Anonymous.

The Quiver, 11/1899 online

. (page 2 of 12)
Online LibraryAnonymousThe Quiver, 11/1899 → online text (page 2 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


flung my bonnet after him. But you've no idea how he had aggravated
us.'

"I assure you the mater couldn't have done it better, if one could
conceivably imagine the mater under such circumstances.

"I could think of nothing to do but to pick up the bonnet and hand
it to her, muttering some idiocy about it not mattering a bit. While
this was going on the laughter in the chair was dying off in sobs of
enjoyment.

"But before we could get any further Mr. Graydon himself made his
appearance. I suppose something about my looks struck him - for a
cucumber wasn't in it for coolness with Miss Pam - because he said,
'Why, bless me, Sir Anthony! what's the matter? What's the matter,
Pam? Why, Sir Anthony, your nose is bleeding!'

[Illustration: "The old rooster struck me with his spurs." - _p._
107.]

"'Why, so it is!' said Miss Pam, calmly. 'Sir Anthony was trying
to catch the red cock, papa, with a view to his dinner, but he's
escaped, I'm sorry to say, and the dinner with him. It will be
days before he comes home after the alarm we've given him. I'm
so sorry you're wounded, Sir Anthony. Can I get you a little
sticking-plaster?'

"'I never know where I shall find the fowls in this house,' said
Mr. Graydon, a little irascibly, I thought; 'but the drawing-room
at least ought to be kept free from them. Why, Sylvia, what are you
doing there, child? Come here, and speak to Sir Anthony.'

"I expected a small child to come out of the big chair in answer to
the summons; but, lo and behold! out of the sun-bonnet there looked
another satin-cheeked damsel, almost as beautiful as the first. She
made her bow demurely, and, I assure you, there wasn't a feather out
of her after her fits of laughter at my expense. She had rather an
ecstatic look, and her eyes were a bit moist - that was all. I can
tell you I never felt so small in my life as when I stood up before
those impudent girls, for I could see that the pair of them were
hugely delighted at the whole affair.

"'Get some tea for Sir Anthony, girls,' said the father, 'and see
that he has hot water taken to his room; he's had a long journey.
Sit down, my lad - that is, if there's a chair in the room without a
dog on it. Here, Mark Antony, you lazy animal, come off that sofa.'
This to the fattest bulldog I ever saw - with such a jowl. He's Miss
Sylvia's, and an amiable dog, despite his looks.

"Then the eldest daughter came in - not a patch on the others for
beauty, but a Madonna of a creature, with a beautiful voice and a
rather sad expression. She was greatly concerned about my scratched
nose. But all the time she was talking I noticed that she looked at
her father steadily reproachful. At last he noticed it too, for he
suddenly blurted out:

"'Why, bless my soul! Molly, I forgot all about it,' and then he
stopped and laughed. Miss Pamela has told me since that they had
instructed their father to keep me on the way as long as possible.

"You'll gather that it is a rather rummy place. It is. The windows
in my bedroom are mended with brown paper, and there are holes in
the floor you could put your foot through. Not that my father's son
need mind little hardships. But I am amused to think of what the
mater would say, with her notions of things.

"By the way, if you're in Brook Street any time, don't repeat
what I've told you. The mater hated my coming here. She has some
extraordinary prejudice against Graydon, though he scarcely seems
to remember her. But as I've given up my desire for soldiering to
please her, it's my turn now to please myself by reading for this
Foreign Office grind with my father's old friend.

"A word more and I am done. You'll think me as long-winded as
some of those old women at the clubs. But their ways here are too
delicious. The establishment is managed by one old woman - Bridget,
who seems mistress, maid, and man rolled, in one. Well, the morning
after I came, when I rang for my shaving water there was no
response. At last I heard a foot go by my door, and I looked out
cautiously. It was Bridget, and to her I made my request. 'Why,
bless the boy!' she said, staring at me, 'You haven't been pullin'
that old bell that's never rung in the memory of man?' I assured her
I had. 'Well, then,' she said, 'goodness help your little wit! An'
so ye want shavin' water, do ye? Sure, I thought ye wor a bit of a
boy, that never wanted shavin' at all, at all!' However, she brought
me the water obligingly, in an extraordinary piece of kitchen
crockery. 'I suppose you're used to valetin',' she said. ''Twas
Misther Mick spoiled me entirely for other young gentlemen. He'd
dart down for his shavin' water - aye, many a time before I had the
kitchen fire lit.' Mr. Mick was apparently a former pupil; I often
hear of him.

"There's any amount of sport here, but I won't tantalise you. I like
Graydon better every day; he's a dear old boy, and though he's in
the clouds half the time when he's supposed to be coaching me, I can
see that he knows more than half the tutors in London put together.
He's a delightful companion out of doors, a good sportsman, and as
young as the youngest.

"It's a mystery his being buried here. But I've no time to try to
unriddle it now, and you'll never get as far as this, I expect.
Good-bye, old fellow - I'm extremely well satisfied with my present
quarters, and pity you in Knightsbridge. I suppose town is getting
empty."

* * * * *

When this enormous epistle was finished and sealed, the young
gentleman put it in his pocket and went downstairs. His pace was
hastened by the fact that he could hear the joyful yelping of dogs
in the hall, from which he gathered that someone besides himself was
bent on outdoor exercise. Indeed, as he reached the hall and caught
his hat from one of the dusty antlers, he saw the two younger Miss
Graydons setting out amid their leaping and yelping escorts. He
hurried after and overtook them.

"May I come with you?" he asked eagerly. "I've a very important
letter to post, and if you're going to the village you might perhaps
point out the post-office. I'm such a duffer at finding out things
for myself."

"But we're turning our backs on the village," said Miss Sylvia,
"going in exactly the opposite direction."

"Oh, well, then, it doesn't matter; the letter can wait till another
time."

"Though it is so important. Oh, but you must post it. We'll put you
on the way for the village. You turn to the right and we to the left
when we reach the gate; then you'll walk straight into the arms of
the post-office."

Pamela, who had not yet spoken, turned her heavenly-coloured eyes
on her sister, but without speaking. Something in the look made the
young fellow's heart throb suddenly.

"Ah, Miss Sylvia," he said imploringly, "don't put difficulties in
my way. I want to come for a walk, if you will have me, and the
letter can wait. I'm not contemplative enough to enjoy a country
walk alone; and it will be a pleasure to walk with you and your
sister."

"And the dogs?"

"And the dogs. The joys of a country walk are doubled in the society
of dogs."

"I hope you'll think so when you have the felicity of fishing them
out of a bog-hole. They will chase every beast they see; and our
neighbour, Jack Malone's black cow, Polly, always leads them such a
dance, ending up deservedly in a bog-hole."

"I'll try to endure even that, Miss Sylvia."

"Then if Mark Antony gets a thorn in his paw, as he almost
invariably does, you'll have to carry him home."

"He must weigh three stone, Miss Sylvia."

"About that, Sir Anthony."

"Then it is better I should carry him than you."

"Oh, if you're bent on it, Sir Anthony."

"If you're not bent against it, Miss Sylvia."

"Well, come along then, for this is the parting of the ways."

They had arrived at the gate by this time.

"Sylvia should have told you, Sir Anthony, that though we turn our
backs on the village, yet we pass a wall letter-box, which the
postman empties on his way to Lettergort."

It was Pamela speaking for the first time, and in this less
hoydenish mood of hers she had a likeness to her gentle elder sister.

"I'm not surprised to hear it, Miss Pamela. I guessed Miss Sylvia
was only piling up the difficulties to tease me. But I was not to be
put off."

"You are really a most persistent person, Sir Anthony."

"I know when I want a thing and mean to get it, Miss Sylvia."

"Did you ever see anything more beautiful than the rose-light on
that mountain, Sir Anthony?"

"I have seen more beautiful things, Miss Pamela."

He spoke with the utmost simplicity, but the girl blushed
nevertheless, and was furious with herself for blushing.

"See how rosy the peak is," she went on in some confusion, "but the
woods are purple at the base. If we were over there where the road
winds round the hill-foot, we should hear nothing but the singing of
little streams. They are chattering through the bracken everywhere,
and spilling into the road, where they make little channels for
themselves, clear as amber."

"They make your boots very wet and your skirt draggle-tailed,"
remarked Sylvia.

"I see chimneys rising above the wood," said Sir Anthony. "Is there
a house there, then?"

"There is, but it is empty at present. It belongs to Lord Glengall,
who is away just now. It has a queer story attached to it."

"Indeed?"

"Yes. Lord Glengall went to Australia as a boy, and was unheard
of for years. His mother lived there, with one old servant, in
the bitterest poverty. She was so proud no one dared to interfere,
until, it having been noticed that the chimneys were smokeless
for days, the house was entered by force, and mistress and maid
were found dying of starvation side by side. The house was full of
valuables - lace and plate, and all kinds of lovely things - but they
were heirlooms, and the old lady would rather starve than sell them,
and the old servant was quite of the same mind."

"What happened then?"

"They were taken off to the Rectory by old Mr. Rogers, who died last
year. And in the nick of time Lord Glengall, whom everyone said was
dead, turned up safe and sound to nurse his old mother. 'I kept the
things together for you, my boy,' she said as soon as she recognised
him.

"And the next thing she said," went on Sylvia, taking up the tale,
"was, 'Where's that cat?' The faithfulness of animals, Sir Anthony!
Old Tib, with whom they had shared all their short-commons, had, it
seems, stolen the very last drop of milk that stood between them and
starvation, and had then escaped through a window into the woods. 'I
should like to give him a good hiding before I die.' That was the
second speech of the indomitable old lady."

"What a chance for the novelist this country of yours presents!"
said Sir Anthony.

"But that fortunately he never comes our way," replied Pamela.

"Your father promised me you would take me fishing one day." He
spoke to Sylvia, but his eyes turned from her to Pamela.

"So we shall," said Sylvia readily.

"The river runs quite close to the house?"

"Yes, but if you want the pleasantest fishing, you must climb for
it. Up there in the hills are little golden-brown trout-streams
running through the valleys under the shadow of woods, and they are
full of trout spoiling to be caught."

"You know the best places, Miss Sylvia."

"Don't let her guide you, Sir Anthony. I'll tell you a story about
her. She was always tantalising Mick St. Leger, an old pupil of
papa's, who is in India now, with stories of a wonderful pike which
inhabited one of the big holes in the Moyle. Well, poor Mick used
to sit and fish for hours, now and then catching a little fish by
accident, for his heart wasn't in it for thinking of Sylvia's big
pike. And Sylvia used to sit by watching him, apparently full of
sympathy. One day he was fishing the big hole as usual, when he
gave a long whistle. 'What is it, Mick?' Sylvia cried, running to
him. 'It feels like a twenty-pounder,' said poor Mick, very red in
the face. 'Oh, Mick, do let me help!' cried Sylvia. And then, with
an immense deal of carefulness, and poor Mick holding on like grim
death, they reeled up an old tin can full of stones, in the handle
of which Mick's line was caught."

"Mick would never have known," said Sylvia dispassionately, "if
little Patsy Murray hadn't come running after me a week later,
calling out, 'Where's that apple ye promised me for sinkin' me
mother's ould can in the river?' Mick never believed in me as an
honest angler afterwards."

"No wonder! But to think your father should have suggested you as my
guide, Miss Sylvia!"

"Pam's just as bad, Sir Anthony. I generally do the things, but Pam
encourages me."

Pamela again turned those eyes of heaven's own colour in mute
reproach upon her sister.

"I'll have faith in you, Miss Pam," said Sir Anthony impulsively,
"no matter what your sister says to the contrary."

And he meant his rash promise.

[Illustration: "The letter can wait till another time." - _p._ 109.]




CHAPTER V.

THE WISHING WELL.


"My friends generally call me Tony," said a voice, the youthful
growl of which was subdued to all possible softness.

"We have known each other such a little while," replied Pamela,
looking down at the ground, which had begun to cover itself in the
flying gold of the autumn woods.

"As the calendar counts; but we - 'we count time by
heart-throbs' - doesn't somebody say that?"

A colour, like a pink rose-leaf, warmed in Pamela's clear cheek.

"We have become very good friends," she said, "seeing that it is
only six - or is it seven? - weeks ago since we met."

"It is eight," said the youth. "I came in mid-July, and now it is
mid-September. But it sometimes seems to me that I have always been
here, and that my life elsewhere was but a dream."

[Illustration: "Tell me what you wished for?"]

"If that were so," she said demurely - and for a moment the violet
eyes looked up at him under their shadow of night - "if that were so,
then I might really call you by your name, Sir Anthony. But it is
too soon."

"Then you will one day, Miss Pamela? How many days must go by first?
You called that other man - St. Leger - by his name. It is 'Mick' with
all of you."

"Ah," said Pamela, again with the bewildering glance; "but Mick was
Mick, you see."

A sudden irrational anger kindled in the young man's eye, and his
expression stiffened.

"Oh, I see," he said. "This paragon had special privileges which no
one else may hope to share."

"He certainly had," said Pamela. "For no one else would endure them,
poor dear!"

"Now, what do you mean by that?" he said doubtfully. "Do you mean
the privilege of being called by his name?"

"No, but the privilege of my society and Sylvia's."

"He must have been jolly hard to please."

"He wasn't, then. He was as easily pleased as a child. I should
like to have seen you in some of the situations in which Mick
distinguished himself."

"I daresay I'd be very undistinguished. I make no pretence of being
a paragon."

"It would be useless to, Sir Anthony."

"I don't dispute it, Miss Pamela. I suppose we'd better be making
for home?"

He turned and walked sulkily along the forest path with the girl by
his side. For a second there was silence; then Pamela broke it by
saying softly:

"I often have thought that one reason why Molly fell in love with
Mick was because she pitied him so much. He came to the wall in all
our escapades. Of course, he was always in love with Molly, but I
believe it was in protecting him from us that she became so fond of
him."

"He is your sister's lover, then?" incredulously.

"Why, _of course_ he is. Whose did you suppose he was?"

"Yours, Miss Pamela."

"Mine! why, he'd never look at me when Molly was by. Besides, you
don't know how horribly we ill-used the poor dear fellow."

"Miss Pam, I wish you'd ill-use me."

"You wouldn't like it at all, Sir Anthony."

"Yes, I should, Miss Pamela. So Mick is engaged to your sister. What
an ass I have been!"

"Yes, poor dears, they are engaged, without the remotest prospect
of ever being married that I can see. Mick's a subaltern in a line
regiment, with just his pay - he got in through the Militia - and
Molly, needless to say, hasn't a penny."

"He's a lucky fellow, all the same. And now, Miss Pamela, what have
we been quarrelling about?"

"I'm sure I don't know, Sir Anthony. Have we been quarrelling?"

"_I_ have."

"But I haven't. I did think you were a little cross about something.
But here is the Wishing Well that I told you about."

They had come on a little glade of the forest, in the midst of which
was a brier heavy with blackberries. The bush hooded a little space,
and, looking underneath, one saw, as in a cup, a still depth of
water over pebbles of gold and silver.

"You are to drink, Sir Anthony, without spilling a drop, and think
on your wish at the same time."

"Drink from what, Miss Pamela?"

"Why, from your hands, of course."

"I couldn't; the water would all run away."

"No, it wouldn't. See how I manage it."

The girl scooped the water into her rosy palms and drank it slowly.
Then she looked at him, and again the wave of rose flowed in her
cheek.

"I never could manage it; I'm such a duffer at things. Miss Pamela,
would you let me drink from your hands? _Do!_"

Without a word she stooped and lifted the water and held it to him.
He drank from the rosy cup to the last drop. Then he suddenly caught
the hands that had served him, and pressed them to his lips. For a
moment they were yielded to him, and then the girl drew back. He
thought she trembled a little, and the ardour in his gaze grew.

"I am sorry," he said, "but I couldn't help it. You are not angry,
Miss Pamela?"

"I am going home, Sir Anthony," she said.

"Not till you tell me one thing - - "

He barred her way, putting himself in front of her. "Tell me what
you wished for."

Her eyes fell before his, and as she stood with her hands clasped,
and her head bent, she was a different creature from the wild Pamela
of a few short weeks ago. The sunlight through the thinned branches
fell on her short curls, for her hat - which she had been swinging by
a ribbon - had fallen to her feet.

"Look at me," he said; "I want to see what is in your eyes."

She lifted them obediently, and then let them fall again.

"Ah, that is enough," he said, with exultation in his voice. "You
have answered me, Pam. That is enough just for the present. Some day
I shall tell you what I wished for, and we shall see if our wishes
come true. A double wish should have double force to induce its
fulfilment. Isn't it so, Pam?"

She said nothing, and he looked at her with triumph shining in his
eyes. Blent with it was the tenderness of a lover when he knows he
is loved, and just a shade of shamefacedness as well.

"We must be wise, little beautiful Pamela," he said presently, in a
low voice. "We must be wise and wait. I mustn't ask yet all I would
ask, but I will one day - one good day, Pamela. You will trust me,
won't you?"

"Yes," said Pamela, hardly knowing what she was asked.

"It will not be for long. Indeed, I could not endure it for long.
Shall we be friends for a little while longer, Pamela darling?"

"Yes," said Pamela, forgetting to rebuke him.

"After to-day I will not call you darling till I have the right
before all the world. After to-day. I meant to have held my tongue,
but you bewildered me, Pamela. You are not angry with me?"

"No," came almost in a whisper.

"Lift up your eyes to me and say it. That is right. How beautiful
your eyes are, Pamela! Say 'Tony,' now."

"Tony!"

"Dear Tony."

"Dear Tony!"

"How sweetly you say it! It is like silver in your voice. But, come
now, we will go home. I have to be wise, you know. Ah, Pamela,
Pamela! why did you bring me to the Wishing Well?"

"You wanted to go."

"Yes, I know; but it was an accident that we were alone, or it was
Fate - yes, it was surely Fate that sent Miss Spencer's carriage for
your sister at the last moment, so that we had to take our walk
without her. Shall we go now, and talk no more about love to-day?"

Pamela hesitated, and then said:

"Poor Sylvia! She has spent this lovely afternoon shut up with an
old lady and a dog."

"She wouldn't mind the dog, I fancy, Pam."

"Nor the old lady. Sylvia is fond of Miss Spencer, strange as it may
seem."

"Why is it strange, Pam? I can't help using the sweet little name."

He had taken her hand by this time, and they were walking like
children down the aisle of golden trees.

"You haven't seen Miss Spencer. She is a little mad and a little
grotesque to most people. But she is devoted to Sylvia, and Sylvia
to her. She is not mad to Sylvia."

"How does it come that I haven't seen Miss Spencer?"

"She has been abroad. You'll see her one of these days, I expect.
She was crossed in love in her youth, and it seems to have made her
strange in ways. She's immensely wealthy, and gives a good deal in
charity, but mostly among single women. She seems to think that
those who have husbands and children don't need pity."

"She's quite safe for your sister to be with?"

"Oh, quite. She has all her senses, only that she's a trifle
peculiar. She's a splendid business woman, everyone says."

"It is a curious friendship. I should never have supposed it of Miss
Sylvia."

"No. One funny thing is that Miss Spencer's full of sentiment - wait
till you hear her sing 'She wore a Wreath of Roses' - whereas
Sylvia's quite without sentiment, and laughs at everything
sentimental."

"I feel sorry for the poor old thing," said Sir Anthony, with a
half-ashamed laugh, "because she was crossed in love. I shouldn't
like to be crossed in love myself, Pamela."

"It was cruel," said Pamela simply. "The man made her love him, and
then went away and never came back. She was poor then. She inherited
Dovercourt quite unexpectedly."

"What a sweep he must have been!"

[Illustration: "Come along, Trevithick," he cried, rushing away.]

"Poor Miss Spencer always thinks he will come back, though people
say he married abroad and died there. I tell you all this so that
you won't be the least bit in the world inclined to laugh when you
see her. I daresay it's funny enough to see a pink silk coal-scuttle
bonnet on top of a grey head; but then, you know, you don't feel
like laughing."

"No, indeed, darling."

"Sylvia says it's made a man-hater of her. That's how she excuses
herself for treating her admirers so outrageously."

"I'd have fallen in love with Sylvia myself, only for you, Pamela."

"It's lucky you didn't, Tony." The name came with soft hesitation.

"Why, Pam?"

"She'd have laughed in your face."

"I'd rather have your way, Pam."

"My way?"

"Though it made me behave worse than I intended. But never mind. A
little time will unravel the tangled skein. Now we are nearly out of
the wood. Ah, Pamela! kiss me once - I shall not ask you again till I
have the full right."

Without a word the girl lifted her face to meet his kiss. To her it
was the kiss of betrothal.




CHAPTER VI.

"I WILL COME AGAIN, MY DEAR."


"I wish my friend, Glengall, were at home," said Mr. Graydon,
leaning back in the chair by the study fire. "He'd give you a mount
while you were waiting for Johnny Maher's little mare. The hounds
meet at Lettergort to-day."

He looked wistfully through the bare trees on the lawn, as though
he saw in imagination the scarlet horsemen pounding away after the
streaming line of hounds.

His pupil thrust into a book a sketch of Pamela which he had been
making absent-mindedly.

"Why don't you hunt, sir?" he asked, with sympathy.

"So I do, my lad, when I can. But I can't afford to keep a horse,
and there aren't many mounts to be had here. Glengall is going to
set up stables when he comes back, and I'll have the run of them, I
suppose. He's a good fellow - one wouldn't mind being obliged to him."

"The mare'll be a good one when she's broken," said the young man.

"The best in the world for Irish fences, if she does look a bit
roughish."

"You'll ride her for me, when I am away at Christmas, to get her
mouth in?"

"Thank you, my lad; I should like to." Mr. Graydon's eye kindled
with pleasure. "But I didn't know you were going. It seems a longish
way to go home for Christmas."

"My mother would like to see me."

"To be sure, to be sure. I quite understand, and, of course, there
are friends in London you naturally want to see."

"No one very particularly, sir."

"Ah, well! it will be a holiday from this dull place."

"No, I assure you, sir. It is partly because I have some - some


2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryAnonymousThe Quiver, 11/1899 → online text (page 2 of 12)