Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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vii AN EMPTY NEST 137

as the young ladies of whom her namesake in the
Inheritance is the type. When Lily showed her in
some little magazine the weakest of poetry, and called
it so sweet, just like ' dear Mr. Grant's lovely sermon,
the last she had heard. Did he not look so like a
saint in his surplice and white stole, with his holy face
and beautiful blue eyes; it was enough to make any
one feel good to look at him,' Gillian simply replied,
' Oh, / never think of the clergyman's • looks,' and
hurried to her book, feeling infinitely disgusted and
contemptuous, never guessing that these poor verses,
and the curate's sermons and devotional appearance
were, to the young girl's heart, the symbols of all that
was sacred, and all that was refined, and that the
thought of them was the solace of her lonely and
suffering hours. Tolerant sympathy is one of the
latest lessons of life, and perhaps it is well that only

' The calm temper of our age should be
Like the high leaves upon the holly-tree,'

for the character in course of formation needs to be
guarded by prickles.

However, on this day Undine was to be finished,
for Gillian was in haste to begin Katharine Ashton,
which would, she thought, be much more wholesome
reality, so she went on later than usual, and came away
at last, leaving her auditor dissolved in tears over poor
Undine's act of justice.

As Mrs. Giles, full of thanks, opened the little
garden-gate just as twilight was falling, Gillian beheld



138 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKS TONE chap.

Kalliope and Alexis White coming up together from
the works, and eagerly met and shook hands with
them. The dark days were making them close earlier,
they explained ; and as Kalliope happened to have
nothing to finish or purchase, she was able to come
home with her brother.

Therewith Alexis began to express, with the diffi-
dence of extreme gratitude, his warm thanks for the
benefaction of books, which were exactly what he had
wanted and longed for. His foreign birth enabled him
to do this much more prettily and less clumsily than
an English boy, and Gillian was pleased, though she
told him that her brother's old ill-used books were far
from worthy of such thanks.

'Ah, you cannot guess how precious they are to
me !' said Alexis. ' They are the restoration of hope.'

1 And can you get on by yourself ? ' asked Gillian.
' Is it not very difficult without any teacher ?'

'People have taught themselves before,' returned
the youth, ' so I hope to do so myself ; but of course
there are many questions I long to ask.'

1 Perhaps I could answer some,' said Gillian ; 'I have
done some classics with a tutor.'

' Oh, thank you, Miss Merrifield,' he said eagerly.
' If you could make me understand the force of the
aorist.'

It so happened that Gillian had the explanation at
her tongue's end, and it was followed by another, and
another, till one occurred which could hardly be com-



vii AN EMPTY NEST 139

prehended without reference to the passage, upon which
Alexis pulled a Greek Testament out of his pocket, and
his sister could not help exclaiming —

1 Oh, Alexis, you can't ask Miss Merrifield to do
Greek with you out in the street.'

Certainly it was awkward, the more so as Mrs.
Stebbing just then drove by in her carriage.

' What a pity !' exclaimed Gillian. ' But if you
would set down any difficulties, you could send them to
me by Kalliope on Sunday.'

' Oh, Miss Merrifield, how very good of you !'
exclaimed Alexis, his face lighting up with joy.

But Kalliope looked doubtful, and began a hesitat-
ing ' But '

' I'll tell you of a better way !' exclaimed Gillian.
' I always go once a week to read to this Lilian Giles,
and if I come down afterwards to Kalliope's office after
you have struck work, I could see to anything you
wanted to ask.'

Alexis broke out into the most eager thanks.
Kalliope said hardly anything, and as they had reached
the place where the roads diverged, they bade one
another good-evening.

Gillian looked after the brother and sister just as
the gas was being lighted, and could almost guess
what Alexis was saying, by his gestures of delight. She
did not hear, and did not guess how Kalliope answered,
' Don't set your heart on it too much, dear fellow,
for I should greatly doubt whether Miss Gillian's aunts



i 4 o BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap, vii

will consent. Oh yes, of course, if they permit her,
it will he all right.'

So Gillian went her way feeling that she had found
her ' great thing.' Training a minister for the Church !
Was not that a ' great thing '?



CHAPTEE VIII

Gillian's pupil

Gillian was not yet seventeen, and had lived a home
life totally removed from gossip ; so that she had no
notion that she was doing a more awkward or remark-
able thing than if she had been teaching a drummer-
boy. She even deliberated whether she should mention
her undertaking to her mother, or produce the grand
achievement of Alexis White, prepared for college,
on the return from India ; but a sense that she had
promised to tell everything, and that, while she did so,
she could defy any other interference, led her to
write the design in a letter to Ceylon, and then she
felt ready to defy any censure or obstructions from
other quarters.

Mystery has a certain charm. Infinite knowledge
of human nature was shown in the text, ' Stolen
waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant ' ;
and it would be hard to define how much Gillian's
satisfaction was owing to the sense of benevolence, or
to the pleasure of eluding Aunt Jane, when, after going
through her chapter of Katharine Ashton, in a some-



142 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

what perfunctory manner, she hastened away to Miss
White's office. This, being connected with the show-
room, could be entered without passing through the
gate with the inscription — 'No admittance except on
business.' Indeed, the office had a private door, which,
at Gillian's signal, was always opened to her. There,
on the drawing-desk, lay a Greek exercise and a
translation, with queries upon the difficulties for
Gillian to correct, or answer in writing. Kalliope
had managed to make that little room a pleasant place,
bare as it was, by pinning a few of her designs on the
walls, and always keeping a terra-cotta vase of flowers
or coloured leaves upon the table. The lower part of
the window she had blocked with transparencies
delicately cut and tinted in cardboard — done, as she
told Gillian, by her little brother Theodore, who learnt
to draw at the National School, and had the same turn
for art as herself. Altogether, the perfect neatness
and simplicity of the little room gave it an air of
refinement, which rendered it by no means an unfit
setting for the grave beauty of Kalliope's countenance
and figure.

The enjoyment of the meeting was great on both
sides, partly from the savour of old times, and partly
because there was really much that was uncommon
and remarkable about Kalliope herself. Her father's
promotion had come exactly when she and her next
brother were at the time of life when the changes it
brought would tell most on their minds and manners.



vin GILLIAN'S PUPIL 143

They had both been sent to schools where they had
associated with young people of gentle breeding, which
perhaps their partly foreign extraction, and southern
birth and childhood, made it easier for them to
assimilate. Their beauty and brightness had led to a
good deal of kindly notice from the officers and ladies
of the regiment, and they had thus acquired the habits
and ways of the class to which they had been raised.
Their father, likewise, had been a man of a chivalrous
nature, whose youthful mistakes had been the outcome
of high spirit and romance, and who, under discipline,
danger, suffering, and responsibility, had become ear-
nestly religious. There had besides been his Colonel's
influence on him, and on his children that of Lady
Merrifield and Alethea.

It had then been a piteous change and darkening
of life when, after the crushing grief of his death, the
young people found themselves in such an entirely
different stratum of society. They were ready to work,
but they could not help feeling the mortification of
being relegated below the mysterious line of gentry,
as they found themselves at Eockquay, and viewed as
on a level with the clerks and shop-girls of the place.
Still more, as time went on, did they miss the
companionship and intercourse to which they had been
used. Mr. Flight, the only person in a higher rank
who took notice of them, and perceived that there was
more in them than was usual, was after all only a
patron — not a friend ; and perhaps was not essentially



i 4 4 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

enough of a gentleman to be free from all airs of
condescension even with Alexis, while he might be
wise in not making too much of an approach to so
beautiful a girl as Kalliope. Besides, after a fit of
eagerness, and something very like promises, he had
apparently let Alexis drop, only using him for his
musical services, and not doing anything to promote
the studies for which the young man thirsted, nor
proposing anything for the younger boys, who would
soon outgrow the National School.

Alexis had made a few semi-friends among the
musical youth of the place ; but there was no one to
sympathise with him in his studious tastes, and there
was much in his appearance and manners to cause the
accusation of being ' stuck-up ' — music being really the
only point of contact with most of his fellows of the
lower professional class.

Kalliope had less time, but she had, on principle,
cultivated kindly terms with the young women em-
ployed under her. Her severe style of beauty removed
her from any jealousy of her as a rival ; and she was
admired — almost worshipped — by them as the glory of
the workshop. They felt her superiority, and owned
her ability ; but nobody there was capable of being a
companion to her. Thus the sister and brother had
almost wholly depended upon one another ; and it was
like a breath from what now seemed the golden age of
their lives when Gillian Merrifield walked into the
office, treating Kalliope with all the freedom of an



VIII GILLIAN'S PUPIL 145

equal and the affection of an old friend. There was
not very much time to spare after Gillian had looked
at the exercises, noted and corrected the errors, and
explained the difficulties or mistakes in the translation
from Testament and Delectus, feeling all the time how
much more mastery of the subject her pupil had than
Mr. Pollock's at home had ever attained to.

However, Kalliope always walked home with her as
far as the opening of Church Cliff Eoacl, and they talked
of the cleverness and goodness of the brothers, except
Eichard at Leeds, who never seemed to be mentioned ;
how Theodore kept at the head of the school, and had
hopes of the drawing prize, and how little Petros
devoured tales of battles, and would hear of nothing
but being a soldier. Now and then, too, there was a
castle in the air of a home for little Maura at Alexis's
future curacy. Kalliope seemed to look to working for
life for poor mother, while Theodore should cultivate
his art. Oftener the two recalled old adventures and
scenes of their regimental days, and discussed the
weddings of the two Indian sisters.

Once, however, Kalliope was obliged to suggest, with
a blushing apology, that she feared Gillian must go
home alone, she was not ready.

' Can't I help you ? What have you to do V

Kalliope attempted some excuse of putting away
designs, but presently peeped from the window ; and
Gillian, with excited curiosity, imitated her, and beheld,
lingering about, a young man in the pink of fashion,

VOL. I L



146 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

with a tea-rose in his buttonhole and a cane in his
hand.

' Oh, Kally,' she cried, ' does he often hang about
like this waiting for you ? '

' Not often, happily. There ! old Mr. Stebbing has
come out, and they are walking away together. We
can go now.'

' So he besets you, and you have to keep out of his
way,' exclaimed Gillian, much excited. ' Is that the
reason you come to the garden all alone on Sunday ?'

'Yes, though I little guessed what awaited me
there,' returned Kalliope; 'but we had better make
haste, for it is late for you to be returning.'

It was disappointing that Kalliope would not discuss
such an interesting affair ; but Gillian was sensible of
the danger of being so late as to cause questions, and
she allowed herself to be hurried on too fast for con-
versation, and passing the two Stebbings, who, no doubt,
took her for a ' hand.'

'Does this often happen?' asked Gillian.

' No ; Alec walks home with me, and the boys often
come and meet me. Oh, did I tell you that the master
wants Theodore to be a pupil-teacher ? I wish I knew
what was best for him.'

' Could not he be an artist ? '

' I should like some one to tell me whether he really
has talent worth cultivating, dear boy, or if he would
be safer and better in an honourable occupation like a
schoolmaster.'



viii GILLIAN'S PUPIL H7

'Do you call it honourable V

' Oh yes, to be sure. I put it next to a clergyman's
or a doctor's life.'

'Not a soldier's ?'

1 That depends/ said Kalliope.

1 On the service he is sent upon, you mean ? But
that is his sovereigo's look out. He " only has to obey,
to do or die.'"

' Yes, it is the putting away of self, and possible
peril of life, that makes all those grandest,' said Kalliope,
1 and I think the schoolmaster is next in opportunities
of doing good.'

Gillian could not help thinking that none of all
these could put away self more entirely than the girl
beside her, toiling away her beauty and her youth in
this dull round of toil, not able to exercise the instincts
of her art to the utmost, and with no change from the
monotonous round of mosaics, which were forced to be
second rate, to the commonest household works, and
the company of the Queen of the White Ants.

Gillian perceived enough of the nobleness of such a
life to fill her with a certain enthusiasm, and make her
feel a day blank and uninteresting if she could not
make her way to the little office.

One evening, towards the end of the first fortnight,
Alexis himself came in with a passage that he wanted
to have explained. His sister looked uneasy all the
time, and hurried to put on her hat, and stand demon-
stratively waiting, telling Gillian that they must go, the



148 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

moment the lesson began to tend to discursive talk, and
making a most decided sign of prohibition to her brother
when he showed a disposition to accompany them.

' I think you are frightfully particular, Kally,' said
Gillian, when they were on their way up the hill.
' Such an old friend, and you there, too.'

* It would never do here ! It would be wrong,'
answered Kalliope, with the authority of an older
woman. ' He must not come to the office.'

' Oh, but how could I ever explain to him ? One
can't do everything in writing. I might as well give
up the lessons as never speak to him about them.'

There was truth in this, and perhaps Alexis used
some such arguments on his side, for at about every
third visit of Gillian's he dropped in with some import-
ant inquiry necessary to his progress, which was rapid
enough to compel Gillian to devote some time to
preparation, in order to keep ahead of him.

Kalliope kept diligent guard, and watched against
lengthening the lessons into gossip, and they were
always after hours when the hands had gone away.
The fear of being detected kept Gillian ready to shorten
the time.

1 How late you are !' were the first words she heard
one October evening on entering Beechcroft Cottage ;
but they were followed by ' Here's a pleasure for you I'

' It's from papa himself ! Open it ! Open it quick/
cried Valetta, dancing round her in full appreciation of
the honour and delight.



viii GILLIAN'S PUPIL 149

Sir Jasper said that his daughter must put up with
him for a correspoudeut, since two brides at once were
as much as any mother could be supposed to undertake.
Indeed, as mamma would not leave him, Phyllis was
actually going to Calcutta, chaperoned by one of the
matrons of the station, to make purchases for both
outfits, since Alethea would not stir from under the
maternal wing sooner than she could help.

At the end came, ' We are much shocked at poor
White's death. He was an excellent officer, and a
good and sensible man, though much hampered with
his family. I am afraid his wife must be a very help-
less being. He used to talk about the good promise of
one of his sons — the second, I think. We will see
whether anything can be done for the children when
we come home. I say we, for I find I shall have to
be invalided before I can be entirely patched up, so
that mamma and I shall have a sort of postponed silver
wedding tour, a new variety for the old folks " from
home." '

' Oh, is papa coming home ? ' cried Valetta.

' For good ! Oh, I hope it will be for good,' added
Gillian.

1 Then we shall live at dear Silverfold all the days
of our life,' added Fergus.

' And I shall get back to Eigdum.'

' And I shall make a telephone down to the stables,'
were the cries of the children.

The transcendent news quite swallowed up every-



150 BEECHCROFT AT R0CKST0NE chap.

thing else for some time ; but at last Gillian recurred
to her father's testimony as to the White family.

'Is the second son the musical one V she was asked,
and on her affirmative, Aunt Jane remarked, ' Well,
though the Bev. Augustine Flight is not on a pinnacle
of human wisdom, his choir practices, etc., will keep
the lad well out of harm's way till your father can see
about him.'

This would have been an opportunity of explaining
the youth's aims and hopes, and her own share in
forwarding them ; but it had become difficult to
avow the extent of her intercourse with the brother
and sister, so entirely without the knowledge of her
aunts. Even Miss Mohun, acute as she was, had no
suspicions, and only thought with much satisfaction
that her niece was growing more attentive to poor
Lilian Giles, even to the point of lingering.

1 1 really think,' she said, in consultation with Miss
Adeline, ' that we might gratify that damsel by having
the White girls to drink tea.'

' Well, we can add them to your winter party of
young ladies in business.'

' Hardly. These stand on different ground, and I
don't want to hurt their feelings or Gillian's by mixing
them up with the shopocracy.'

' Have you seen the Queen of the White Ants V

* Not yet ; but I mean to reconnoitre, and if I see
no cause to the contrary, I shall invite them for next
Tuesday.'



viii GILLIAN'S PUPIL 151

1 The mother ? You might as well ask her
namesake.'

' Probably ; but I shall be better able to judge when
I have seen her.'

So Miss Mohun trotted off, made her visit, and
thus reported, ' Poor woman ! she certainly is not lovely
now, whatever she may have been ; but I should think
there was no harm in her, and she is effusive in her
gratitude to all the Merrifield family. It is plain that
the absent eldest son is the favourite, far more so than
the two useful children at the marble works ; and Mr.
White is spoken of as a sort of tyrant, whereas I should
think they owed a good deal to his kindness in giving
them employment.'

c I always thought he was an old hunks.'

' The town thinks so because he does not come and
spend freely here ; but I have my doubts whether they
are right. He is always ready to do his part in sub-
scriptions ; and the employing these young people as
he does is true kindness.'

' Unappreciated.'

' Yes, by the mother who would expect to be
kept like a lady in idleness, but perhaps not so
by her daughter. From all I can pick up, I think
she must be a very worthy person, so I have asked
her and the little schoolgirl for Tuesday evening,
and I hope it will not be a great nuisance to you,
Ada.'

' Oh no,' said Miss Adeline, good humouredly, ' it



152 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

will please Gillian, and I shall be interested in seeing
the species, or rather the variety.'

1 Var Musa Grceca Hibemica Militarist laughed
Aunt Jane. ' By the bye, I further found out what
made the Captain enlist.'

' Trust you for doing that !' laughed her sister.

' Eeally it was not on purpose, but old Zack Skilly
was indulging me with some of his ancient smuggling
experiences, in what he evidently views as the heroic
age of Eockquay. "Men was men, then," he says.
" Now they be good for nought, but to row out the
gentlefolks when the water is as smooth as glass."
You should hear the contempt in his voice. Well, a
promising young hero of his was Dick White, what
used to work for his uncle, but liked a bit of a lark,
and at last hit one of the coastguard men in a fight,
and ran away, and folks said he had gone for a soldier.
Skilly had heard he was dead, and his wife had come
to live in these parts, but there was no knowing what
was true and what wasn't. Folks would talk ! Dick
was a likely chap, with more life about him than his
cousin Jem, as was a great man now, and owned all
the marble works, and a goodish bit of the town.
There was a talk as how the two lads had both been a
courting of the same ma-id, that was Betsy Polwhele,
and had fallen out about her, but how that might
be he could not tell. Anyhow, she was not wed to
one nor t'other of them, but went into a waste and
died.'



vni GILLIAN'S PUPIL 153

' I wonder if it was for Dick's sake. So Jem was
not constant either.'

'Except to his second love. That was a piteous
little story too.'

' You mean his young wife's health failing as soon
as he brought her to that house which he was building
for her, and then his taking her to Italy, and never
enduring to come back here again after she and her
child died. But he made a good thing of it with his
quarries in the mountains.'

' You sordid person, do you think that was all he
cared for !'

' Well, I always thought of him as a great, stout,
monied man, quite incapable of romance and sensi-
tiveness.'

' If so, don't you think he would have let that house
instead of keeping it up in empty state ? There is a
good deal of character in those Whites.'

' The Captain is certainly the most marked man,
except Jasper, in that group of officers in Gillian's
photograph-book.'

' Partly from the fact that a herd of young officers
always look so exactly alike — at least in the eyes of
elderly spinsters.'

' Jane !'

1 Let us hope so, now that it is all over. This same
Dick must have had something remarkable about him, to
judge by the impression he seems to have left on all who
came in his way, and I shall like to see his children.'



154 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

' You always do like queer people. 5

1 It is plain that we ought to take notice of them,'
said Miss Mohun, ' and it is not wholesome for Gillian
to think us backward in kindness to friends about
whom she plainly has a little romance.'

She refrained from uttering a suspicion inspired
by her visit that there had been more ' kindnesses ' on
her niece's part than she could quite account for. Yet
she believed that she knew how all the girl's days were
spent ; was certain that the Sunday wanderings never
went beyond the garden, and, moreover, she implicitly
trusted Lily's daughter.

Gillian did not manifest as much delight and
gratitude at the invitation as her aunts expected. In
point of fact, she resented Aunt Jane's making a visit
of investigation without telling her, and she was un-
easy lest there should have been or yet should be a
disclosure that should make her proceedings appear
clandestine. ' And they are not ! ' said she to herself
with vehemence. 'Do I not write them all to my
own mother ? And did not Miss Vincent allow that
one is not bound to treat aunts like parents ? '

Even the discovery of Captain White's antecedents
was almost an offence, for if her aunt would not let her
inquire, why should she do so herself, save to preserve
the choice morceau for her own superior intelligence ?
Thus all the reply that Gillian deigned was, ' Of course
I knew that Captain White could never have done
anything to be ashamed of.'



viii GILLIAN'S PUPIL 155

The weather was too wet for any previous meetings,
and it was on a wild stormy evening that the two sisters
appeared at seven o'clock at Beechcroft Cottage. While
hats and waterproofs were being taken off upstairs,
Gillian found opportunity to give a warning against
mentioning the Greek lessons. It was received with


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