of the number.  He had not only striven to do right himself, but in order to set right that which was wrong he had been content to suffer for others, the great test of one who would save.

    From the scene of his brother's humiliation Philip had gone straight to Lucy, in order that he might tell her at once that all hope of help in that quarter was at an end.  Mr. and Mrs. Tabor were present, for Philip loyally returned their parental confidence, and looked upon them much as if they had been father and mother of his own.  "One would have thought Francis had had a lesson sufficiently hard to have kept him from this," he said as he concluded, alluding to his father's ruin.

    "But he did not accept the lesson," said Mr. Tabor, "and the temptation is great, and to resist it is harder still.  The love of display, the desire to be rich and to seem rich, and to be and to seem richer than their neighbours, is the great vice of our class.  The selfish desire riches for themselves, and the unselfish for their children; all are drawn into the vortex, till true nobleness and simplicity of life are destroyed."

    "It would be more intelligible to me," said Mrs. Tabor, "if people got any comfort or pleasure out of it; but they don't."

    "Some do," said Mr. Tabor cautiously; "some who are living above their means are doing it not solely for display; still it is a mistake, if not a vice.  To live on a slightly lower scale might mean, even for them, greater comfort in ease of mind and freedom from anxiety.  A smaller house, a servant less, a simpler style of entertainment, make an immense difference throughout."

    "Yes, it is the scale that does it—not a pinch here and a screw there," said Mrs. Tabor.

    "Unfortunately," said Mr. Tabor, "our society is so penetrated with the love of display that all our houses nowadays are built so as to foster it.  They almost all have rooms which the people don't live in, and rooms which they oughtn't to live in, that they may keep up the fiction of a large reception-room."

    "Yes, and when I have seen how people managed to make a great show upon little, the slavish lives they led, the worries they went through, and even the privations they suffered, I was thankful that I never was tempted to try it," said Mrs. Tabor.

    "And I hardly think we shall," said Philip, looking at Lucy.

    "So much the better," said Mr. Tabor; "and I hope the time may come when people of our class will have sufficient cultivation to choose their associates not from the kind of house they live in, or the kind of table they keep, but from the manner of mind they are of, from their tastes and acquirements, and general elevation and purity of character and manners."


 
CHAPTER LII.

WEDDING GUESTS.





LOVEJOY'S wedding-day came round at last.  It was the time of harvest—an early one, like the harvest of earthly happiness which had been yielded to her so early and so abundantly.  But after all there is a great deal of such happiness in the world.  Every day is a wedding-day somewhere, and everywhere there are rejoicings for the spring-time or the harvest of love.  We might pass over this wedding, as no brighter and no happier than the rest.  It was but the starting-point of Ada's career.  Her life has yet to be lived, her story yet to be written.  She was standing on the threshold of a new world, both literally and metaphorically, for on the morrow she will quit the shores of England, to visit scenes the grandeur of which it has not entered into her heart to conceive.  Before she returns she will have seen all the grandest that Europe has to show of glory and of beauty, both in Nature and in Art, for the pair are to start from Paris to Rome.  They are to glance at the great Italian cities, to travel through Switzerland, and to return homeward by the Rhine.  She is waking to the light of a new day; may it be as calm as it is brilliant, as she stands there with her bridegroom by her side.  Pale as a lily she is, and she neither blushes nor falters, but looks out with her melting eyes, like one who is seeing a vision.

    It is with the wedding guests that we have most to do before we finish our story.  Almost all in whom we have been interested thus far were present on the occasion.  Among them, of course, was Mr. Lovejoy, who was there to give away the bride.  For once in his life his dreams had been equalled by the realities that surrounded him.  He was moving in the midst of the society among which he had been born and educated.  Fanny's rooms, through the united efforts of Lucy and Mrs. Austin, were tastefully adorned with the choicest of flowers.  That beautiful stately girl in silk and jewels, for she wore a necklet of pearls and brilliants which had been Arthur's mother's, and which had been his wedding gift, was his daughter, his darling Ada.  It was more than his imagination had pictured, and it overwhelmed him.  Instead of exhibiting his usual gaiety, he was trembling, and almost in tears.  Next comes Mrs. Lovejoy, who has put on, under protest, the attire suitable to the occasion which has been got ready for her, but who is in no way changed, in no way mollified.  Being so matter-of-fact, she is forced to believe in Ada's good fortune; but she goes no further.  She will not believe that it is good fortune for her, or her husband, or the rest of the family.  She is giving up another child, that is all she will allow herself to feel.

    Lucy and Philip are the principal accessories—Lucy is bridesmaid, Philip is best man.  Lucy is aided by other two bridesmaids, the little daughters of Mrs. Francis Tenterden, who have opportunely come home for the holidays, and have been pressed into the service.

    Mrs. Austin and Mrs. Tabor, with Clara Huntingdon, are a little in the background; Beatrice and her husband are further still.  There had been: debate as to whether these two last were to be asked to the marriage and the marriage breakfast.  Mrs. Lovejoy's verdict had been "no;" but Mr. Lovejoy was unhappy about the exclusion.  Ada sided with her father, and they had been invited accordingly.  The pair having found Ashmead Grange untenable had at length gravitated to London, and notwithstanding her very cold reception, Beatrice had visited her mother more than once.  Beatrice was not happy, and neither was her husband.  They were not happy in themselves, nor yet in each other, and the sources of their dissatisfaction were hidden from them both.  They had plenty of money now—at least John Baselow had, for he held the purse, and was not overgenerous with its contents.  They lived in comfort, if not in splendour, and yet Beatrice could not tell why she sat and sighed over her last new bonnet; nor her husband why he felt so low and wretched that he was obliged to resort to the public-house in the evening, in spite of a conviction that it was not good for him, neither physically nor socially.  The truth was, their occupation was gone.  They had neither work nor society, nor resources in themselves, and their fancied paradise of leisure and idleness had turned out to be no paradise after all, but something much more resembling a purgatory.  The people with whom they might gradually have come to consort were busy people of the upper middle class, who looked askance at them as idlers and nondescripts.  Under these circumstances Beatrice had sought her mother, and almost pathetically asked leave to help her.  Money she found she could not give, unless she gave it without her husband's knowledge, and that somehow she did not dare to do.  She was losing both health and spirits in her new life, for once upon a time she would have done it without scruple.  And her mother had rejected her offer, and said some bitter things about the past, which Beatrice had resented; but which went home to her conscience because of their truth.  She had resolved on the last occasion never to go near her again, when she met her gentler father at the door, and was turned back with words of welcome.

    And now she had come with her husband as a guest to Ada's wedding, with very mingled feelings of satisfaction and regret.  She was satisfied to show her family and friends to such advantage to the man she had married, and yet she regretted that marriage with all her heart.  She was clever enough to know that there are things which money cannot purchase, and that her husband was deficient in these.  It may be that the friendly hands held out to him and her to-day may help them to rise to higher things, to a truer appreciation of the two great talents of time and money committed to them, to a nobler estimate of the things in which purer and higher satisfaction may be found.  These friendly hands will not be withdrawn in unchristian exclusiveness.  Neither Philip, nor Lucy, nor Mrs. Austin will say, "These Baselows are not nice people; let us quietly drop them."  They are penetrated with another and a wider and sweeter spirit—a spirit which gives a finer and more unselfish meaning to social life than is to be found in the best maxims of the world's best society.

    After the service Mr. Huntingdon joined the wedding party, who "partook," as the journalists say, of an elegant "repast."  He made the speech of the occasion in toasting the bride and bridegroom.  It was a trifle grave, perhaps a trifle sermonising; a cleverer man might have lightened its gravity with a touch of humour, and it was almost too tender, for it left more than one or two of his listeners moved to tears.  He spoke of all the wedded pair ought to be to each other, of the sure comfort, the sweet companionship of the union in its most perfect form and then of what they ought to be to others— each home a little centre of light and heat, not selfishly shut up and caring for its own welfare only, but letting others share the genial warmth of its atmosphere of love.  It was in the poisoned air of selfishness that the lamp of love refused to burn.  Its sacred flame was fed by every generous thought and every pure emotion, by every sacred joy and every sacred sorrow.  He spoke of the love which should be kept alive because of the long years which might be before them, and of the love which should flow forth because of the inevitable parting, till Mrs. Lovejoy's hard eyes let fall another tear, and Ellen Austin's hands were clasped together trembling.

    And when Arthur had replied, and Philip had given "The bridesmaids" in a very pretty speech, Ada rose from her place and went away, followed by Lucy and Mrs. Austin, and Clara Huntingdon.  The elder ladies and Fanny, together with the juvenile bridesmaids, remained, and the defection on the part of the others was caused by the necessity for unrobing and redressing the bride as speedily as possible, and getting her ready to catch the train they had fixed upon.  While this was being done, Arthur had said his adieus, and was already in the hall, and when Ada came down, it was to a whirl of parting kisses, embraces, and blessings, from which she was rescued and carried off by Arthur to the carriage.

    Mrs. Austin and Clara had hastened up-stairs again, with a purpose of their own.  "Nobody has thought of the shoes," Clara had whispered laughingly, and they had determined to remedy the oversight.  But while they were looking about for a solitary slipper, they heard and saw a whole volley fired from the upper regions, only just missing the bridegroom's head.

    Then they stood still at the window, and saw the carriage roll away, and when it had disappeared the signs of emotion were on both their faces, and it drew them together.  They sat down, holding each other's hands.

    "One would not think there was much in common between us," said Clara, looking up in Ellen's face, with a meaning in her own, which told that she was thinking of the contrast between them—her own deformity and her companion's shapely beauty.  "It is not often," she added, "that I feel the pain of isolation, that shuts me out even from feeling as others feel, which brings to such as me the 'lowliest depth of human pain.'"

    "Better even that," said Ellen, "than to have shut yourself out by fault of your own, not only from happiness, but from sympathy, as I did."

    "Do not blame yourself so harshly," said Clara.  "I cannot fancy you doing anything to exclude yourself from sympathy.  And only see how you are loved."

    Ellen knew what she meant; but Clara suddenly clasped her beseechingly, and whispered, "Could you not love him in return?  He is so worthy of being loved."

    "Of that I am sure," said Ellen.  "It is I who am unworthy of him; it is I who cannot love him as I feel sure he deserves to be loved."

    "You have heard him picture the kind of love he needs," Clara.  "I am sure you could give him that.  You could give him the companionship he craves for.  You could help him to be to others all that he longs to be in his life and in his work.  The life of a clergyman in the midst of his people is often difficult, and it is always conspicuous.  It matters so much that it should be a life of ardour and unworldliness, and not of languor and self-seeking, because of the many who will copy it.  A clergyman and his wife may spread the tone of their own household through a whole district if they choose; and if that tone is a low and worldly one, whether they choose or no."

    "And you think me fitted for all this?" said Ellen.  "Indeed—indeed, I am not."

    But Clara could see that her pleading had had its effect, and she wisely said no more.

    Ellen kissed her tenderly, and they went downstairs together and joined the rest of the party, which soon after broke up.

    "I shall be as lonely as ever now," said Fanny, as she stood bidding her guests adieu; but she laughed her usual good-humoured laugh as she said it, and was assured by all and sundry that she would not be suffered to be lonely,—that she was making friends, not losing them.


 
CHAPTER LIII.

WAITING.


A YEAR passed away, and Philip is still working on hopefully—at least he is generally hopeful, for if his dark, despairing mood comes upon him now, it is speedily dispelled in Lucy's sweet presence.  She bears the waiting better than he does—indeed, would be perfectly happy if he would only be the same.  But there are times when, in common with all keenly and delicately organised natures, who have to come in contact with the rude forces of the world, he suffers.  At times, when he has overworked his brain, he thinks his nervous energy is failing, and that he will fall before the end is attained.  In this shadow he and Lucy have both walked of late.

    Arthur and Ada are flourishing.  They have long been in possession of their new home.  After returning from her foreign tour, Ada sat down therein to cultivate her mind, under Arthur's directions.  She read and studied; she had masters for music and for drawing, and made great proficiency, especially in the former.  But there had come another master to the pretty cottage, and the new master drove out the old ones, Arthur included, and was, for the time at least, a veritable tyrant.  The name of the tyrant was Master Baby.

    Arthur is doing some legal work, and doing it well, and much unpaid social work besides.  If his friends do not come a dozen at a time, they come pretty often.  In spite of Ada's youth and inexperience, there is always a good dinner, a pleasant evening, and a bed for the belated there.  They have no grand companies, but a great deal of hospitable entertainment, and "it does the fellows good," Arthur says behind their backs, "to see how happy we are."  Some of the fellows feel it too, and they are a clever set on the whole, whom Arthur attracts, and is attracted by.  The world may be the better for some of them one day; and they are learning there that it is not only the sirens who can sing—that the cup of joy sparkles not the less, but the more, for being pure.

    Albert Lovejoy is a sore grief and burden to his parents.  He has become quite unmanageable.  He is tied and bound by the chain of his sins so that he cannot be freed.  He is one of those infatuated creatures who will do anything for drink, and whom it would be merciful to place in asylums; but, as they are supposed to be rational beings, they are left at large, to be a curse to themselves and to all who are connected with them.  His health, too, is being undermined by his follies and excesses.  He, too, has that fatal disease which has carried off so many of his family.  His mother thinks he will not last long to trouble any one.

    And the old people watch over him as well as they can.  They are no longer suffered to feel the pinch of poverty; Arthur and Ada are liberal.  Fanny, too, is kind, and Mr. Lovejoy still retains his situation in the office of Tabor and Tenterden, and is advancing there in estimation and usefulness.  He and his wife are far more united now than ever they were in their lives.  They share their last and sorest trouble faithfully, though Mr. Lovejoy escapes from it oftener and more completely while he contemplates his infant grandson, and predicts for a creature so amazing the most extraordinary and brilliant future.


(Drawn by ROBERT BARNES)

"And predicts for a creature so amazing the most extraordinary
and brilliant future."


    But for the encumbrance of their unfortunate son, Mr. and Mrs. Lovejoy would doubtless have taken up their abode with Fanny, who persists in saying she is lonely; but she says it laughing good-humouredly still, and nobody believes that she feels it.

    Philip is in one of his heavy moods.  He has been trying hard, on behalf of a client, to punish a highly-respectable swindler as he deserves to be punished, and has failed; the laws of the country, according to Philip, being framed so as to afford the greatest amount of protection to respectable swindlers, and as little as possible to their victims.  Indeed, he is inclined to believe in a general failure of justice throughout the universe—that things are going wrong with honest people in general, and with himself in particular, and so he betakes himself to Park Villas, and to the society of Lucy and her parents without delay.  He seldom dines there, except on Sundays.  The dingy lodgings have not been left behind yet; the greasy mutton chops are still an institution; but he goes there on Saturday evening and stays till Monday morning.  That is considered settled.

    It is not Saturday evening; however, there he is.

    "I have such a piece of news for you!" cries Lucy; you couldn't be made to guess, could you?"

    "I can't guess," he says, shaking his head.  "The things you are asked to guess are either so obvious that it would never occur to a sane person that they were the least of a riddle, or else they are such improbabilities that they would never occur to a sane person at all."

    "This is neither the one nor the other," said Lucy, laughing.

    "Philip will be sure to say he has known all along how it would be," put in Mrs. Tabor.

    "No, he won't," said Lucy, confidently.  "Guess."

    "Won't even try," said Philip.

    "Somebody is going to be married.  Will that help you?" said Lucy.

    "Fanny, then," answered Philip, perversely.

    "I'm a good mind not to tell you at all," said Lucy, shaking her head at him.

    "Very well," he returned; "I shall not exhaust myself in the effort to find out."  But even with the playful nonsense the smile was coming back to his parched lips, the furrows were smoothing from his brow.

    "Then I will tell you," cried Lucy, magnanimously; it is Mrs. Austin.  She is going to marry Mr. Huntingdon."

    Philip started.  He had not known it, he had not imagined it, and yet it was no improbability.  Mrs. Tabor had, it seems, conceived its possibility; but she had kept it to herself, as it never in her thoughts went beyond a possibility.  She says she mentioned it to Mr. Tabor, but Mr. Tabor refuses to corroborate the assertion.  At any rate, the idea had never entered Philip's mind, and now it entered, along with other ideas which had been remote from his thoughts just then, and which startled him with their sudden rush.

    "I suppose it is very selfish to think first of ourselves," he said; "but it will make such a difference to us;" and he looked at Lucy with kindling eyes.  Lucy put her hands in his, and Mrs. Tabor disappeared in a twinkling.  "All the difference in the world, darling," he went on, drawing her to his breast.  He had not at the first realised the release it brought them.  "Half of the income Mrs. Austin relinquishes falls to me, and I have but to hand it over—or rather a part of it—to your father, and I am free."

    It was the very arrangement Mr. Tabor had already been suggesting as likely to be proposed by Philip; but they had left it to him to make, as a matter of course, and he did make it, and found it accepted with a heartiness which left him nothing to wish for.  Mr. Huntingdon and Mrs. Austin had thought it well to keep their intention private, until they were fully prepared to carry it out.  They were to be married quietly in about a month.  Clara had accomplished their happiness at the cost of her own, perhaps.  Mrs. Torrance had accepted the inevitable in the shape of Mr. Huntingdon, who (she speedily discovered) was manageable to any extent; but she had transferred her animosity to Clara, who was distinctly unmanageable, and whom she resolved to keep at a distance.  Clara was too clear-sighted to be blind to the faults of others, and when she saw them, could not, or rather would not conceal that she did so.  She would never have believed that the little ruse which Mrs. Torrance had practised in order to get rid of Mr. Huntingdon was an innocent slip of the tongue, as he did.  As long as Mrs. Torrance reigns she will be more or less separated from the brother on whom her whole heart is fixed; but, perhaps, they may reign alternately; or Ellen, in security and happiness, may gain the firmness which she needs, to use her gentle force against aggression, instead of bending to it as heretofore.


 
CHAPTER LIV.

CONCLUSION.

year, and Lucy and Philip have been married throughout the greater part of it, and are thoroughly happy; neither of them has developed any of that wonderful incompatibility which, according to some writers, the state of matrimony almost invariably calls forth.  That some such incompatibilities exist it would be useless to deny; but the general truth lies very much in the opposite direction.  So great is the capacity for loving in most women—and, to say the truth, in most men also—that all kinds of compatibilities are created by the very closeness of the marriage tie.  To outsiders is not the surprise general, how it is possible for Mrs. So-and-So to get on with the man she is united to for life? or Mr. So-and-So can see in the poor creature to whom he has given his name, that he should keep up his blind devotion?  Of course, there are marriages more or less perfect, and more or less imperfect, and the latter, perhaps, are the more numerous of the two classes.  A perfect union of mind and heart must in this world, as yet, be somewhat rare; but the tendency, especially where there is a sense of duty on one side, or on both, is for the union to become more perfect as time goes on.

    Mrs. Huntingdon fancies, for instance, that she could never have loved any one as she loved Mr. Huntingdon; but then it must be allowed that they were both distinctly lovable, and possessed of a high sense of duty.  Mr. Huntingdon is becoming the very model of what a clergyman in such a charge as his ought to be.  His congregation is composed not of the poor and wretched, but of the rich and comfortable.  The latter have their special temptations, special sins and vices, as well as the former, and they are far more difficult to deal with.  But Mr. Huntingdon tries to understand and to deal with them fearlessly.  He does not trouble himself or his hearers with minute shades of doctrine or of ritual; but insists on the grand characteristics of the Christian life, its faith and hope and charity, its simplicity and veracity, and—still more difficult to practice—its humility and self-denial, virtues which he tries to live as well as to teach.

    It is a Sunday morning in September, and the bells are ringing for church.  The well-dressed people are streaming out of their comfortable houses—fathers and mothers and troops of little folks, for these houses swarm with the latter, and fairer children than these middle-class homes of England can boast there are not to be found in the world.  Fresh bright colours—pure whites and blues chiefly—set off the fresh faces, and look brilliant in the sunshine.  The grass is still green in the gardens, and the borders are glowing with many-tinted asters and dahlias.  The sky is blue as that of June, and a soft breeze is blowing with apple-scented breath.  It is a day when all Nature seems to enjoy ineffable repose and peace.

    But there has been nothing but confusion and hurrying to and fro for the last hour or two in Park Villas.  Mr. and Mrs. Tabor do not go to church at all, but are sitting soberly and sadly in their darkened room.  Mr. Huntingdon goes to church, as needs he must, accompanied by his wife; they still live in the house that was formerly Mr. Austin's; but they go with solemn faces and bent heads; they, too, have their blinds drawn down as for a death.  The next house is Fanny's, and in it Fanny lies dead.  She was quite well the day before—at least to all appearance.  She had spent the afternoon with Ada, and had sat up rather later than usual, doing nothing in particular but dreaming away with some work upon her lap, and her favourite cat at her feet.  In the morning the servants thought she was sleeping later than usual, but they did not like to disturb her.  But when the breakfast-hour came and passed, they began to be uneasy.  Puck, her favourite cat, began to be uneasy too.  He was on terms of condescending familiarity with the kitchen cat, and would share her apartment for the night; but he was accustomed to breakfast with his mistress, and he roamed about the house for a time in search of her.  At length he sat down before her bedroom door, and began to mew loudly and persistently.

    "She'll hear him and wake up presently," said one and then the other of the girls.  "She didn't go to bed so early as usual last night."

    But she did not wake, and at length one of the maids went and knocked at her door.

    No answer.

    "The cat stood up on its hind-legs like a Christian," said the girl, "and put his paws against the door to push it open."

    Then the girls got alarmed, and could not enter for fear, and one of them came running to Mrs. Tabor, and begged her to come and see if there was anything amiss.  "Mistress might be in a fit," she thought.  Mrs. Tabor hastened to return with her, telling her that she ought to have entered at once.

    The door was not locked, and after knocking once more and calling Fanny's name, Mrs. Tabor entered.  She called once more, for she thought she was only sleeping; but there was still no answer, for the sleep was the sleep of death.  Mrs. Tabor felt her pulse, and it was quite still; but she lay with a smile on her face and in an attitude of painless ease.  Her favourite jumped upon the bed, and, purring, rubbed himself against her cheek.

    Mrs. Tabor lost no time in sending for the doctor and for her husband.  The latter hurried off for Philip and for Arthur Wildish, but the doctor speedily ascertained that no earthly power or skill could avail.  She had been dead for several hours at least, and she had died quite painlessly.  There was comfort to those who knew her in the thought.  In all her innocent and happy life she had never been the means of inflicting the slightest suffering on any of God's creatures, and they felt that it was well that she was not called upon to suffer.  She had simply awakened to the light of a Sabbath morning in heaven, perhaps from a dream of those who had gone before—the father and mother, and the little brothers and sisters, and all the old familiar faces she had been wont to summon round her, as she sat musing by her solitary hearth.  There is truly none so solitary that they need die without being missed.  The tears of Fanny's servants were enough to attest it.  They would miss in her a gentle mistress, and a true friend, and they mourned accordingly.  And not only in her little household, but throughout the whole circle Fanny was missed and mourned.

    When her will was read—for she had had her way and made a will, with the approbation and connivance of Mr. Tabor—it was found that the whole of her fortune was left to Philip Tenterden.  Ada, whom she loved, was rich, and did not require it.  Neither did Beatrice, whom she did not love at all.  And as for the rest, she believed that they would not survive her, or if they did, that they were safe in Philip's hands.  Mr. Tabor would have had her divide it equally between Philip and her family; but he found that she was determined to have her own way in the matter.  She was so hale and hearty, and so little liable to disturbance of any kind, that it seemed far from improbable that she would survive the most of them, certainly more than probable that she would survive her uncle and aunt, for whom Mr. Tabor pleaded.

    Albert Lovejoy, whose sickly and unhappy life was still prolonged, was furious when he heard the contents of the will, uttering impotent threats that he would break it, and accusing both Philip and Mr. Tabor of using undue influence with Fanny; but he fumed and fretted in vain, for Mr. Tabor had taken care to be able to prove that everything had been done in the most straightforward and honourable manner as far as he himself was concerned, while Philip had had nothing to do with it whatever.

    Albert's father and mother were glad that their son had not inherited the money, which would have been a curse in his hands, freeing him at once from the control which his poverty enabled them to impose on him.  While in Philip's it was a blessing even to him.  During a long and wasting sickness the latter supported Albert Lovejoy, ministering lavishly to all his bodily wants, thoughtful too for other wants than these.  He it was who managed that his poor little wife should be near him at the last to give him what comfort and support she could, and that he should see as much of his children as pleased him and no more.  Even his long discipline of sickness, and the Christian faith which came of it at length, did not change Albert Lovejoy into a saint.  He was irritable, fretful, weak and wavering to the last; but there was nevertheless a change when his eyes would seek the door with longing for for the hour of Philip's coming, when he could find strength in holding Philip's hand when the hour of his departure came.

    Philip and Lucy are very rich, but there are those who doubt the fact, for, say these people, "They keep up no sort of style."  But there are many who know it, and who perceive that, like our story, they are unfashionable enough to have a moral purpose, and that their motto, like its, might be―NOT WEALTH BUT WORTH.



THE END.

 



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