Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Magnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 18)
Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMagnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





Kxx^ t/

The person charging this material is re-
sponsible for its return on or before the
Latest Date stamped below.

Theft, mutilation, and underlining of books
are reasons for disciplinary action and may
result in dismissal from the University.


OCT 2 1 19^1


L161 — O-1096










Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign







"^^^ Joe Brownlow's Fancy .... . i

j^. The Chickens . . 20

The White Slate 36


The Stray Chickens 54

^Brains and no Brains 75

Enchanted Ground 98

The Colonel's Chickens no

The Folly 123




Flights ^45

Ellen's Magnum Bonums . . ... 167

Undine 190

King Midas 211

The Rival Heiresses 235

Pumping Away 259

The Belforest Magnum Bonum .... 280

Possession 296




The lady said, " An orphan's fate
Is sad and hard to bear." — Scott.

'' Mother, you could do a great kindness."

" Well, Joe .? "

" If you would have the little teacher at the Miss
Heath's here for the holidays. After all the rest, she
has had the measles last and worst, and they don't
know what to do with her, for she came from the
asylum for officers' daughters, and has no home at all,
and they must go away to have the house purified.
They can't take her with them, for their sister has
children, and she will have to roam from room to room
before the whitewashers, vrhich is not what I should
wish in the critical state of chest left by measles."

" What is her name ? "

VOT,. T. B


" Allen. The cry was always for Miss Allen when
the sick girls wanted to be amused."

" Allen ! I wonder if it can be the same child as
the one Robert was interested about. You don't re-
member, my dear. It was the year you were at Vienna,
when one of Robert's brother-officers died on the
voyage out to China, and he sent home urgent letters
for me to canvass right and left for the orphan's elec-
tion. You know Robert writes much better than he
speaks, and I copied over and over again his account of
the poor young man to go with the cards. * Caroline
Otway Allen, aged seven years, whole orphan,
daughter of Captain Allen, 107th Regiment;' yes,
that's the way it ran."

" The year I was at Vienna, and Robert went out
to China. That was eleven years ago. She must be
the very child, for she is only eighteen. They sent
her to Miss Heath's to grow a little older, for though
she was at the head of everything at the asylum, she
looks so childish that they can't send her out as a
governess. Did you see her, mother .? "

" Oh, no ! I never had anything to do with her ;

but if she is daughter to a friend of Robert's "

Mother and son looked at each other in congratula-
tion. Robert was the stepson, older by several years,
and was viewed as the representative of sober common
sense in the family. Joe and his mother did like to
feel a plan quite free from Robert's condemnation for
enthusiasm or impracticability, and it was not the


worse for his influence, that he had been generally
with his regiment, and when visiting them was a good
deal at the United Service Club. He had lately
married an heiress in a small way, retired from the
army, and settled in a house of hers in a country
town, and thus he could give his dicta with added

Only a parent or elder brother would, however,
have looked on "Joe" as a youth, for he was some
years over thirty, with a mingled air of keenness,
refinement, and alacrity about his slight but active
form, altogether with the air of some implement, not
meant for ornament but for use, and yet absolutely
beautiful, through perfection of polish, finish, applica-
bility, and a sharpness never meant to wound, but
deserving to be cherished in a velvet case.

This case might be the pretty drawing-room, full of
the choice artistic curiosities of a man of cultivation,
and presided over by his mother, a woman of much
the same bright, keen, alert sweetness of air and
countenance : still under sixty, and in perfect health
and spirits — as well she might be, having preser\^ed,
as well as deserved, the exclusive devotion of her only
child during all the years in which her early widow-
hood had made them all in all to each other. Ten
years ago, on his election to a lectureship at one of
the London hospitals, the son had set up his name
on the brass plate of the door of a comfortable house
in a once fashionable quarter of London ; she had


joined him there, and they had been as happy as
affection and fair success could make them. He
became lecturer at a hospital, did much for the poor,
both within and without its walls, and had besides a
fair practice, both among the tradespeople, and also
among the literary, scientific, and artistic world,
where their society was valued as much as his skill.

Mrs. Brownlow was well used to being called on to
do the many services suggested by a kind heart in
the course of a medical man's practice, and there was
very little within, or beyond, reason that she would not
have done at her Joe's bidding. So she made the
arrangement, exciting much gratitude in the heads of
the Pomfret House Establishment for Young Ladies ;
though without seeing little Miss Allen, till, from the
Doctor's own brougham, but escorted only by an
elderly maid-servant, there came climbing up the stairs
a little heap of shawls and cloaks, surmounted by a
big brown mushroom hat.

" Very proper of Joe. He can't be too particular, —
but such a child ! " thought Mrs. Brownlow as the
mufflings disclosed a tiny creature, angular in girlish
sort, with an odd little narrow wedge of a face,
sallow and wan, rather too much of teeth and mouth,
large greenish-hazel eyes, and a forehead with a look
of expansion, partly due to the crisp waves of dark
hair being as short as a boy's. The nose was well
cut, and each delicate nostril was quivering involun-
tarily with emotion— or fright, or both.


Mrs. Brovvnlow kissed her, made her rest on the
sofa, and talked to her, the shy monosyllabic replies
lengthening every time as the motherliness drew forth
a response, until, when conducted to the cheerful little
room which Mrs. Brownlow had carefully decked with
little comforts for the convalescent, and with the
ornaments likely to please a girl's eye, she suddenly
broke into a little irrepressible cry of joy and delight.
" Oh ! oh ! how lovely ! Am I to sleep here } Oh !
it is just like the girls' rooms I always did long to
see ! Now I shall always be able to think about it."

" My poor child, did you never even see such a
room .? "

" No ; I slept in the attic with the maid at old Aunt
Mary's, and always in a cubicle after I went to the
asylum. Some of the girls who went home in the
holidays used to describe such rooms to us, but they
could never have been so nice as this ! Oh ! oh ! Mrs.
Brownlow, real lilies of the valley ! Put there for me !
Oh ! you dear, delicious, pearly things ! I never saw
one so close before ! "

" Never before." That was the burthen of the song
of the little bird with wounded wing who had been
received into this nest. She had the dimmest re-
membrance of home or mother, something a little
clearer of her sojourn at her aunt's, though there the aunt
had been an invalid who kept her in restraint in her
presence, and her pleasures had been in the kitchen and
in a few books, probably 'Don Quixote' and 'Evelina,'


SO far as could be gathered from her recollection
of them. The week her father had spent with her,
before his last voyage, had been the one vivid memory
of her life, and had taught her at least how to love.
Poor child, that happy week had had to serve her ever
since, through eleven years of unbroken school ! Not
that she pitied herself. Everybody had been kind
to her — governesses, masters, girls, and all. She had
been happy and successful, and had made numerous
friends, about whom, as she grew more at home, she
freely chatted to Mrs. Brownlow, who was always
ready to hear of Mary Ogilvie and Clara Cartwright,
and liked to draw out the stories of the girl-world, in
which it was plain that Caroline Allen had been a
bright, good, clever girl, getting on well, trusted and
liked. She had been half sorry to leave her dear old
school, half glad to go on to something new. She was
evidently not so comfortable, while Miss Heath's lowest
teacher, as she had been while she was the asylum's
senior pupil. Yet when on Sunday evening the Doctor
was summoned and the ladies were left tete-a-tete^ she
laughed rather than complained. But still she owned,
with her black head on Mrs. Brownlow's lap, that she
had always craved for something — something, and she
had found it now !

Everything was a fresh joy to her, every print on
the walls, every ornament on the brackets, seemed to
speak to her eye and to her soul both at once, and the
sense of comfort and beauty and home, after the


bareness of school, seemed to charm her above all.
" I always did want to know what was Inside people's
windows," she said.

And In the same way it was a feast to her to get
hold of " a real book," as she called it, not only the
beginnings of everything, and selections that always
broke off just as she began to care about them. She
had been thoroughly well grounded, and had a thirst
for knowledge too real to have been stifled by the
routine she had gone through — though, said she, " I
do want time to get on further, and to learn what
won't be of any use ! "

" Of no use !" said Mr. Brownlow laughing — having
just found her trying to make out the Old English of
King Alfred's ' Boethlus ' — " such as this ? "

" Just so ! They always are turning me off with
' This won't be of any use to you.' I hate use "

" Like Ridley, who says he reads a book with
double pleasure if he is not going to review it."

" That Mr. Ridley who came in last evening ? "

" Even so. Why that opening of eyes } "

"I thought a critic was a most formidable person."

" You expected to see a mess of salt and vinegar
prepared for his diet ? "

" I should prepare something quite different — milk
and sweetbreads, I think."

" To soften him } Do you hear, mother .? Take

Caroline — or Carey, as she had begged to be called


— blushed, and drew back half-alarmed, as she always
was when the Doctor caught up any of the little bits
of fun that fell so shyly and demurely from her, as
they were evoked by the more congenial atmosphere.

It was a great pleasure to him and to his mother to
show her some of the many things she had never seen,
v,atch her enjoyment, and elicit w^hether the reality
agreed with her previous imaginations. Mr. Brownlow
used to make time to take the two ladies out, or to
drop in on them at some exhibition, checking the flow
of half-droll, half-intelligent remarks for a moment,
and then encouraging it again, w^hile both enjoyed that
most amusing thing, the fresh simplicity of a grown-
up, clever child.

" How will you ever bear to go back again } " said
Carey's school-friend, Clara Cartwright, now a gover-
ness, whom Mrs. Brownlow had, with some suppressed
growls from her son, invited to share their one day's
country-outing under the horse-chestnut trees of

" Oh ! I shall have it all to take back with me," was
the answer, as Carey toyed with the burnished celan-
dine stars in her lap.

" I should never dare to think of it ! I should dread
the contrast ! "

" Oh no ! " said Carey. " It is like a blind person
who has once seen, you know. It w ill be always warm
about my heart to know there are such people."

Mrs. Brownlow happened to overhear this little


colloquy while her son was gone to look for the
carriage, and there was something in the bright un-
repining tone that filled her eyes with tears, more
especially as the little creature still looked very
fragile — even at the end of a month. She was so
tired out with her day of almost rapturous enjoyment
that Mrs. Brownlow would not let her come down
stairs again, but made her go at once to bed, in spite
of a feeble protest against losing one evening.

"And I am afraid that is a recall," said Mrs. Brown-
low, seeing a letter directed to Miss Allen on the side-
table. " I will not give it to her to-night, poor little
dear ; I really don't know how to send her back.''

" Exactly what I was thinking," said the Doctor,
leaning over the fire, which he was vigorously stirring.

"You don't think her strong enough.^ If so, I am
very glad," said the mother, in a delighted voice. " Eh,
Joe ? " as there was a pause ; and as he replaced the
poker, he looked up to her with a colour scarcely to
be accounted for by the fire, and she ended in an odd,
startled, yet not displeased tone, " It is tJiat — is it .'' "

" Yes, mother, it is that',' said Joe, laughing a little,
in his relief that the plunge was made. " I don't see
that we could do better for your happiness or mine."

" Don't put mine first " (half-crying).

" I didn't know I did. It all comes to the same thing."

" My dear Joe, I only wish you could do it to-morrow,
and have no fuss about it ! What will Robert do ? "

"Accept the provision for his friend's daughter,"


said Joe, gravely ; and then they both burst out
laughing. In the midst came the announcement of
dinner, during which meal they refrained themselves,
and tried to discuss other things, though not so suc-
cessfully but that it was reported in the kitchen that
something was up.

Joseph was just old enough for his mother, who had
always dreaded his marriage, to have begun to wish
for it, though she had never yet seen her ideal
daughter-in-law, and the enforced silence during the
meal only made her more eager, so that she began at
once as soon as they were alone.

" When did you begin to think of this, Joe ? "

" Not when I asked you to invite her — that would
have been treacherous. No, but when I began to
realise what it would be to send her back to her tread-
mill ; though the beauty of it is that she never seems
to realise that it is a treadmill."

" She might now, though I tried so hard not to spoil
her. It is that content with such a life which makes
me think that in her you may have something more
worth than the portion, which — which I suppose I
ought to regret and say you will miss."

" I shall get all that plentifully from Robert,

" I am afraid it does entail harder work on you, and
later on in life, than if you had chosen a person with
something of her own."

" Something of her own } Her own, indeed !


Mother, she has that of her own which Is the very
thing to help and Inspire me to make a name, and
work out an idea, worth far more than any pounds,
shinings, and pence, or even houses or lands I might
get with a serene and solemn dame, even with clear
notions as to those same /. s. d. ! "

" For shame, Joe ! You may be as much in love as
you please, but don't be wicked."

For this description was applicable to the bride
whom Robert had presented to them about a year
ago, on retiring with a Colonel's rank.

" So I may be as much In love as I please t Thank
you. I always knew you were the very best mother
in the w^orld : " and he came and kissed her.

" I wonder what she will say, the dear child ! "

" May be that she has no taste for such an old
fellow. Hush, mother. Seriously, my chief scruple
is whether It be fair to ask a girl to marry a man twice
her age, when she has absolutely seen nothing of his
kind but the German master ! "

"Trust her," said Mrs. Brownlow. "Nay, she never
could have a freer choice than now, when she is too
young and simple to be weighted with a sense of being
looked down on. It Is possible that she may be
startled at first, but I think it will be only at life
opening on her ; so don't be daunted, and imagine it
is your old age and infirmity," said the mother,
smoothing back the locks which certainly were not
the clustering curls of youth.


How the mother watched all the next morning,
while the unconscious Carey first marvelled at her
nervousness and silence, and then grew almost infected
by it. It was very strange, she thought, that Mrs.
Brownlow, always so kind, should say nothing but
" humph " on being told that Miss Heath's workmen
had finished, and that she must return next Monday
morning. It was the Doctor's day to be early at the
hospital, and he had had a summons to see some one
on the way, so that he was gone before breakfast,
Avhen Carey's attempts to discuss her happy day in
the country met with such odd, fitful answers ; for, in
fact, Mrs. Brownlow could not trust herself to talk,
and had no sooner done breakfast than she went off
to her housekeeping affairs and others, which she
managed unusually to prolong.

Carey was trying to draw some flowers in a glass
before her — a little purple, green-winged orchis, a
cowslip, and a quivering dark-brown tuft of quaking
grass. He came and stood behind her, saying —

" You've got the character of those."

" They are very difficult," sighed Carey ; " I never
tried flowers before, but I wanted to take them with

" To take them with you } " he repeated, rather

'' Yes, back to another sort of Heath," she said, with
a little laugh ; " don't you know I go next Monday ^ "

" If you go, I hope it will only be to come back."


" Oh ! if Mrs. Brownlow is so good as to let me
come again in the holidays ! " and she was all one
flush of joy, looking round, and up in his face, to see
whether it could be true.

" Not only for holidays — for work days," he said,
and his voice shook.

"But Mrs. Brownlow can't want a companion ? "

" But I do. CaroHne, will you come back to us to
make home doubly sweet to a busy man, who will do
his best to make you happy } "

The little creature looked up in his face bewildered,
and then said shyly, the colour surging into her face —

" Please, what did you say .? "

*I asked if you would stay with us, and make this
place bright for us, as my wife," he said, taking both the
little brown hands into his own, and looking into the
widely-opened wondering eyes ; while she answered,
'' if I may," — the very words, almost the very tone, in
which she had replied to his invitation to come to
recover at his house.

"Ah, my poor child, you have no one's leave to
ask ! " he said ; '' you belong to us, only to us," — and
he drew her into his arms, and kissed her.

Then he felt and heard a great sob, and there were
two tears on her cheek when he could see her face,
but she smiled with happy, quivering lip, and said —

" It was like when papa kissed me before he went
away ; he would be so glad."

In the midst of the caress that answered this, a b^U


sounded, and in the certainty that the announcement
of luncheon would instantly follow, they started apart.

Two seconds later they met Mrs. Brownlow on the
landing —

" There, mother," said the Doctor.

" My child ! " and Carey was in her arms.

" Oh, may I .'' — Is it real ? " said the girl in a stifled

After that, they took it very quietly. Carey was so
young and ignorant of the world that she was not nearly
so much overpowered as if she had had the slightest
external knowledge either of married life, or of the
exceptional thing the doctor was doing. Her mother
had died when she was three years old, and she had
never since that time lived with wedded folk, while
even her companions at school being all fatherless, she
had gathered nothing of even second-hand experience
from them. All she knew was from books, which had
given glimpses into happy homes ; and though she
had feasted on a few novels during this happy month,
they had been very select, and chiefly historical
romance. She was at the age when nothing is im-
possible to youthful dreams, and if Tancredi had come
out of the Gerusalemme and thrown himself at her
feet, she would hardly have felt it more strangely
dream-like than the transformation of her kind doctor
into her own Joe : and on the other hand, she had
from the first moment nestled so entirely into the
home that it would have seemed m.ore unnatural to be


torn away from it than to become a part of it. As to
her being an extraordinary and very disadvantageous
choice for him, she simply knew nothing of the matter ;
she was used to passiveness as to her own destiny,
and now that she did indeed "belong to somebody" she
let those somebodies think and decide for her with the
one certainty that what Mr. Brownlow and his mother
liked was sure to be the truly right and happy thing.

So, instead of being alarmed and scrupulous, she
was sweetly, shyly, and yet confidingly gay and
affectionate, enchanting both her companions, but
revealing by her naive questions and remarks such
utter ignorance of all matters of common life that Mrs.
Brownlow had no scruples in not stirring the question,
that had never occurred to her son or his little betrothed,
namely, her own retirement. Caroline needed a mother
far too much for her to be spared.

What was to be done about Miss Heath ? It was
due to her for Miss Allen to offer to return till her
place could be supplied, Mrs. Brownlow said — but that
was only to tease the lovers — for a quarter, at which
Joe made a snarling howl, whereat Carey ventured to
laugh at him., and say she should come home for every
Sunday, as Miss Pinniwinks, the senior governess, did.
" Come home, — it is enough to say that," she added.

Mrs. Brownlow^ undertook to negotiate the matter,
her son saying privately —

" Get her off, if you have to advance a quarter. I'd
rather do anything than send her back for even a

l6 magnum bonum;

week, to have all manner of nonsense put into her
head. I'd sooner go and teach there myself."

" Or send me ? " asked his mother.

** Anything short of that," he said.

Miss Heath, as Mrs. Brownlow had guessed, thought
an engaged girl as bad as a barrel of gunpowder,
and was quite as much afraid of Miss Allen putting-
nonsense into her pupils' heads as the doctor could be
of the reverse process : so, young teachers not being-
scarce, Carey's brief connection with Miss Heath was
brought to an end in a morning call, whence she
returned endowed with thirteen book-markers, five
mats, and a sachet.

Carey had of her own, as it appeared, twenty-five
pounds a year, which had hitherto clothed her, and of
which she only knew that it was paid to her quarterly
by a lawyer at Bath, whose address she gave. JNIr.
Brownlow followed up the clue, but could not learn
much about her belongings. The twenty-five pounds
was the interest of the small sum, which had remained
to poor Captain Allen, when he wound up his affairs,
after paying the debts in which his early and imprudent
marriage had involved him. He did not seem to have
had any relations, and of his wife nothing was known
but that she was a Miss Otway, and that he had met
her in some colonial quarters. The old lady, with
whom the little girl had been left, was her mother's
maternal aunt, and had lived on an annuity so small
that on her death there had not been funds sufficient to


pay expenses without a sale of all her effects, so that
nothing had been saved for the child, except a few
books with her parents' names in them — John Allen
and Caroline Otway — 'which she still kept as her
chief treasures. The lawyer, who had acted as her
guardian, would hand over to her 500/. on her coming
of age.

That was all that could be discovered, nor was
Colonel Robert Brownlow as much flattered as had
been hoped by the provision for his friend's daughter.
Nay, he was inclined to disavow the friendship. He

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMagnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 18)