SIGNED "DANIEL MORTIMER."―CANADA.
"The log's burn red; she lifts her head
For sledge-bells tinkle and tinkle, O lightly swung.
'Youth was a pleasant morning, but ah! to think 'tis fled,
Sae lang, lang syne,' quo' her mother, 'I, too, was
"No guides there are but the North star,
And the moaning forest tossing wild arms before,
The maiden murmurs, 'O sweet were yon bells afar,
And hark! hark! hark! for he cometh, he nears the
"Swift north-lights show, and scatter and go.
How can I meet him, and smile not, on this cold shore?
Nay, I will call him, 'Come in from the night and the snow,
And love, love, love in the wild wood, wander no
AN hour after the conversation between Brandon and old Daniel Mortimer,
they parted, and nothing could be more unlike than his travels were and
those of the Melcombes. First, there was Newfoundland to be seen.
It looked at a distance like a lump of perfectly black hill embedded in
thick layers of cotton wool; then as the vessel approached, there was its
harbour, which though the year was nearly half over, was crackling all
over with brittle ice. Then there was Halifax Bay, blue as a great
sapphire, full of light, and swarming with the spawn of fish. And
there was the Bras d'Or, boats all along this yellow spit of sand,
stranded, with their sails set and scarcely flapping in the warm still
air; and then there was the port where he was to meet his emigrants, for
they had not crossed in the same ship with him; and after that there were
wild forests and unquiet waters far inland, where all night the noise of
the "lumber" was heard as it leaped over the falls; while at dawn was
added the screaming of white-breasted fowl jostling one another in their
flight as they still thronged up towards the north.
We almost always think of Canada as a cold country. Its
summer counts for little; nor meadow-grass waist deep, over which swarms
of mosquitoes hover, tormenting man and horse; nor sunshine that blisters
the face, nor natural strawberry-grounds as wide as Yorkshire, nor a sky
clearer, purer, and more intensely blue than any that spans Italian
plains. No; Canada means winter, snow, quivering northern lights,
log-fires, and sledge-bells!
Brandon found Canada hot, but when he had finished his work
there, he left it, and betook himself to the south, while it became the
Canada of our thought.
He went through the very heart of the States, and pleased
himself with wild rough living in lands where the rich earth is always
moist and warm, and primeval forest still shelters large tracts of it.
Camping out at night, sometimes in swampy hollows, it was
strange to wake when there was neither moon nor star, and see the great
decaying trees that storm had felled or age had ruined, glow with a weird
phosphorescent light, which followed the rents in them, and hovered about
the seams in their bark, making them look like the ghosts of huge
alligators prone in the places they had ravaged, and giving forth infernal
gleams. Stranger yet it was to see in the dark, moving near the
pine-wood fire, two feeble wandering lights, the eyes of some curious deer
that had come to gaze and wonder, and show its whereabouts by those soft
And then, when he and his companions wanted venison, it was
strange to go forth into the forest in the dark, two of them bearing a
great iron pot slung upon a long rod, and heaped with blazing pine-cones.
Then several pairs of these luminous spots would be seen coming together,
and perhaps a dangerous couple would glare down from a tree, and a wounded
panther would come crashing into their midst.
After that, he went and spent Christmas in Florida. He
had had frequent letters from home and from his step-father. He
wished to keep away till a certain thing was settled one way or the other,
but every letter showed that it was still unsettled; the sea-nymph that he
had been wasting his heart upon had not yet decided to accept his
brother's, but there was every likelihood that she would.
As time went on, however, he felt happy in the consciousness
that absence was doing its work upon him, and that change had refreshed
his mind. He was beginning to forget her. When the woman whom
one loves is to marry one's brother, and that brother happens to be of all
the family the one whom one prefers, what quality can be so admirable as
Still, for a man who was really forgetting, he argued the
matter too much in his mind. Even when he got far south, among the
Florida keys, and saw the legions of the heron and the ibis stalking with
stately gait along the wet sand, and every now and then thrusting in their
"javelin bills," spiking and bringing out long wriggling flashes of silver
that went alive down their throats, he would still be thinking it over.
Yes; he was forgetting her. He began to be in better spirits.
He was in very good spirits one day in January when, quite unknown to him,
the snow was shovelled away from the corner of a quiet churchyard in which
his mother slept, and room was made beside her for the old man who had
loved him as his own.
Old Daniel Mortimer had no such following as had
attended the funeral of his mother, and no such peaceful sunshine sleeping
on a landscape all blossom and growth. The wind raged, and the snow
whirled all about his grave and in it. The coffin was white before
the first clod of earth was thrown on it, and the mourners were driven out
of the churchyard, when the solemn service was over, by such gusts of
storm and whirling wind as they could hardly stand against.
His will was read. He had hardly anything to leave.
His directions were very simple and few, and there was a little desk
locked up in a cabinet that nobody thought about, and that the one person
who could have opened it supposed to concern exclusively himself. So
when he came, six months after, and looked about him with regretful
affection; when he had put the old man's portrait up in a place of honour,
and looked to the paying of all the debts, for everything, even to the
furniture, was now his own; when he had read the will, and sealed up all
such papers as he thought his half-brother Valentine might afterwards want
to refer to―he betook himself to his own particular domain, his long room
in the top of the house. There, locking himself in, he opened his
cabinet, and taking out the little desk, sat down to look for and read
The desk was soon opened. He lifted one half, saw
several old miniatures which had belonged to his own father's family, a
lock of his father's hair which he remembered to have seen in his mother's
possession, and one or two trinkets. No letter.
It was not without some slight trepidation that he opened the
other side, and there, nothing else being with it, a large letter sealed
with black and directed to himself in his step-father's well-known hand,
it was lying.
As he took the letter up, a sensation so faint, so ethereal
that it is hard to describe or characterize it, but which most of us have
felt at least once, came over him, or rather came about him, as if
something from without suggested a presence.
He was free from any sensation of fear, but he chose to
speak; lifting up his face as if the old man had been standing before him,
he said aloud, "Yes, I promised." The feeling was gone as he spoke,
and he broke the seal.
A long letter. His eyes, as it was folded, fell first
on these surprising words, "I forbade my mother to leave her property to
me," and then, "I have never judged her," the aged writer continued, "for
in her case I know not what I could have done."
Brandon laid the letter down, and took a moment for thought,
before he could make up his mind to read it through. Some crime,
some deep disgrace, he perceived was about to be confided to him.
With a hurried sense of dislike and shrinking from acquaintance with it,
he wondered whether his own late mother had known anything of it, then
whether he was there called upon to divulge it now, and to act. If
not, he argued with himself, why was it to be confided to him?
Then he addressed himself to his task, and read the letter
through, coming to its last word only to be still more surprised, as he
perceived plainly that beyond what he could gather from those two short
sentences already quoted, nothing was confided or confessed, nothing at
all―only a request was made to him, and that very urgently and solemnly,
but it concerned not himself, but his young brother Valentine, for not
content with repudiating the family property for himself, the old father
was desirous, it was evident, through his step-son, to stand in the way
and bar his own son's very remote chance of inheriting it either.
A thing that is very unexpected and moderately strange, we
meet with wide-opened eyes, with a start and perhaps exclamations; but a
thing more than strange, utterly unaccounted for, quite unreasonable, and
the last thing one could have supposed possible as coming from the person
who demanded it, is met in far quieter fashion.
Brandon leaned back in his chair and slowly looked about him.
He was conscious that he was drawing deeper breath than usual, and that
his heart beat quickly, but he was so much surprised that for the moment
his thoughts appeared to scatter themselves about, and he knew not how to
marshal them and make them help him as to what this might mean.
Mystery in romance and in tales is such a common vulgar
thing, in tragedy and even in comedy it is so completely what we demand
and expect, that we seldom consider what an astonishing and very uncommon
thing it is when it appears in life. And here in a commonplace,
well-conducted, happy, and united family was a mystery pointing to
something that one of its best-loved members had never had a hint of.
Whatever it was, it concerned a place little more, than fifty miles off,
and a man in whose presence he had lived from his early childhood; the
utmost caution of secrecy was demanded, and the matter spoken of entirely
changed the notions he had always held concerning his step-father, whom he
had thought he knew better than any man living. When one had
believed that one absolutely understood another, how it startles the mind
to discover that this is a mistake! A beautiful old man this had
been―pious, not very worldly-wise, but having a sweetness of nature, a
sunny smile, and a native ease about him that would not have been possible
without a quiet conscience. This he had possessed, but "I forbade my
mother to leave her property to me." His step-son turned back the
page, and looked at those words again. Then his eyes fell lower.
"In her case I know not what I could have done." "When did he forbid
this―was it ten years ago, twenty years, fifty years? He was really
very well off when he married my mother. Now where did he get the
property that he lost by his speculations? Not by the law; his
profession never brought him in more than two hundred a year. Oh! he
had it from the old cousin that he and Grand often talk of, old John
Mortimer. And that's where the old silver plate came from. Of
course, and where John got his name.
"We always knew, I think, that there was an aged mother; now
why did I take for granted that she must be in her second childhood?
I wonder whether John put that into my head. I think I did remark to
him once when I was a boy and he was living at home, that it was odd there
was no portrait of her in either of the houses. (But no more there
is of Grand now I come to think of it; John never could make him sit.)
Before the dear old man got so infirm he used generally to go out about
once a year and come back in low spirits, not liking to be questioned.
He may have gone then to see his mother, but I know sister used to think
he went to see the relations of that wretched woman, his first wife.
Who shall say now?"
And then he sat down and thought and thought, but nothing
came of his thinking. Peter Melcombe, so far as he knew, was
perfectly well; that was a comfort. Valentine was very docile; that
was also a comfort; and considering that what his father had wished for
him nearly four years ago was actually coming to pass, and everything was
in train for his going to one of the very best and healthiest of our
colonies, there seemed little danger that even if Melcombe fell to him he
should find the putting it from him a great act of self-denial.
And what a strange thing it was, Brandon thought, that
through the force of circumstances he himself should have been made to
bring about such an unlikely thing! That so young a man should want
to marry was strange enough. It was more strange that he should have
fixed on the only woman in the world that his brother wanted. This
said brother had thought it the very climax of all that was strange that
it should have devolved on him who had command of money and who knew the
colonies, to make this early marriage possible. But surely the
climax of strangeness was rather here, that he had all this time been
working as if on purpose to bring about the longing desire of his old
step-father, which till then he had never heard of, depriving Valentine as
much as was possible of his freedom, shutting him up to the course his
father wanted him to follow, and preparing to send him as far as in this
world he could be sent from the dreaded precincts of Melcombe.
Brandon had devoted out of his moderate patrimony a thousand
pounds each to his step-brother and his step-sisters. In the case of
Valentine he had done more; he had in a recent visit to New Zealand bought
some land with a dwelling-house on it, and to this place it was arranged
that immediately on his marriage Valentine should sail.
Brandon felt a strong desire to go and look at Melcombe, for
his step-father's conduct with regard to it kept coming back to his mind
with ever-fresh surprise; but though he searched his memory it could yield
him nothing, not a hint, not a look, from any one which threw the least
light on this letter.
"But that there's crime at the core of it, or some deep
disgrace," he soliloquized, "appears to me most evident, and I take his
assurance in its fullest meaning that he had nothing to do with it."
The next morning, having slept over the contents of the
letter, he went to his upper room, locked himself in, and read it again.
Then after pausing a while to reconsider it, he went up to the wall to
look at a likeness of Dorothea Graham. Valentine had a photographing
machine, and had filled the house with portraits of himself and his
beloved. This was supposed to be one of the best. "Lucky
enough that I had the sense to leave this behind me," thought Brandon.
"Yes, you sweet thing, I am by no means breaking my heart now about you
and your love for that boy. You are sure to marry him; you have a
faithful heart, so the best thing for him will be to let you marry as soon
as possible. I'll tell him so as we walk to John Mortimer's to-day.
I'll tell him he may do it as soon as he likes."
Accordingly as about six o'clock he and Valentine walked
through a wood, across a common, and then over some fields, Brandon began
to make some remarks concerning the frequent letters that passed between
these youthful lovers. "It is not to be supposed," he observed,
"that any lady would correspond with you thus for years if she had not
fully made up her mind to accept you in the end."
"No," answered Valentine with perfect confidence; "but she
knows that I promised my father to wait a few months more before I
decidedly engaged myself, but for that promise I was to have had an answer
from her half a year ago."
Brandon fully believed that Dorothea Graham loved his
brother, and that her happiness was in his own hands. He had found it easy
to put the possibility of an early marriage in Valentine's way, but
nothing could well go forward without his sanction, and since his return
he had hitherto felt that the words which would give it were too difficult
for him to say. Now, however, that remarkable letter, cutting in across
the usual current of his thoughts, had thrown them back for awhile. So
that Dorothea seemed less real, less dear, less present to him.
The difficult words were about to be said.
"If she knows why you do not speak, and waits, there certainly is an
understanding between you, which amounts almost to the same thing."
"Yes," said Valentine, "and in August, as she knows, I shall ask
"Then," said Brandon, almost taking Valentine's breath away with sudden
delight, "I think, old fellow, that when she has once said 'yes,' you had
better make short work with the engagement; you will never be more ready
to marry than you are now; you are a few months older than John was when
he went and did it; and here you are, with your house in New Zealand ready
built, your garden planted, a flock of sheep bought, and all there is to
do is to turn out the people now taking care of the place, as soon as you
are ready to come in."
Brandon was standing on a little plank which bridged a stream about two
feet wide; he had turned to say this, for Valentine was behind him.
Valentine received the communication first with silence, then with a shout
of triumph, after which he ran completely round his brother several times,
jumping over the stream and flourishing a great stick that he held, with
boyish ecstasy, not at all dignified, but very sincere. When he had made
at least three complete circles, and jumped the stream six times, Giles
gravely walked on, and Valentine presently followed, wiping his forehead.
"Nobody could have expressed my own sentiments in more charming English,"
he exclaimed; "I never heard such grammar in my life; what a brick you
are, St. George!"
Giles had great faith in his theory that absence always cured love, also
in his belief that his was cured and half forgotten. At that moment he
experienced a sharp pang, however, that was not very like forgetfulness,
but which Valentine converted almost into self-scorn when he said―
"You know, Giles, she always did show the most undisguised liking for me
from our first meeting; and then look how constant she has been, and what
beautiful letters she writes, always trying, too, to improve me. Of course
I cannot even pretend to think she would not have engaged herself to me
months ago if I might have asked her."
"All true, perfectly true," he thought to himself; "he loves her and she
loves him, and I believe if she had never met with Valentine, she would
still never have married me. What a fool I am!"
"Why wouldn't you take this view of things yesterday, when I tried to make
you?" asked Valentine.
"I was not ready for it," answered Giles, "or it was not ready for me."
Thereupon they passed through a wicket-gate into a kind of glen or
wilderness, at the end of John Mortimer's garden, and beyond the stream
where his little girls acted Nausicaa and his little boys had preserves of
minute fishes, ingeniously fenced in with sticks and fine netting.
"There's Grand," exclaimed Valentine, "they've brought him out to look at
their water-snails. What a venerable old boy he is! he looks quite holy,
"Hold your tongue," said Brandon, "they'll hear you. He's come to see
their newts; they had a lot yesterday at the bottom of the punt. Little
Hugh had one in his hand, a beast with an orange breast, and it was
squinting up at him."
It would be hard to say of any man that he is never right. If he is
always thinking that he has forgotten a certain lady, surely he is right
They went in to dinner, a party of four, for John Mortimer since his
wife's death did not entertain ladies, and Miss Christie Grant always
presided at an early dinner, when the governess and the children dined.
As the dinner advanced St. George and Valentine both got into high
spirits, the former because a stronger conviction than usual assured him
that he was forgetting Dorothea Graham; the latter, because instead of
being pulled back, he had at last got a shove in the other direction. In
short, Valentine was so happy in his jokes and so full of fun, that the
servants had no sooner withdrawn than John Mortimer taxed him with having
good reason for being so, mentioned the probable cause, and asked to see
Miss Graham's portrait, "which, no doubt," he said, "you have got in your
"Why I have had that for years," said Valentine scornfully.
"And dozens of them," said Brandon; "they took them themselves."
"When is it to be?" asked old Grand with great interest.
"I don't exactly know, uncle; even Giles doesn't know that! If he
had known, I'm sure he would have told you, and asked your advice, for I
always brought him up to be very respectful to his elders."
"Come, sir, come," said the old man laughing, "if you don't exactly
know, I suppose you have a tolerably distinct notion."
"I know when I should like it to be, and when I think D. would like it. Not too late for a wedding tour, say October, now, or," seeing his brother
look grave, "or November; suppose we say November."
"I'm afraid there is no wedding tour in the programme," observed Brandon. "The voyage must be the tour."
"Then I'll go without my cart. We must have a tour; it will be the only
fun I shall ever be able to give her."
Valentine had inherited only about two hundred pounds from his father, he
having been left residuary legatee, and he was much more inclined to spend
this on luxuries than on necessaries.
"You've bought me land, and actually paid for it yourself, and you've
bought me a flock, and made me a barn, and yet you deny me the very
necessaries of life, though I can pay for them myself! I must have a tour,
and D. must have a basket-carriage."
"Well, my dear fellow," said Grand, "though that matter is not yet
settled, it is evident things are so far advanced that we may begin to
think of the wedding presents. Now, what would you like to have from me, I
wonder? I mean how would you prefer to have it? John and I have already
considered the amount, and he quite agrees with me as to what I ought to
give to my only brother's only son."
"Only brother's!" The word struck Brandon both as showing that the
old man had almost forgotten other dead brothers, and also as evidently
being the preface to a larger gift than he had anticipated.
"Thank you, uncle," said Valentine, almost accomplishing a blush of pride
and pleasure. "As you are so kind as to let me choose, I should like your
present in money, in my pocket, you know, because there is the tour, and
it would go towards that."
"In your pocket!" exclaimed John Mortimer, with a laugh of such amusement
and raillery as almost put Valentine out of countenance. "Why, do you
think my father wants to give you a school-boy's tip?"
"I think a good deal depends on the lady," said Grand, who also seemed
amused; "if she has no fortune, it might be wise to settle it on her; if
she has, you might wish to lay it out in more land, or to invest it here;
you and Giles must consider this. I mean to give you two thousand pounds." Then, when he saw that Valentine was silent from astonishment, he went on,
"And if your dear father had been here he would not have been at all
surprised. Many circumstances, with which you are not acquainted, assure
me of this, and I consider that I owe everything to him." There was a
certain sternness about these words; he would have, it was evident, no
John Mortimer heard his father say this with surprise. "He must mean that
he owes his religious views to my uncle," was his thought; but to Brandon,
who did not trouble himself about those last words, the others were full
of meaning; the amount of the gift, together with the hint at
circumstances with which Valentine was not acquainted, made him feel
almost certain that the strange words, "I forbade my mother to leave her
property to me," alluded to something which was known to the next brother.
Valentine, at first, was too much surprised to be joyous, but he thanked
his uncle with something of the cordial ingenuousness and grace which had
distinguished his father.
"I can have a tour now, can't I, old fellow," he said after a time
to his brother; "take my wife"―here a joyous laugh―"my
WIFE on the
Continent; we shall go dashing about from place to place, you know,
staying at hotels, and all that!"
"To be sure," said Brandon, "staying at hotels, of course, and ordering
wonderful things for breakfast. I think I see you now―
"'Happy married lovers,
Phillis trifling with a plover's
Egg, while Corydon uncovers
With a grace the Sally Lun.'"
"That's the way this fellow is always making game of me," exclaimed
Valentine; "why I'm older than you were, John, when you married."
"And wild horses shall never drag the words out of me that I was too
young," said John Mortimer, "whatever I may think," he continued.
"John was a great deal graver than you are," said Brandon; "besides, he
knew the multiplication table."
"So do I, of course," exclaimed Valentine.
"Well," answered Brandon, "I never said you did not."
CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES.
"Now I am at a loss to know whether it be my hare's
foot that is my
preservation; for I never had a fit of the collique since I wore it;
or whether it be my taking of a pill of turpentine every morning."
Diary of Mr. Samuel Pepys.
"JOHN, the Melcombes have stayed on
the Continent so much longer than I expected that I hardly remember
whether I told you I had invited them to come round this way, and remain
here a few days on their return." Old Augustus Mortimer said this to
his son, who was dining with him a few days after the conversation
concerning the wedding present. "I supposed," he added, "that you
would not invite that child or his mother again?"
John Mortimer replied, in clear and vigorous English, that he
The manner in which he was looked after by the ladies had
become quite a joke in the family, though one of his chief tormentors had
lately been moved out of his way, Louisa Grant was married. Captain
Walker had at first, after Mr. Mortimer's death, agreed to wait for her
till Brandon's return; but his regiment being ordered abroad, he had
induced her to hasten the wedding, which took place about three months
before Brandon reached England. And as Louisa did not, out of
respect to her step-father, like to be married from his house so soon
after his death, old Grand had received and entertained all the wedding
guests, and John Mortimer had given away the bride.
On that occasion it was confidently asserted by the remaining
Miss Grant and Valentine, that there were four ladies present who would at
any time with pleasure undertake to act the loving mother to dear John's
John was becoming rather sensitive; he remembered how sweetly
Mrs. Melcombe had smiled on him, and he remembered the ghost story too.
"I rather want to see how that boy is getting on," continued
"By-the-bye," said the son, "I heard to my surprise the other
day from Swan, whose son, it seems, was doing some work at Melcombe this
spring (making a greenhouse, I think), that Mrs. Melcombe wintered at
Mentone, partly on her boy's account, for he had a feverish or aguish
illness at Venice, and she was advised not to bring him to England."
"I never heard of it," said Grand, with anxiety.
"Nor I, my dear father; but I meant to have told you before;
for I see you take an interest in the child."
"What imprudence!" continued Grand; "those people really have
no sense. I begged them particularly not to go to Venice in the
"Yes," said John, "it was foolish; but Swan went on to say
that he heard the boy was all right again."
"I hope so," replied Grand, almost fervently; "and his mother
wants to consult us now about his going to school."
John could not forbear to smile when his father said "us."
"So you have written to say you shall be glad to see them?"
"Yes; it is very little I ever see of my relations."
John thought that perhaps his father's mind was turning with
affection towards his family, from whom he did not now doubt that he had
been estranged owing to some cause which had terminated with the old
mother's death. So he said cordially―
"Would you like, when Mrs. Melcombe goes home, to invite
Laura to remain with you for a few weeks? I have no doubt, if you
would, that Lizzy Grant would be charmed to come at the same time, and
taste the sweetness of freedom. The two girls could have the
carriage, you know, and the canoes, and the riding-horses. They
might enjoy themselves very much, and give croquet parties and picnics to
their hearts' content. I would get old Christie to come to you
whenever a chaperone was wanted. She is a most valuable possession,
my dear father, but I would lend her."
"You are very kind, my dear," answered the father, who often
addressed his son in this fashion when they were alone. "I think it
would be a pleasure to me to have the girls. You can't think, John,
how cheerful the house used to be before your sisters were married; you
can hardly remember it, you were so young."
"Why did I never think of proposing such a visit to him
before?" thought John, almost with compunction.
"I seem to know them pretty well," he answered, "from their
letters and from hearing you talk of them; but what I really remember, I
believe, is four grand young ladies who used to carry me a pick-a-back,
and give me sugared almonds."
Of the four Miss Mortimers, the eldest had married a
clergyman, and died soon after; the second and third had married "shepherd
kings," and were living with the said kings in Australia; and the fourth
was in India with her husband and a grown-up family. Their father
had given to each of them an ample fortune, and parted with her before his
only son was five years old, for John Mortimer was fifteen years younger
than his youngest sister, and had been, though the daughters were much
beloved, a greater joy and comfort to his father than all four of them put
He was glad that his father showed this willingness to have
Lizzy Grant to stay in his house, for he was fond of all the Grants; there
was a kind of plain-spoken intimacy between him and them that he enjoyed. The two elder had always been his very good friends, and during his wife's
lifetime had generally called him "John dear," and looked to him and his
wife to take them about whenever their brother was away. Liz, who was
rather a plain girl, he regarded more in the light of a niece than of a
A day or two after this, therefore, while sitting alone writing his
letters (Grand being gone out for his constitutional), when he was told
that Miss Grant wanted to speak to him, he desired that she might be shown
She was sitting at the back door in a little pony carriage, and giving the
reins to her boy, she passed through it, to the wonder of all beholders.
Very few young ladies were shown in there.
"What is it?" exclaimed John, for Liz looked almost sulky.
"Oh John," she answered, with a sort of whimsical pathos, "isn't it sad,
so few delightful things as there are, that two of them should come
together, so that I can't have both!"
"What are the delightful things―offers?"
"Don't be so tiresome. No, of course not. You know very well that nothing
of that kind ever happens to me."
"Indeed, if that is the case, it can only be because your frocks are
almost always crumpled, and―what's that long bit of blue ribbon that I
"It's all right―that's how it's meant to go. I can't think why you fancy
that I'm not tidy. St. George is always saying so too."
"That's very hard. Well, child?"
"I thought perhaps you knew that Grand had invited me to stay six weeks at
his house―Laura Melcombe to be there also, and we two to do just as we
liked. The whole of August, John, and part of September, and that's the
very time when I can't come, because we are going to be at the seaside. Dorothea is to join us, you know, and if I do not see her then I never
shall, for they are to sail at Christmas."
"There is a world of misery to be got out of conflicting pleasures," said
John philosophically. "You can't come, that's evident; and I had just
given orders that the new canoe should be painted and the old one caulked.
Two quiet ponies for you to drive (you are a very tolerable whip, I know). As to the grapes, a house is being kept back on purpose to be ripe just at
that time; and the croquet balls are all sent to be painted. Melancholy
facts! but such is life."
"No but, John――"
"I'm extremely busy to-day."
"Not so busy that you have not time to laugh at me. This would have been
almost the greatest pleasure I ever had."
"And I've been reminding my father," proceeded John, "that when Emily came
to stay with him she always sat at the head of the table. She asked him if
she might, and so should you have done, because, though Laura is a
relation, he has known you all your life."
"No but, John," repeated Lizzie, "can't you do something for me? Tell me
whether Laura Melcombe has been already invited?"
"She has not, Miss Grant."
"I have no doubt, if you asked Grand to let the visit be put off till the
middle of September, he would."
"I shouldn't wonder."
"Then you'll do it, won't you? because you know you and I have always been
"Now you mention it, I think we have; at any rate, I don't dislike you
half so much as I do some of my other friends. Yes, child, your confidence
is not misplaced."
"Then I may leave the matter in your hands?" exclaimed Liz joyfully.
"You really may," replied John Mortimer, and he took her back to the pony
carriage in a high state of bliss and gratitude.
This change, however, which was easily effected, made a difference to
several people whom Miss Grant had no wish to disoblige. First, Mrs.
Melcombe, finding that Laura was invited to pay a long visit, and that the
invitation was not extended to her, resolved not to come home by Wigfield
at all; but when Laura wrote an acceptation, excused herself from coming
also, on the ground of her desire to get home.
Grand, therefore, did not see Peter, and this troubled him more than he
liked to avow. Brandon was also disappointed, for he particularly wanted
to see the boy and his mother again. The strangeness of his step-father's
letter grew upon him, and it rather fretted him to think that he could not
find any plausible reason for going over to Melcombe to look about him. He
was therefore secretly vexed with his sister when he found that, in
consequence of her request to John, the plans of all the Melcombes had
been changed. So Liz with a cheerful heart went to the sea-side with Mrs. Henfrey and Valentine, and very soon wrote home to Miss Christie Grant
that Dorothea had joined them, that the long-talked-of offer had been made
and (of course) accepted, and that Giles was come. She did not add that
Giles had utterly lost his heart again to his brother's bride elect, but
that she would not have done if she had known it.
Miss Christie was wroth on the occasion.
"It's just shameful," she remarked. "Everybody knew Miss Graham would
accept him, but why can't she say how it was and when it was? She's worse
than her mother. 'Dear Aunt,' her mother wrote to me, 'I'm going to marry
Mr. Mortimer on Saturday week, and I hope you'll come to the wedding, but
you're not to wear your blue gown. Your affectionate niece, EMILY
GRANT.' That was every word she said, and I'd never heard there was anything
between her and Mr. Mortimer before."
"And why were you not to wear your blue gown?" inquired John Mortimer.
"Well," replied Miss Christie, "I don't deny that if she hadn't been
beforehand with me I might just slyly have said that my blue gown would
do, for I'd only had it five years. I was aye thrifty; she knew it
was as good as ever―a very excellent lutestring, and made for her wedding
when she married Mr. Grant―so she was determined to take my joke against
her out of my mouth."
If Miss Christie had not found plenty to do during the next six weeks, she
would have grumbled yet more than she did over her wrongs. As it was,
Master Augustus John Mortimer came home from school for his long holidays,
and he and his friends excited more noise, bustle, and commotion in the
house than all the other children put together.
John Mortimer's eldest son, always called Johnnie, to distinguish him from
his father, was ridiculously big for his age, portentously clever and
keen-witted, awkward, blunt, rude, full of fun, extremely fond of his
father, and exceedingly unlike him in person. His hair was nearly black,
his forehead was square and high, his hands and feet almost rivalled those
of his parent in size, and his height was five feet three.
In any other eyes than those of a fond parent he must have appeared as an
awkward, noisy, plain, and intolerably active boy; but his father (who
almost from his infancy had pleased himself with a mental picture of the
manner of man he would probably grow into) saw nothing of all this, but
merely added in his mind two inches to the height of the future companion
he was to find in him, and wished that the boy could get over a lisp which
still disfigured some of his words.
He brought such a surprising account of his merits with him―how he could
learn anything he pleased, how he never forgot anything, how, in fact, his
master, as regarded his lessons, had not a fault to find with him, that
when his twin sisters had seen it, there seemed to them something strange
in his being as fond of tarts and lollipops as ever.
As for John, nothing surprised him. Miss Christie saw great diversities in
his children, but in regard to them all he showed an aggravating degree of
contentment with what Providence had sent him. Miss Christie wore through
Johnnie's sojourn at home as well as she could, and was very happy when
she saw him off to school again; happier still when walking towards home
across the fields with John Mortimer and the four younger children, they
saw Brandon and Valentine at a distance coming to meet them.
"So they are at home again," she exclaimed; "and now we'll hear all about
the wedding that is to be. I've been just wearying for the parteeculars,
and there never were such bad letter-writers as those girls. Anyhow
there'll be a handsome bridegroom."
"Ah!" said John Mortimer, "all the ladies admire Val. He's quite a woman's
"Well, and St. George is a man's man, then," retorted Miss Christie; "ye
all admire him, I am sure."
"And what are you, papa, dearest?" asked Janie, who had hold of his hand.
"I'm my own man, my little queen-regnant," answered her father with a
somewhat exultant laugh.
"Ay, Mr. Mortimer, I'm just surprised at ye," quoth Miss Christie, shaking
her head over these vainglorious words.
"I think father's the most beautifullest man of all," said little Janie,
with a sort of jealous feeling as if somehow he had been disparaged,
though she did not exactly know how. "And the goodest, too," she presently
added, as if not satisfied with her first tribute to him.
Valentine, who was seldom out of countenance on any occasion, received the
congratulations of all the party with a certain rather becoming pride and
complacency. He seemed, however, to be taking things very easily, but he
presently became rather silent, and John, who felt keenly that Brandon was
not so indifferent to the bride-elect as he wished to be, turned the
conversation as soon as he could to other matters. There was some talk
about Valentine's land which had been bought for him in New Zealand, after
which Brandon said suddenly,―
"John, when this fellow is gone, or perhaps before, I mean to have
something to do―some regular work―and I think of taking to literature in
"All right," answered John, "and as you evidently intend me to question
you, I will ask first whether you, Giles Brandon, mean to write on some
subject that you understand, or on one that you know nothing about?"
Brandon laughed. "There is more to be said in favour of that last than you
think," he answered.
"It may be that there is everything to be said; but if you practise it,
don't put your name to your work, that's all."
"I shall not do so in any case. How do I know whether the only use people
may make of it (and that a metaphorical one) may not be to throw it at me
"I don't like that," said Miss Christie. "I could wish that every man
should own his own."
"No," remarked John Mortimer; "if a man in youth writes a foolish book and
gives his name to it, he has, so far as his name is concerned, used his
one chance; and if, in maturer life, he writes something high and good,
then if he wants his wise child to live, he must consent to die himself
with the foolish one. It is much the same with one who has become
notorious through the doing of some base or foolish action. If he repent,
rise to better things, and write a noble book, he must not claim it as if
it could elevate him. It must go forth on its own merits, or it will not
be recognised for what it is, only for what he is or was. No, if a man
wants to bring in new thoughts or work elevating changes, he must not clog
them with a name that has been despised."
"I think Dorothea and I may as well write a book together," said
Valentine. "She did begin one, but somehow it stuck fast."
"You had better write it about yourselves, then," said John, "that being
nearly all you study just now, I should think. Many a novel contains the
author and little else. He explains himself in trying to describe human
"Human nature!" exclaimed Valentine; "we must have something grander than
that to write of, I can tell you. We have read so many books that turn it
'the seamy side outward,' and point out the joins as if it was a glove,
that we cannot condescend to it."
"No," said John, setting off on the subject again as if he was most
seriously considering it, Valentine meanwhile smiling significantly on the
others. "It is a mistake to describe too much from within. The external
life as we see it should rather be given, and about as much of the motives
and springs of action as an intelligent man with good opportunity could
discover. We don't want to be told all. We do not know all about those we
live with, and always have lived with. If ever I took to writing fiction I
should not pretend to know all about my characters. The author's world
appears small if he makes it manifest that he reigns there. I don't
understand myself thoroughly. How can I understand so many other people? I
cannot fathom them. My own children often surprise me. If I believed
thoroughly in the children of my pen, they would write themselves down
sometimes in a fashion that I had not intended."
"John talks like a book," observed Valentine. "You propose a subject, and
he lays forth his views as if he had considered it for a week. 'Drive on, Samivel.'"
"But I don't agree with him," said Miss Christie. "When I read a book I
aye dislike to be left in any doubt what the man means or what the story
"I always think it a great proof of power in a writer," said Brandon,
"when he consciously or unconsciously makes his reader feel that he knows
a vast deal more about his characters than he has chosen to tell. And what
a keen sense some have of the reality of their invented men and women! So
much so that you may occasionally see evident tokens that they are jealous
of them. They cannot bear to put all the witty and clever speeches into
the mouths of these 'fetches' of their own imagination. Some must be saved
up to edge in as a sly aside, a sage reflection of the author's own. There
never should be any author's asides."
"I don't know about that," John answered, "but I often feel offended with
authors who lack imagination to see that a group of their own creations
would not look in one another's eyes just what they look in his own. The
author's pretty woman is too often pretty to all; his wit is acknowledged
as a wit by all. The difference of opinion comes from the readers. They
"Even I," observed Valentine, "if I were an author's wit, might be voted a
bore, and how sad that would be, for in real life it is only right to
testify that I find little or no difference of opinion."
He spoke in a melancholy tone, and heaved up a sigh.
"Is cousin Val a wit?" asked little Hugh.
"I am afraid I am," said Valentine; "they're always saying so, and it's
very unkind of them to talk about it, because I couldn't help it, could
Here the little Anastasia, touched with pity by the heartfelt pathos of
his tone, put her dimpled hand in his and said tenderly, "Never mind,
dear, it'll be better soon, p'raps, and you didn't do it on purpose."
"Does it hurt?" asked Hugh, also full of ruth.
"Be ashamed of yourself," whispered Miss Christie, "to work on the dear
children's feelings so. No, my sweet mannie, it doesn't hurt a bit."
"I'm very much to be pitied," proceeded Valentine. "That isn't all"―he
sighed again―"I was born with a bad French accent, and without a single
tooth in my head, or, out of it, while such was my weakness, that it took
two strong men, both masters of arts, to drag me through the rudiments of
the Latin grammar."
Anastasia's eyes filled with tears. It seemed so sad; and the tender
little heart had not gone yet into the question of seeming.
"They teached you the Latin grammar did they?" said Bertram, who
had also been listening, and was relieved to hear of something in this
list of miseries that he could understand; "that's what Miss Crampton
teaches me. I don't like it, and you didn't either, then. I'm six and
three quarters; how old were you?"
Before Valentine had answered, John and Brandon, finding themselves before
the party, had stopped and turned. Brandon was surprised to see how
earnestly the two elder children, while he talked, had been looking at
him, and then at their father and Valentine. At last, when this pause
occurred, and the two groups met, Janie said―
"I am sure papa is a great deal prettier than Mr. Brandon, and Cousin Val
looks quite ugly beside him."
"Yes, Janie," said Bertram, with an air of high satisfaction, "papa's much
more beautiful than either of the others. I shall ask Miss Crampton when I
go in if she doesn't think so. You would like to know what she thinks,
wouldn't you, father?"
John had opened his mouth to say no, when his better sense coming to his
aid, he forbore to speak. For this lady taught his children to perfection,
but his friends always would insist that she wanted to teach him
too―something that he wouldn't learn.
Aunt Christie, his constant friend and champion, presently spoke for him.
"No, children," she said, as soon as she had composed her voice to a due
gravity, "it's natural ye should admire your father, good children
generally do, but, now, if I were you, I would never tell anybody at all,
not even Miss Crampton―do ye hear me, all of you? I would never tell
anybody your opinion of him. If ye do, they will certainly think ye highly
conceited, for ye know quite well that people say you four little ones are
just as exactly like him as ye can be."
The children were evidently impressed.
"In fact," said Valentine, "now I take a good look at him, I should say
that you are even more like him than he is himself―but―I may be mistaken."
"I won't say it then," said Bertram, now quite convinced.
"And I won't, and I won't," added others, as they ran forward to open a
"Cheer up, John," said St. George, "let us not see so much beauty and
virtue cast down. There's Miss Crampton looking out of the school-room
But though he laughed he did not deceive John Mortimer, who knew as well
as possible that the loss of Dorothea Graham pressed heavily on his
"You two are going to dine with me, of course," he said, when all the
party had passed into the wilderness beyond his garden.
"On the contrary, with your leave," answered Valentine, "we are going to
take a lesson of Swan in the art of budding roses. We cannot manage it to
our minds. We dined early."
"And I suppose you will agree with Val," observed Brandon, "that a
rose-garden is one of the necessaries of life."
"Dorothea must have one, must she, out in New Zealand? Well, Swan will be
proud to teach you anything he knows or doesn't know, and he will give you
an opinion if you ask it on any subject whatever."
Accordingly John went into the house to dine, and perhaps it was in
consequence of this assertion that the two young men asked their old
friend's opinion on various points not at all in his line. Valentine even
told him that his brother intended to write a book, and asked him what he
thought it had better be about; whereupon Swan, while deftly shaping his
bud, shook his head gravely, and said that wanted a deal of thinking
"But if I was you, sir," he continued, speaking to Brandon, "I should get
Mr. Mortimer―Mr. John―to help you, specially if there's going to be any
foreign talk in it. My word, I don't believe there's any language going
that Mr. Mortimer can't lay his tongue to!"
WANTED A DESERT ISLAND.
"We, too, have autumns, when our leaves
Drop loosely through the dampened air;
When all our good seems bound in sheaves,
And we stand reaped and bare."
LAURA and Mrs. Melcombe went home, and Laura saw the window again that
Joseph had so skilfully glazed. Joseph was not there, and Laura would
not have occupied herself with constant thoughts about him if there had
been anything, or rather anybody else to think of. She soon began to
feel low-spirited and restless, while, like a potato-plant in a dark
cellar, she put forth long runners towards the light, and no light was
to be found. This homely simile ought to be forgiven, because it is such
a good one.
Peter was getting too old for her teaching. He had a tutor, but the
tutor was a married man, and had taken lodgings for himself and his wife
in one of the farm-houses.
Laura had no career before her, and no worthy occupation. All that came
to pass in her day was a short saunter, or a drive, or a visit to the
market-town, where she sat looking on while her sister-in-law did some
Melcombe was six or seven miles from any visitable families, excepting
two or three clergymen and their wives; it was shut up in a
three-cornered nook of land, and could not be approached excepting
through turn-pikes, and up and down some specially steep hills. These
things make havoc with country sociability.
As long as there had been plenty to do and see, Laura had enjoyed her
life on the Continent, and had fed herself with hope. So many people as
passed before her, it would be strange, she thought, if not one of them
had been made for her, not one was to give her the love she wanted, the
devotion she knew she could return.
It was certainly strange, and yet it came to pass, though the travelled
fool returned, improved in style, dress, and even in appearance, while
her conversation was naturally more amusing than before, for she had
seen most places and things that people like to talk of.
Not one man had asked her to spend her life with him, and she came back
more given to flights of fancy than ever, but far better acquainted with
herself and more humble, for she had spent so much of her time (in
imagination) with Joseph that she had become accustomed to his slightly
provincial accent, and had ceased to care about it. Joseph, however, did
not speak like his good father, and he had been endowed with as much
learning as he would consent to acquire, Swan having felt a great
ambition to make him a certified schoolmaster, but Joseph having been at
an early age rather an idle young dog, had tormented his father into
letting him take to a mere handicraft, and had left school writing a
hand almost like copperplate, and being a very fair accountant, but
without thirst for knowledge, and without any worthy ambition.
Laura had always known that nothing but a desert island was wanted, and
she could be his contented wife; but a desert island was not to be had,
such things are getting rare in the world, and she now thought that any
remote locality, where nobody knew her, would do.
But where was Joseph?
She had certainly gone away without giving him any interview, she had
persistently kept away, yet though she was doing what she could, by fits
and starts, to forget him, that perverse imagination of hers always
pictured him as waiting, constant, ready. There was a particular tree
in the glen behind which she had so frequently represented him to
herself as standing patiently while she approached with furtive steps,
that when she came home and went to look at it, there was a feeling
almost akin to surprise in her mind at seeing the place drenched in
sparkling dew, and all overgrown with moss. Footsteps that are feigned
never tread anything down; they leave no print, excepting in the heart
that feigns them.
When Laura saw this place in the glen, she perceived plainly that there
was no one with whom she might be humbly happy and poor―not even a
This form of human sorrow―certainly one of the worst―is not half
enough pitied by the happy.
Of course Laura was a fool―nobody claims for her that she was not; but
fools are not rare, either male or female; as they arrange the world and
its ways in great measure, it is odd that they do not understand one
another better, and whether Laura showed her folly most or least in
thinking that she could have been obscurely happy as the wife of a man
who belonged to a different class of life from her own (she herself
having small intellectual endowments, and but little culture), is a
subject too vast, too overwhelming, for decision here; it ought to have
a treatise in twelve volumes all to itself.
Mrs. Melcombe had come home also somewhat improved, but a good deal
disappointed. She had fully hoped and intended to marry again, because
her son, who was to live to be old, would wish to marry early, and her
future daughter-in-law would be mistress of the house. It was desirable,
therefore, that Peter's mother should not be dependent on him for a
home. She had twice been invited, while on the Continent, to change her
name; but in each case it would have been, in a worldly point of view,
very much to her disadvantage, and that was a species of second marriage
that she by no means contemplated. She did not want her second husband
to take her that she might nurse him in his old age, fast approaching,
and that he might live upon her income.
So she came home Mrs. Melcombe, and she continued to be kind to Laura,
though she did not sympathize with her; and that was no fault of hers:
sympathy is much more an intellectual than a moral endowment. However
kind, dull, and stupid people may be, they can rarely sympathize with
any trouble unless they have gone through one just like it themselves.
You may hear it said, "Ah, I can sympathize with him, poor fellow, for I
have a wooden leg myself," or, "Yes, being a widow, I know what a
widow's feelings are," and so on.
No one has a right to blame these people; they are as kind as any; it is
not their fault that some are living among them to whom no experience at
all is necessary, and who not only could sympathize, but do in thought,
with the very angel that never fell, when they consider what it must be
to him if the mortal child he has to watch goes wrong; with the poor
weak drunkard who wishes he could keep sober, but feels, when he would
fain pass by it, that the gin-shop, like a devil-fish, sends forth long
tentacles and ruthlessly sucks him in; with the mother-whale, when her
wilful young one insists on swimming up the fiord, and she who has
risked her life to warn him must hear the thud of the harpoon in his
side; with the old tired horse, when they fetch him in from his sober
reverie in the fields, and put his blinkers on; with anything
else?―yes, with the bluebells, whose life above ground is so short,
when wasteful children tread them down;―these all feel something that
one would fain save them from. So perhaps does the rose-tree also, when
some careless boy goes by whooping in the joy of his heart, and whips
off her buds with his cane.
Fruitful sympathy must doubtless have some likeness of nature, and also
a certain kindliness to found itself on; but it comes more from a
penetrative keenness of observation, from the patient investigations of
thought, from those vivid intuitions that wait on imagination, from a
good memory, which can live over again in circumstances that are
changed, and from that intelligent possession of the whole of one's
foregone life, which makes it impossible to ignore the power of any
great emotion or passion merely because it is past. Where these
qualities are there should be, for there can be, sympathy.
Mrs. Melcombe was fond of her one child; but she had forgotten what her
own nature, thoughts, fears, and wishes, as well as joys, had been in
childhood. In like manner, as she was, on the whole, contented herself,
she not only thought that her own example ought to make Laura contented,
but she frequently pointed this out to her.
The child is to the father and mother, who imparted life to him, and who
see his youth, the most excellent consolation that nature can afford
them for the loss of their own youth, and for the shortness of life in
themselves; but if a mother is therefore convinced that her child is a
consoler to those who have none, he is sure, at some time or other, to
be considered an unmitigated bore.
Mrs. Melcombe often thought, "Laura has my child with her constantly to
amuse her, and has none of the responsibility about him that I have.
Laura goes to the shops with me, sees me give the orders, and I
frequently even consult her; she goes with me into the garden, and sees
the interest I take in the wall-fruit and the new asparagus-bed, and yet
she never takes example by me. She will eat just as many of these things
as I shall, though she often follows me about the place looking as if
she scarcely cared for them at all."
Laura was pleased, however, to go to Wigfield and stay with Grand, and
have for a companion a careless, childish girl, who undertook with
enthusiasm to teach her to drive, and if old Grand wanted his horses,
would borrow any rats of ponies that she could get.
Laura spent many happy hours with Liz and the Mortimer children, now
huddled into an old tub of a punt, eating cakes and curd for lunch, now
having a picnic in the wood, and boiling the kettle out of doors, and at
other times welcomed into the long loft called "Parliament;" but she
seldom saw John Mortimer himself, for Lizzie was always anxious to be
back in good time for dinner. She valued her place at the head of the
table, and the indulgent old Grand perceived this plainly. He liked
Laura well enough; but Liz was the kind of creature whom he could be
fond of. They were both foolish girls. Liz took no manner of pains to
improve herself any more than Laura did; but Laura was full of uneasy
little affectations, capricious changes of manner, and shyness, and Liz
was absolutely simple, and as confiding as a child.
The only useful thing the girls did while they stayed with Grand was to
go into the town twice a week and devote a couple of hours to a coal and
clothing club, setting down the savings of the poor, and keeping the
books. This bi-weekly visit had consequences as regarded one of them,
but it was the one who did not care what happened; and they parted at
the end of their visit, having become a good deal attached to each
other, and intending to correspond as fully and frequently as is the
manner of girls.
The intelligent mind, it may be taken for granted, is able to grasp the
thought that one may be a very fair, and even copious, letter-writer,
and yet show nothing like diffusiveness in writing to an ancient aunt.
The leaves were all dropping when Laura came home, and was received into
the spirit of the autumn, breathing in that sense of silence that comes
from absence of the birds, while in still mornings, unstirred of any
wind, the leaves let themselves go, and the flowers give it up and drop
and close. She was rather sad; but she found amusement in writing to
Liz, and as the days got to their shortest, with nothing to relieve
their monotony, there was pleasure to be got out of the long answers,
which set forth how Valentine was really going to be married soon after
Christmas, and what Liz was going to wear, how Dorothea was coming down
to be married from Wigfield House, to please "sister," and how it would
all be such fun―"Only three weeks, Laura dear, to the delightful day!" Finally, how Dorothea had arrived―and oh, such a lovely trousseau! and she had never looked half so sweet and pretty before, "and in four
days, dear, the wedding is to be; eighty people to breakfast―only
think! and you shall be told all about it."
Laura felt herself slightly injured when, a week after this, she had not
been told anything. She felt even surprised when another week passed,
and yet there was silence; but at the end of it, she came rushing one
morning into Amelia's room, quite flushed from excitement, and with an
open letter in her hand.
"They're not married at all," she exclaimed, "Valentine and Miss Graham! There has been no wedding, and there is none coming off. Valentine has
"Nonsense," cried Mrs. Melcombe. "You must be dreaming―things had gone
so far," and she sat down, feeling suddenly weak from amazement.
"But it is so," repeated Laura, "here is the whole account, I tell you. When the time came he never appeared."
"What a disgraceful shame!" exclaimed Amelia, and Laura proceeded to
read to her this long-expected letter:―
"Dearest Laura,―I don't know how to begin, and I hardly know what to
tell you, because I am so ashamed of it all; and I promised to give you
an account of the wedding, but I can't. What will you think when I tell
you that there was none? Valentine never came. I told you that Dorothea
was in the house, but that he had gone away to take leave of various
friends, because, after the wedding, they were to sail almost
immediately, and so,―I must make short work with this, because I hate
it to that degree. There was the great snowstorm, as you know, and when
he did not come home we thought he must be blocked up somewhere, and
then we were afraid he was very ill. At last when still it snowed, and
still he did not come, Giles went in search of him, and it was not till
the very day before the wedding that he got back, having found out the
whole detestable thing.
"Poor Val! and we used to think him such a dear fellow. Of course I
cannot help being fond of him still, but, Laura, he has disgracefully
attached himself to another girl; he could not bear to come home and be
married, and he knew St. George would be in such a rage that he did not
dare to tell."
"Young scamp!" exclaimed Amelia; "such a tall, handsome fellow to, who
would have believed it of him?"
"Well, Laura dear, when I saw St. George come in, I was so frightened
that I fainted. Dorothea was quite calm―quite still―she had been so
all the time. It makes me cry to think what she must have felt, dear
sweet thing; but such a day as that one was, Laura, I cannot describe,
and you cannot imagine. The whole country was completely snowed up. St.
George had telegraphed to John Mortimer, from London, to be at our
house, if possible, by four o'clock, for something had gone wrong, and
his horses, because of the deep drift, overturned the phaeton into a
ditch. John rolled out, but managed to wade on to us; he was half
covered with snow when I came down just as light was failing, and saw
him in the hall stamping about and shaking the snow out of his pockets
and from his hair. I heard him sighing and saying how sad it was, for we
thought Val must be ill, till Giles came up to him, and in two minutes
told him what had happened. Oh I never saw anybody in such a fury as he
put himself into! I was quite surprised. He almost stuttered with rage. What was the use either of his storming at Giles, as if he could help
it, or indeed any of us? And then sister was very much hurt, for she
came hurrying into the hall, and began to cry; she does so like, poor
thing, that people should take things quietly. And presently, grinding
and crunching through the snow, with four horses, came dear old Grand,
done up in comforters, in the close carriage. He had driven round the
other way; he knew something was wrong, and he came into the hall with
such trembling hands, thinking Val was dying or perhaps dead. And then
what a passion he got into, too, when John told him, it's no use at all
my trying to explain to you; he actually cried, and when he had dried
his eyes, he shook his fists, and said he was ashamed of his name.
"It was very disagreeable for us, as you may suppose. It was dusk before
sister and St. George could get them to think of what we had to do. To
send and stop the bells from ringing early the next morning; to stop
several people who were coming by rail to dinner that day, and expecting
to sleep in the house on account of the unusual weather; to let Dick A'Court know, and the other clergyman, who were to have married them;
and to prevent as many people as possible from coming to the breakfast,
or to the church; to stop the men who were making a path to it through
the drift―Oh you can't think what a confusion there presently was, and
we had four or five hired flys in the stable, ready to fetch our
friends, and take them to church, too; and there was such a smell all
over, of roasting things and baking things. Well, Laura, off we all set
into the kitchen, and sent off the hired men with the flys, and every
servant we had in the house, male or female―and Grand's men
too―excepting sister's little maid to attend to Dorothea. They went
with messages and letters and telegrams right and left, to prevent the
disgrace of any more people coming to look at us. And then, when they
were all gone, we being in the kitchen, John soon recollected how the
cook had begged us to be very particular, and put water every now and
then into the boiler, for the pipe that supplied it was frozen, and if
we didn't mind it would burst. So off he and Giles had to go into the
dark yard and get in some water, and then they had to fetch in coals for
the fires, and when John found that all the water in the back kitchen
was frozen, and there was none but what was boiling to wash his hands
in, he broke out again and denounced Val, and that minute up came the
carrier's cart to the back door, having rescued the four smallest
Mortimers and Aunt Christie and the nurse, who had been found stuck fast
in the sociable in a drift, and in the children burst, full of ecstasy
and congratulations, and thinking it the greatest fun in the world that
we should all be in the kitchen. And while Grand sat in low spirits at
one side of the fire, and they began to amuse themselves by pulling in
all the fish-baskets, and parcels, and boxes, and wedding presents, that
the carriers had left outside in the snow (because John wouldn't let
them come in and see us), St. George sat at the end of the dresser with
his arms folded, smoked a cigar, and held his peace. He must have been
very much tired, as well as disgusted, poor fellow, for he had been
rushing about the country for three days and nights; so he left all the
others to do just what they liked, and say what they liked. And very
soon the whole confusion got to its height, by the elder children coming
in and being told, and flying at John to condole and cry over him, and
entreat him not to mind. John, indeed! just as if we didn't care at all! It was intended that all the children should sleep in our house, for it
is so near the church, and nothing could prevent the younger ones from
thinking it all the most glorious fun. What with having been stuck fast,
and then coming on in the cart and finding us in the kitchen, and having
supper there, they were so delighted that they could not conceal their
"As for little Anastasia, when the weights of the great kitchen clock
ran down, and it stopped with an awful sort of gasping click, I believe
she thought that was the wedding, for she ran up to St. George, who
still sat on the dresser, and said―
"'Shan't we have another one to-morrow?'
"'No, you stoopid little thing!' Bertie said. 'You know Cousin Val
won't come to do the marrying.'
"'But somebody must,' she went on, 'else we can't have our new nopera
cloaks and our satin frocks. Can't papa?'
"'No, papa doesn't wish,' said Bertie; 'I asked him.'
"'Then,' she said, looking up at St. George, and
speaking in a very pathetic tone, 'you will, dear, won't you? because you know you're so
"I just happened to glance at St. George then, and you can't think,
Laura, how astonished I was. He turned away his face, and sister, who
was standing close by, lifted up the child and let her kiss him. Then he
got down from the dresser and went away; but, Laura, if he had wished
more than anything in the world to marry Dorothea, he might have looked
"Don't tell any one what I have said about this. Perhaps I was mistaken. I will write again soon.
"Ever affectionately yours,
"Well," said Mrs. Melcombe, "it's the most disgraceful thing I ever
"And here is a postscript," remarked Laura; "nothing particular,
though:―'P.S.―Dorothea was ill at first; but she is better. I must
tell you that dear old Grand, the next morning, apologized to sister for
having so lost his temper; he said it was the old Adam that was strong
in him still.'"
"If he had known where he was going to fall, he could have
put down straw."―Russian Proverb.
LAURA wrote with
difficulty an answer to Lizzy Grant's letter. It is easier for the
sister to say, "My brother is a dishonourable young fellow, and has
behaved shamefully," than for the friend to answer without offence, "I
quite agree with you."
But the next letter made matters in some degree easier, for
it at least showed the direction that his family gave to the excuses they
now offered for the behaviour of the young scapegrace. First, he had
been very unwell in London―almost seriously unwell; and next, Lizzy said
she had been quite right as to St. George's love for Dorothea, for he had
made her an offer before she left the house.
"In fact," continued Liz, "we have all decided, so far as we
can, to overlook what Val has done, for he is deeply attached to the girl
who, without any fault of her own, has supplanted Dorothea. He is
already engaged to her, and if he is allowed to marry her early in the
spring, and sail for New Zealand, he is not likely ever to return; at any
rate, he will not for very many years. In that case, you know,
Laura, we shall only be with him about six weeks longer; so I hope our
friends will forgive us for forgiving him."
"They are fond of him, that is the fact," observed Mrs.
Melcombe; "and to be sure the other brother, wanting to marry Miss Graham,
does seem to make some difference, some excuse; but as to his illness, I
don't think much of that. I remember when his old father came here
to the funeral, I remarked that Valentine looked overgrown, and not
strong, and Mr. Mortimer said he had been very delicate himself all his
youth, and often had a cough (far more delicate, in fact, than his son
was); but he had outgrown it, and enjoyed very fair health for many
Then Laura went on reading:―
"Besides, we think that, though Dorothea refused St. George
point blank when he made her an offer, yet she would hardly write to him
every week as she does, if she did not like him, and he would hardly be so
very silent and reserved about her, and yet evidently in such good
spirits, if he did not think that something in the end would come of it."
"No," said Mrs. Melcombe, laughing in a cynical spirit, "the
ridiculous scrape they are in does not end with Valentine. If he was
really ill, there could be no thought of his marriage with this other
girl; and, besides, Miss Graham (if this is true) will have far the best
of the two brothers. St. George, as they are so fond of
calling him (I suppose because Giles is such an ugly name), is far better
off than Valentine, and has ten times more sense."
"Dorothea is gone to the Isle of Wight," continued Laura,
finishing the letter, "to live with some old friends. She has no
relatives, poor girl, excepting a father, who is somewhere at the other
end of the world, and he seems to take very little notice of her.
There is, indeed, an old uncle, but he lives at sea; he is almost always
at sea in his yacht, and her only brother sails with him; but nobody knows
in the least where they are now. It is very sad for her, and she
told St. George, and sister too, that she had only loved Val out of
gratitude, because he seemed so much attached to her, and because she
wanted somebody to devote herself to."
In her next letter Liz told Laura that she herself was to be
married shortly to Dick A'Court, "who says he fell in love with me when we
two used to add up the coal-and-clothing cards." In these words, and
in no more, the information was imparted, and the rest of the letter was
so stiff and formal that Laura's pleasure in the correspondence ended with
it. The realities of life were beginning to make her child-friend
feel sober and reticent.
Laura wrote a long effusive letter in reply, full of tender
congratulations on the high lot that awaited Liz as the helpmeet of a
devoted clergyman, also on the joys of happy lovers; but this composition
did not touch the feelings of Liz in the right place. "Just as if I
had not told her," she thought, "that Emily was come home from India, and
that I had consented to accept Dick partly to please her, because she was
sure I should be sorry for it afterwards if I didn't. So I dare say
I should have been," she continued thoughtfully. "In fact, I am
almost sure of it. But I know very well, whatever Emily may say,
that Dick will make me do just as he likes. I am sure I shall have
to practise those quire boys of his, and they will bawl in my ears and
call me teacher."
So thinking, Liz allowed herself to drift towards matrimony
without enthusiasm, but with a general notion that, as most people were
married sooner or later, no doubt matrimony was the proper thing and the
best thing on the whole. "And I shall certainly go through with it,
now I have promised," she further reflected, "for it would never do for
another of us to behave badly just at the last."
It was the last week in March, and Laura was loitering
through the garden one morning before breakfast, when Mrs. Melcombe came
out to her in some excitement with a note in her hand, which had been sent
on from the inn, and which set forth that Mr. Brandon, having business in
that immediate neighbourhood, would, if agreeable to her, do himself the
pleasure of calling some time that morning. He added that he had
brought a book for Miss Melcombe from his sister.
"I have sent to the inn," said Mrs. Melcombe, "to beg that he
will come on here to breakfast."
Laura had been gathering a bunch of violets, and she rushed
up-stairs and put them into her hair. Then in a great hurry she
changed her toilette, and, after ascertaining that the guest had arrived,
she came languidly into the breakfast-room, a straw-hat hanging by its
strings from her arm, and filled with primroses and other flowers.
She felt as she approached that all this looked quite romantic, but it did
not look so real and so unpremeditated as might have been wished.
Mrs. Melcombe had also changed her array. Little Peter,
like most other children, was always the picture of cleanly neatness when
first he left his nurse's hand in the morning, and his mother was much
pleased at the evident interest with which their guest regarded him,
asking him various questions about his lessons, his sports, and his pony.
She had been deeply gratified at the kind way in which all the Mortimers
and their connections had received her boy; none of them seemed at all
jealous. Even Valentine had never hinted or even looked at her as if
he felt that the property ought not to have gone to the younger branch.
Peter, now ten years old, and but a small boy for his age,
had an average degree of intelligence; and as he sat winking and blinking
in the morning sunshine, he constantly shook back a lock of hair that fell
over his forehead, till Brandon, quietly putting his hand to it, moved it
away, and while the boy related some childish adventure that he had
encouraged him to talk of, looked at him with scrutinizing and, as it
seemed to his mother, with almost anxious attention.
"Peter has been very poorly several times this winter," she
remarked. "I mean shortly to take him out for change of air."
"His forehead looks pale," said Brandon, withdrawing his
hand, and for a minute or two he seemed lost in thought, till Mrs.
Melcombe, expressing a hope that he would stay at her house as long as his
affairs detained him in that neighbourhood, he accepted her invitation
with great readiness. He would spend that day and the next with her,
and, if she would permit it, he would walk with young hopeful to his
tutor's house, and come back again in time for luncheon.
"I declare, he scarcely spoke to me all breakfast-time,"
thought Laura. "I consider him decidedly a proud man, and any one
might think he had come to see Peter rather than to see us."
Brandon evidently did wish to walk with the boy, and
accordingly rose as soon as he had finished his breakfast, Mrs. Melcombe
giving him some directions, and a key to let himself in with by a side
All the intelligence Brandon possessed, and all his keenness
of observation, he exercised during his walk with the little heir.
He could generally attract children, and Peter was already well inclined
toward him, for he had shown himself to be knowing about a country boy's
pleasures; also he knew all about the little Mortimers and their doings.
Brandon wished to see Melcombe, even to examine some parts of
the house and grounds, and he wanted if possible to hear something more
about the ghost story; but it did not suit him to betray any special
interest. So he left it to work its way to the surface if it would.
It was not the business he had come about, but he had undertaken to
transact that, on purpose because it gave him a chance of looking at the
This was the deep glen, then, that he had heard Valentine
"Yes; and mother says the old uncle Mortimer (that one who
lived at Wigfield) improved it so much; he had so many trees thinned out,
and a pond dug where there used to be a swamp. We've got some carp
in that pond. Do you think, if I fed them, they would get tame?"
Brandon told some anecdote of certain carp that he had seen
abroad, and then asked―
"Do you like the glen, my boy―is it a favourite place of
"Pretty well," answered Peter. "There are not so many
nests, though, as there used to be. It used to be quite dark with
"Did you like it then?"
"Yes, it was jolly; but――"
"But what?" asked Brandon carelessly.
"Grandmother didn't like it," said the boy.
Brandon longed to ask why.
"She was very old, my grandmother."
"Yes. And so she didn't like the glen?"
"No; but the old uncle has had a walk, a sort of path, made
through it; and mamma says I may like it as much as I please, so does aunt
Laura." "You know," continued the child, in an argumentative tone,
"there's no place in the world where somebody hasn't died."
"Now, what does this mean?" thought Brandon. "I would
fain raise the ghost if I could. Is he coming up now, or is he not?"
Presently, however, Peter made some allusion to the family
misfortune―the death of the eldest son, by which Brandon perceived that it
had taken place in the glen. He then dropped the subject, nothing
more that was said till a few minutes before they reached the tutor's
lodgings being of the least interest. Then, as they turned the edge
of a wood, Peter looked back.
"You won't forget the turn of the lane you are to take, will
you, Mr. Brandon? and you've got the key?"
"Yes," said Brandon.
"It's a green sort of door, in the park-paling. A new
one has been made, because that one was so shabby. It's the one my
uncles went through when they ran away, you know."
"What uncles?" asked Brandon, not at all suspecting the
truth, and not much interested.
"Why, that one who belonged to you," said Peter, "and the
other one who belongs to Bertie and Hugh. Didn't you know?" he
exclaimed, having observed the momentary flash of surprise that Brandon
made haste to conceal. "They ran away," he repeated, as Brandon
walked beside him making no answer, "a very long time before my mamma was
born, and they never came back any more till I was nearly six years old."
"So that's your tutor's house, is it?" said Brandon, and
thereupon he took leave of him.
"Amazing!" he said to himself as he walked away. "What
next, I wonder?"
As he returned he revolved this information in his mind with
increasing surprise. John Mortimer had a proud and confident way of
talking about his father that did not sound as if he knew that he had
begun life by running away from home. Valentine, he was well aware,
knew nothing about it.
Coming on, he turned aside to talk to some men who were
digging a well. He knew how to talk to working people, and, what is
more to the purpose, he knew how to make them talk; but though they
proffered a good deal of information about the neighbourhood, nothing was
said that gave him any of the knowledge he wanted. And shortly he
went on, and let himself in at the little gate with his key. It was
not yet eleven o'clock, and as he did not want to see the ladies of the
family so soon, he determined to go down into the steep glen and look
He had no doubt now that to this place the superstitious
First, he skirted it all about. From above it was
nearly as round as a cup, and as deep in proportion to its size. The
large old trees had been left, and appeared almost to fill it up, their
softly rounded heads coming to within three feet of the level where he
stood. All the mother birds―rooks, jays, thrushes, and pigeons―were
plainly in view under him, as they sat brooding on their nests among the
topmost twigs, and there was a great cawing and crowing of the cock-birds
while they flew about and fed their mates. The leaves were not out;
their buds only looked like green eggs spotting the trees, excepting that
here and there a horse-chestnut, forwarder than its brethren, was pushing
its crumpled foliage out of the pale-pink sheath. Everywhere
saplings had been cut down, and numbers of them strewed the damp mossy
ground; but light penetrated, and water trinkled, there was a pleasant
scent of herbs and flowers, and the whole place was cheerful with growth
A set of winding steps cut in the soft, red rock led into the
glen just where the side was steepest, and Brandon, intent on discovery,
sprang lightly down them. He wandered almost everywhere about the
place. It seemed to hold within itself a different climate from the
world above, where keen spring air was stirring; here hardly a breath
moved, and in the soft sheltered warmth the leaves appeared visibly to be
expanding. He forgot his object, also another object that he had in
view (the business, in fact, which had brought him), leaned against the
trunk of a horse-chestnut, listened to the missel-thrushes, looked at a
pine-tree a little way off, that was letting down a mist of golden dust,
and presently lost himself in a reverie, finding, as is the way with a
lover, that the scene present, whatever it may happen to be, was helping
to master his everyday self, was indeed just the scene to send him
plunging yet further down into the depths of his passionate dream.
He had stood leaning against the tree, with his hat at his
feet and his arms folded, for perhaps half an hour. He had inherited
a world (with an ideal companion), had become absorbed into a lifetime of
hope; and his love appeared to grow without let or hindrance in the
growing freshness and glorious expansion of the spring.
Half an hour of hope and joy consoles for much foregone
trouble, and further satisfies the heart by making it an easier thing to
believe in more yet to come.
A sudden exclamation and a little crash roused him.
Laura! She had come to visit her favourite tree, and
lo! a man there at last, leaning against it lost in thought, and so
absolutely still that she had not noticed him.
She knew in an instant that this was not Joseph, and yet as
the sight of him flashed on her sense before recognition, the nothingness
she always found gave way to a feeling as of something real, that almost
might have been the right thing. As for him, though he saw her
flitting figure, she did not for the twinkling of an eye pass for the
ghost he had come to look for. He roused himself up in an instant.
"Whew!" was his inward thought, "she is alone; what could be so lucky!
I'll do the business at once, and get it over."
Picking up his hat, and sinking at every step into the soft
cushions of moss, he accordingly approached her and said, but perhaps just
a little coldly, "I did not expect to see you here, Miss Melcombe."
Laura perceived this slight tinge of coldness as plainly as
he did the improvement in her appearance since he had first seen her in
the morning, for surprise at detecting him had overpowered her
affectation. She had coloured from having been startled, and while
she, from habit, moved on mechanically to the tree, she answered quite
simply and naturally that she walked that way almost every day.
Brandon turned and walked with her. Opposite to the
said tree, and very near it, was another, under which stood a bench.
Laura sat down, and while pointing out the spot where certain herons had
built their platform-like nests, began to recover herself, or rather to
put on the damaging affectation which in a moment of forgetfulness she had
Brandon did not sit beside her, but while she arranged her
dress to her mind, threw her plaid shawl into becoming folds, and laying
her hand on her bracelet, furtively drew the ornament upon it to the upper
side, he looked at her and thought what a goose she was.
She wore a straw hat with so wide a brim that as he stood
before her he did not see her face, and he was not sorry for this; it was
not his business to reprove her, but what he had to say would, he
supposed, put her a good deal out of countenance.
He was just about to speak, and Laura was in the full
enjoyment of feeling how romantic it was to be there alone with a young
man, was just wishing that some of her friends could be looking down from
above to see this interesting picture, and draw certain conclusions, when
a decidedly sharp voice called out from behind, "Laura! what can you be
doing here? You know I don't like you to be for ever coming to that
"Yes, I'm here," said Laura, and Mrs. Melcombe, arrayed in
blue poplin, stepped into view, and made Brandon feel very foolish and
Laura very cross.
"Oh! you've brought Mr. Brandon here to see the carp," said
Amelia graciously, but she hardly knew what to think, and they all
presently went to the pond, and watched the creatures flashing up their
golden sides, each wondering all the time what the two others were
thinking of. Then as it was nearly lunch time, Amelia and Laura
proceeded to leave the dell, Brandon attending them and helping them up
the steps. He was rather vexed that he had not been able to say his
say and give Laura a certain packet that he had in his possession; and as
the afternoon presently clouded over and it began to pour with rain, he
hardly knew what to do with himself till the bright idea occurred to him
that he would ask Mrs. Melcombe to show him the old house.
Up and down stairs and into a good many rooms they all three
proceeded together. Hardly any pictures to found a question or a
theory on; no old china with a story belonging to it; no brown books that
had been loved by dead Melcombes. This could not have been a
studious race. Not a single anecdote was told of the dead all the
time they went over the place, till at last Mrs. Melcombe unlocked the
door of a dark, old-fashioned sitting-room upstairs, and going to the
shutters opened one of them, saying, "This is the room in which the dear
old grandmother spent the later years of her life."
This really was an interesting old room. Laura and
Amelia folded back the shutters with a genuine air of reverence and
feeling. It was most evident that they had loved this woman whose
son had forbidden her to leave her property to him.
Two or three dark old pictures hung on the walls, and there
was a cabinet on which Laura laying her hand, said―
"The dear grandmother kept all her letters here."
"Indeed," Brandon answered; "it must have been very
interesting to you to look them over. (And yet," he thought "you
don't look as if you had found in them anything of much interest.")
"We have never opened it," said Mrs. Melcombe. "Mr.
Mortimer, when he was here, proposed to look over and sort all the letters
for me, but I declined his offer."
("And no doubt made him miserable by so doing") was Brandon's
"I shall keep the key for my dear boy," she continued, "and
give it to him when he comes of age."
("To find out something that he will wish he didn't know.")
thought Brandon again. ("That cabinet, as likely as not, contains
the evidence of it, whatever it is.")
"And in this gallery outside," she proceeded, "the dear
grandmother used to walk every day."
Brandon perceived that he had got to the core and heart of
the place at last. His interest was so intense that he failed to
conceal it. He walked to the window and noticed the pouring rain
that was streaming between the rustic pillars of the balustrades into the
garden below. He examined the pictures; only two of them were
portraits, but in the background of one was an undoubted representation of
the house itself; the other was a portrait of a beautiful boy in a blue
jacket and a shirt with a wide frill laid back and open at the neck.
Under his arm appeared the head of a greyish dog.
"That creature," Brandon thought, "is almost exactly like my
old dog Smokey. I am very much mistaken if this is not the portrait
of one of his ancestors."
He turned to ask some question about it, and observed to his
surprise that Mrs. Melcombe had left the room, and he was alone with
Laura, who had seated herself on a sofa and taken a long piece of
crochet-work from her pocket, which she was doing almost with the air of
one who waits patiently till somebody else has finished his
"I thought you would be interested in that picture," she
said; "you recognise it, I suppose?"
"No!" he exclaimed.
"It used not to be here," said Laura; "the dear grandmother,
as long as she lived, always had it in her bedroom. It's Mr.
Mortimer, your stepfather, when he was a boy, and that was his dog, a
great favourite; when he ran away the dog disappeared―it was always
supposed that it ran after him. I suppose," continued Laura,
impelled to say this to some one who was sure to be impressed by it―"I
suppose nobody ever did mourn as my grandmother did over the loss of those
two sons. Yet she never used to blame them."
They did run away then, and they did keep away, and yet she
did not blame them. How deeply pathetic these things seemed.
Whatever it might be that had made his step-father write that letter, it
appeared now to be thrown back to the time when he had divided himself
thus from his family and taken his boy brother with him.
"And that other portrait," said Laura, "we found up in one of
the garrets, and hung here when the house was restored. It is the
portrait of my grandmother's only brother, who was sixteen or eighteen
years younger than she was. His name was Melcombe, which was her
maiden name, but ours, you know, was really Mortimer. It is very
much darkened by time and neglect, and never was of any particular value."
"What has he got under his arm?" said Brandon.
"I think it is a cocked hat or some kind of hat. I
think they wore cocked hats then in the navy; he was a lieutenant in the
navy. You see some sort of gold lace on it, and on the hilt of his
"Did he die at sea?" asked Brandon.
"Yes. My great-grandfather left this place to his son,
and as he died unmarried it was to come to our eldest uncle, and then to
grandmother, as it did, you know."
"'Its name was Melcombe, and it came from the sea,'" Brandon
repeated inwardly, adding, "Well, the ghost can have had nothing to
do with this mystery. I shall trouble myself no more about him."
"He was only about a year older than my oldest uncle,"
proceeded Laura, "for grandmother married at seventeen."
Brandon looked again. Something in the two pictures
reminded him of the portraits of the Flambourgh family. They had
evidently been done by the same artist. Each youth had something
under his left arm, each was turning his face slightly, and they both
looked the same way. Young Daniel Mortimer was so placed that his
quiet eyes seemed to be always regarding the hearth, now empty of warmth.
The other, hung on the same wall, seemed to look out into the garden, and
Laura said in a sentimental way that, considering the evident love she had
borne her grandmother, was not at all out of place.
"There is a bed of lilies that dear grandmother used to love
to watch, and Amelia and I thought it interesting when we had had this
picture put up to observe that its eyes seemed to fall on the same place.
They were not friends, my grandmother and her brother, and no doubt after
his death my grandmother laid their frequent quarrels to heart, for she
could never bear to mention him, though she had a beautiful monument put
up to his memory. You must go and see it, Mr. Brandon. We have
lately had it cleaned, and dear grandmother's name added under his."
"I will," said Brandon.