Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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her cup of tea, and took her seat in Farmer Gould's
gig with Babie as bodkin in front, and Joe and Armine
in the little seat behind. Robin and the two Johns
were to stilt themselves home, while she was taken so
long and rugged a way, that at every jolt she was
ready to renew her thanks for sparing it to her son's
. shoulder ; and they were at home before her.

The whole family came pouring out to meet her,
and the Colonel made warm acknowledgments of
the farmer's kindness, speaking of him when he was
gone as one of the most estimable men in the neigh-
bourhood, staunch in his politics, and very ill-used by
old Barnes of Belforest.

Caroline looked anxiously for Bobus ; and Janet,
who had stayed at home to finish some papers for
her essay society, said that he had only hurried in
to tell her and take off his stilts, and had then gone
down to Dr. Leslie's.


" Then has Dr. Leslie gone ? We did not meet him
but he may have gone through Belforest," exclaimed

" O no, he has not gone ; he would not when he
heard about that Higg," said Janet, with uneasy and
much disgusted face. " He couldn't do any good after
his meddling."

"Do you mean that he said so .?" asked Carey, much

" Never mind," said the Colonel, " you did quite
right, Caroline, whatever the doctor says. Any man
of sense, with good strong hands, can manage a
shoulder like that, and I should have thought Leslie
had sense to see it ; but those professional men can't
stand outsiders."

" Where is Bobus .? " asked Caroline ; " I should like
to distinguish between what Dr. Leslie said to him
and what he told Janet. He might be more zealous
for Dr. Leslie than Dr. Leslie for himself"

Bobus was unearthed, and by much pumping was
made to allow that Dr. Leslie had told him that there
was nothing more to be done, and that his brother was
quite safe in Higg's hands ; but Bobus evidently did
not believe it. He kept silence while his uncle re-
mained, but he had hunted up his father's surgical
books, and went on about humeral clavicles and liga-
tures all the evening, till his mother felt sick, in the
nervous contemplation of possibilities, though her
better sense was secure that she had done right, while


Janet was moodily silent and angered with her, in the
belief that she had weakly let Allen be injured for life ;
and Bobus seemed as if he had rather it should be so
than that he should be wrong, and Higg's native
endowments turn out a reality.

Caroline abstained from looking at the book herself,
partly because she thought she might only alarm
herself the more without confuting Bobus, and partly
because she knew that the old law which forbade
Janet to meddle with the medical books, would be
considered as abrogated if she touched them herself

Both she and Janet were much more anxious than
they confessed, except by the looks which betrayed
their broken rest the next morning. Each was bent on
walking to River Hollow, and they would fain have
done so immediately after breakfast, but to take the
Avhole tribe Vv-as impossible ; and to let them go to
Church without her, would infallibly lead to Jock's
getting into a scrape with his relatives, if not with the
whole congregation. Was it not all her eyes could do
to hinder palpable smiles in the sermon, and her
monkey from playing tricks on his bear, Avho, by some
fatality, always sat in front, with his irresistible broad
back, down which, in spite of all her vigilance, Jock
had once thrust a large bluebottle fly. She also knew
that both her husband and his mother would have
thought she ought to go to Church, and that if matters
went amiss with her^boy, she should reproach herself
with the omission. Her children, too, influenced her,


though very oppositely, for Janet was found preparing
to start for River Hollow, and on being told that she
must wait, to go with her mother, till after Church,
declared defiantly that " she saw no sense in staying
at home to hear Rigdum when she did not know how
ill Allen might be/'

" You would not have said that to grandmamma,"
said Carey.

" Well, if you like to go to Church, you can. I can
go alone."

"No, I will not have you take that long walk

" Then I will take one of the boys."

" No, Janet, I mean to be obeyed. Go and put
on your other hat, and do not make us late for

Janet was forced to submit, for she never came to
the point of actual disobedience to her mother. Caro-
line's ruffled feelings were soothed by little Armine,
who ran in from feeding his rabbits to ask to have
the place in his Prayer-book shown to him where he
should pray for poor Allen. She marked the Litany
sentence for him, and meant to have thrown her own
heart into it, but when the moment came, her mind
was far astray, building vague castles about her boys.

Still she felt as if her church going had its reward,
for Dr. Leslie met her a little way outside the porch,
and, after asking after her boy, said —

" I hope his_ brother explained to you that Higg is


quite to be trusted. He always knows what he can
do, and when a case is beyond him. If I had come
there would have been nothing for me to do."

" There ! " said Jock, triumphantly to his brother
and sister.

" Much you know about it," grunted Bobus.

" Mother Carey was right. She always is," persisted

" It would have been just the same if the man had
known nothing about it," said Janet. " I hate your
irregular practitioners, and it was very weak in mother
to encourage them." Then, as Bobus snarled at the
censure of his mother — "You said so yourself yes-

"I didn't say any such beastly thing of mother.
She could tell whether it was just a simple dislocation^
and she was right, having ever so much more sense
than j^//, Janet."

" You didn't say so yesterday," repeated Janet.

" I don't like irregular practitioners a bit better than
you do, Janet," said Bobus with dignity; "and I
thought it right to call in a qualified surgeon, but I
never said mother couldn't judge."

However, Bobus would not countenance the irregular
practitioner by escorting his mother to River Hollow ;
and as he was in one of the surly moods in which he
was dangerous to any one who meddled with him,,
especially Janet, his mother was glad not to have to
keep the peace between them.


Janet, though not in the most amiable mood, chose
to go with her, and they set forth by the shorter way,
across Belforest park, skirting the gardens where the
statues stood up, looking shivery 'and forlorn, as if
they were not suited to English winters, and the huge
house looked down on them like a^ London terrace
that had lost its way, with a dreary uninhabited
air about it. Even by this private way they had two
miles and a half of park to traverse, before they reached
a heavy miry lane, where the beds of rrmd, alternated
with rusfored masses of stone, intended to choke them.
It led up between high hedges to the brow of one of
the many hills of the county, whence they could look
down into the hollow, a perfect cup, scooped out as it
were between the hills that closed it in, except at the
outlet of the river that intersected it, making the
meadow on either side emerald green, even in the
winter. Corn lands of rich red soil, pasture fields
dotted with cattle, and broad belts of copse wood
between clothed the slopes ; and a picturesque wooden
bridge, with a double handrail, crossed the river. The
farm-house, built of creamy stone, stood on the oppo-
site side of the river, some way above the bank, and
the mother and daughter agreed that it deserved to
be sketched next summer.

They had to pick their way down a lane that
was almost a torrent, and emerging at the foot of the
bridge, they stood still in amazement, for in the very
centre was something vibrating rapidly, surrounded


by a perfect halo of gold and scarlet. It was like a
gigantic humming-bird moth at first, but it presently
resolved itself into a little girl, clad in something dark
purple below, and above with a bright scarlet cloaklet,
which flew out and streamed back, beneath the
floating locks of glistening gold that glinted in the
sun, as with a hand on each rail of the bridge she
swung herself backwards and forwards with the most
bewildering rapidity. Suddenly becoming aware of
the approach of strangers, she stood for one moment
gazing in astonishment, then fled so swiftly that
she almost seemed to fly, and vanished in the farm
buildings !

They stood laughing and declaring that Babie
w^ould be convinced that fairies came out on Sunday,
then crossed the river and were beginning to ascend
the path when a volley of sounds broke on them, a
shrill yap giving the alarm, louder notes joining in,
and the bass being supplied by a formidable deep-
mouthed bark, as out of the farmyard-gate dashed little
terrier, curly spaniel, slim greyhounds, surly sheep-dog
of the old tailless sort, and big and mighty Newfound-
land, and there they stood in a row, shouting forth
defiance in all gradations of note, so that, though
frightened, Carey and Janet could not help laughing,
as the former said —

" This comes of gadding about on Sunday."
" If we went on boldly they would see we are not
tramps," said Janet.


" Depend on it they will let no one pass in Church

So it proved, for Janet's attempt to move for-
ward elicited a growl from the sheep-dog, and a leap
forward of the "little dogs and all," which daunted
even her stout heart.

However, calls were heard, and the bright vision of
the bridge came darting among the dogs, scolding and
driving them in, and Allen himself came out to the
gate, all bandaged up on one side, but waving his arm
as a signal to his mother and sister to advance. They
did so nervously but safely, while the growls of the
sheep-dog sounded like distant thunder, and the
terrier uttered his protest from the door. Allen de-
clared himself much better, and said he should be
quite able to go home to-morrow, only this was such a
jolly place ; and then he brought them into the beau-
tiful old kitchen with a magnificent open hearth,
inclosed by two fine dark walnut-wood settles, making
a little carpeted chamber between them. Here Allen
had the farmer's armchair and a footstool, and with
"Foxe's Martyrs" open at a flaming illustration on
the little round table before him, appeared to be
spending his Sunday as luxuriously as the big tabby
cat who shared the hearth with him.

" They have only one service at Woodbridge, morn-
ing and afternoon by turns," he explained, "and so
they are all gone to it."

" Who is that girl .'' " asked Janet.

" Undine," he coolly replied.


" She certainly appeared on the bridge," said his
mother, " but I should think Undine's colouring had
been less radiant — more of the blue and white.'.'

" She had not a whiter skin nor bluer eyes," said
Allen, " nor made herself more ridiculous either. Did
you ever see such hair, mother ^ Hullo, Elfie. There
she is, peeping in at the window, just as Undine did ;
Come in ! " he cried at the door. " No, not she," as
he returned baffled ; " she is off again ! "

" But, Allen, who is she ? Not Farmer Gould's

"Of course not. Don't you know she was fished
up in a net, and belonged to a palace under the ocean
full of pearls and diamonds. She took such a fancy
to me that no power on earth would make her go to
Church with the rest. She ran away, and hid, and
when they were all gone she came out and curled
herself up at my feet and chattered, till I happened
to offend her majesty, and off she went like a shot.
I'm only thankful that she did not make her pearly-
teeth meet in my finger in true Undine fashion."

" But who is she, really } "

" I can't quite make out. They call her Elfie, and
she calls them grandpapa, and uncle and aunt, but she
has been sitting here complaining of everything being
cold and dull, and talking about seas and islands,
palm-trees, and coral caves, and humming birds, yes,
and black slaves, and strings of pearls, so that if she
is romancing, like Armine and Babie, she does it
uncommonly naturally."


They saw no more of this mysterious Httle being,
and the family soon returned from Church. The father
was a fine, old-fashioned yeoman, the son had the style
of a modern farmer, and the wife was so quiet, sensible,
and matronly as to be almost ladylike. Her two little
girls were dressed as well as Essie and EUie, but all
were essentially commonplace. They were very kind
and friendly, anxious that Allen should stay as long
as was good for him, as well as pressing in their hospi-
tality to the two ladies. Mr. Gould was very anxious
to drive them home in his gig, though he allowed that
the road was very rough unless you went through Bel-
forest Park, and that he never did.

This was surprising, for Belforest had always seemed
as free as the turnpike-road, and River Hollow was
apparently part of the estate, but there was an air of
discouraging questions, so Carey suspected quarrels
and asked none.

She was enlightened the next day when Colonel
Brownlow brought his phaeton to fetch Allen home
over the smooth park road. He told her that the
Goulds were freeholders who had owned River Hollow
from time immemorial, though each successive lord of
Belforest tried to buy them out. The alienation
between them and Mr. Barnes, the present master, had
however much stronger grounds than these. His
nephew and intended heir has stolen a match with the
old man's pretty daughter, and this had never been
forgiven. The young couple had gone out to the West
Indian isles, where the early home of her husband


had been, and where he held some government office,
and there fell a victim to the climate. Old Mr. Gould
had gone home to fetch his daughter and her child,
but the former had died before he reached her, and
he had only brought back the little girl about two
years ago.

Mr. Barnes ignored her entirely, and the Goulds, who
had a good deal of pride, did not choose to apply to
him. It was very unfortunate, for unless he had any
other relations the child must be heiress to his immense
wealth, though it was as likely as not that he would
leave it all to hospitals out of pure vindlctiveness.

They found Allen out of doors attended by the
three little girls, all eagerly watching the removal of a
sheep-fold. He was a pleasant-mannered boy, ready
to adapt himself to all circumstances and to throw
ready intelligent interest into everything, and he had
won the hearts of the whole River Hollow establish-
ment, from old Mr. Gould down to the smallest puppy.

Elfie, as he called her, stood her ground, and as she
looked up under her brown mushroom hat Caroline was
struck with her beauty, fair, but with a southern rich-
ness of bloom and glow — the carnation cheek of a
depth of tint more often found in brunette complexions.
The eyes were not merely blue by courtesy, but of a
wonderful deep azure, shaded by very long lashes, dark
except when the sun glinted them with gold, and round
her shoulders hung masses of hair of that exquisite
light auburn which cannot be accused of being red.

She let herself be greeted by the strangers with


much more ease and grace than the other two children,
but the slow walk of her grandfather and Colonel
Brownlow seemed more than she could brook, and
she went off, flying and spinning round like a little dog.

While all the acknowledgments and farewells were
being made, and Colonel Brownlow was taking direc-
tions for finding Higg's house and forge so as to re-
munerate him for his services, Elfie came hurry^ing up
to Allen, holding out a great, gorgeous pink-lined
shell, and laid within it two heads of scarlet geraniumi
on a green leaf.

"O Elfie, Elfie! how could you?" exclaimed he,
knowing them to be the only flowers in bloom.

" You must have them. There's nothing else pretty
to give you, and I love you," said the child, holding
up her face to kiss him.

" Elvira ! " said her aunt in warning, " how can you !
What will this lady think of you ? "

Elvira's gesture would in any other child have seemed
a sulky thrust of the elbow, but in her it was more
like the flutter of the wing of a brilliant bird.

" You must," she repeated ; and when he hesitated
with " If Mrs. Gould," she broke away, dashed the
flowers, shell and all, into the middle of a clump of
rosemary, and rushed out of sight like a little fury.

"You will excuse her, Mrs. Brownlow," said Mrs.
Gould, much annoyed. " She has been sadly spoilt,
living among negro servants and having her own way,
so that she is sometimes quite ungovernable,"


" Nay, nay, she is a warm-hearted Httle thing if you
don't cross her," said the old farmer ; " and the young
gentleman has been very kind to her."
. Mrs. Gould looked as if she thought she knew her
niece better than grandpapa did, but she was too wise
to speak ; and the little girls, having assisted Allen in
the recovery of the shell and the flowers, he tendered
them again to her.

"You had better keep them, Mr. Brownlow," she
said. " The shell is her own, and if you did not take
it she is so tenacious that she would be sure to smash
it to atoms."

Allen accepted perforce and proceeded with his fare-
wells, but as he was stooping down to kiss little five-
year-old Kate Gould, something wet, cold, and sloppy
came with great force on them both, almost knocking
them down and bespattering them both with black
drops. The missile proved to be a dripping sod pulled
up from the duck-pond in the next field, and a glimpse
might be caught of Elvira's scarlet legs disappearing
over the low wall between.

Over poor Mrs. Gould's apologies a veil had best be
drawn. Mother Carey pitied her heartily, but it was
impossible not to make fun at home over the black
tokens on Allen's shirt-collar. His brothers and sisters
laughed excessively, and Janet twitted him with his
Undine, till he, contrary to his wont, grew so cross
as to make his mother recollect that he was still a
suffering patient, and insist^on his lying quiet on the


sofa, while she banished every one, and read Tennyson
to him. Poetry, read aloud by her, was Allen's greatest
delight, but not often enjoyed, as Bobus and Jock
scouted it, and Janet was getting too strong-minded
and used to break in with inopportune criticisms.

So to have Mother Carey to read " Elaine " undis-
turbed was as great an indulgence as Allen could well
have, but she had not gone far before he broke out —

" Mother, please, I wish you could do something for
that girl. She really is a lady."

" So it appears," said Carey, much disposed to laugh.
" Now, mother, don't be tiresome. . You have more
sense than Janet. Her father was Vice-consul at Sant
Ildefonso, one of the Antilles."

"But, my dear, I am afraid that is not quite

so grand as it sounds "

" Hush, mother. He was nephew to Mr. Barnes, and
they lived out of the town in a perfect paradise of a
place, looking out into the bay. Mr. Gould says he can
hardly believe he ever saw anything so gorgeously
beautiful, and there this poor little Elvira de Menella
lived like a princess with a court of black slaves. Just
fancy what it must be to her to come to that farm, an
orphan too, with an aunt who can't understand a
creature like that."
" Poor child."

" Then she can't get any education. Old Gould is
a sensible man, who says any school he could afford
would only turn her out a sham, and he means, when
VOL. I. p


Mary and Kate are a little older, to get some sort of
governess for the three. But, mother, couldn't you
just let him bring her in on market days and teach
her a little ? "

" My dear boy, what would your aunt do ? We
can't have sods of mud flying about the house."

" Now, mother, you know better ! You could make
anything of her, you know you could ! And what a
model she would make ! Think what a poor little
desolate thing she is. You always have a fellow feeling
for orphans, and we do owe those people a great deal
of gratitude."

" Allen, you special pleader, it really will not do !
If I had not undertaken Essie and Ellie, I might
think about it, but I promised your aunt not to have
any other pupils."

Allen bothered Essie and Ellie, but was forced to
acquiesce, which was fortunate, for when on the last
day of the holidays it was found that he had walked to
River Hollow to take leave of the Goulds, his aunt
administered to his mother a serious warning on the
dangers of allowing him to become intimate there.

Caroline tingled all over during the discourse, and
at last jumped up, exclaiming —

" My dear Ellen, half the harm in the world is done
by making a fuss. Things don't die half so hard when
they die a natural death."

Ellen knew Carey thought she had said something
very clever, but was all the more unconvinced.




When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass's nowl I fixed upon his head.

Midstanmer N'ighfs Dream.

In the early spring an unlooked-for obstacle arose to
;all wanderings in the Belforest woods. The owner
returned and closed the gates. From time that seemed
immemorial, the inhabitants of Kenminster had dis-
ported themselves there as if the grounds had been
Icept up for their sole behoof, and their indignation at
the monopoly knew no bounds.

Nobody saw Mr. Barnes save his doctor, whose
carriage was the only one admitted within the lodge
gates, intending visitors being there informed that Mr.
Barnes was too unwell to be disturbed.

Mrs. " Folly " Brownlow's aberrations lost their
interest in the Coffinkey world beside the mystery of
Belforest. Opinions varied as to his being a miser, or
a lunatic, a prey to conscience, disease, or deformity ;
and reports were so diverse, that at the "Folly" a
journal was kept of them, with their dates, as a matter
of curiosity — their authorities marked : —

P 2


March 4th. — Mr. Barnes eats nothing but fresh
turtle. Brings them down in tubs ahve and flapping.
Mrs. Coffinkey's Jane heard them cooing at the station.
Gives his cook 300/. per annum.

5th. — Mr. Barnes so miserly, that he turned away
the housemaid for burning candles eight to the pound.
(H. S. H.)

6th. — Mr. B. keeps a bloodhound trained to hunt
Indians, and has six pounds of prime beef steaks for
it every day. (Emm.a.)

8th. — Mr. B.'s library is decorated with a string of
human ears, the clippings of his slaves in "the Indies."

1 2th. — Mr. B. whipped a little black boy to death,
and is so haunted by remorse, that he can't sleep
without wax-candles burning all round him. (Mrs.
Coffinkey's sister-in-law.)

14th. — Mr. Barnes's income is 500,000/., and he does
not live at the rate of 200/. (Col. Brownlow.)

15th. — He has turned off all his gardeners, and the
place will be desolation. (H. S. H.)

1 6th. — He did turn off one gardener's boy for
staring at him when he was being wheeled about in
his bath-chair. (Alfred Richards.)

17th. — He threw a stone, which cut the boy's head
open, and he lies at the hospital in a dangerous
state. (Emma.)

1 8th. — Mr. Barnes was crossed in love when he was
a young man by one Miss Anne Thorpe, and has


never been the same man since, but has hated all
society. (Query : Is this a version of being a
misanthrope ?)

19th. — He is a most unhappy man, who has
sacrificed all family affections and all humanity to gold,
and whose conscience will not let him rest. He is
worn to a shadow, and is at war with mankind. In
fine, he is a lesson to weak human nature. (Mrs.

22nd. — All his toilet apparatus is of "virgin gold ;"
he lets nothing else touch him. (Jessie.)

" Exactly hke King Midas." (Babie.)

The exclusion from the grounds was a serious
grievance, entailing much loss of time and hindrance
to the many who had profited by the private roads.
The Sunday promenade was a great deprivation ;
nurses and children were cut off from grass and shade,
and Mother Carey and her brood from all the delights
of the enchanted ground.

She could bear the loss better than in that first wild
restlessness, which only free nature could allay. She
had made her occupations, and knew of other haunts,

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