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Nelly; "but if Lord Culduff could answer your



202 THE BKAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

purpose^ I'd ask Marion to interest him in the
matter."

" There's a dear good girl, do write a line to
Marion ; tell her it's the greatest favour she could
hestow on me. The poor fellow is a political
criminal ; he only shot at the king I helieve, and
where they do that every week or so, it's hard to
make it a capital offence. " I'll give you his name
and his numher when I go into the house."

" The post leaves early," said she, rising. " I
must do this at once."

"Wait till I have finished this corner of my
netting, and I'll go with you," said Julia.

" I say No to that," cried Jack. " I'm not going
to he left alone here. If that's the way you treat
a distinguished guest, the sooner he takes his leave
the hotter. Stay where you are. Miss Julia."

"But I shall have no work. Master Jack. My
net will be finished in a few minutes."

"Make cigarettes for me then. There's the
bag," said he, lazily.

"I declare ourBohemianism progresses famously,"
said she, half tartly. " What do you think of this
proposal, Nelly ? " The question came late, how-



THE VILLA LIFE. 203

ever, for Nelly was abeady on her way to the
house.

'' Don't go, that's a good girl ; don't leave me
here to my own thoughts — they're not over jolly, I
promise you, when I'm all alone."

"Why, it's your good spirits that amaze me,"
repHed she. " I don't remember seeing you so
cheerful or so merry long ago, as you are now."

" You mean that I wasn't so happy when I had
more reason to be so ? but what if I were to tell you
out of what a sad heart this joy comes ; how every day
I say to myself, * This is to be the last of it.' Not,"
said he, in a bolder voice, " that I want to think
about myself ; this terrible disaster that has befallen
my family is infinitely worse than anything that can
attach to me. Even yet I cannot bring myself to
believe this great smash." She made no answer ;
and he went on : "I can't make out if Nelly herself
believes it. You all wear such cheerful faces, it's
not easy to understand in what spirit you take this
reverse."

" I think that your return has recompensed Nelly
for everything."

" She was always the best of us ; it's no great



204 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

praise that same ; but I mean — but it's no matter
what I mean, for you are laughing at me already."

" No, indeed, I was not. If I smiled it was in
thinking how little all your casualties have changed

you."

** For that matter I suspect we may compliment
or condemn each other, whichever it be, on equal
terms."

*' So at last I have got you to say a civil thing to
me ; you tell me I am the same delightful fasci-
nating creature you knew me Igng ago."

" I said nothing about fascination," said he,
sternly.

'^ Not directly, of course. Your tact and delicacy
were proof against such indiscretion, but you know
you meant it."

' ' I'll tell you what I know : I know that I never
saw a girl except yourself who liked to pain — aye, to
torture — those who cared for her ; who would infinitely
rather indulge her mood of mockery than — than "

" Pray finish. It's not every day I have the
fortune to hear such candour. Tell me what it is
that I postpone to my love of sarcasm ? "

'* I've done. I've been very rude to you, and I



THE VILLA LIFE. 205

ask your pardon. I was not very polished in my
best of days, and I take it my late schooling has not
done much to improve me. When I was coming
here I swore an oath to myself that, no matter what
you'd say to me, I'd not lose temper, nor make a
resentful answer to anything ; and now I see I've
forgotten all my good intentions, and the best thing
I can do is to ask you to forgive me, and go my
ways."

^' I'm not offended," said she, calmly, without
raising her eyes. '' I suppose if the balance were
struck between us, I did more to provoke you than
you did to wound mc."

" What is this I hear about being provoked and
wounded?" cried Nelly, coming up to where they sat.

'' Your brother and I have been quarrelling, that's
all. We thought it the pleasantest way to pass the
time till you came back ; and we have succeeded to
perfection."

" I declare, Julia, this is too bad," cried NeUy.

" But why JuHa ? Why am I singled out" as the
culprit ? Is he so above reproach that he could not
be in the wrong ? "

*' I know I was in the wrong, and I've said so *



206 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

but now let Nelly be judge between us. Here is the
way it began, "

" The way what began, pray ? " asked Julia.

" There now, that's the way she pushes me to
lose my temper, and when she sees I'm angry she
grows all the calmer."

" She's downright disagreeable," said Julia ;
" and I don't know why a frank, outspoken sailor
condescends to speak to her."

*' Well, he's pretty sure to get the worst of it,"
muttered he.

" Poor Jack," said Nelly, caressingly. *' And
for all that he likes the ill treatment better than all
the flatteries he meets elsewhere."

" That shrug of his shoulders does not say so,"
said Julia, laughing. " Come," cried she, with a
merry voice, "let us do something more worthy of
this delicious morning ; let us have a walk up the
mountain ; we can have shade all the way."

"What's that little dome; — there above the
trees ? " asked Jack.

" That's the campanile of our little chapel. I'll
fetch the key, and we'll go and visit it. We've not
been to see it yet."



THE VILLA LITE. -207

" But George would like to come with us ; " and
so saying, Julia hastened away to find him.

'^ Oh, Nelly, I love her better than ever, and she
scorns me even more," said he, as he hid his head
on his sister's shoulder.

" My poor, dear Jack ; how little you know her !
You never sorrowed over your last pai'ting as she
did. We have had all of us gi-eat reverses. They,
as well as ourselves ; and that spirit of Julia's — there
is another name for it than mockery — has carried
her through her troubles better than a more preten-
tious philosophy."

" But she is not even friendly with me, Nelly.
None of you make me feel what I have sunk to as
she does."

" There again you are unjust "

" Right or wrong, I'll bear it no longer. I only
wait now till Gusty comes back. I want to shake
his hand once more, and then, girl, you have seen
the last of me."

Before Xelly could reply, Julia and her brother
had joined them.

" Here's news," said George, showing a letter,
" Augustus will be \^'ith us to-morrow ; he only



208 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

writes a few lines to say, — ' I have nothing particu-
larly cheering to report, and it will all bear keeping.
I mean to be at home on Wednesday next. I am all
impatience to see Jack ; the thought of meeting him
more than repays me my reverses here. Give him
my love. — A. Bramleigh.' "

" We shall have plenty to do to prepare for his
arrival," said Julia ; ''we must postpone our visit to
the chapel. Would this illustrious prince condescend
to help us to move tables and chests of drawers ? "•

Jack threw a very significant glance towards
Nelty, as though to say, " She is at the old game."

" Well, sir ? I wait your answer," said Julia.

" For twenty-four hours I am at your orders,"
said Jack.

" And then under what commander do you
serve ? "

" Captain Fortune, I suspect," said he, gravely.
" A gentleman, or lady, perhaps, that has shown me
no especial fondness up to this."

" Jack says he is going to leave us," said Nelly,
as her eyes filled up.

" But why ? " cried George.

" But why ? " echoed Julia.



THE VILLA LIFE. 209

" Haven't I given proof enough," said Jack, with
a faint laugh, '' that I'm not what Miss JuHa there
calls a Ycry logical animal ; that when I get a way-
ward fancy in my head I follow it as faithfully as if it
was a strong conviction. Well, now, one of these
moments has come to me ; and thinking, besides,
that this pleasant sort of life here is not exactly the
best preparation for a rougher kind of existence, I
have made up my mind to slip my cable after I've
seen Gusty."

" WeU, then, let us profit by the short time left
us," said Julia, quietly. '' Come and help me in the
house. I shall want you, too, George."

" You must do without me, Julia ; I have only
just discovered a letter in my pocket, with the seal
unbroken, that I ought to have answered at least a
fortnight ago. It is from Sir Marcus Clufi"," said he,
in a whisper, *' making me an offer of the vicarage at
Hoxton."

**What a kind fellow."

" "Who's a kind fellow ? " asked Jack.

" A certain gentleman, who made me the flatter-
ing proposal to become his wife and nurse, and who
now offers to make George his chaplain."
VOL. III. 59



210 THE BRAMLETGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

" It rains good luck here," said Jack, with a half
bitter smile; "why won't it drift a httle in my
direction ? By the way, Nelly, what about the letter
I asked you to write to Marion ? "

''It is written. I only want to fill in the name
of the person ; you told me to keep a blank for it."

" I'll go and fetch my pocket-book," said he, and
broke away at once, and hastened towards the house.

" I'm dehghted at your good news, Julia," said
Nelly ; " though it almost breaks my heart to think
how desolate we shall soon be here."

" Never anticipate eyil fortune. We are still
together, and let us not mar the present by glancing
at a possible future."

" And poor Jack," began Nelly ; but unable to
finish, she turned away her head to hide the emotion
she felt.

" He shall, — he must stay," cried Julia.

" You know the price, dearest," said Nelly,
throwing herself into her arms.

" Well, who says I am not ready to pay it ?
There, that's enough of folly. Let us now^ think of
something useful."



( 211 )



CHAPTEE XV.

A VEEY BKIEF DEEAM.

JrLiA was seldom happier than when engaged in
preparing for a coming gnest. There was a hlended
romance and fuss ahout it all that she liked. She
liked to employ her fancy in devising innumerable
little details, she liked the active occupation itself,
and she Hked best of all that storied web of thought
in which she connected the expected one with all that
was to greet him. How he would be pleased with
this, what he would think of that ? Would he
leave that chair or that table where she had placed
it ? Would he hke that seat in the window, and the
view down the glen, as she hoped he might ? Would
the new-comer, in fact, fall into the same train of
thought and mind as she had who herself planned
and executed all around him.

Thus thinking was it that, with the aid of a stout



•212 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP's FOLLY.

Dalmatian peasant-girl, she busied herself with pre-
parations for Augustus Bramleigh's arrival. She
knew all his caprices about the room he liked to
occupy. How he hated much furniture, and loved
space and freedom ; how he liked a soft and tempered
light, and that the view from his window should
range over some quiet secluded bit of landscape,
rather than take in what recalled life and movement
and the haunts of men.

She was almost proud of the way she saw into
people's natures by the small dropping preferences
they evinced for this or that, and had an intense
pleasure in meeting the coming fancy. At the
present moment, too, she was glad to busy herself in
any mode rather than dwell on the thoughts that the
first interval of rest would be sure to bring before
her. She saw that Jack Bramleigh was displeased
with her, and, though not without some misgivings,
she was vexed that he alone of all should resent
the capricious moods of a temper resolutely deter-
mined to take the sunniest path in existence, and
make the smaller worries of life but matter for
banter.

*'He mistakes me altogether," said she aloud,



A VERY BRIEF DREAM. 213

but speaking to herself, *'if he imagines that I'm in
love with poverty and all its straits ; but I'm not
going to cry over them for all that. They may
change me in many ways. I can't help that. Want
is an ugly old hag, and one cannot sit opposite her
without catching a look of her features; but she'll
not subdue my courage, nor make me afraid to meet
her eye. Here, Gretchen, help me with this great
chest of drawers. We must get rid of it out of
this, wherever it goes." It was a long and weary
task, and tried their strength to the last limit ; and
Julia threw herself into a deep-cushioned chair when
it was over, and sighed heavily. " Have you a
sweetheart, Gretchen '? " she asked, just to lead the
girl to talk, and relieve the oppression that she felt
would steal over her. Yes, Gretchen had a sweet-
heart, and he was a fisherman, and he had a fourth
sh^re in a '* bragotza ; " and when he had saved
enough to buy out two of his comrades he was to
marry her; and Gretchen was very fond, and v^ry
hopeful, and veiy proud of her lover, and altogether
took a very pleasant view of life, though it was all of
it in expectancy. Then Gretchen asked if the
signorina had not a sweetheart, and Julia, after a



214 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

pause, and ifc was a pause in which her colour came
and went, said '' No ! " And Gretchen drew nigh, and
stared at her with her great hazel eyes, and read in
her now pale face that the "No" she had uttered
had its own deep meaning ; for Gretchen, though a
mere peasant, humble and illiterate, was a woman,
and had a woman's sensibility^ under all that outward
ruggedness.

" Why do you look at me so, Gretchen ? " asked
Julia.

" Ah, signorina," sighed she, '' I am sorry — I am
very sorry ! It is a sad thing not to be loved."

" So it is, Gretty ; but every day is not as nice
and balmy and fresh as this, and yet w^e live on, and,
taking one with the other, find life pretty enjoyable,
after all !" The casuistry of her speech made no
convert. How could it ? — it had not any weight with
herself.

The girl shook her head mournfully and gazed at
her with sad eyes, but not speaking a word. " I
thought, signorina," said she, at last, " that the
handsome prince "

''Go to your dinner, Gretchen. You are late
already," said Julia, sharply, and the girl withdrew,



A VERY BKIEF DREA^I. 215

abashed and downcast. "When thus alone, Juha sat
still, wearied by her late exertions. She leaned her
head on the arm of the chair, and fell fast asleep.
The soft summer wind that came tempered through
the window-blinds played with her hair and fanned
her to heavy slumber — at first, di-eamless slumber, the
price of actual fatigue.

Jack Bramleigh, who had been wandering about
alone, doing his best to think over himself and his
future, but not making any remarkable progress in
the act, had at length turned into the house, strolliug
from room to room, half unconsciously, half struck by
the yastness and extent of the building. Chance at
last led him along the corrider which ended in this
chamber, and he entered, gazing carelessly around
him, till suddenly he thought he heard the deep-di-awn
breathing of one in heavy sleep. He di-ew nigh, and
saw it was Julia. The arm on which her head lay
hung Hstlessly down, and her hand was half hid in
the masses of her luxuriant haii-. Noiselessly,
stealthily. Jack crept to her feet, and crouched down
upon the floor, seeming to drink in her long
breathings with an ecstasy of delight. Oh, what a
moment was that I Through how many years of life



216 THE BRAMLEIGIIS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

was it to pass ; the one bright thread of gold in the
dark tissue of existence. As such he knew it ; so he
felt it ; and to this end he treasured up every trait
and every feature of the scene. '^ It is all that I shall
soon have to look back upon," thought he ; and yet
to be thus near her seemed a bliss of perfect
ecstasy.

More than an hour passed over, and he was still
there, not daring to move lest he should awake her.
At last he thought her lips seemed to murmur some-
thing. He bent down, close — so close that he felt her
breath on his face. Yes, she was dreaming — dream-
ing, too, of long ago ; for he heard her mutter the
names of places near where they had lived in Ireland.
It was of some party^of pleasure she was dreaming —
her dropping words indicated so much ; and at last
she said, "No, no; not Lisconnor. Jack doesn't
like Lisconnor." Oh, how he blessed her for the
words ; and bending over, he touched the heavy curl
of her hair with his lips. Some passing shock
startled her, and she awoke with a start and a faint
cry. "Where am I?" she cried; "what is this?"
and she stared at him with her wide full glance, while
her features expressed terror and bewilderment.



A VERY BRIEF DREAM. 217

" Don't be frightened, clearest. You are safe, and
at home with those who love you."

" And how are you here ? how came you here ?"
asked she, still terrified.

" I was strolling listlessly about, and chance led
me here. I saw you asleep in that chair, and I lay
down at your feet till you should awake."

" I know nothing of it all," muttered she. " I
suppose I was dreaming. I fancied I was in Ireland,
and we were about to go on some excursion, and I
thought Marion was not pleased "^ith me ; — how
stupid it is to tiy and disentangle a dream. You
shouldn't have been here. Master Jack. Except in
fairy tales, young princes never take such liberties as
this, and even then the princesses are under enchant-
ment."

" It is 7 that am under the spell, not you, JuHa,"
said he fondly.

" Then you are come to ask pardon for all your
crossness, your savagery of this morning ?"

" Yes, if you desire it."

"No, sir ; I desire nothing of the kind ; it must
be spontaneous humility. You must feel you have
behaved \evj ill, and be \erj, very sorr}' for it."



218 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

" I have behaved very ill, and am very, very sorry
for it," repeated he softly after her.

*' And this is said seriously?"

" Seriously."

"And on honour?"

'^ On honour !"

" And why is it said, — is it because I have asked
you to say it?"

*' Partly ; that is, you have in asking given me
courage to say it."

" Courage to ask pardon ! what do you mean by
that?"

"No ; but courage to make me hope you care to
hear it. Oh, Julia, for once listen to me seriously
and let me tell you how I love you ; how I have
always loved you ; how you are to me all that is worth
living for."

"It would be very nice to be told such pretty
things, all the more being bound to believe them."

"And do you doubt?"

" I'll tell you what there is not, nor can be any
doubt about, Jack : that we are both very poor, and
though I, woman-like, may feel it a very comforting
and sustaining thought, through my poverty, that one



A VERY BRIEF DREAM. 219

honest heart beats affectionately for me, yet I'm far
from sure that it would be the same good influence
over your life ; in fact, our bargain would be unequal,
and I should have all the best of it."

" Oh, Julia, could you love me "

" I think I've done things fully as hard," said
she with affected thoughtfulness.

" Do you think me then so hopeless of advance-
ment in life that I shall live and die the humble
creature you now see me ? "

" Xo, I don't think that. I think if fate is not
very dead against you, you are likely, whatever you
tm*n to, or wherever you go, to make your way, but
to do this, you must be heart-whole ; the selfishness
that men call ambition cannot afford to be weighted
with thought of another and another's weKare.
Have a little patience with me — hear me out, for I
am saying what I have thought over many and many
an hour — what I have already told Nelly. There's
an old Persian fable that says, the people who love
on through life, are like two lovers who walk on
opposite banks of a river and never meet till the
river mingles with the ocean, which is eternity, and
then they are parted no more. Are you satisfied



220 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

with this ? I thought not. Well, what are your
plans for the future ? "

'' I have scores of them. If I would take service
with any of those South American repuhlics, there is
not one would not give me rank and station to-
morrow. Brazil would take me. If I offered myself
to the Sultan's Government, where I am known, I
could have a command at once."

" I don't know that I like Turkish ideas on the
marriage state," said she gravely.

" Julia, Julia ! do not torture me," cried he
anxiously. ''It is my very life is at stake, — be
serious for once ; " he took her hand tenderly as he
spoke, and was bending down to kiss it, when a
hea-\^^ foot was heard approaching, and suddenly
L'Estrange burst into the room with an open news-
paper in his hand.

" 1 have got something here will surprise you,
Jack," he cried. " You will be astonished to learn
that you owe your escape from Ischia to no intre-
pidity of your own, that you had neither act nor part
in the matter, but that it was all due to the con-
summate skill of a great diplomatist, who repre-
sented England at Naples. Listen to this — it is



A VERY BRIEF DREAM. 221

* our own special correspondent ' who writes : — ' I
have naturally been curious to ascertain the exact
history of Kogers' escape, the journals of this countiy
having inyested that event with most melodramatic,
I might go further, and say incredible details. My
own knowledge of the precautions adopted against
evasion, and the jealous care bestowed by the
Neapolitan Government towards political prisoners,
rendered me slow to believe that an unaided convict
would have the slisrhtest chance of effectinof his
liberation, and so far as I can learn, late events
have not diminished in any degree my faith in this
opinion.'

" ' If the stories which circulate in diplomatic
circles are to be credited, it was H. B. M.'s special
envoy at this Court who planned the whole achieve-
ment. He, seeing the fatal obduracj' of the King's
Ministers, and the utter impracticability of all pro-
ceedings to instil into them notions of right or
honour, determined, while prosecuting the cause
with unusual ardour, to remove the basis of the
litigation. By what bribery he effected his object,
or of whom, I do not profess to know, though very
high names are mentioned with unsparing freedom



222 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

here, but the fact remains, that when the last
despatch of the Foreign Secretary was on its road
to our envoy, Rogers was careering over the glad
waters in one of H.M.'s steam-launches — thus re-
lieving the controversy of a very material and inter-
esting item in the negotiation. Of course, this has
no other foundation than mere rumour, but it is a
rumour that no one assumes to discredit, nor,
indeed, any to deny, except the very discreet officials
of our mission here, who naturally protest that it is
a fabrication of the French press. The envoy is
still here, and actively proceeding against the
Government for an indemnity for unjust imprison-
ment.' And now. Jack, here is the best of all.
Listen to this : ' So sensible are our ministers at
home of the great service rendered by this adroit
measure, the relief experienced by the removal of
what at any moment might have become the very
gravest of all questions — that of peace or war — that
no reward is deemed too high for its distinguished
author, and his Excellency Lord Viscount Culduff '
— Culduff— "

''Lord Culduff!" cried Jack and Julia, in
amazement.



A VERY BRIEF DREAM. 223

" 'Viscount Culduff has been offered the post of
ambassador at Constantinople ! ' "

Jack snatched the paper from his hands, and
stared in mute amazement at the lines.

" And is this the way fortunes are made in the
world ? " cried he at last.

" Only in the great walks of life, Jack," said
Julia. " Small people talk and kbour, take service
in Argentine repubhcs, or fight for Mussulmen ;
distinguished people fire but one shot, but it always
explodes in the enemy's magazine."

'* I wonder what he would have thought if he
had known for whom he was negotiating," said Jack,
drily. * ' I half suspect my distinguished brother-in-
law would have left me in chains far rather than
drive down the Corso with me."

'' I declare — no, I won't say the spiteful thing
that crossed my mind — but I will say, I'd hke to
have seen a meeting between you and your brother
Temple."

" You think he'd have been so ashamed of me,"
said Jack, with a laugh.

" Not a bit of it. You might possibly have been
ashamed of the situation — shocked with being such



224 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

an unworthy member of a gi-eat house — hut he,


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