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BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE



BEECHCROFT

AT ROCKSTONE



BY



CHARLOTTE M. YONGE

AUTHOR OF ' THE HEIR OF REDCLYFFE,' ' UNKNOWN TO HISTORY.
ETC.



IN TWO VOLUMES
VOL. I



HotttJon

MACMILLAN AND CO.

AND NEW YORK
1888

All ri'jhts n



Printed by R. & R- Clark, Edinburgh



8£3
v. 1



CONTENTS



A Dispersion



CHAPTER I



PAGE
1



ROCKQUAY



CHAPTER II



22



CHAPTER III



Perpetual Motion



42



CHAPTER IV

The Queen op the White Ants



CHAPTER V



Marbles



CHAPTER VI



Single Misfortunes never come alone
CHAPTER VII



An Empty Nest



65



85



103



122



Vl CONTENTS



CHAPTER VIII

PAGE

Gillian's Pupil ,141



CHAPTER IX
Gauging Ajee 164

CHAPTER X

AUT CiESAR AUT NlHIL 183

CHAPTER XI
Lady Merrifield's Christmas Letter-Bag • . 205

CHAPTER XII
Transformations 224



BEECHCBOFT AT KOCKSTONE

CHAPTEE I

A DISPERSION

• A telegram ! Make haste and open it, Jane ; they
always make me so nervous ! I believe that is the
reason Eeginald always will telegraph when he is
coming/ said Miss Adeline Mohun, a very pretty, well
preserved, though delicate-looking lady of some age
about forty, as her elder sister, brisk and lively and
some years older, came into the room.

' No, it is not Eeggie. It is from Lily. Poor
Lily ! Jasper — accident — Come.'

1 Poor dear Lily ! Is it young Jasper or old Jasper,
I w r onder ? '

1 If it were young Jasper she would have put Japs.
I am afraid it is her husband. If so, she will be
going off to him. I must catch the 11.20 train.
Will you come, Ada ? '

'Oh no ; I should be knocked up, and on your
hands. The suspense is bad enough at home.'

VOL. I B



2 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

1 If it is old Jasper, we shall see in the paper
to-day. I will send it down to you from the station.
Supposing it is Sir Jasper, and she wants to go out to
him, we must take in some of the children.'

' Oh ! Dear little Primrose would be nice enough,
but what should we do with that Halfpenny woman ?
If we had the other girls, I suppose they would be at
school all day ; but surely some might go to Beech-
croft. And mind, Jane, I will not have you over-
tasking yourself ! Do not take any of them without
having Gillian to help you. That I stipulate.'

Jane Mohun seemed as if she did not hear, as these
sentences were uttered at intervals, while she stood
dashing off postcards at her davenport. Then she
said, on her way to the door —

1 Don't expect me to-night. I will send Fanny to
ask one of the Wellands to come in to you, and tele-
graph if I bring any one home with me.'

1 But, Jane dear '

However, the door was shut, and by the time Miss
Adeline had reached her sister's room, the ever-ready
bag was nearly packed.

' I only wanted to say, dear Jane, that you must
give my love to dear Lily. I am grieved — grieved
for her ; but indeed you must not undertake anything
rash.' (A shake of the head, as the shoes went into
their neat bag.) ' Do not let her persuade you to stay
at Silverfold in her absence. You cannot give up
everything here/



i A DISPERSION 3

'Yes, yes, Ada, I know it does not suit you.
Never fear.'

' It is not that ; but you are much too useful here
to drop everything, especially now every one is away.
I would willingly sacrifice myself, but '

'Yes, I know, Ada dear. Now, good-bye, and
take care of yourself, and don't be nervous. It may
mean only that young Japs has twisted his little
finger.'

And with a kiss, Miss Mohun ran downstairs as fast
and lightly as if her years had been half their amount,
and accomplished her orders to Fanny — otherwise Mrs.
Mount — a Beechcroft native, who, on being left a
widow, had returned to her former mistresses, bringing
with her a daughter, who had grown up into an
efficient housemaid. After a few words with her, Miss
Mohun sped on, finding time at the station to purchase
a morning paper just come down, and to read among
the telegrams:

'Colombo, Sept. 3d.

'Lieutenant-General Sir Jasper Merrifield, G.C.B.,
has been thrown from his horse, and received severe
injuries.'

She despatched this paper to her sister by a special
messenger, whom she had captured by the way, and
was soon after in the train, knitting and pondering.

At Silverton station she saw the pony carriage, and
in it her niece Gillian, a girl not quite seventeen, with
brown eyes showing traces of tears.



4 BEE CHCR OFT AT RO CKS TONE chap.

1 Mamma knew you would come/ she said.
1 You have heard direct, of course.'

I Yes ; Claude telegraphed. The horse fell over a
precipice. Papa's leg and three ribs are broken. Not
dangerous. That is all it says ; and mamma is going
out to him directly.'

I I was quite sure she would. Well, Gillian, we
must do the best we can. Has she any plans ? '

' 1 think she waited for you to settle them. Hal
is come ; he wanted to go with her, but she says it
will cost too much, and besides, there is his Ordination
in Advent.'

' Has she telegraphed to your uncles ? '

'To Beechcroft and to Stokesley; but we don't
quite know where Uncle Eeginald is. Perhaps he
will see the paper.'

Gillian's tears were flowing again, and her aunt
said —

' Come, my dear, you must not give way ; you
must do all you can to make it better for your
mother.'

' I know/ she answered. ' Indeed, I didn't cry till
I sat waiting, and it all came over me. Poor papa !
and what a journey mamma will have, and how dread-
ful it will be without her ! But I know that it is
horrid of me, when papa and my sisters must want
her so much more.'

' That's right — quite right to keep up before her.
It does not sound to me so bad, after all ; perhaps they



I A DISPERSION 5

will telegraph again to stop her. Did Claude ask her
to come out ? '

1 Oh no ! There were only those few words.'

~No more could be learnt till the pony stopped at the
door, and Hal ran out to hand out his aunt, and beg
her privately to persuade his mother to take him, or, if
she would not consent to that, at least to have Macrae,
the old soldier-servant, with her — it was not fit for
her to travel alone.

Lady Merrifield looked very pale, and squeezed her
sister close in her arms as she said —

1 You are my great help, Jenny.'

1 And must you go ? '

' Yes, certainly.'

' Without waiting to hear more ? '

'There is no use in losing time. I cannot cross
from Folkestone till the day after to-morrow, at night.
I must go to London to-morrow, and sleep at Mrs.
Merrifield's.'

1 But this does not seem to me so very bad.'

' Oh no, no ! but when I get there in three weeks'
time, it will be just when I shall be most wanted.
The nursing will have told on the girls, and Jasper
will be feeling weary of being laid up, and wanting to
take liberties.'

' And what will you be after such a journey ? '

' Just up to keeping him in order. Come, you have
too much sense to expostulate, Jenny.'

' No ; you would wear yourself to fiddle-strings if



6 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

you stayed at home. I only want you to take Hal,
or Macrae.'

1 Hal is out of the question ; I would not interfere
with his preparation on any account. Macrae would
be a very costly article ; and, moreover, I want him
to act major-domo here, unless you would, and that I
don't dare to hope for.'

1 No, you must not, Lily ; Ada never feels well here,
nor always at Brighton, and Emily would be too nervous
to have her without me. But we will take as many
children as you please, or we have room for.'

' That is like you, Jenny. I know William will
offer to take them in at home, but I cannot send them
without Miss Vincent ; and she cannot leave her
mother, who has had a sort of stroke. Otherwise I
should try leaving them here while I am away, but
the poor old lady is in no state for it — in fact, I doubt
her living long.'

' 1 know ; you have been governess by yourself
these last weeks ; it will be well to relieve her. The
best way will be for us to take Mysie and Yaletta, and
let them go to the High School ; and there is a capital
day-school for little boys, close to St. Andrew's, for
Fergus, and Gillian can go there too, or join classes
in whatever she pleases.'

' My Brownie ! Have you really room for all those ?'

* Oh yes ! The three girls in the spare room and
dressing-room, and Fergus in the little room over the
porch. I will write to Fanny; I gave her a hint.'



I A DISPERSION 7

'And I have no doubt that Primrose will be a
delight to her aunt Alethea, poor little dear ! Yes,
that makes it all easy, for in the holidays I know the
boys are sure of a welcome at the dear old home, or
Hal might have one or two of them at his Curacy.'

The gong sounded for the melancholy dinner that
had to go on all the same, and in the midst all were
startled by the arrival of a telegram, which Macrae,
looking awestruck, actually delivered to Harry instead
of to his mistress ; but it was not from Ceylon. It
was from Colonel Mohun, from Beechcroft : ' Coming
6.30. Going with you. Send children here.'

Never were twenty words, including addresses, more
satisfactory. The tears came, for the first time, to
Lady Merrifield's eyes at the kindness of her brothers,
and Harry was quite satisfied that his uncle would be
a far better escort than himself or Macrae. Aunt
Jane went off to send her telegram home and write
some needful letters, and Lady Merrifield announced
her arrangements to those whom they concerned.

' Oh ! mamma, don't,' exclaimed Valetta ; ' all the
guinea-pigs will die.'

1 1 thought,' said Gillian, ' that we might stay here
with Miss Vincent to look after us.'

'That will not do in her mother's state. Mrs.
Vincent cannot be moved up here, and I could not
lay such a burthen on them.'

' We would be very good,' said Val.

' That, I hope, you will be any way ; but I think it



8 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

will be easier at Eockstone, and I am quite sure that
papa and I shall be better satisfied about you.'

' Mayn't we take Quiz ? ' asked Fergus.

' And Eigdum Funnidos ? ' cried Valetta.

1 And Euff and Eing ? ' chimed in Mysie.

' My dear children, I don't see how Aunt Jane can
be troubled with any more animals than your four
selves. You must ask her ; only do not be surprised or
put out if she refuses, for I don't believe you can keep
anything there.'

Off the three younger ones went, Gillian observing,
' I don't see how they can, unless it was Quiz ; but,
mamma, don't you think I might go to Beechcroft with
Primrose ? I should be so much quieter working for
the examination there, and I could send my exercises
to Miss Vincent ; and then I should keep up Prim's
lessons.'

' Your aunt Alethea will, I know, like doing that,
my dear ; and I am afraid to turn those creatures loose
on the aunts without some one to look after them and
their clothes. Fanny will be very helpful ; but it will
not do to throw too much on her.'

1 Oh ! I thought they would have Lois '

' There would not be room for her ; besides that, I
don't think it would suit your aunts. You and Mysie
ought to do all the mending for yourselves and Fergus,
and what Valetta cannot manage. I know you would
rather be at Beechcroft, my dear; but in this distress and
difficulty, some individual likings must be given up.'



I A DISPERSION 9

'Yes, mamma.'

Lady Merrifield looked rather dubiously at her
daughter. She had very little time, and did not want
to have an argument, nor to elicit murmurs, yet it
might be better to see what was in Gillian's mind be-
fore it was too late. Mothers, very fond of their own
sisters, cannot always understand why it is not the
same with their daughters, who inherit another element
of inherited character, and of another generation, and
who have not been welded together with the aunts in
childhood. ' My dear,' she said, ' you know I am quite
ready to hear if you have any real reasonable objection
to this arrangement/

'No, mamma, I don't think I have,' said Gillian
thoughtfully. ' The not liking always meeting a lot of
strangers, nor the general bustle, is all nonsense, I know
quite well. I see it is best for the children, but I
should like to know exactly who is to be in authority
over them.'

' Certainly Aunt Jane,' replied Lady Merrifield.
1 She must be the ultimate authority. Of course you
will check the younger ones in anything going wrong,
as you would here, and very likely there will be more
restrictions. Aunt Ada has to be considered, and it
will be a town life ; but remember that your aunt is
mistress of the house, and that even if you do think
her arrangements uncalled for, it is your duty to help
the others to submit cheerfully. Say anything you
please fully and freely in your letters to me, but don't



I o BEE CHCROFT AT RO CKS TONE chap.

let there be any collisions of authority. Jane will listen
kindly, I know, in private to any representation you may
like to make, but to say before the children, " Mamma
always lets them," would be most mischievous/

' I see,' said Gillian. ' Indeed, I will do my best,
mamma, and it will not be for very long.'

' I hope and trust not, my dear child. Perhaps we
shall all meet by Easter — papa, and all, but you must
not make too sure. There may be delays. Now I
must see Halfpenny. I cannot talk to you any more,
my Gillyflower, though I am leaving volumes unsaid.'

Gillian found Aunt Jane emerging from her room,
and beset by her three future guests.

' Aunt Jane, may we bring Quiz ?'

'And Eigdum Funnidos and Lady Eigdum ?'

' And Euff and Eing ? They are the sweetest doves
in the world.'

' Doves ! Oh, Mysie, they would drive your Aunt
Ada distracted, with coo-roo-roo at four o'clock in the
morning, just as she goes off to sleep.'

' The Eigdums make no noise but a dear little
chirp,' triumphantly exclaimed Valetta.

' Do you mean the kittens ? We have a vacancy
for one cat, you know.'

1 Oh yes, we want you to choose between Artaxerxes
and the Sofy. But the Eigdums are the eldest pair of
guinea-pigs. They are so fond of me, that I know
poor old Funnidos will die of grief if I go away and
leave him.'



I A DISPERSION ii

' I sincerely hope not, Valetta, for, indeed, there is
no place to put him in.'

1 1 don't think he would mind living in the cellar
if he only saw me once a day,' piteously pleaded
Valetta.

' Indeed, Val, the dark and damp would surely kill
the poor thing, in spite of your attentions. You must
make up your mind to separation from your pets,
excepting the kitten.'

Valetta burst out crying at this last drop that made
the bucket overflow, but Fergus exclaimed : ' Quiz !
Aunt Jane ! He always goes about with us, and always
behaves like a gentleman ; don't you, Quizzy V and the
little Maltese, who perfectly well understood that there
was trouble in the air, sat straight up, crossed his paws,
and looked touchingly wistful.

■ Poor dear little fellow !' said Aunt Jane ; c yes, I
knew he would be good, but Kunz would be horribly
jealous, you see; he is an only dog, and can't bear to
have his premises invaded/

' He ought to be taught better,' said Fergus gravely.

1 So he ought,' Aunt Jane confessed ; ' but he is too
old to begin learning, and Aunt Ada and Mrs. Mount
would never bear to see him disturbed. Besides, I
really do not think Quiz would be half so well off
there as among his own friends and places here, with
Macrae to take care of him/ Then as Fergus began
to pucker his face, she added, ' I am really very sorry
to be so disagreeable/



12 BEECHCROFT AT ROCK'S TONE chap.

'The children must not be unreasonable/ said
Gillian sagely, as she came up.

c And I am to choose between Xerxes and Artax-
erxes, is it V said Aunt Jane.

' No, the Sofy/ said Mysie. ' A Sofy is a Persian
philosopher, and this kitten has got the wisest face.'

'Run and fetch them,' suggested her aunt, 'and
then we can choose. Oh,' she added, with some relief
at the thought, ' if it is an object to dispose of Cockie,
we could manage him/

The two younger ones were gratified, but Gillian
and Mysie both exclaimed that Cookie's exclusive affec-
tions were devoted to Macrae, and that they could not
answer for his temper under the separation. To break
up such a household was decidedly the Goose, Fox, and
Cabbage problem. As Mysie observed, in the course
of the search for the kittens, in the make-the-best-of-it
tone, ' It was not so bad as the former moves, when
they were leaving a place for good and all.'

'Ah, but no place was ever so good as this,' said
poor Valetta.

' Don't be such a little donkey,' said Fergus con-
sequentially. 'Don't you know w T e are going to
school, and I am three years younger than Wilfred
was ?'

' It is only a petticoat school/ said Yal, ' kept by
ladies.'

' It isn't'

' It is ; I heard Harry say so.'



I A DISPERSION 13

' And yours is all butchers and bakers and candle-
stick makers.'

On which they fell on each other, each with a howl
of defiance. Fergus grabbed at Val's pigtail, and she
was buffeting him vehemently when Harry came out,
held them apart, and demanded if this were the way
to make their mother easy in leaving them.

' She said it was a pet-pet-petticoat school,' sobbed
Fergus.

' And so it ought to be, for boys that fight with girls.'

' And he said mine was all butchers and bakers and
candlestick makers,' whined Valetta.

' Then you'd better learn manners, or they'll take
you for a tramp,' observed Harry ; but at that moment
Mysie broke in with a shout at having discovered the
kittens making a plaything of the best library pen-wiper,
their mother, the sleek Begum, abetting them, and they
were borne off to display the coming glories of their
deep fur to Aunt Jane.

Her choice fell upon the Sofy, as much because of
the convenience of the name as because of the preter-
natural wisdom of expression imparted by the sweep of
the black lines on the gray visage. Mr. Pollock's
landlady was to be the happy possessor of Artaxerxes,
and the turbulent portion of the household was disposed
of to bear him thither, and to beg Miss Hacket to give
Ptuff and Pang the run of her cage, whence they had
originally come, also to deliver various messages and
notes.



14 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

By the time they returned, Colonel Mohun was met
in the hall by his sister. ' Oh, Eeggie, it is too good in
you !' were the words that came with her fervent kiss.
' Eemember how many years I have been seasoned to
being " cockit up on a baggage waggon." Ought not
such an old soldier as I to be able to take care of
myself?'

' And what would your husband say to you when
you got there ? And should not I catch it from
William ? Well, are you packing up the youthful
family for Beechcroft, except that at Botherwood they
are shrieking for Mysie.'

' I know how good William and Alethea would be.
This child,' pointing to Primrose, who had been hanging
on her all day in silence, ' is to go to them ; but as I
can't send Miss Vincent, educational advantages, as the
advertisements say, lie on the side of Bockstone ; so
Jenny here undertakes to be troubled with the rabble.'

' But Mysie ? Botherwood met me at the station
and begged me to obtain her from you. They really
wish it.'

' He does, I have no doubt.'

' So does Madame la Marquise. They have been
anxious about little Phyllis all the summer. She was
languid and off her feed in London, and did not pick up
at home as they expected. My belief is that it is too
much governess and too little play, and that a fortnight
here would set her up again. Botherwood himself
thinks so, and Victoria has some such inkling. At any



I A DISPERSION 15

rate, they are urgent to have Mysie with the child, as
the next best thing.

I Poor dear little Fly !' ejaculated Lady Merrifield ;
* but I am afraid Mysie was not very happy there last
year.'

' And what would be the effect of all the overdoing?'
said Miss Mohun.

' Mysie is tougher than that sprite, and I suppose
there is some relaxation,' said Lady Merrifield.

' Yes ; the doctors have frightened them sufficiently
for the present.'

I I suppose Mysie is a prescription, poor child,' said
her aunt, in a tone that evoked from her brother —

1 Jealous, Jenny ? '

' Well, Jane,' said Lady Merrifield, ' you know how
thankful I am to you and Ada, but I am inclined to
let it depend on the letters I get to-morrow, and the
way Victoria takes it. If it is really an earnest wish
on that dear little Fly's account, I could not withstand
old Eotherwood, and though Mysie might be less happy
than she would be with you, I do not think any harm
will be done. Everything there is sound and con-
scientious, and if she picks up a little polish, it won't
hurt her.'

' Shall you give her the choice ? '

' I see no good in rending the poor child's mind
between two affections, especially as there will be a
very short time to decide in, for I shall certainly not
send her if Victoria's is a mere duty letter.'



1 6 BEE CHCR OFT AT RO CKS TONE chap.

* You are quite right there, Lily/ said the Colonel.
' The less choice the greater comfort.'

% Well done, sir soldier,' said his sister Jane. ' I
say quite right too ; only, for my own sake, I wish it
had been Valetta.'

' So no doubt does she,' said the mother ; ' but
unluckily it isn't. And, indeed, I don't think I wish
it. Val is safer with you. As Gillian expressed it
the other day, " Val does right when she likes it ;
Mysie does right when she knows it.'"

' You have the compliment after all, Jane,' said the
Colonel. ' Lily trusts you with the child she doesn't
trust !'

There was no doubt the next morning, for Lady
Eotherwood wrote an earnest, affectionate letter,
begging for Mysie, who, she said, had won such golden
opinions in her former visit that it would be a real
benefit to Phyllis, as much morally as physically, to
have her companionship. It was the tenderest letter
that either of the sisters had ever seen from the
judicious and excellent Marchioness, full of warm
sympathy for Lady Merrifield's anxiety for her hus-
band, and betraying much solicitude for her little
girl.

c It has done her good,' said Jane Mohun. ' I did
not think she had such a soft spot.'

'Poor Victoria,' said Lady Merrifield, 'that is a
shame. You know she is an excellent mother.'

' Too excellent, that's the very thing,' muttered,



i A DISPERSION 17

Aunt Jane. 'Well, Mysie's fate is settled, and I dare
say it will turn out for the best.'

So Mysie was to go with Mrs. Halfpenny and
Primrose to Beechcroft, whence the Eotherwoods would
fetch her. If the lady's letter had been much less
urgent, who could have withstood her lord's postscript :
' If you could see the little pale face light up at the
bare notion of seeing Mysie, you would know how
grateful we shall be for her.'

Mysie herself heard her destiny without much
elation, though she was very fond of Lady Phyllis,
and the tears came into her eyes at the thought of
her being unwell and wanting her.

' Mamma said we must not grumble,' she said to
Gillian ; ' but I shall feel so lost without you and
Val. It is so unhomish, and there's that dreadful
German Fraulein, who was not at home last time.'

' If you told mamma, perhaps she would let you
stay,' returned Gillian. 'I know I should hate it,
worse than I do going to Eockstone and without you.'

' That would be unkind to poor Fly,' said Mysie.
' Besides, mamma said she could not have settling and
unsettling for ever. And I shall see Primrose some-
times ; besides, I do love Fly. It's marching orders,
you know.'

It was Valetta who made the most objection.
She declared that it was not fair that Mysie, who had
been to the ball at Ptotherwood, should go again to

live with lords and ladies, while she went to a nasty
vol. 1 c



i8 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

day-school with butchers' and bakers' daughters. She
hoped she should grow horridly vulgar, and if mamma
did not like it, it would be her own fault !

Mrs. Halfpenny, who did not like to have to
separate Mysie's clothes from the rest after they were


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