Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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you were a connection ;" the fine old weather-beaten
face was strangely moved, as the rugged hand took
hers, and the voice was husky that said —

" I thought there was a likeness in the voice, but I
never imagined you were grandchild to poor Carey
Barnes ; I beg your pardon, to Mrs. Otway."

" You knew her ? You must let me see something
of my little cousin ! I know nothing of my relations,
and my brother-in-law said he thought you could
tell me."

" I ought to be able, for the family lived at Wood-
bridge all my young days," said the farmer.

The history was then given. The present lord of
the manor had been the son of a land surveyor. He was
a stunted, sickly, slightly deformed lad, noted chiefly
for skill in cyphering, and therefore had been placed
in a clerkship. Here a successful lottery ticket had
been the foundation of his fortunes ; he had invested
it in the mahogany trade, and had been one of those
men with whom everything turned up a prize. When
a little over thirty, he had returned to his own neigh-
bourhood, looking any imaginable age. He had then
purchased Belforest, furnished it sump'.uously, and laid


out magnificent gardens in preparation for his bride^
a charming young lady of quaHty. But she had had
a young Lochinvar, and even in her wedding dress,
favoured by sympathising servants, had escaped down
the back stairs of a London hotel, and been married at
the nearest Church, leaving poor Mr. Barnes in the case
of the poor craven bridegroom, into whose feelings no
one ever inquired.

Mr. Barnes had gone back to the West Indies at
once, and never appeared in England again till he came
home, a broken and soured old man, to die. There
had been two sisters, and Caroline fancied that the
old farmer had had some tenderness for the elder one,,
but she had married, before her brother's prosperity,
a poor struggling builder, and both had died young,
leaving their child dependent on her uncle. His
younger sister had been the favourite ; he had taken
her back with him to America, and married her to a
man of Spanish blood, connected with him in business.
The only one of her children who survived childhood
was educated in England, treated as his uncle's heir,,
and came to Belforest for shooting. Thus it was that
he had fallen in love with Farmer Gould's prett}'
daughter, and as it seemed, by her mother's con-
trivance, though without her father's consent, had
made her his wife.

The wrath of i\Ir. Barnes was implacable. He cast
off the favourite nephew as entirely as he had cast oft~
the despised niece, and deprived him of all the means


he had been led to look on as his right. The young
man had nothing of his own but an estate in the small
island of San Ildefonso, of very little value, and some
of his former friends made interest to obtain a vice-
consulship for him at the Spanish town. Then, after
a few years, both husband and Avife died, leaving this
little orphan to the care of her grandfather, who had
Avritten to Mr. Barnes on her father's death, but had
heard nothing from him, and had too much honest
pride to make any further application.

" My little cousin," said Caroline, " the first I ever
knew. Pray bring her to see me, and let her stay with
me long enough for me to know her."

The old man began to prepare her for the child's
being shy and w^Ild, though perhaps her aunt was too
particular with her, and expected too much. Perhaps
she w^ould be homesick, he said, so wistfully that it
was plain that he did not know how to exist without
his darling ; but he was charmed with the Invitation,
and Caroline was pleased to see that he did not regard
her as his grandchild's rival, but as representing the
cherished playmate of his youth.




You smile, their eager ways to see,
But mark their choice when they
To choose their sportive garb are free,
The moral of their play.


One curious part of the reticence of youth is that
which relates to its comprehension of grown-up affairs.
There is a smile with which the elders greet any
question on the subject, half of wonder, half of amuse-
ment, which is perfectly intolerable to the young, who
remain thinking that they are regarded as presump-
tuous and absurd, and thus will do anything rather
than expose themselves to it again.

Thus it was that Mrs. Brownlow flattered herself
that her children never put two and two together when
she let them know of the discovery of their relation-
ship. Partly she judged by herself. She was never
in the habit of forecasting, and for so clever and
spirited a woman, she thought wonderfully little.
She had plenty of intuitive sense, decided rapidly and
clearly, and could easily throw herself in other people's
thoughts, but she seldom reflected, analysed or


moralised, save on the spur of the moment. She Hved
chiefly in the present, and the chief events of her
hfe had all come so suddenly and unexpectedly
upon her, that she was all the less inclined to guess
at the future, having always hitherto been taken by

So,, when Jock observed in public — " Mother, they
say at Kencroft that the old miser ought to leave
you half his money. Do you think he will .'' " it was
with perfect truth that she answered, " I don't think
at all about it."

It was taken in the family as an intimation that she
would not talk about it, and while she supposed that
the children drew no conclusions, they thought the

Allen was gone to Eton, but Janet and Bobus had
many discussions over their chemical experiments,
about possibilities and probabilities, odd compounds of
cleverness and ignorance.

"Mother must be heir-at-law, for her grandmother
was eldest," said Janet.

"A woman can't be heir-at-law," said Bobus.

" The Salique law doesn't come into England."

"Yes it does, for Sir John Gray got Graysnest only
last year, instead of the old man's daughter.

"Then how comes the Queen to be Queen.'"

" Besides," — Bobus shifted his ground to another
possibility — "when there's nobody but a lot of women,
the thing goes into abeyance among them."


" Who gets it, then ? "

" Chancery, I suppose, or some of the lawyers.
They are all blood-suckers."

" I'm sure," said Janet, superior by three years of
wisdom, " that abeyance only happens about Scotch
peerages ; and if he has not made a will, mother will
be heiress."

" Only halves with that black Undine of Allen's,"
sturdily persisted Bobus. " Is she coming here,
Janet .? "

"Yes, to-morrow. I did not think we wanted
another child about the house ; Essie and Ellie are
quite enough."

" If mother gets rich she won't have all that teaching
to bother her," said Bobus.

"And I can go on with my education," said Janet.

"Girl's education does not signify," said Bobus.
*" Now I shall be able to get the very best instruction
in physical science, and make some great discovery.
If I could only go and study at Halle, instead of going
on droning here."

" Oh ! boys can always get educated if they choose.
You are going to Eton or Winchester after this term."

" Not if I can get any sense into mother. I don't
want to waste my time on those stupid classics and
athletics. I say, Janet, it's time to see whether the
precipitation has taken place."

The two used to try experiments together, in Bobus's
end of the attic, to an extent that might make the


presence of a strange child in the house dangerous to
herself as well as to everyone else.

Mrs. Gould herself brought the little girl, trying to
impress on Mrs. Brownlow that if she was indocile it
was not her fault, but her grandfather could not bear
to have her crossed.

The elders did not wonder at his weakness, for the
creature was wonderfully lovely and winning, with a
fearless imperiousness that subdued everyone to her
service. So brilliant was she, that Essie and Ellie,
though very pretty little girls, looked faded and
effaced beside this small empress, whose air seemed
to give her a right to bestow her favours.

" I am glad to be here ! " she observed, graciously,
to her hostess, " for you are my cousin and a lady."

" And pray what are you ^ " asked Janet.

^' I am la Seilora Doiia Elvira Maria de Guadalupe
de Menella," replied the damsel, with a liquid sonor-
ousness so annihilating, that Janet made a mocking
courtesy ; and her mother said it Avas like asking the
head of the house of Hapsburg if she were a lady !

With some disappointment at Allen's absence, the
little Donna motioned Bobus to sit by her side at
dinner-time, and Avhen her grandfather looked in some-
what later to wish her good-bye, in mingled hope and
fear of her insisting on going home with him, she
cared for nothing but his admiration of her playing at
kings and queens with Armine and Barbara, in //le
cotton velvet train of the dressing up'wardrobe.


"No, she did not want to go home. She never
wanted to go back to River Hollow."

Nor would she even kiss him till she had extorted
the assurance that he had been shaved that morning.

The old man went away blessing Mrs. Brownlow's
kindness to his child, and Janet was universally scouted
for muttering that it was a heartless little being. She
alone remained unenthralled by Elvira's chains. The
first time she went to Kencroft, she made Colonel
Brownlow hold her up in his arms to gather a bough
off his own favourite double cherry ; and when Mother
Carey demurred, she beguiled Aunt Ellen into taking
her on her own responsibility to the dancing lessons at
the assembly rooms.

There she electrified the dancing-master, and all
beholders, seeming to catch inspiration from the music,
and floating along with a wondrous swimming grace,
as her dainty feet twinkled, her arms wreathed them-
selves, and her eyes shone with enjoyment.

If she could only have always danced, or acted in
the garden ! Armine's and Babie's perpetual romantic
dramas were all turned by her into homage to one
and the same princess. She never knew or cared
whether she were goddess or fairy, Greek or Briton,
provided she had the crown and train ; but as Babie
much preferred action to magnificence, they got on
wonderfully well without disputes. There was a
continual performance, endless as a Chinese tragedy,
of Spenser's Faery Queene, in which Elfie was always


Gloriana, and Armine and Babie were everybody else
in .urn, except the wicked characters, who were repre-
sented by the cabbages and a dummy.

"Reading was horrid," Elvira said, and certainly
hers deserved the epithet. Her attainments fell far
behind those of Essie and EUie, and she did not mean
to improve them. Her hostess let her alone till she
had twice shaken her rich mane at her grandfather,
and refused to return with him ; and he had shown
himself deeply grateful to Mrs. Brownlow for keeping
her there, and had said he hoped she was good at her

The first trial resulted in Elvira's going to sleep
over her book, the next in her playing all sorts of
ridiculous tricks, and sulking when stopped, and when
she was forbidden to speak or go out till she had
repeated three answers in the multiplication table, she
was the next moment singing and dancing in defiance
in the crarden. Caroline did not choose to endure
this, and went to fetch her in, thus producing such a
screaming, kicking, rolling fury that Mrs. Coffinkey
might have some colour for the statement that Mrs.
Folly Brownlow was murdering all her children. The
cook, as the strongest person in the house, was called,
carried her in and put her to bed, where she fell sound
asleep, and woke, hungry, in high spirits, and without
an atom of compunction.

When called to lessons she replied — "No, I'm going
back to grandpapa."


"Very well," was all Caroline answered, thinking
wholesome neglect the best treatment.

In an hour's time Mr. Gould made his appearance
Avith his grandchild. She had sought him out among
the pigs in the market-place, pulled him by the coat,
and insisted on being taken home.

His politeness was great, but he was plainly delighted,
and determined to believe that her demand sprang
from affection, and not naughtiness. Elvira stood
caressing him, barely vouchsafing to look at her hostess,.
and declaring that she never meant to come back.

Not a fortnight had passed, however, before she
burst upon them again, kissing them all round, and
reiterating that she hated her aunt, and would live
with Mother Carey. Mr. Gould had waited to be
properly ushered in. He was distressed and apologetic,
but he had been forced to do his tyrant's behest.
There had been more disturbances than ever between
her and her aunt, and Mrs. Gould had declared that
she would not manage the child any longer, while
Elvira was still more vehement to return to Mother
Carey. Would Mrs. Brownlow. recommend some
school or family where the child would be well cared
for ? Mrs. Brownlow did more, offering herself to
undertake the charge.

Spite of all the naughtiness, she loved the beautiful
wild creature, and could not bear to think of intrusting
her to strangers ; she knew, too, that her brother and
sister-in-law had no objection, and it was the obvious



plan. Mr. Gould would make some small payment,
and the child was to be made to understand that she
must be obedient, learn her lessons, and cease to
expect to find a refuge with her grandfather when she
was offended.

She drew herself up with childish pride and grace,
saying, '* I will attend to Mrs. Brownlow, for she is m}-
cousin and my equal."

To a certain degree the little maiden kept her word.
She was the favourite plaything of the boys, and got
on well with Babie, who was too bright and yielding
to quarrel with any one.

But Janet's elder-sisterly authority was never
accepted by the newcomer. " I couldn't mind her,
she looked so ugly," said she in excuse ; and probably
the heavy, brown, dull complexion and large features
were repulsive in themselves to the sensitive fancy of
the creature of life and beauty. At any rate, they
were jarring elephants, as said Eleanor, who was
growing ambitious, and sometimes electrified the
public with curious versions of the long words more
successfully used by Armine and Babie.

Caroline succeeded in modelling a veiy lovely
profile in bas-relief of the exquisite little head, and
then had it photographed. Mary Ogilvie, coming
to Kenminster as usual when her holidays began in
June, found the photograph in the place of honour on
her brother's chimney-piece, and a little one beside it
of the artist herself


So far as Carey herself was concerned, I\Iary was
much better satisfied. She did not look so worn or so
flighty, and had a quieter and more really cheerful
tone and manner, as of one who had settled into her
home and occupations. She had made friends, too —
few, but worth having ; and there were those who pro-
nounced the Folly the pleasantest house in Kenminster,
and regarded the five o'clock tea, after the weekh'
physical science lecture at the school, as a delightful

Of course, the schoolmaster was one of these ; and
when Mary found how all his paths tended to the
Pagoda, she hated herself for being a suspicious old
duenna. Nevertheless, she could not but be alarmed
by finding that her project of a walking tour through
Brittany was not, indeed, refused, but deferred, with
excuses about having work to finish, being in no
hurry, and the like.

" I think you ought to go," said Mary at last."

" I see no ought in the case. Last year the work
dragged, and was oppressive ; but you see how
different it has become."

" That is the very reason," said Mary, the colour
flying to her cheeks. " It will not do to stay lingering
here as we did last summer, and not only on your
own account,"

'' You need not be afraid," was the muttered answer,
as David bent down his head over the exercise he
was correcting. She made no answer, and ere long

R 2


he began again, " I don't mean that her equal exists,
but I am not such a fool as to delude myself with a
spark of hope."

" She is too nice for that," said Mary.

"Just so," he said, glad to relieve himself when the
ice had been broken. " There's something about her
that makes one feel her to be altogether that doctor's,,
as much as if he were present in the flesh."

" Are you hoping to wear that out ? For I don't
think you will."

" I told you I had no hope," he answered, rather
petulantly. " Even were it otherwise, there is another
thing that must withhold me. It has got abroad
that she may tiirn out heiress to the old man at

" In such a hopeless case, would it not be wiser to
leave this place altogether ? "

" I cannot," he exclaimed ; then remembering that
vehemence told against him, he added, " Don't be
uneasy ; I am a reasonable man, and she is a woman
to keep one so ; but I think I am useful to her, and I
am sure she is useful to me."

" That I allow she has been," said Mary, looking at
her brother's much improved appearance ; " but "

" Moths and candles, to wit," he returned ; " but
don't be afraid, I attract no notice, and I think she
trusts me about her boys."

" But what is it to come to ^ "

"I have thought of that. Understand that it is


enough for me to live near her, and be now and then
of some Httle service to her."

" You troubadour ! "

They were interrupted by a note, which ]\Ir. Ogih"ie
read, and handed to his sister with a smile : —

" Dear Mr. Ogilvie, — Could you and Mary make
it convenient to look in this evening } Bobus has
horrified his uncle by declining to go up for a scholar-
ship at Eton or Winchester, and I should be very
glad to talk it over with you. Also, I shall have
to ask you to take little Armine into school after

the holidays.

" Yours sincerely,

" C. O. Browxlow."

" What does the boy mean ^ " asked Mary. " I
thought he was the pride of your heart."

" So he is ; but he is ahead of his fellows, and ought
to be elsewhere. All measures have been taken for
sending him up to stand at one of the public schools,
but I thought him very passive about it. He is an
odd boy — reser\'ed and self-concentrated — quite be-
yond his uncle's comprehension, and likely to become
headstrong at a blind exercise of authority."

" I used to like Allen best," said Mary.

** He is the pleasantest, but there's more solid stuff in
Bobus. That boy's school character is perfect, except
for a certain cool opinionativeness, which seldom comes
out with me, but greatly annoys the undermasters."


" Is he a prig ? "

" Well, yes, Fm afraid he is. He's unpopular, for
he does not care for games ; but his brother is popular
enough for both."

" Jock } — the monkey ! "

" His brains run to mischief. I've had to set him
more impositions than any boy in the school, and
actually to take his form myself, for simply the under-
masters can't keep up discipline or their own tempers.
As to poor M. le Blanc, I find him dancing and
shrieking with fury in the midst of a circle of snorting,
giggling boys ; and when he points out ce petit inoiistre,
Jock coolly owns to having translated ' Croquojis Ics^
let us croquet them ; ox ' Je suis blesse,' I am blest."

'* So the infusion of brains produces too much

"Yes, but the whole school has profited, and none
more so than No. 2 of the^ other family, who has quite
passed his elder brother, and is above his namicsake
whenever it is a case of plodding ability versus idle
genius. But, after all, how little one can know of
one's boys."

" Or one's girls," said Mary, thinking of governess

It was a showery summer evening when the brother
and sister walked up to the Folly in a partial clearing,
when the evening sun made every bush twinkle all
over witli diamond drops. Childish voices were heard
near the gate, and behind a dripping laurel were ^qqw


Elvira, Armine, and Barbara engaged in childhood's
unceasing attempt to explore the centre of the earth.

" What do you expect to find there ^ " they were

"Little kobolds, with pointed caps, playing at- ball
\\ith rubies and emeralds, and digging with golden
spades," answered Babie.

"And they shall give me an opal ring," said Elfie.
" But Armine does not want the kobolds."

" He says they are bad," said Babie. " Now are
they, Mr. Ogilvie .? I know elder women are, and erl
kings and mist widows, but poor Neck, that sat on the
water and played his harp, wasn't bad, and the dear
little kobolds were so kind and funny. Now are they
bad elves } "

Her voice was full of earnest pleading, and Mr.
Ogilvie, not being versed in the spiritual condition of
elves, could best reply by asking why Armine thought
ill of their kind.

" I think they are nasty little things that want to
distract and bewilder one in the real great search."

" What search, my boy ^ "

" For the source of everything," said Armine,
lowering his voice and looking into his muddy hole.

" But that is above, not below," said Mary.

"Yes," said Armine reverently ; "but I think God
put life and the beginning of growing into the earth
and I want to find it."

" Isn't it Truth } " said Babie. " Mr. Acton said


Truth was at the bottom of a well. I won't look at
the kobolds if they keep one from seeing Truth."

" But I must get my ring and all my jewels from
them," put in Elfie.

"Should you know Truth.?" asked Mr. Ogilvie.
" What do you think she is like } "

" So beautiful ! " said Babie, clasping her fingers with
earnestness. "All white and clear like crystal, with
such blue, sweet, open eyes. And she has an anchor."

" That's Hope .? " said Armine.

" Oh ! Hope and Truth go hand in hand," said
Babie ; " and Hope will be all robed in green like the
young corn-fields in the spring."

"Ah, Babie, that emerald Hope and crystal Truth
are not down in the earth, earthy," said Mary again.

" Nay, perhaps Armine has got hold of a reality,"
said Mr. Ogilvie. " They are to be found above by
working below."

" Talking paradox to Armine } " said the cheerful
voice of the young mother. " My dear sprites, do you
know that it is past eight ! How wet you are ! Good
night, and mind you don't go upstairs in those boots."

'Tt is quite comfortable to hear anything so common-
place," said Mary, when the children had run away, to
the sound of its reiteration after full interchange of
good nights. " Those imps make one feel quite eerie."

" Has Armine been talking in that curious fashion
of his," said Carey, as they began to pace the walks.
" I am afraid his thinker is too big — as the child says


in Miss Ty tier's book. This morning over his parsing
he asked me — 'Mother, which is reallest, what we
touch or what we feel ? ' knitting his brows fearfully
when I did not catch his meaning, and going on — ' I
mean is that fly as real as King David ? ' and then as
I was more puzzled he went on — ' You see we only
need just see that fly now with our outermost senses,
and he will only live a little while, and nobody cares
or will think of him any more, but everybody always
does think, and feel, and care a great deal about King
David.' I told him, as the best answer I could make
on the spur of the moment, that David was alive in
Heaven, but he pondered in and broke out — ' No,
that's not it ! David was a real man, but it is just the
same about Perseus and Siegfried, and lots of people
that never were men, only just thoughts. Ain't
thoughts realler than things, mother } ' "

" But much worse for him, I should say," exclaimed

" I thought of Pisistratus Caxton, and wrote to I\Ir.
Ogilvie. It is a great pity, but I am afraid he ought
not to dwell on such things till his body is grown up
to his mind."

"Yes, school is the approved remedy for being too
clever," said Mr. Ogilvie. " You are wise. It is a
pity, but it will be all the better for him by-and-by."

" And the elder ones will take care the seasoning is
not too severe," said Caroline, with a resolution she
could hardly have shown if this had been her first


launch of a son. "But it was about Bobus that I
wanted to consult you. His uncle thinks him
headstrong and conceited, if not lazy."

" Lazy he is certainly not."

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMagnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 18)