Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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heavy, and immovable, and she found that they too had
become gold, and that the chill was creeping upwards.
With a scream of " Save the children, Joe," she awoke.

No wonder she had dreamt of cold golden limbs, for
her feet were really chilly as ice, and the room as dark
as at midnight. However it was not yet seven o'clock ;
and presently Janet brought a light, and persuaded
her to come downstairs and warm herself. She was
not yet capable of going into the dining-room to the
family tea, but crept down to lie on the sofa in the
drawing-room ; and there, after taking the smxall
refreshment which was all she could yet endure, she
lay with closed eyes, while the children came in from
the meal. Armine and Babie were the first. She
knew they were looking at her, but was too weary to
exert herself to speak to them.

" Asleep," they whispered. " Poor Mother Carey."

" Armie," said Babie, " is mother unhappy because
she has got rich } "

Armine hesitated. His brief experience of school
had made him less unsophisticated, and he seldom
talked in his own peculiar fashion even to his little
sister, and she added —


"Must people get wicked when they are rich ?"

" Mother is always good," said faithful little Armine.

" The rich people in the Bible were all bad," pondered
Babie. " There was Dives, and the man with the

" Yes," said Armine ; " but there were good ones
too — Abraham and Solomon."

" Solomon was not always good," said Babie ; " and
Uncle Robert told Allen it was a fearful responsi-
bility. What is a responsibility, Armie ? I am sure
Ali didn't like it."

" Something to answer for ! " said Armine.

" To who ? " asked the little girl.

" To God," said the boy reverently. " It's like the
talent in the parable. One has got to do something
for God with it, and then it won't turn to harm."

"Like the man's treasure that changed into slate
stones when he made a bad use of it," said Babie.
'' Oh ! Armie, what shall we do } Shall we give plum-
puddings to the little thin girls down the lane .? "

"And I should like to give something good to the
little grey workhouse boys," said Armine. " I should
so hate always walking out along a straight road as
they do."

" And oh ! Armie, then don't you think we may get
a nice book to write out Jotapata in } "

" Yes, a real jolly one. For you know, Babie, it
will take lots of room, even if I write my very


" Please let it be ruled, Armie. And where shall
we begin ? "

"Oh! at the beginning, I think, just when Sir
Engelbert first heard about the Cfusade."

" It will take lots of books then."

" Never mind, we can buy them all now. And do
you know, Bab, I think Adelmar and Ermelind might
find a nice lot of natural petroleum and frighten
Mustafa ever so much with it ! "

For be it known that Armine and Barbara's most
cherished delight was in one continued running invention
of a defence of Jotapata by a crusading family, which
went on from generation to generation with unabated
energy, though they were very apt to be reduced to
two young children who held out their fortress against
frightful odds of Saracens, and sometimes conquered,
sometimes converted their enemies. Nobody but
themselves was fully kept an courant with this
wonderful siege, which had hitherto been recorded in
interlined copy-books, or little paper books pasted
together, and very remarkably illustrated.

The door began to creak with an elaborate noisiness
intended for perfect silence, and Jock's voice was heard.

" Bother the door ! Did it wake mother } No ?
That's right ; " and he squatted down between the
little ones while Bobus seated himself at the table
with a book.

" Well ! what colour shall our ponies be .'' " began
Jock, in an attempt at a whisper.



" Oh ! shall we have ponies ? " cried the little ones.
" Zebras if we like," said Jock. " We'll have a

" Can't," growled Bobus.

" Why not ? They can be bought ! "

" Not tamed. They've tried it at the Jardin
d^A cclimatisation''

" Oh, that was only Frenchmen. A zebra is too
jolly to let himself be tamed by a Frenchman. I'll
break one in myself and go out with the hounds
upon him."

"Jack-ass on striped-ass — or off him," muttered

"Oh! don't, Jock," implored Babie, "you'll get

" No such thing. You'll come to the meet yourself,
Babie, on your Arab."

" Not she," said Bobus, in his teasing voice. " She'll
be governessed up and kept to lessons all day."

" Mother always teaches us," said Babie.

" She'll have no time, she'll be a great lady, and
you'll have three governesses — one for French, and one
for German, and one for deportment, to make you
turn out your toes, and hold up your head, and never
sit on the rug."

"Never mind, Babie," said Jock. "We'll bother
them out of their lives if they do."

"You'll be at school," said Bobus, "and they'll all
three go out walking with Babie, and if she goes out


of a Straight line one will say ' Fi done, Mademoiselle
Barbe,' and the other will say, * Schamen sie sich,
Fraulein Barbara,' and the third will call for the stocks."

"For shame, Robert," cried his mother, hearing
something like a sob ; " how can you tease her so ! "

" Mother, must I have three governesses .? " asked
poor little Barbara.

" Not one cross one, my sweet, if T can help it ! "

" Oh ! mother, if it might be Miss Ogilvie ? " said

" Yes, mother, do let it be Miss Ogilvie," chimed in
Armine. " She tells such jolly stories ! "

" She ain't a very nasty one," quoted Jock from
Newman Noggs, and as Janet appeared he received
her with — " Moved by Barbara, seconded by Armine,
that Miss Ogilvie become bear-leader to lick you all
into shape."

" What do you think of it, Janet ? " said her

" It will not make much difference to me," said
Janet. " I shall depend on classes and lectures when
we go back to London. I should have thought a
German better for the children, but I suppose the
chief point is to find some one who can manage Elfie
if we are still to keep her."

" By the bye, where is she, poor little thing ? " asked

"Aunt Ellen took her home," said Janet. "She
said she would send her back at bed-time, but she

U 2


thought we should be more comfortable alone to-

" Real kindness," said Caroline ; " but remember,
children, all of you, that Elfie is altogether one of us,
on perfectly equal terms, so don't let any difference be
made now or ever."

" Shall I have a great many more lessons, mother ? "
asked Babie.

"Don't be as silly as Essie, Babie," said Janet.
" She expects us all to have velvet frocks and gold-
fringed sashes, and Jessie's first thought was 'Now,
Janet, you'll have a ladies' maid.' "

" No wonder she rejoiced to be relieved of tiying to
make you presentable," said Bobus.

" Shall we live at Belforest ? " asked Armine.

" Part of the year," said Janet, who was in a wonder-
fully expansive and genial state ; " but we shall get
back to London for the season, and know what it is
to enjoy life and rationality again, and then we must
all go abroad. Mother, how soon can we go abroad .?"

" It won't make a bit of difference for a year. We
shan't get it for ever so long," said Bobus.


"Fact. I know a man whose uncle left him a
hundred pounds last year, and the lawyers haven't' let,
him touch a penny of it.'*

" Perhaps he is not of age," said Janet.

"At any rate," said Jock, "we can have our fun at


" O yes, Jock, only think," cried Babie, " all the dear
tadpoles belong to mother ! "

" And all the dragon-flies," said Armine.

" And all the herons," said Jock.

" We can open the gates again," said Armine.

" Oh ! the flowers ! " cried Babie in an ecstasy.

" Yes," said Janet. " I suppose we shall spend the
early spring in the country, but we must have the best
part of the season in London now that we can get
out of banishment, and enjoy rational conversation
once more."

" Rational fiddlestick," muttered Bobus.

"That's what any girl who wasn't such a prig as
Janet would look for," said Jock.

"Well, of course," said Janet. " I mean to have my
balls like other people ; I shall see life thoroughly.
That's just what I value this for."

Bobus made a scoffing noise.

" What's up, Bobus .? " asked Jock.

" Nothing, only you keep up such a row, one can't

" I'm sure this is better and more wonderful than
any book ! " said Jock.

" It makes no odds to me," returned Bobus, over
his book.

" Oh ! now ! " cried Janet, " if it were only the pleasure
of being free from patronage it would be something."

" Gratitude ! " said Bobus.

" /'// show my gratitude," said Janet ; " we'll give


all of them at Kencroft all the fine clothes and jewels
and amusements that ever they care for, more than
ever they gave us ; only it is we that shall give and
they that will take, don't you see ? "

" Sweet charity," quoth Bobus.

Those two were a great contrast ; Janet had never
been so radiant, feeling her sentence of banishment
revoked, and realising more vividly than anyone else
was doing, the pleasures of wealth. The cloud under
which she had been ever since the coming to the
Pagoda seemed to have rolled away, in the sense of
triumph and anticipation ; while Bobus seemed to
have fallen into a mood of sarcastic ill-temper. His
mother saw, and it added to her sense of worry, though
her bright sweet nature w^ould scarcely have fathomed
the cause, even had she been in a state to think actively
rather than to feel passively. Bobus, only a year
younger than Allen, and endowed with more force
and application, if not with more quickness, had always
been on a level with his brother, and felt superior,
despising Allen's Eton airs and graces, and other
characteristics which most people thought amiable.
And now Allen had become son and heir, and was
treated by everyone as the only person of importance.
Bobus did not know what his own claims might be,
but at any rate his brother's would transcend them,
and his temper was thoroughly upset.

Poor Caroline ! She did not wholly omit to pray
" In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our


wealth, deliver us ! " but if she had known all that
was in her children's hearts, her own would have
trembled more.

And as to Ellen, the utmost she allowed herself to
say was, " Well, I hope she will make a good use
of it ! "

While the Colonel, as trustee and adviser, had
really a very considerable amount of direct importance
and enjoyment before him, which might indeed be
— to use his own useful phrase — "a fearful respon-
sibility," but was no small boon to a man with too
much time on his hands.



Vain glorious Elf, said he, dost thou not weete
That money can thy wants at will supply ;
Shields, steeds and armes, and all things for thee meet,
It can purvey in twinkling of an eye.


BOBUS'S Opinion that it would be long before any-
thing came of this accession of wealth was for a few
days verified in the eyes of the impatient family, for
Christmas interfered with some of the necessary for-
malities ; and their mother, still thinking that another
will might be discovered, declared that they were
not to go within the gates of Belforest till they were

At last, after Colonel Brownlow had spent a day in
London, he made his appearance with a cheque-book
in his hand, and the information that he and his
fellow-trustee had so arranged that the heiress could
open an account, and begin to enter on the fruition of
the property. There were other arrangements to be
made, those about the out-door servants and keepers
could be settled with Richards, but she ought to
remove her two sons from the foundation of the two


colleges, though of course they would continue there
as pupils.

" And Robert," she said, colouring exceedingly, " if
you will let me, there is a thing I wish very much — to
send your John to Eton with mine. He is my godson,
you know, and it would be such a pleasure to me."

" Thank you, Caroline," said the Colonel, after a
moment's hesitation, " Johnny is to stand at the Eton
election, and I should prefer his owing his education
to his own exertions rather than to any kindness."

" Yes, yes ; I understand that," said Caroline ; " but
I do want you to let me do anything for any of them.
I should be so grateful," she added, imploringly, with
a good deal of agitation ; " please — please think of it,
as if your brother were still here. You would never
mind how much he did for them."

"Yes, I should," said the Colonel, decidedly, but
pausing to collect his next sentence. " I should not
accept from him what might teach my sons depen-
dence. You see that, Caroline."

"Yes," she humbly said. " He would be wise about
it ! I don't want to be disagreeable and oppressive,
Robert ; I will never try to force things on you ; but
please let me do all that is possible to you to allow."

There was something touching in her incoherent
earnestness, which made the Colonel smile, yet wink
away some moisture from his eyes, as he again
thanked her without either acceptance or refusal.


Then he said he was going to Belforest, and asked
whether she would not like to come and look over the
place. He would go back and call for her with the
pony carriage.

" But would not Ellen like to go ? " she said. " I
will walk with the boys."

The Colonel demurred a little, but knowing that his
wife really longed to go, and could not well be squeezed
into the back seat, he gave a sort of half assent ; and
as he left the house, Mother Carey gave a summoning
cry to gather her brood, rushed upstairs, put on what
Babie called her " most every dayest old black hat ; "
and when Colonel and Mrs. Brownlow, with Jessie
behind, drove into the park, it was to see her careering
along by the short cut over the hoar-frosty grass, in
the midst of seven boys, three girls, and two dogs, all
in a most frisky mood of exhilaration.

Distressed at appearing to drive up like the lady of
the house, her Serene Highness insisted on stopping
at the iron gates of the stately approach. There she
alighted, and waited to make the best setting to rights
she could of the heiress's wind-tossed hat and cloak,
and would have put her into the carriage, but that no
power could persuade her to mount that triumphal
car, and all that could be obtained was that she
should walk in the forefront of the procession with
the Colonel.

There was nobody to receive them but Richards,


for the servants had been paid off, and only a keeper
and his wife were living in the kitchen in charge.
There was a fire in the library, where the Colonel had
business to transact with Richards, while the ladies
and children proceeded with their explorations. It
was rather awful at first in the twilight gloom of the
great hall, with a painted mythological ceiling, and
cold white pavement, varied by long perspective lines
of black lozenges, on which every footfall echoed.
The first door that they opened led into a vast and
dreary dining-room, with a carpet, forming a crimson
roll at one end, and long ranks of faded leathern chairs
sitting in each other's laps. At one end hung a huge
picture by Snyders, of a bear hugging one dog in his
fore paws and tearing open the ribs of another with
his hind ones. Opposite was a wild boar impaling
a hound with his tusk, and the other walls were
occupied by Herodias smiling at the contents of her
charger, Judith dropping the gory head into her bag,
a brown St. Sebastian writhing among the arrows ;
and Juno extracting the painfully flesh and blood
eyes of Argus to set them in her peacock's tail.

"I object to eating my dinner in a butcher's shop,"
observed Allen.

" Yes, we must get them out of this place," said his

" They are very valuable paintings," interposed
Ellen. " I know they are in the county history. They


were collected by Sir Francis Bradford, from whom
the place was bought, and he was a great connoisseur."

"Yes, they are just the horrid things great connois-
seurs of the last century liked, by way of giving
themselves an appetite," said Caroline.

" Are not fine pictures always horrid } " asked Jessie,
in all simplicity.

The drawing-rooms, a whole suite — antechamber,
saloon, music-room, and card-room, were all swathed
up in brown holland, hanging even from the picture
rods along the wall. Even in the days of the most
liberal housekeeper, Ellen had never done more than
peep beneath. So she revelled in investigations of
gilding and yellow satin, ormolu and marble, big
mirrors and Sevres clocks, a three-piled carpet, and a
dazzling prismatic chandelier, though all was pei^vaded
with such a chill of unused dampness and odour of
fustiness, that Caroline's first impression was that it
was a perilous place for one so lately recovered.
However, Ellen believed in no danger till she came on
two monstrous stains of damp on the walls, with a
whole crop of curious fungi in one corner, and dis-
covered that all the holland was flabby, and all the
damask clammy ! Then she enforced the instant
lighting of fires, and shivered so decidedly, that
Caroline and Jessie begged her to return to the fire
in the library, while Jessie went in search of Rob to
drive her home.


All the rest of the younger population had deserted
the state apartments, and were to be heard in the
distance, clattering along the passages, banging doors,
bawling and shouting to each other, with freaks of
such laughter as had never awakened those echoes
during, the Barnes' tenure, but Jessie returned not ;
and her aunt, going in quest of her up a broad
flight of shallow stairs, found herself in a grand
gallery, with doors leading to various corridors and
stairs. She called, and the tramp of the boots of
youth began to descend on her, with shouts of " All
right ! " and downstairs flowed the troop, beginning
with Jock, and ending with Armine and Babie,
each with some breathless exclamation, all jumbled
together —

Jock. " Oh, mother ! Stunning ! Lots of bats fast

Johnny. " Rats ! rats ! "

Rob. " A billiard-table."

Joe. " Mother Carey, may Pincher kill your rats V

Armine. "One wants a clue of thread to find
one's way."

Janet. " I've counted five-and-thirty bedrooms
already, and that's not all."

Babie. "And there's a little copper tea-kettle in
each. May my dolls have one 1 "

Bobus. " There's nothing else in most of them ; and,
my eyes ! how musty they smell."


Elvira. " I will have the room with the big red bed,
with a gold crown at the top."

A lien. " Mother, it will be a magnificent place, but
it must have a vast deal done to it."

But Mother Carey was only looking for Jessie. No
one had seen her. Janet suggested that she had
taken a rat for a ghost, and they began to look and
call in all quarters, till at last she appeared, looking
rather white and scared at having lost herself, being
bewildered by the voices and steps echoing here,
there, and everywhere. The barrenness and uni-
formity did make it very easy to get lost, for even
while they were talking, Joe was heard roaring to
know where they were, nor would he stand still till
they came up with him, but confused them and
himself by running to meet them by some deluding

" We've not got a house, but a Cretan labyrinth,"
said Babie.

" Or the bewitched castle mother told us of," said
Allen, " where everybody was always running round
after everybody."

" You've only to have a grain of sense," said Bobus,
who had at last recovered Joe, and proceeded to give
them a lecture on the two main arteries, and the
passages communicating with them, so that they might
always be able to recover their bearings.

They w^ere more sober after that. Rob drove his


mother home, and the Colonel made the round to in-
spect the dilapidations, and estimate what was wanting.
The great house had never been thoroughly furnished
since the Bradfords had sold it, and it was, besides, in
manifest need of repair. Damp corners, and piles of
crumbled plaster told their own tale, A builder m.ust
be sent to survey it, and on the most sanguine com-
putation, it could hardly be made habitable till the
end of the autumn.

Meantime, Caroline must remain a tenant of the
Pagoda, though, as she told the eager Janet, this did
not prevent a stay in London for the sake of the classes
and the society, of whom she was always talking, only
there must be time to see their way.

The next proposition gave universal satisfaction,
Mother Carey would take her whole brood to London
for a day, to make purchases, the three elder children
each with 5/., the younger with 2/. a-piece. She
actually wanted to take two-thirds of those from
Kencroft also, with the same bounty in their pockets,
but to this their parents absolutely refused consent.
To go about London with a train of seven was bad
enough ; but that was her own affair, and they could
not prevent it ; and they absolutely would not swell
the number to thirteen. It would be ridiculous ; she
would want an omnibus to go about in.

" I did not mean all to go about together. The
elder boys will go their own way."


But, as the Colonel observed, that was all very well
for boys, whose home had always been in London,
but she w^ould find his country lads much in her way.
She then reduced her demand by a third, for she
really wished for Johnny ; but the Colonel's principles
would not allow him to accept so great an indulgence
for Rob.

That unlucky fellow had, of course, failed in his
examination, and this had renewed the Colonel's re-
sentment at his laziness and shuffling. He was,
however, improved by contact with strangers, looked
and behaved less bearishly, and had acquired a will
to do better. Still, it was not possible to regret his
absence, except because it involved that of his brother ;
and, with a great effort, and many assurances of her
being really needed, Jessie's company was secured.

Never was the taste of wealth sweeter than in that
over-filled railway carriage, before it was light on
the winter morning, with a vista of endless possi-
bilities contained in those crackling notes and round
gold pieces, Jessie being, of course, as well off as
the rest, and feeling the novelty and wonder even

Mrs. Acton's house was to be the place of rendez-
vous and she would take charge of the girls for part
of the day, the boys wished to shift for themselves ;
and Allen and Bobus had friends of their own with
whom they meant to lunch.


Clara met her friend with an agitated manner, half-
laughing, half-crying, as she said —

" Well, Mother Carey dear, you haven't quite soared
above us yet ? "

" Petrels never take high flights," said Carey ; " I
hope and trust that it may prove impossible to make
a fine lady of me. I am caught late, you see."

" Your daughters are not. You won't like to have
them making excuses for mamma's friends."

"Janet's exclusiveness will not be of that sort,
and for warm-hearted little Babie, trust her. Do you
know where the Ogilvies can be written to, Clara .?
Are they at Rome, or Florence .? "

" They were to be at Florence by the 14th. Mary
has learnt to be such a traveller, that she always
"drags her brother abroad for however short a time
St. Kenelm may give her."

" I hope I shall catch her in time. We want her for
our governess."

" Now, really, Carey, you are a woman for old friends !
But do you think you will get on .? You know she
won't spare you," ■

" That's the very reason I want her."

" It is very generous of you ! You always were the
best little thing in the world, with a strong turn for
being under the lash ; so you're going to keep the
slave in the back of your triumphal chariot, like the
Roman general."


306 MAGNUM bonum;

" I see, you're afraid she will teach me to be too
proper behaved for you."

"Precisely so, after her experience of Russian
countesses. I don't know whether she will let you be
mistress of your own house."

" She will make me mistress all the more," said
Caroline ; " for she will make me all the more ' queen
o'er myself.' "

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