Charles James Lever.

The Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


LI B RAR.Y

OF THE

UNIVERSITY

or ILLINOIS

L37br



Digitized by the Internet Archiv
in 2009 with funding from
University of Illinois Urbana-Cha



http://www.archive.org/details/bramleighsofbish02leve



THE



BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOPS FOLLY,



BY

C H A R L E S LEVER.



IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL II.



LONDON:
SMITH, ELDER AND CO., G5, CORXHILL.

1868.



{The Right of Translation i$ reterved.]



5"^ 3



CONTENTS OF VOL. II.



CHAP. PAGE

I. In the Libeakt at Castello 1

II. The Cueate Cross-examined 19

III. Doubts and Fears 31

IV. Marion's Ambitions 63

V. Mr. Cutbill arrives at Castello 75

VI. The Villa Altieri 88

Vn. Castello 101

VIII. The Hotel Bristol 119

IX. On the Koad 134

X. On the Road to Italy 154

XL The Chijrch Patrons at Albano 163

XII. A SMALL Lodging at Louvain 185

Xin. At Louvain 202

XTV. Mr. Cutbill's Visit 209



iv CONTENTS.

CHAP. I'AGE

XV. An Evening with Cutbill 221

XVI. The Appointment 233

XVII. With Lord Cdlduff 246

XVIII. At Albano 256

XIX. "A Reception" at Rome 274

XX. Some "Salon Diplomacies" 288

XXI. A Long Tete-a-tete 302

XXII. A Special Mission 327

XXIII. The Church Patrons 343



THE

BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.



CHAPTEE I.

IN THE LIBRARY AT CASTELLO.

When L'E strange and his sister arrived at Castello
on the morning after the scene of our last chapter,
it was to discover that the family had gone oflf early
to visit the mine of Lisconnor, where they were to
dine, and not return till late in the evening.

Colonel Bramleigh alone remained behind : a
number of important letters which had come by that
morning's post detained him; but he had pledged
himself to follow the party, and join them at dinner,
if he could finish his correspondence in time.

George and Julia turned away from the door,
and were slowly retracing their road homeward, when
VOL. II. 23



2 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

a servant came running after them to say that Colonel
Bramleigh begged Mr. L 'Estrange would come back
for a moment ; that he had something of consequence
to say to him.

''I'll stroll about the shrubberies, George, till
you join me," said Julia. " Who knows it may
not be a farewell look I may be taking of these
dear old scenes." George nodded, half mournfully,
and followed the servant towards the library.

In his ordinary and every-day look, no man ever
seemed a more perfect representative of worldly success
and prosperity than Colonel Bramleigh. He was
personally what would be called handsome, had a
high bold forehead, and large grey eyes, well set
and shaded by strong full eyebrows, so regular in
outline and so correctly denned as to give a half
suspicion that art had been called to the assistance
of nature. He was ruddy and fresh-looking, with
an erect carriage, and that air of general confidence
that seemed to declare he knew himself to be a
favourite of fortune and gloried in the distinction.

*' I can do scores of things others must not
venture upon," was a common saying of his. ''I
can trust to my luck," was almost a maxim with



IX THE LIBEARY AT CASTELLO. 3

him. And in reality, if the boast was somewhat
vainglorious, it was not without foundation ; a
marvellous, almost unerring, success attended him
through life. Enterprises that were menaced with
ruin and bankruptcy would rally from the hour that
he joined them, and schemes of fortune that men
deemed half desperate would, under his guidance,
grow into safe and profitable speculations. Others
might equal him in intelligence, in skill, in ready
resource and sudden expedient, but he had not one
to rival him in luck. It is strange enough that the
hard business mind, the men of reaHsm j^^r excellence,
can recognize such a thing as fortune : but so it is,
there are none so prone to believe in this quahty
as the people of finance. The spii-it of the gambler
is, in fact, the spirit of commercial enterprise, and
the " odds " are as carefullv calculated in the countin^r-
house as in the betting-ring. Seen as he came into
the breakfast-room of a morning, with the fresh
flush of exercise on his cheek, or as he appeared
in the drawing-room before dinner, with that air of
ease and enjoyment that marked all his com-tesy,
one would have said, " There is one certainly with
whom the world goes well." There were caustic.



4 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

invidious people, who hinted that Bramleigh deserved
but little credit for that happy equanimity and that
buoyant spirit which sustained him; they said, '^He
has never had a reverse, wait till he be tried : " and
the world had waited and waited, and to all seeming
the eventful hour had not come, for there he was,
a little balder perhaps, a stray grey hair in his
whiskers, and somewhat portlier in his presence,
but, on the whole, pretty much what men had known
him to be for fifteen or twenty years back.

Upon none did the well-to-do, blooming, and
prosperous rich man produce a more powerful im-
pression than on the young curate, who, young,
vigorous, handsome as he was, could jet never
sufficiently emerge from the res august^ domi to
feel the ease and confidence that come of
affluence.

What a shock was it then to L 'Estrange, as
he entered the library, to see the man whom he
had ever beheld as the type of all that was happy
and healthful and prosperous, haggard and careworn,
his hand tremulous, and his manner abrupt and
uncertain, with a certain furtive dread at moments,
followed by outbursts of passionate defiance, as



IN THE LIBRARY AT CASTELLO. 5

though he were addressmg himself to others hesides
him who was then before him.

Though on terms of cordial intimacy with the
curate, and always accustomed to call him by his
name, he received him as he entered the room witli
a cold and formal politeness, apologized for haying
taken the liberty to send after and recall him, and
ceremoniously requested him to be seated.

*' We were sorry you and Miss L'Estrange could
not join the picnic to-day," said Bramleigh ;
*' though to be sure it is scarcely the season yet
for such diversions."

L'Estrange felt the awkwardness of saying that
they had not been invited, and muttered something
not very intelligible about the uncertainty of the
weather.

*' I meant to have gone over myself," said
Bramleigh, hurriedly; ''but all these," and he
swept his hand as he spoke through a mass of
letters on the table, " all these have come since
morning, and I am not half through them yet.
What's that the moralist says about calling no man
happy till he dies ? I often think one cannot specu-
late upon a pleasant day till after the post-hour."



6 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

" I know very little of either the pains or plea-
sures of the letter-bag. I have almost no corre-
spondence."

'^ How I envy you ! " cried he, fervently.

" I don't imagine that mine is a lot many would be
found to envy," said L 'Estrange, with a gentle smile.

" The old story, of course. • ' Qui fit, Maecenas,
ut Nemo,' — I forget my Horace, — 'ut Nemo; ' how
does it go ? "

*' Yes, sir. But I never said I was discontented
with my lot in life. I only remarked that I didn't
think that others would envy it."

'^ I have it, — I have it," continued Bramleigh,
following out his own train of thought; "I have
it. ' Ut Nemo, quam sibi sortem sit contentus.'
It's a matter of thirty odd years since I saw that
passage, L'Estrange, and I can't imagine what
could have brought it so forcibly before me to-day."

*' Certainly it could not have been any applica-
tion to yourself," said the curate, politely.

"How do 3'ou mean, sir?" cried Bramleigh,
almost fiercely. "How do you mean?"

" I mean, sir, that few men have less cause for
discontent with fortune ? "



IN THE LIBRARY AT CASTELLO. 7

" How can you, — how can auv man, presume to
say that of another ! " said Bramleigh, in a loud
and defiant tone, as he arose and paced the room.
"AMio can tell what passes in his neighbour's
house, still less in his heart or his head ? What
do I know, as I listen to your discourse on a
Sunday, of the terrible conflict of doubts that have
beset you during the week, — heresies that have
swarmed around you like the vipers and hideous
reptiles that gathered around St. Anthony, and that,
banished in one shape, came back in another ? How
do I know what compromises you may have made
with your conscience before you come to utter to
me your eternal truths ; and how you may have
said, ' If he can believe all this, so much the better
for him,' — eh?"

He turned fiercely round, as if to demand an
answer, and the curate modestly said, *'I hope it
is not so that men preach the gospel."

'* And yet many must preach in that fashion,''
said Bramleigh, with a deep but subdued earnest-
ness. ^'I take it that no man's conm-tions are
without a flaw somewhere, and it is not by parading
that flaw he will make converts."



8 THE BKAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

L'Estrange did not feel disposed to follow liim
into this tliesis, and sat silent and motionless.

" I suppose," muttered Bramleigli, as he folded
his arms and walked the room with slow steps,
" it's all expediency, — all ! We do the best we
can, and hope it may be enough. You are a good
man, L'Estrange "

" Far from it, sir. I feel, and feel very bitterly
too, my own un worthiness," said the curate, with an
intense sincerity of voice.

'' I think you so far good that you are not
worldly. You would not do a mean thing, an
ignoble, a dishonest thing; you wouldn't take what
was not your o-^ii, nor defraud another of what
w^as his, — would you ? "

" Perhaps not ; I hope not."

" And 3'et that is saying a great deal. I may
have my doubts whether that penknife be mine or
not. Some one may come to-morrow or next day
to claim it as his, and describe it, heaven knows
how rightly or wrongly. No matter, he'll say he
owns it. Would you, sir, — I ask you now simply
as a Christian man, I am not speaking to a casuist
or a lawyer, — would you, sir, at once, just as a



IN THE LIBRARY AT CASTELLO. 9

measure of peace to your own conscience, sav, ' Let
him take it,' rather than burden vour heart with a
discussion for which tou had no temper nor taste ?
That's the question I'd like to ask you. Can you
answer it? I see you cannot," cried he, rapidly.
*' I see at once how you want to go off into a thousand
subtleties, and instead of resolving my one doubt,
surround me with a legion of others."

" If I know anything about myself I'm not much
of a casuist ; I haven't the brains for it," said
L'Estrange, with a sad smile.

"Ay, there it is. That's the humility of Satan's
own making; that's the humility that exclaims,
*I'm only honest. I'm no genius. Heaven has
not made me great or gifted. I'm simj^ly a poor
creature, right-minded and pure -hearted.' As if
there was anything, — as if there could be anything
so exalted as this same purity."

" But I never said that ; I never presumed to
say so," said the other, modestly.

" And if YOU rail asrainst riches, and tell me that
wealth is a snare and a pitfall, what do you mean
by telling me that my reverse of fortune is a chastise-
ment ? "V^Tiy, sir, by your own theory it ought to



10 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

be a blessing, a positive blessing ; so tliat if I were
turned out of this princely liouse to-morrow, branded
as a pretender and an impostor, I should go forth
better, — not only better, but happier. Ay, that's
the point; happier than I ever was as the lord of
these broad acres ! " As he spoke he tore his cravat
from his throat, as though it were strangling him by
its pressure, and now walked the room, carr3dng the
neckcloth in his hand, while the veins in his throat
stood out full and swollen like a tangled cordage.

L 'Estrange was so much frightened by the wild
voice and wilder gesture of the man, that he could
not utter a word in reply.

Bramleigh now came over, and leaning his hand
on the other's shoulder, in a tone of kind and gentle
meaning, said, —

"It is not your fault, my dear friend, that you
are illogical and unreasonable. You are obliged to
defend a thesis you do not understand, by argu-
ments you cannot measure. The armoury of the
Church has not a weapon that has not figured in
the middle ages ; and what are you to do with
halberds and cross-bows in a time of rifles and
revolvers ! If a man, like myself, burdened with a



IX THE LIBRARY AT CASTLLLO. 11

heavy weight on his heart, had gone to his confessor
in olden times, he would j)i'ohably have heard, if not
words of comfort, something to enlighten, to instruct,
and to guide him. Now what can you give me "? tell
me that "? I want to hear by what subtleties the
Chm'ch can reconcile me not to do what I ought to
do, and yet not quarrel with my own conscience. Can
you help me to that "? "

L'Estrange shook his head in dissent.

*' I suppose it is out of some such troubles as
mine that men come to change their religion." He
paused ; and then bursting into a laugh, said, —
*^ You hear that the other bank deals more liberally
— asks a smaller commission, and gives you a hand-
somer interest — and you accordingly transfer your
account. I believe that's the whole of it."

'' I will not say you have stated the case fairly,"
said L'Estrange ; but so faintly as to show that he
was far from eager to continue the discussion, and he
arose to take his leave.

'^ You are going already? and I have not spoken
to you one word about — what was it ? Can you
remember what it was ? Something that related
personally to yourself."



12 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

" Perhaps I can guess, sir. It was the mine at
Lisconnor, probably? You were kind enough the
other day to arrange my securing some shares in the
undertaking. Since that, however, I have heard a
piece of news which may affect my whole future
career. There has been some report made by the
Commissioner about the parish."

" That's it, that's it. They're going to send you
off, L'Estrange. They're going to draft you to a
cathedral, and make a prebendary of you. You are to
be on the staff of an archbishop : a sort of Christian
unattached. Do you like the prospect ? "

" Not at all, sir. To begin, I am a very poor
man, and could ill bear the cost of life this might
entail."

" Your sister would probably be pleased with the
change ; a gayer place, more life, more movement."

"I suspect my sister reconciles herself to dulness
even better than myself."

" Girls do that occasionally ; patience is a female
virtue."

There w^as a slight pause ; and now L'Estrange,
drawing a long breath as if preparing himself for a
great effort, said, —



IN THE LIBRARY AT CASTELLO. 13

" It was to speak to you, sir, about that xerj
matter, and to ask your assistance, that I came up here
this day."

"1 wish I were a bishop, for your sake, my dear
friend."

'*' I know well, sir, I can count upon your kind
interest in me, and I believe that an opportunity now
offers "

"What is it ? where is it?"

" At Eome, sir ; or rather near Rome, a place
called Albano. They want a chaplain there,"

" But you're not a Catholic priest, L'Estrange."

" No, sir. It is an English community that
wants a parson."

"I see ; and you think this would suit you ? "

" There are some great attractions about it ; the
country, the climate, and the sort of life, all have a
certain fascination for me, and Julia is most eager
about it."

" The young lady has ambition," muttered
Bramleigh to himself. "But what can I do,
L'Estrange '? I don't own a rood of land at Albano.
I haven't a villa — not even a fig-tree there. I could
subscribe to the church fund, if there be such a



14 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

thing ; I could qualify for tlie franchise, and give
you a vote, if that would he of service."

" You could do hotter, sir. You could give me
a letter to Lady Augusta, whose influence, I helieve,
is all powerful."

For a moment Bramleigh stared at him fixedly,
and then sinking slowly into a chair, he leaned his
head on his hand, and seemed lost in thought.
The name of Lady Augusta had brought up before
him a long train of events and possible consequences,
which soon led him far away from the parson and
all his cares. From her debts, her extravagances,
her change of religion, and her suggestion of sepa-
ration, he went back to his marriage with her, and
even to his first meeting. Strange chain of disasters
from beginning to end. A bad investment in every
way. It paid nothing. It led to nothing.

" I hope, sir," said L'Estrange, as he gazed at
the strange expression of preoccupation in the
other's face — " I hope, sir, I have not been indis-
creet in my request ? "

^* What tvas your request ? " asked Colonel
Bramleigh bluntly, and with a look of almost stern-
ness.



IN THE LIBRARY AT CASTELLO. 15

**I had asked you, sir, for a letter to Lady
Augusta," said the curate, half offended at the
manner of the last question.

''A letter to Lady Augusta?" repeated Bram-
leigh, dwelling on each word, as though by the effort
he could recall to his mind something that had
escaped him.

"I mean, sir, with reference to this appointment,
— the chaplaincy," intei-posed L'Estrange, for he
was offended at the hesitation, which he thought
implied reluctance or disinclination on Colonel
Bramleigh's part, and he hastened to show that it
was not any claim he was preferring to her lady-
ship's acquaintance, but simply his desire to obtain
her interest in his behalf.

" Lafluence ! influence ! " repeated Bramleigh to
himself. '•' I have no doubt she has influence, such
persons generally have. It is one of the baits that
catch them ! This little glimpse of power has a
marvellous attraction — and these chui-chmen know
so well how to display all their seductive arts before
the eager eyes of the newly won convert. Yes, I
am sure you are right, sir ; Lady Augusta is one
most likely to have influence, — you shall have the



16 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

letter you wish for. I do not say I will write it
to-day, for I have a heavy press of correspondence
before me, but if jon will come up to-morrow, by
luncheon time, or to dinner, — why not dine here ? "

" I think I'd rather come up early, sir."

*' Well, then, early be it. I'll have the letter
for you. I wish I could remember something I
know I had to say to you. What was it ? What
was it? Nothing of much consequence, perhaps,
but still I feel as if — eh, — don't you feel so too ? "

"I have not the slightest clue, sir, to what you
mean."

''It wasn't about the mine — no. I think you
see your way there clearly enough. It may be a
good thing, or it may not. Cutbill is like the rest
of them, not a greater rogue perhaps, nor need he
be. They are such shrewd fellows, and as the
money is your sister's, — trust money, too, — I declare
I'd be cautious."

L 'Estrange mumbled some words of assent; he
saw that Bramleigh's manner betokened exhaustion
and weariness, and he was eager to be gone. " Till
to-morrow, then, sir," said he, moving to the door.

"You'll not dine with us? I think you might



IN THE LIBRARY AT CASTELLO. 17

though," muttered Bramleigh, half to himself.
*'I'm sure Culduff would make no show of awkward-
ness, nor would your sister either, — women never do.
But do just what you like ; my head is aching so,
I believe I must lie down for an hour or two. Do
you pass Belton's ? "

*' I could without any inconvenience ; do you
want him?"

" I fancy I'd do well to see him ; he said some-
thing of cupping me the last day he was here, —
would you mind telling him to give me a call '? "

" May I come up in the evening, sir, a^d see
how 3'ou are ! "

"In the evening? this evening?" cried Bram-
leigh, in a harsh discordant voice. " ^ hy, good
heavens, sir ! have a little, a very little discretion.
You have been here since eleven ; I marked the
clock. It was not full five minutes after eleven,
when you came in, — it's now past one. Two mortal
hours, — and you ask me if you may return this
evening ; and I reply, sir, distinctly — Xo ! Is that
intelligible ? I say — Xo ! " As he spoke he turned
away, and the curate, covered with shame and con-
fusion, hastened out of the room, and down the
VOL. II. 24



18 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

stall's, and out into the open air, dreading lest he
should meet any one, and actually terrified at the
thought of heing seen. He plunged into the
thickest of the shrubberies, and it was with a sense
of relief he heard from a child that his sister had
gone home some time before, and left word for him
to follow her.



( 19 )



CHAPTER II.

THE CURATE CROSS-EXAMINED.

When the party returned from the picnic, it was
to find Colonel Bramleigh very ill. Some sort of
fit the doctor called it — not apoplexy nor epilepsy,
but something that seemed to combine features of
both. It had, he thought, been produced by a
shock of some sort, and L 'Estrange, who had last
been with him before his seizure, was summoned
to impart the condition in which he had found him,
and whatever might sers'e to throw light on the
attack.

If the curate was nervous and excited by the
tidings that reached him of the Colonel's state, the
examination to which he was submitted served little
to restore calm to his system. Question after ques-
tion poured in. Sometimes two or three would
speak together, and all — except Ellen — accosted him



20 THE'BEAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

in a tone that seemed half to make him chargeable
with the whole calamity. When asked to tell of
what they had been conversing, and that he men-
tioned how Colonel Bramleigh had adverted to
matters of faith and belief, Marion, in a whisper
loud enough to be overheard, exclaimed, " I was
sure of it. It was one of those priestly indiscre-
tions ; he would come talking to papa about what
he calls his soul's health, and in this way brought on
the excitement."

"Did you not perceive, sir," asked she, fiercely,
''that the topic was too much for his nerves ? Did
it not occur to you that the moment was inopportune
for a very exciting subject ?"

" Was his manner easy and natural when you saw
him first ?" asked Augustus.

''Had he been reading that debate on Servia?"
inquired Temple.

" Matter enough there, by Jove, to send the
blood to a man's head," cried Culduff, warmly.

" I'm convinced it was all religious," chimed in
Marion, who triumphed mercilessly over the poor
parson's confusion. " It is what they call ' in season
and out of season ; ' and they are true to their device,



THE CURATE CROSS-EXAMI^'ED. '21

for no men on earth more lieartilv defy tlie dictates
of tact or delicacy."

'■'Oh, Marion, what are you saying?" whispered
NeUy.

" It's no time for honeyed words, Ellen, in the
presence of a hea^-y calamity, but I'd like to ask
Mr. L 'Estrange why, when he saw the danger of
the theme they were discussing, he did not tiy to
change the topic."

" So I did. I led him to talk of myself and my
interests."

"An admirable antidote to excitement, ceriainly,"
muttared Culduff to Temple, who seemed to relish
the joke intensely.

" You say that m}- father had been reading his
letters — did he appear to have received any tidings to
call for unusual anxiety ? " asked Augustus.

" I found him — as I thought — looking veiy ill,
careworn almost, when I entered. He had been
writing, and seemed fatigued and exhausted. His
first remark to me was, I remember, a mistake."
L'Estrange here stopped suddenly. He did not desire
to repeat the speech about being in^-ited to the picnic.
It would have been an awkwardness on ah sides.



22 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

*' Wliat do you call a mistake, sir ? " asked
Marion, calmly.

" I mean lie asked me something which a clearer
memory would have reminded him not to have
inquired after."

" This grows interesting. Perhaps you will
enlighten us a little farther, and say what the
blunder was."

" Well, he asked me hovv^ it happened that Julia
and myself were not of the picnic, forgetting of
course that we — we had not heard of it." A deep
flush was now spread over his face and forehead, and
he looked overwhelmed T^'ith shame.

^'1 see it all ; I see the whole thing," said
Marion, triumphantly. " It was out of the worldli-
ness of the picnic sprung all the saintly conversation
that ensued."

"No ; the transition was more gradual," said
L'Estrange, smiling, for he was at last amused at
the asperity of this cross-examination. ''Nor was
there what you call any saintly conversation at all. A


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 16)