Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Lady Hester: or, Ursula's narrative online

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UNIVERSfTY OF MICHIOAN




3 9015 06397 3007



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ARTES' SCIENTIA VERITA-S



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LADY HESTER



URSULA'S NARRATIVE.



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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LIBRARIES

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LADY HESTER



URSULA'S NARRATIVE



BY.

CHARLOTTE M. YONGE
Author of "The Heir of Redclyffe". &c.



MACMILLAN AND CO.

1874



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^5^-^



CHARLES DICKENS AND EVANS
CRYSTAL PALACE PRESS



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r
9 ^, ;vr '



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

PAGE

SAULT ^T, PIERRE, I

CHAPTER II.
TREVORSHAM, 1 7

CHAPTER III.
THE PEERAGE CASE, S3

CHAPTER IV.
SKIMPINds FARM, 89

CHAPTER V.
SPINNEY LAWN, . .US

CHAPTER VI.
THE WHITE DOJ^S WARNING, . . . .* .137

CHAPTER VII.
HUNTING, 163

CHAPTER VIII.
DUCK SHOOTING, 1 75

CHAPTER IX.
TREVOR^ S LEGACY, 1 95



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LADY HESTER



URSULA'S NARRATIVE.



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1



■I



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LADY HESTER;

OR,

URSULA'S NARRATIVE.
CHAPTER I.

SAULT ST. PIERRE.

I WRITE this by desire of my brothers and
sisters, that if any reports of our strange family
history should come down to after generations
the thing may be properly understood.

The old times at Trevorsham seem to me
so remote, that I can hardly believe that we
are the same who were so happy then. Nay,



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2 LADY HESTER;

Jaquetta laughs, and declares that it is not
possible to be happier than we have been
since, and Fulk would have me remember that
all was not always smooth even in those
days.

Perhaps not — for him, at least, dear fellow,
in those latter times; but when I think of
the old home, the worst troubles that rise be-
fore me are those of the back-board and the
stocks, French in the school-room, and ^Miss
Simmonds' " Lady Ursula, think of your posi-
tion!"

And as to Jaquetta, she was bom under
a more benignant star. Nobody could have
put a back-board on her any more than on a
kitten.

Our mother had died (oh! how happily for
herself I) when Jaqud:ta was a baby, and Miss
Simmonds most carefully ruled not only over
us, but over Adela Brainerd, my father's ward.



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OR, URSULA'S NARRATIVE. 3

who was brought up with us because she had
no other relation in the world.

Besides, my father wished her to marry one
of my brothers. It would have done very well
for either Torwood or Bertram, but unluckily,
as it seemed, neither of therii could take to
the notion. She was a dear little thing, to be
sure, and we were all very fond of her; but, as
Bertram said, it would have been like marrying
Jaquetta, and Torwood had other views, to
which my father would not then listen.

Then Bertram's regiment was ordered to
Canada, and that was the real cause of it all,
though we did not know it till long after.

Bertram was starting out on a sporting expe-
dition with a Canadian gentleman, when about
ten miles from Montreal they halted at a farm
with a good well-built house, named Sault St.
Pierre, all looking prosperous and comfortable,
and a young farmer, American in his ways —



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4 LADY HESTER;

free-spoken, familiar, and blunt — ^but very kindly
and friendly, was at work there with some
French-Canadian labourers.

Bertram's friend knew him and often halted
there on hunting expeditions, so they went into
the house — very nicely furnished, a pretty parlour
with muslin curtains, a piano, and everything
pleasant ; and Joel Lea called his wife, a hand-
some, fair young woman. Bertram says from
the first she put him in mind of some one,
and he was trying to make out who it could
be. Then came the wife's mother, a neat
little delicate, bent woman, with dark eyes, that
looked, Bertram said, as if they had had some
great fright and never recovered it. They
called her Mrs. Dayman.

She was silent at first, and only helped her
daughter and the maid to get the dinner, and
an excellent dinner it was ; but she kept on
looking at Bertram, and she quite started when



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CR, URSULAS NARRATIVE. 5

she heard him called Mr. Trevor. When they
were just rising up, and going to take leave,
she came up to him in a frightened agitated
manner, as if she could not help it, and said —

" Sir, you are so like a gentleman I once
knew. Was any relation of yours ever in
Canada?"

"My father was in Canada,** answered
Bertram.

" Oh no," she said then, very much aft'ected,
" the Captain Trevor I knew was killed in the
Lake Campaign in 18 14. It must be a mistake,
yet you put me in mind of him so strangely."

Then Bertram protested that she must mean
my father, for that he had been a captain in
the — th, and had been stationed at York (as
Toronto was then called), but was badly
wounded in repulsing the American attack
on the Lakes in 18 14.

"Not dead?" she asked, with her cheeks



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6 ZADV HESTERS

getting pale, and a sort of excitement about
her, that made Bertram wonder, at the moment,
if there could have been any old attachment
between them, and he explained how my father
was shipped off from England between life and
death ;: and how, when he recovered, he found
his uncle dying, and the title and property
coming to him.

"And he married!" she said, with a bewil-
dered look ; and Bertram told her that he had
married Lady Mary Ltipton — as his uncle and
father had wished— and how we four were their
children. I can fancy how kindly and tenderly
Bertram would speak when he saw that she was
anxious and pained ; and she took hold of his
hand and held him, and when he said something
of mentioning that he had seen her, she cried
out with a sort of terror, " Oh no, no, Mr. Trevor,.
I beg you will not. Let him think me dead,.
as I thought him. And then she drew down



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OR, URSULAS NARRATIVE. 7

Bertram's tall head to her, and fairly kissed his
forehead, adding, "1 could not help it, sir ; an
old woman's kiss will do you no harm ! "

Then he went away. He never did tell us
of the meeting till long after. He was not a
great , letter writer, and, besides, he thought
my father might ndt wish to have the flirta-
tions of his youth brought up against him.

So we little knew!

But it seems that the dau^ter and son-
in-law were just as mudi amazed as Bertram,
and when he was gone, and the poor old
lady sank into her chair and burst out crying,
and as they came and asked who or what
this was, she sobbed out, "Your brother,
Hester} Oh I so like him — my husband!" or
something to that efJfect, as unawares. She
wanted to take it back again, but of course
Hester would not let her, and made her tell
the whole.



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8 LADY HESTER;

It seems that her name was Faith Le Blanc ;
she was half English, half French-Canadian,
and lived in a village in a very unsettled part,
where Captain Trevor used to come to hunt,
and where he made love to her, and ended
by marrying her — ^with the knowledge of her
family and his brother officers, but not of his
family — just before he was ordered to the
Lake frontier. The war had stirred up the
Indians to acts of violence they had not com-
mitted for many years, and a tribe of them
came down on the village, plundering, burning,
killing, and torturing those whom they had
known in friendly intercourse.

Faith Le Blanc had once given some milk
to a papoose upon its mother's back, and
perhaps for this reason she was spared, but
everyone belonging to her was, she believed,
destroyed, and she was carried away by the
tribe, who wanted to make her one of them-



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■^,-~^^



OR, URSULAS JNARRATIVE, 9

selves ; and she knew that if she offended them,
such horrors as she had seen practised on others
would come on her.

However, they had gone to another resort
of theirs, where there was a young hunter who
often visited them, and was on friendly terms.
When he found that there was a white woman
living as a captive among them, he spared no
effort to rescue her. Both he and she were
often in exceeding danger ; but he contrived
her escape at last, and brought her through
the woods to a place of safety, and there her
child was born.

It was over the American frontier, and it
was long before she could write to her husband.
She never knew what became of her letter, but
the hunter friend, Piers Dayman, showed her
an American paper which mentioned Captain
Trevor among the officers killed in their attack.

Dayman was devoted to her, and insisted



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^



10 LADY HESTER;

on marrying her, and bringing up her daughter
as his own. I fancy she was a woman of
gentle passive temper, and had been crushed
and terrified by all she had gone through, so
as to have little instinct left but that of cling-
ing to the protector who had taken her up when
she had lost everything else ; and she married
him. Nor did Hester guess till that very day
that Piers Dayman was not her father!

There were other children, sons who have
given themselves to hunting and trapping in
the Hudson's Bay Company's territory ; but
Hester remained the only daughter, and they
educated her well, sending her to a convent at
Montreal, where she learnt a good many accom-
plishments. They were not Roman Catholics ;
but it was the only way of getting an education.

Dayman must have been a warm-hearted,
tenderly affectionate person. Hester loved him
veiy much. But he had lived a wild sports-



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ORy URSULA'S NARRATIVE. ii

man's life, and never was happy at rest. They
changed home often ; and at last he was snowed
up and frozen to death, with one of his boys,
on a bear hunting expedition.

Not very long after, Hester married this
sturdy American, Joel Lea, who had bought
some land on the Canadian side of the border,
and her mother came home to live with them.
They had been married four or five years, but
none of their children had lived

So it was when the discovery came upon
poor old Mrs. Dayman (I do not know what
else to call her), that Fulk Torwood Trevor, the
husband of her youth, was not dead, but was
Earl of Trevorsham ; married, and the father
of four children in England.

Poor old thing ! She would have buried her
secret to the last, as much in pity and love to
him as in shame and grief for herself ; and con-
sideration, too, for the sons, for whom the dis-



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12 LADY HESTER;

covery was only less bad than for us, as they
had less to lose. Hester herself hardly fully
understood what it all involved, and it only
gradually grew on her.

That winter her mother fell ill, and Mr. Lea
felt it right that the small property she had
had for her life should be properly secured to
her sons, according to the. division their father
had intended. So a lawyer was brought from
Montreal and her will was made. Thus another
person knew about it, and he was mu'ch struck,
and explained to Hester that she was really
a lady of rank, and probably the only child
of her father who had any legal claim to his
estates. Lea, with a good deal of the old
American Republican temper, would not be
stirred up. He despised lords and ladies, and
would none of it; but the lawyer held that
it would be doing wrong not to preserve
the record. Hester had grown excited, and



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OR, URSULAS NARRATIVE. 13

seconded him ; and one day, when Lea was
out, the lawyer brought a magistrate to take
Mrs. Dayman*s affidavit as to all her past his-
tory — marriage witnesses and all. She was a
good deal overcome and agitated, and quite
implored Hester never to use the knowledge
against her father ; but she must have been
always a passive, docile being, and they made
her tell all that was wanted, and sign her
deposition, as she had signed her will, as Faith
Trevor, commonly known as Faith Dayman.

She did not live many days after. It was
on the 3rd of February, 1836, that she died;
and in the course of the summer Hester had
a son, who throve as none of her babies had
done.

Then she lay and brooded over him and
the rights she fancied he was deprived of, till
she worked herself up to a strong and fixed
purpose, and insisted upon making all known



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14 LADY HESTER;

to her father. Now that her mother was gone
she persuaded herself that he had been a cruel,
faithless tyrant, who had wilfully deserted his
young wife.

Joel Lea would not listen to her. Why
should she wish to make his son a good-for-
nothing English lord.^ That waS his view.
Nothing but misery, distress, and temptation
could come of not letting things alone. He
held to that, and there were no means forth-
coming either of coming to England to present
herself The family were well to do, but had
no ready money to lay out on a passage across
the Atlantic. Nor would Hester wait. She
had persuaded herself that a letter would be
suppressed, even if she had known how to
address it; but to claim her son's rights, and
make an earl of him, had become her fixed
idea, and she began laying aside every farthing
in her power.



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-— ^i^ — - ^7 -



ORy URSULAS NARRATIVE, 15

in this she was encouraged, not by the lawyer
who had made the will — and who, considering
that poor Faith's witnesses had been destroyed,
and her certificate and her wedding ring taken
from her by the Indians, thought that the
marriage could not be substantiated — ^but by a
clever young clerk, who had managed to find
out the state of things ; a man named Perrault,
who used to come to the farm, always when
Lea was out, and talk her into a further state
of excitement about her child's expectations,
and the injuries she was suffering. It was her
one idea. She says she really believes she
should have gone mad if the saving had not
occupied her ; and a very dreary life poor Joel
must have had whilst she was scraping to-
gether the passage-money. He still steadily
knd sternly disapproved the whole, and when
at two years' end she had put together enough
to bring her and her boy home, and maintain



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i6 LADY HESTER;

them there for a few weeks, he still refused
to go with her. The last thing he said was,
"Remember, Hester, what was the price of
all the kingdoms of the world ! Thou wilt
have it, then ! Would that I could say, my
blessing go with thee." And he took his child,
and held him long in his arms, and never spoke
one word over him but, " My poor boy ! "



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OR, URSULAS NARRATIVE. ij



CHAPTER IL



TREVORSHAM.



I SUPPOSE I had better tell what we had been
doing all this time. Adela and I had come out,
and had a season or two in London, and my
father had enjoyed our pleasure in it, and paid
a good deal of court to our pretty Adela,
because there was no driving Torwood into
anything warmer than easy brotherly com-
panionship.

In fact, Torwood had never cared for anyone
but little Emily Deerhurst. Once he had come
to her rescue, when she was only nine or ten
years old, and her schoolboy cousins were



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i8 LADY HESTER;

teasing her, and at every Twelfth-day party
since she and he had come together as by
right. There was something irresistible in her
great soft plaintive brown eyes, though she
was scarcely pretty otherwise, and we used
to call her the White Doe of Rylstone.
Torwood was six or seven years older, and
no one supposed that he seriously cared for
her, till she was sixteen. Then, when my
father spoke point blank to him about Adela,
he was driven into owning what he wished.

My father thought it utter absurdity. The
connection was not pleasant to him; Mrs.
Deerhurst was always looked on as a design-
ing widow, who managed to marry off her
daughters cleverly, and he could believe no
good of Emily. .

Now Adela always had more power with papa
than any of us. She had a coaxing way, which
his stately old-school courtesy never could resist.



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OR, URSULAS NARRATIVE. 19

She used when we were children to beg for
holidays, and get treats for us; and even now,
many a request which we should never have
dared to utter, she could, with her droll arch
way, make him think the most sensible thing
in the world.

What odd things people can do who have
lived together like brothers and sisters ! I can
hardly help laughing when I think of Torwood
coming disconsolately up from the library, and
replying, in answer to our vigorous demands,
that his lordship had some besotted notion past
all reason.

Then we pressed him harder — Adela with
indignation, and I with sympathy — till we
forced out of him that he had been forbidden
ever to think or speak again of Emily, and all
his faith in her laughed to scorn, as delusions
induced by Mrs. Deerhurst

" I'm sure I hope you'll take Ormerod, Adela,"



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20 LADY HESTER;

I remember he ended ; *'then at least you would
be out of the way."

For Sir John Ormerod's courtship was an
evident fact to all the family, as, indeed,
Adela was heiress enough to be a good deal
troubled with suitors, though she had hitherto
managed to make them all keep their dis-
tance.

Adela laughed at him for his kind wishes,
but I could see she meant to plead for him.
She had her chance, for Sir John Ormerod
brought matters to a crisis at the next ball;
and though she thought, as she said, " she had
settled him," he followed it up with her guardian,
and Adela was invited to a conference in the
library.

It happened that as she ran upstairs, all in a
glow, she came on Torwood at the landing.
She couldn't help saying in her odd half-
laughing, half-crying voice —



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ORy URSULAS NARRATIVE. 21

"It will come right, Torwood; IVe made
terms, I'm out of your way."

"Not Ormerod!" he exclaimed.

" Oh ! no, no !" I can hear her dash of scorn
now, for I was just behind my brother, but
she went on out of breath —

"You may go on seeing her, provided you
don't say a word — ^till — ^tiU she's been out two
years."

"Adela! you queen of girls, how have you
done it ?" he began, but she thrust him aside
and flew up into my arms; and when I had
her in her own room it came out, I hardly
know how, that she had so shown that she
cared for no one she had ever seen except my
father, that they found they did love each
other; and — ^and — in short they were going to
be married."

Really it seemed much less wonderful then
than it does in thinking of it afterwards. My



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22 LADY HESTER;

father was much handsomer than any young
man I ever saw, with a hawk nose, a clear
rosy skin, pure pink and white like a boy's,
curly little rings of white hair, blue eyes clear
and bright as the sky, a tall upright soldierly
figure, and a magnificent stately bearing, courte-
ous and grand to all, but sweetly tender to a
very few, and to her above all. It always had
been so ever since he had brought her home
an orphan of six years old from her mother's
death-bed at Nice. And he was youthful,
could ride or hunt all day without so much
fatigue as either of his sons, and was as fresh
and eager in all his ways as a lad.

And she, our pretty darling! I don't think
Torwood and I in the least felt the incongruity
of her becoming our step-mother, only that papa
was making her more entirely his own.

I am glad we did not mar the sunshine. It
did not last long. She came home thoroughly



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OR, URSULAS NARRATIVE, 23

unwell from their journey to Switzerland, and
never got better. By the time the spring had
come round again, she was lying in the vault
at Trevorsham, and we were trying to keep poor
little Alured alive and help my poor father to
bear it.

He was stricken to the very heart, and never
was the same m<m again. His age seemed to
come upon him all at once ; and whereas at
sixty-five he had been like a man ten years
younger, he suddenly became like one ten
years older ; and though he never was actually
ill, he failed from month to month.

He could not bear the sight or sound of the
poor baby. Poor Adela had scarcely lived to
hear it was a boy, and all she had said about
it was, " Ursula, you'll be his mother." And,
oh ! I have tried. If love would do it, I think
he could not be more even to dear Adela !

What a frail Ettle life it was ! What nights



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34 • I^JDY HESTER;

and days we had with him ; doctors saying that
skill could not do it, but care might ; and
nurses knowing how to be more effective than
I could be; yet while I durst not touch him
I could not bear not to see him. And I do
think I was the first person he began to
know.

Meantime, there was a great difference in
Torwood. He had been very much of a big
boy hitherto. No one but myself could have
guessed that he cared for much besides a lazy
kind of enjo)anent of all the best and nicest
things in this world. He did what he was
told, but in an uninterested sort of way, just
as if politics and county business, and work
at the estate, were just as much tasks thrust
on him as Virgil and Homer had been; and
put his spirit into sporting, &c.

But when he was allowed to think hopefully
of Emily, it seemed to make a man of him^



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OR, URSULAS NARRATIVE. 25

and he took up all that he had to do, as if it
really concerned him, and was not only a


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