Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Hopes and fears; or, Scenes from the life of a spinster (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeHopes and fears; or, Scenes from the life of a spinster (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 32)
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Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive

in 2010 witii funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign







by the authoe of 'the heir of eedclyffe,
' heaetsease; &c.

This is the calm of the autumnal eve.

The BiPTisTEEr.




IThe right of Translation is reserved.']









An upper and a lower spring

To thee, to all are given ;
They mingle not, apart they gleam,

The joys of earth, of heaven on high ;
God grant thee grace to choose the spring.

Even before the nether spring is dry.


NE moment, Phoebe, Til walk a little
way Avith you ;' and Honor Charlecote,
throwing on bonnet and scarf, hurried
from the drawing-room where Mrs.
Saville was working.

In spite of that youthful run, and
girlish escape from ' company ' to a confidante, the last
fortnight had left deep traces. Every incipient fuiTow
had become visible, the cheeks had fallen, the eyes sunk,
the features grown prominent, and the auburn curls
were streaked with silver threads never previously j)er-
ceptible to a casual eye. While languid, mechanical
talk was passing, Phoebe had been mourning over the
change ; but she found her own Miss Charlecote re-
stored in the freer manner, the long sigh, the tender
grasp of the arm, as soon as they were in the open air



' Phoebe,' almost in a whisper, ' I have a letter from

Phoebe pressed her arm, and looked her sympathy.

' Such a nice letter,' added Honor. ' Poor fellow !
he has suffered so much. Should you like to see it f

Owen had not figui'ed to himself what eyes would
peruse his letter ; but Honor was in too much need of
sympathy to withhold the sight from the only person
who she could still hope would be touched.

' You see he asks nothing, nothing,' she wistfully
pleaded. ' Only pardon ! Not to come home ; nor

* Yes ; surely, that is real contrition.'

' Surely, surely it is : yet they are not satisfied. —
Mr. SaviUe and Sir John. They say it is not full
confession ; but you see he does refer to the rest. He
says he has deeply offended in other ways.'

* The rest r

' You do not know 1 I thought your brother had
told you. No ? Ah ! Robert is his friend. Mr.
Saville went, and found it out. It was very right of
him, I believe. Quite right I should know ; but '

' Dear Miss Charlecote, it has pained you terribly.'

* It is what young men do ; but I did not expect it
of him. Expensive habits, debts, I could have borne,
especially with the calls for money his poor wife must
have caused ; but I don't know how to believe that he
gave himself out as my heir, and obtained credit on
that account — a bond to be paid on my death I'

Phoebe was too much shocked to answer.

*As soon as Mr. Saville heard of these troubles,'
continued Honor, ' as, indeed, I put all into his hands,
he thought it right I should know all. He went to
Oxford, found out all that was against poor Owen, and
then proceeded to London, and saw the lawyer in whose
liands Captain Charteris had left those children's affairs.
He was very glad to see Mr. Saville, for he thought
Miss Sandbrook's friends ought to know what she was
doing. So it came out that Lucilla had been to him.


insisting on selling out nearly all her fortune, and
paying olF with part of it this horrible bond.'

' She is paying his debts, rather than let you hear of

' And they are very angry with him for permitting
it ; as if he or anybody else had any power to stop
Lucy ! I know as well as possible that it is she who
will not let him confess and make it all open with me.
And yet, after this, what right have I to say I know I
How little I ever knew that boy! Yes, it is right it
should be taken out of my hands — my blindness has
done harm enough already ; but if I had not bound
myself to forbear, I could not help it, when I see tlie
Savilles so much set asjainst him. I do not know that
they are more severe in action than — than perhaps
they ought to be, but they will not let me pity him.'

' They ought not to dictate to you,' said Phoebe, in-

' Dictate ! Oh, no, my dear. If you could only hear
his compliments to my discretion, you would know
that he is thinking all the time there is no fool like
an old fool. No, I don't complain. I have been wilful,
and weak, and blind, and these are the fruits ! It is
right that others should judge for him, and I deserve
that they should come and guard me ; though, when I
think of such untruth throughout, I don't feel as if
there were danger of my ever being more than sorry
for him.'

' It is worse than the marriasre,' said Phoebe, thought-

' There might have been generous risk in that. This
was — oh, very nearly treacliery ! No wonder Lucy
tries to hide it ! I hope never to say a word to her
to show that I am aware of it.'

' She is coming home, then V

' She must, since she has broken with the Char-
terises ; but she has never written. Has Robert men-
tioned her V

^ Never; he writes very little. I long to know
B 2


how it is with him. Now that he has signed his con-
tract, and made all his arrangements, he cannot retract;
but — but we shall see/ said Honor, with one gleam
of playful hope. ' If she should come home to me, ready
to submit and be gentle, there might be a chance yet.
I am sure he is poor Owen's only real friend. If I
could only tell you half my gratitude to him for it I
And I will tell you what Mr. Saville has actually con-
sented to my doing — I may give Owen enough ta
cover his premium and outfit ; and I hope that may-
set him at ease in providing for his child for the pre-
sent from his own means, as he ought to do.'

' Poor little thing ! w^hat will become of it V

' He and his sister must arrange,' said Honor, hastily,,
as if ^ilencing a yearning of her own. ' I do not need
the Sa^dlles to tell me that I must not take it ofi" their
hands. The responsibility may be a blessing to him,
and it would be wrong to relieve him of a penalty in
the natural course of Providence.'

' There, now you have put it into my head to think
what a pleasure it would be to you '

' I have done enough for my own pleasure, Phoebe.
Had you only seen that boy when I had him first from
his father, and thought him too much of the angel to
live !'

There was a long pause, and Honor at length ex-
claimed, ' I see the chief reason the Savilles came here T

' To hinder my seeing him before he goes.'

' I am sure it would be sad pain to you,' cried Phoebe,

' I don't know. He must not come here ; but since
I have had this letter, I have longed to go up for one
day, see him, and bring Lucy home. ]\Jr. Saville might
go with me. You don't favour it, Phcebe ? Would
Eobert r

'Robert would like to have Owen comforted,' said
Phcebe, slowly ; ' but not if it only made it worse pain,
for you. Dear JNJiss Charlecote, don't you think, if


the worst had been the marriage, you would have tried
everything to comfort him, but now that there is
tliis other hoiTid thing, this presuming on your kind-
ness, it seems to me as if you could not bear to see

' When I think of their enmity and his sorrow, I
feel drawn thither ; but when this deception comes be-
fore me, I had rather not look in his face again. If he
petted me I should think he was taking me in again.
He has Robert, he has his sister, and I have promised
to let Mr. Saville judge. I think Mr. Saville would let
me go if Robert said I ought.'

Phoebe fondled her, and left her relieved by the out-
pouring. Poor thing ! after mistakes which she sup-
posed egregious in proportion to the consequences, and
the more so because she knew her own good intentions,
and could not imderstand the details of her errors, it
was an absolute rest to delegate her authority, even
though her affections revolted against the severity of
the judge to whom she had delivered herself and her

One comfort was, that he had been the adviser
chosen for her by Humfrey. In obeying him, she put
herself into Humfrey's hands ; and remembering the
doubtful approval with which her cousin had regarded
her connexion with the children, and his warnings
against her besetting sin, she felt as if the whole was
the continuation of the mistake of her life, her con-
ceited disregard of his broad homely wisdom, and as if
the only atonement in her power was to submit pa-
tiently to Mr. Saville's advice.

And in truth his measures were not harsh. He did
not want to make the young man an outcast, only to
prevent advantage being taken of indulgence which he
overrated. It was rather his wife who was oppressive
in her desire to make Miss Charlecote see things in a
true light, and teach her, what she could never learn,
to leave off loving and pitying. Even this was per-
haps better for her than a solitude in which she miglit


have preyed upon herself, and debated over every step
in conscious darkness.

Before her letter was received, Owen had signed his
agreement with the engineer, and was preparing to sail
in a fortnight. He was disappointed and humiliated
that Honor should have been made aware of what he
had meant to conceal, but he could still see that he was
mercifully dealt with, and was touched b}^, and thankful
for, the warm personal forgiveness, which he had sense
enough to feel, even though it brought no relaxation
of the punishment.

Lucy was positively glad of the non-fulfilment of the
condition that would have taken her back to the Holt ;
and Tvdthout seeing the letter, had satisfaction in her
resentment at Honor for turning on Owen vindic-
tively, after having sjDoilt him all his life.

He silenced her summarily, and set out for his pre-
parations. She had already carried out her project of
clearing him of his liabilities. Mr. Prendergast had
advised her strongly to content herself with the post
obit, leaving the rest to be gradually liquidated as the
means should be obtained j but her wilful determina-
tion was beyond reasoning, and by tyrannical coaxing-
she bent him to her will, and obliged him to do all in
which she could not be prominent.

Her own debts were a sorer subject, and she grudged
the vain expenses that had left her destitute, without
even the power of writing grandly to Horatia to pay
off her share of the foreign expenditure. She had, to
Mr. Prendergast's great horror, told him of her gover-
ness plan, but had proceeded no further in the matter
than studying the advertisements, until finding that
Honor only invited her, and not her nephew, home to
the Holt, she proceeded to exhale her feelings by com-
posing a sentence for the Times. ' As Governess, a
Lady '

* Mr. Prendergast.'

Eeddening, and abruptly hasty, the curate entered,
and sitting down without a word, applied himself to-


cutting his throat with an ivory paper-knife. Lucilla
began to speak, but at her first word, as though a spell
were broken, he exclaimed, 'Cilly, are you still thinking
of that ridiculous nonsense V

' Going out as a governess 1 Look there ;' and she
held up her writing.

He groaned, gave himself a slice under each ear,
and viciously bit the end of the paper-knife.

' You are going to recommend meV she said, with a
coaxing look.

' You know I think it a monstrous thing.'

' But you know of a place, and will help me to it !'
cried she, clapping her hands. ' Dear good Mr. Pendy,
always a friend in need !'

' Well, if you will have it so. It is not so bad as
strangers. There's George's wife come to town to see
a governess for little Sarah, and she wont do.'

' Shall I do ? ' asked Lucilla, with a droll shake of
her sunny hair. ' Yes. I know you would vouch for
me as tutoress to all the Princesses ; able to teach the
physical sciences, the guitar, and Arabic in three les-
sons ; but if Mrs. Prendergast be the woman I imagine,
much she will believe you. Aren't they inordinately
clever V

' Little Sarah is — let me see — quite a child. Her
father did teach her, but he has less time in his new
parish, and they think she ought to have more accom-
plishment, polish, and such like.'

' And imagine from the specimen before them that
I must be an adept at polishing Prendergasts.'

' Now, Cilia, do be serious. Tell me if all this meant
nothing, and I shall be very glad. If you were in
earnest, I could not be so well satisfied to see you
anywhere else. You would find Mrs. Prendergast
quite a mother to you.'

' Only one girl ! I wanted a lot of riotous boys, but
beggars must not be choosers. This is just right —
people out of the way of those who knew me in my
palmy days, yet not absolute strangers.'


'That was what induced me — they are so much
interested about you, Cilia.'

' And you have made a fine heroic story. I should
not wonder if it all broke down when the parties
met. When am I to be trotted out for inspection 1 '

' Why, I told her if I found you really intended it,
and had time, I would ask you to drive to her with,
me this morning, and then no one need know any-
thing about it,' he said, almost with tears in his eyes.

' That's right,' cried Lucilla. ' It will be settled
before Owen turns up. I'll get ready this instant. I
say,' she added at the door, ' housemaids always come
to be hired minus crinoline and flowers, is it the same
with governesses V

' Cilia, how can you ? ' said her friend, excessively
distressed at tlie inferior position, but his depression
only inspired her with a reactionary spirit of mischief.

* Crape is inoffensive, but my hair ! What shall I
do with it? Does Mrs. Prendergast hold the prejudice
against pretty governesses 1 '

'She would take Venus herself if she talked no
nonsense ; but I don't believe you are in earnest,'
growled the curate, angry at last.

' That is encouragement 1 ' cried Lucilla, flying off
laughing that she might hide from herself her own
nervousness and dismay at this sudden step into the
hard verity of self-dependence.

She could not stop to consider what to say or do, her
refuge was always in the impromptu, and she was far
more bent on forcing Mr. Prendergast to smile, and
distracting herself from her one aching desire that the
Irish journey had never been, than on forming any
plan of action. In walking to the cab-stand they met
Kobert, and exchanged greetings ; a sick faintness
came over her, but she talked it down, and her laugh
sounded in his ears when they had passed on.

Yet when the lodgings were reached, the sensation
recurred, her breath came short, and she could hardly
conceal her trembling. No one was in the room but a


lady who would have had far to seek for a governess
less beautiful than herself Insignificance was the first
idea she inspired, motherliness the second, the third
that she was a perfect lady, and a sensible woman.
After shaking Lucilla kindly by the hand, and seating
her on the sofa, slie turned to her cousin, saying,
'Sarah and her papa are at the National Gallery, I
wish you would look for them, or they will never be in
time for luncheon.'

* Luncheon is not for an hour and a half.'

' But it is twenty minutes' walk, and they will for-
get food and everything else unless you keep them in

' I'll go presently ;' but he did not move, only look-
ing piteous while Mrs. Prendergast began talking to
Lucilla about the pictures, until she, recovering, de-
tected the state of affairs, and exclaimed with her
ready grace and abruptness, ' Now, Mr. Prendergast,
don't you see liow much you are in the way ? '

' A plain truth, 'Peter,' said his cousin, laughing.

Lucy stept forward to him, saying affectionately,
' Please go ; you can't help me, and I am sure you may
trust me with Mrs. Prendergast ;' and she stretched out
a hand to the lady with an irresistible child-like ges-
ture of confidence.

'Don't you think you may, Peter V asked Mrs. Pren-
dergast, holding the hand ; 'you shall find her here at
luncheon. I wont do anything to her.'

The good curate groaned himself off, and Lucy felt so
much restored that she had almost forgotten that it was
not an ordinary call. Indeed she had never yet heard
a woman's voice that thus attracted and softened her.
Mrs. Prendergast needed not to be jealous of Venus,
while she had such tenderness in her manner, such
winning force in her tone.

' That was well done,' she said. ' Talking would
have been impossible, while he sat looking on !'

' I am afraid he has given far too good an account
of me,' said Lucy, in a low and trembling voice.


' His account comes from one who lias known you
from babyhood.'

* And spoilt me from babyhood !'

' Yes, Sarah knows what Cousin Peter can do in that
line. He had little that was new to tell us, and what

he had was of a kind ' She broke off, choked by

tears. What she had heard of the girl's self-devotion
touched her trebly at the sight of one so small, young,
and soft-looking. And if she had ever been dubious of
' Peter's pet,' she was completely fascinated.

^ I must not be taken on his word,' said Cilia,

* No, that would not be right by any of us.'

' Then pray be very hard with me — as a thorough

'But I am so inexperienced. I have only had one
interview with a governess.'

* And what did she do V asked Lucilla, as both re-
covered from a laugh.

' She gave so voluble an account of her acquirements
and requirements, that I was quite alarmed.'

' I'm sure I can't do that. I don't know what I can

A pause, broken by Lucy, who began to feel that she
had more of the cool readiness of the gi-eat world.
* How old is your daughter V

'Nearly fifteen. While we had our small parish
in Sussex we taught her ourselves, and her father
brought her on in Latin and Euclid. Do you know
anything of those, Miss Sandbrook 1 not that it sig-

' Miss Charlecote used to teach me with my brother.
I have forgotten, but I could soon get them up again.'

* They will hardly be wanted, but Sarah will respect
you for them. Now, at Southminster, our time is so taken
up that poor Sarah gets neglected, and it is very trying
to an eager, diligent girl to prepare lessons, and have
them continually put off, so we thought of indulging
her with a governess, to bring her on in some of the


modern languages and accomplishments that have
grown rusty with us.'

' I think I could do that,' said Lucilla. ' I believe
I know what other people do, and my languages are
fresh from the Continent. Ought I to give you a
specimen of my pronunciation V

' Pray don't/ laughed Mrs. Prendergast. ' You
know better than I what is right, and must prepare to
be horrified by the sounds you will hear.'

' I ought to have brought my sketches. I had two
years of lessons from S .'

' Sarah is burning for teaching in that line. Music ?
Dr. Prendergast likes the grand old pieces, and hardly
cares for modern ones.'

' I hardly played anything newer than Mozart at
Hiltonbury. Miss Charlecote taught me very well, I
believe, and I had lessons from the organist from
Elverslope, besides a good deal in the fashionable line
since. I have kept that ujd. One wants it.'

There was another shy pause, and Lucilla growing
more scrupulous and more confidential, volunteered, —
* Mine has been an idle life since I came out. I am
three-and-twenty now, and have been diligently for-
getting for the last six years. Did you know that I
had been a fast young lady V

But things had come to such a pass, that say what
she would, all passed for ingenuous candour and
humility, and the answer was, —

' I know that you have led a very trying life, but to
have passed through such unscathed, is no disad-

* If I have,' said Lucy, sadly.

Mrs. Prendergast, who had learned all the facts of
Lucilla's history through the Wrapworth medium,
knew only the heroic side of her character, and admired
her the more for her diffidence. So when terms were
spoken of, the only fear on the one side was, that such
a treasure must be beyond her means ; on the other,
lest what she needed for her nephew's sake might de-


prive her of such a home. However, seventy pounds
a year pi-oved to be in the thoughts of both, and the
preliminaries ended with, * I hope you will find my
little Sarah a pleasant companion. She is a good girl,
and intelligent, but you must be prepared for a few

' I like angles. I don't care for commonplace

'I am afraid you will find many such at South-
minster. We cannot promise you the society you
have been used to.'

' I am tired of society. I have had six years of it !'
and she sighed.

' You must fix your own time,' said Mrs. Prender-
gast ; ' and indeed we will try to make you at home.'

' My brother will be gone in a fortnight,' said
Lucilla. ' After that I should like to come straight to

Her tone and look made those two last words not
merely chez vous, but to yoic, individually — to you,
kind one, who will comfort me after the cruel parting.
Mrs. Prendergast put her arm round her and kissed

* Don't,' said Lucilla, with the sweetest April fcice.
* I can't bear being made foolish.'

Nevertheless Mrs. Prendergast showed such warm
interest in all her concerns, that she felt only that she
had acquired a dear friend by the time the others came
in, father and daughter complaining, the one gaily,
the other dolefully, that Cousin Peter had so hunted
them that they could look at nothing in peace.
Indeed he was in such a state of restless misery, that
Mrs. Prendergast in compassion to him, sent her
daughter to dress, called her husband away, and left
the place clear for him to say, in a tone of the deepest
commiseration, ' Well, my poor child V

' 0, Mr. Pendy, you have found me a true home.
Be the others what they may, there must be rest in
hearincr her voice !'


' It is settled, then V

' Yes. I only hope you have not taken them in. I
did my best to let her know the worst of me, but it
would make no impression. Seventy pounds a year.
I hope that is not wicked.'

' O, Cilia, what would your father feel V

' Come, we wont fight that over again. I thought
I had convinced you of the dignity of labour, and I do
feel as if at last I had lit on some one whom I could
allow to do me good.'

She could not console him ; he gi'ieved over her
changed circumstances with far more regret than she
felt, and though glad for her sake that she should be with
those whom he could trust, yet his connexion with her
employers seemed to him undutiful towards his late
rector. All that she saw of them reassured her. The family
manners were full of well-bred good-humour, full of
fun, with high intelligence, much real refinement, and
no pretension. The father was the most polished,
with the scholarly courtesy of the dignified clergyman ;
the mother was the most simple and caressing ; the
daughter somewhat uncouth, readily betraying both
her feelings and her cleverness and drollery in the
style of the old friend whom Lucilla was amused to
see treated as a youth and almost a contemporary of her
pupil. What chiefly diverted her was the grotesque
aspect of Dr. Prendergast and his daughter. Both
were on a large scale, with immense mouths, noses
turned up to display wide nostrils, great grey eyes,
angularly set, yellow hair and eyebrows, red com-
plexions, and big bones. The Doctor had the advan-
tage of having outgrown the bloom of his ugliness ; his
forehead was bald and dignified, his locks softened
by grizzling, and his fine expression and clerical figure
would have carried oflf all the quaint ness of his features
if they had not been so comically caricatured in his
daughter ; yet she looked so full of life and character
that Lucilla was attracted, and sure of getting
on well with her. Moreover, the little elf felt the im-


pression she was creating in this land of Brobdignag.
Sarah was looking at her as a terra-cotta joitcher might
regard a cup of egg-shell china, and Lucy had never
been lovelier. Her moui-ning enhanced the purity of

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeHopes and fears; or, Scenes from the life of a spinster (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 32)