Guinea into his Clerk's Hand. But as sure as there is a Heaven
above us, Francis, poor Cousin Winslow was trying to escape to us of
her own Kindred, and met with cruel Usage. Her Blood is on their
'There!' said Frank Fordyce. 'This Francis challenged Philip
Winslow's eldest son, a mere boy, three days after he joined the
army before Lille, and shot him like a dog. I turned over the
letter about it in searching for these. I can't boast of my
ancestors more than you can. But may God accept this work of yours,
and take away the guilt of blood from both of us.'
'And have you thought what is best to be done?' asked Clarence,
raising himself on his cushions.
'Have you?' asked the Vicar.
'Oh yes; I have had my dreams.'
They put their castles together, and they turned out to be for an
orphanage, or rather asylum, not too much hampered with strict
rules, combined with a convalescent home. The battle of sisterhoods
was not yet fought out, and we were not quite prepared for them; but
Frank Fordyce had, as he said, 'the two best women in the world in
his eye' to make a beginning.
There was full time to think and discuss the scheme, for our patient
was in no condition to move for many weeks, lying day after day on a
couch just within the window of our sitting-room, which was as
nearly as possible in the sea, so that he constantly had the
freshness of its breezes, the music of its ripple, and the sight of
its waves, and seemed to find endless pleasure in watching the red
sails, the puffs of steam, and the frolics of the children, simple
or gentle, on the beach.
Something else was sometimes to be watched. Martyn, all this time,
was doing the work of two curates, and was to be seen walking home
with Anne from church or school, carrying her baskets and bags, and,
as we were given to understand, discussing by turns ecclesiastical
questions, visionary sisterhoods, and naughty children. At first I
wished it were possible to remove Clarence from the perpetual
spectacle, but we had one last talk over the matter, and this was
'It does me no harm,' he said; 'I like to see it. Yes, it is quite
true that I do. What was personal and selfish in my fancies seems
to have been worn out in the great lull of my senses under the
shadow of death; and now I can revert with real joy and thankfulness
to the old delight of looking on our dear Ellen as our sister, and
watch those two children as we used when they talked of dolls'
fenders instead of the surplice war. I have got you, Edward; and
you know there is a love "passing the love of women."'
A lively young couple passed by the window just then, and with
untamed voices observed -
'There are those two poor miserable objects! It is enough to make
one melancholy only to look at them.'
Whereat we simultaneously burst out laughing; perhaps because a
choking, very far from misery, was in our throats.
At any rate, Clarence was prepared to be the cordial, fatherly
brother, when Martyn came headlong in upon us with the tidings that
utterly indescribable, unimaginable joy had befallen him. A
revelation seemed simultaneously to have broken upon him and Anne
while they were copying out the Sunday School Registers, that what
they had felt for each other all their lives was love - 'real, true
love,' as Anne said to Emily, 'that never could have cared for
Mrs. Fordyce's sharp eyes had seen what was coming, and accepted the
inevitable, quite as soon as Clarence had. She came and talked it
over with us, saying she was perfectly satisfied and happy. Martyn
was all that could be wished, and she was sincerely glad of the
connection with her old friends. So, in fact, was dear old Frank,
but he had been running about with his head full, and his eyes
closed, so that it was quite a shock to him to find that his little
Anne, his boon companion and playfellow, was actually grown up, and
presuming to love and be loved; and he could hardly believe that she
was really seven years older than her sister had been when the like
had begun with her. But if Anne must be at those tricks, he said,
shaking his head at her, he had rather it was with Martyn than
There was no difficulty as to money matters. In truth, Martyn was
not so good a match as an heiress, such as was Anne Fordyce, might
have aspired to, and her Lester kin were sure to be shocked; but
even if Clarence married, the Earlscombe living went for something
(though, by the bye, he has never held it), and the Fordyces only
cared that there should be easy circumstances. The living of
Hillside would be resigned in favour of Martyn in the spring, and
meantime he would gain more experience at Beachharbour, and this
would break the separation to the Fordyces.
After all, however, theirs was not to be our first wedding. I have
said little of Emily. The fact was, that after that week of
Clarence's danger, we said she lived in a kind of dream. She
fulfilled all that was wanted of her, nursing Clarence, waiting on
me, ordering dinner, making the tea, and so forth; but it was quite
evident that life began for her on the Saturdays, when Lawrence came
down, and ended on the Mondays, when he went away. If, in the
meantime, she sat down to work, she went off into a trance; if she
was sent out for fresh air, she walked quarter-deck on the
esplanade, neither seeing nor hearing anything, we averred, but some
imaginary Lawrence Frith.
If she had any drawback, good girl, it was the idea of deserting me;
but then, as I could honestly tell her, nobody need fear for my
happiness, since Clarence was given back to me. And she believed,
and was ready to go to China with her Lawrence.
CHAPTER XLVIII - THE LAST DISCOVERY
'Grief will be joy if on its edge
Fall soft that holiest ray,
Joy will be grief, if no faint pledge
Be there of heavenly day.'
We did not move from Beachharbour till September, and by that time
it had been decided that Chantry House itself should be given up to
the new scheme. It was too large for us, and Clarence had never
lived there enough to have any strong home feeling for it; but he
rather connected it with disquiet and distress, and had a longing to
make actual restitution thereof, instead of only giving an
equivalent, as he did in the case of the farms. Our feelings about
the desecrated chapel were also considerably changed from the days
when we regarded it merely as a picturesque ruin, and it was to be
at once restored both for the benefit of the orphanage, and for that
of the neighbouring households. For ourselves, a cottage was to be
built, suited to our idiosyncrasies; but that could wait till after
the yacht voyage, which we were to make together for the winter.
Thus it came to pass that the last time we inhabited Chantry House
was when we gave Emily to Lawrence Frith. We would fain have made
it a double wedding, but the Fordyces wished to wait for Easter,
when Martyn would have been inducted to Hillside. They came,
however, that Mrs. Fordyce might act lady of the house, and Anne be
bridesmaid, as well as lay the first stone of St. Cecily's restored
It was on the day on which they were expected, when the workmen were
digging foundations, and clearing away rubbish, that the foreman
begged Mr. Winslow to come out to see something they had found.
Clarence came back, very grave and awe-struck. It was an old oak
chest, and within lay a skeleton, together with a few fragments of
female clothing, a wedding ring, and some coins of the later
Stewarts, in a rotten leathern purse. This was ghastly
confirmation, though there was nothing else to connect the bones
with poor Margaret. We had some curiosity as to the coffin in the
niche in the family vault which bore her name, but both Clarence and
Mr. Fordyce shrank from investigations which could not be carried
out without publicity, and might perhaps have disturbed other
So on the ensuing night there was a strange, quiet funeral service
at Earlscombe Church. Mr. Henderson officiated, and Chapman acted
as clerk. These, with Amos Bell, alone knew the tradition, or
understood what the discovery meant to the two Fordyces and three
Winslows who stood at the opening of the vault, and prayed that
whatever guilt there might be should be put away from the families
so soon to be made one. The coins were placed with those of
Victoria, which the next day Anne laid beneath the foundation-stone
of St. Cecily's. I need not say that no one has ever again heard
the wailings, nor seen the lady with the lamp.
What more is there to tell? It was of this first half of our lives
that I intended to write, and though many years have since passed,
they have not had the same character of romance and would not
interest you. Our honeymoon, as Mr. Fordyce called the expedition
we two brothers made in the Mediterranean, was a perfect success;
and Clarence regained health, and better spirits than had ever been
his; while contriving to show me all that I was capable of being
carried to see. It was complete enjoyment, and he came home, not as
strong as in old times, but with fair comfort and capability for the
work of life, so as to be able to take Mr. Castleford's place, when
our dear old friend retired from active direction of the firm.
You all know how the two old bachelors have kept house together in
London and at Earlscombe cottage, and you are all proud of the
honoured name Clarence Winslow has made for himself, foremost in
works for the glory of God and the good of men - as one of those
merchant princes of England whose merchandise has indeed been
Holiness unto the Lord.
Thus you must all have felt a shock on finding that he always looked
on that name as blotted, and that one of the last sayings I heard
from him was, 'O remember not the sins and offences of my youth, but
according to Thy mercy, think upon me, O Lord, for Thy goodness.'
Then he almost smiled, and said, 'Yes, He has so looked on me, and I
Thankful, and so am I, for those thirty-four peaceful years we spent
together, or rather for the seventy years of perfect brotherhood
that we have been granted, and though he has left me behind him, I
am content to wait. It cannot be for long. My brothers and
sisters, their children, and my faithful Amos Bell, are very good to
me; and in writing up to that mezzo termine of our lives, I have
been living it over again with my brother of brothers, through the
troubles that have become like joys.
Uncle Edward has not said half enough about his dear old self. I
want to know if he never was unhappy when he was young about being
LIKE THAT, though mother says his face was always nearly as
beautiful as it is now. And it is not only goodness. It IS
beautiful with his sweet smile and snowy white hair. ELLEN WINSLOW.
And I wonder, though perhaps he could not have told, what Aunt Anne
would have done if Uncle Clarence had not been so forbearing before
he went to China. CLARE FRITH.
The others are highly impertinent questions, but we ought to know
what became of Lady Peacock. ED. G. W.
Poor woman, she drifted back to London after about ten years, with
an incurable disease. Clarence put her into lodgings near us, and
did his best for her as long as she lived. He had a hard task, but
she ended by saying he was her only friend.
To question No. 2 I have nothing to say; but as to No. 1, with its
extravagant compliment, Nature, or rather God, blessed me with even
spirits, a methodical nature that prefers monotony, and very little
morbid shyness; nor have I ever been devoid of tender care and love.
So that I can only remember three severe fits of depression. One,
when I had just begun to be taken out in the Square Gardens, and
Selina Clarkson was heard to say I was a hideous little monster. It
was a revelation, and must have given frightful pain, for I remember
it acutely after sixty-five years.
The second fit was just after Clarence was gone to sea, and some
very painful experiments had been tried in vain for making me like
other people. For the first time I faced the fact that I was set
aside from all possible careers, and should be, as I remember
saying, 'no better than a girl.' I must have been a great trial to
all my friends. My father tried to reason on resignation, and tell
me happiness could be IN myself, till he broke down. My mother
attempted bracing by reproof. Miss Newton endeavoured to make me
see that this was my cross. Every word was true, and came round
again, but they only made me for the time more rebellious and
wretched. That attack was ended, of all things in the world, by
heraldry. My attention somehow was drawn that way, and the study
filled up time and thought till my misfortunes passed into custom,
and haunted me no more.
My last was a more serious access, after coming into the country,
when improved health and vigour inspired cravings that made me fully
sensible of my blighted existence. I had gone the length of my
tether and overdone myself; I missed London life and Clarence; and
the more I blamed myself, and tried to rouse myself, the more
despondent and discontented I grew.
This time my physician was Mr. Stafford; I had deciphered a bit of
old French and Latin for him, and he was very much pleased. 'Why,
Edward,' he said, 'you are a very clever fellow; you can be a
distinguished - or what is better - a useful man.'
Somehow that saying restored the spring of hope, and gave an
impulse! I have not been a distinguished man, but I think in my
degree I have been a fairly useful one, and I am sure I have been a
happy one. E. W.
'Useful! that you have, dear old fellow. Even if you had done
nothing else, and never been an unconscious backbone to Clarence;
your influence on me and mine has been unspeakably blest. But pray,
Mistress Anne, how about that question of naughty little Clare's?'
'Don't you think you had better let alone that question, reverend
sir? Youngest pets are apt to be saucy, especially in these days,
but I didn't expect it of you! It might have been the worse for you
if W. C. W. had not held his tongue in those days. Just like
himself, but I am heartily glad that so he did. A. W.'
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