Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

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*' Yes," chimed in little Armine, who was hanging to
his mother's skirts ; " she thought she should get to
the Park by Duke Street."

"That did not make it right for you not to be
obedient," said Carey, trying for severity.

" But we couldn't, mother."

" Couldn't .? " both echoed.

" No," said Jock, " or we should be still in Piccadilly.
Mother Carey, she told us not to cross till it was safe."

" And she stood up like the Duke of Bedford in the
Square," added Armine.


Janet caught her mother's eye, and both feh a spasm
o( uncontrollable diversion in their throats, making
Janet turn her back, and Carey gasp and turn on the

" All that is no reason at all. Go up to the nursery.
I wish I could trust you to behave like a gentleman,
when your aunt is so kind as to take you out."

*• I dii/, mother ! I did hand her across the street,
and dragged her out from under all the omnibus
horses," said Jock in an injured tone, while Janet could
not refrain from a whispered comparison, " Like a little
steam-tug," and this was quite too much for all of them,
producing an explosion which made the tall and stately
dame look from one to another in such bewildered
amazement, that struck the mother and daughter as
so comical that the one hid her face in her hands with
a sort of hysterical heaving, and the other burst into
that painful laughter by which strained spirits assert
themselves in the young.

Mrs. Robert Brownlow, in utter astonishment and
discomfiture, turned and walked oft" to her own room.
Somehow Carey and Janet felt more on their ordinary
terms than they had done all these sad days, in their
consternation and a certain sense of guilt.

Carey could adjudicate now, though trembling still.
She made Jock own that his Serpentine plans had been
unjustifiable, and then she added, " My poor boy, I
must punish you. You must remember it, for if you
are not good and steady, what riv'// become of us."


Jock leapt at her neck. " Mother, do anythinr^ to me.
I don't mind, if you only won't look at me like that I "

She sat down on the stairs, all in a heap again with
him, and sentenced him to the forfeit of the ship, which
he endured with more tolerable grace, because Arminc
observed, " Never mind, Skipjack, we'll go partners in
mine. You shall have half my cargo of gold dust."

Carey could not find it in her heart to check the
voyages of the remaining ship, over the uncarpeted
dining-room ; but as she was going, Armine looked at
her with his great soft eyes, and said, " Mother Carey,
have you got to be the scoldy and punishy one now ? "

" I must if you need it," said she, going down on her
knees again to gather the little fellow to her breast ;
"but, oh, don't — don't need it."

" I'd rather it was Uncle Robert and Aunt Ellen,"
said Jock, " for then I shouldn't care."

" Dear Jock, if you only care, I think we .sha'n't
want many punishments. But now I must go to }'our
aunt, for we did behave horribly ill to her."

Aunt Ellen was kind, and accepted Carey's apology
when she found that Jock had really been punished.
Only she said, "You must be firm with that boy,
Caroline, or you will be sorry for it. My boys know
that what I have said is to be done, and they know it
is of no use to disobey. I am happy to say they mind
me at a word ; but that John of yours needs a tight
hand. The Colonel thinks that the sooner he is at
school the better."


Before Carey had time to get into a fresh scrape, the
Colonel was ringing at the door. He had to confess
that Dr. Lucas had said Mrs. Joe Brownlow was right
about Vaughan, and had made it plain that his offer
ought not to be accepted, either in policy, or in that
duty which the Colonel began to perceive towards his
brother's patients. Nor did he think ill of her plan
respecting Dr. Drake ; and said he would himself
suggest the application which that gentleman was no
doubt withholding from true feeling, for he had been
a favourite pupil of Joe Brownlow, and had been
devoted to him. He was sure that Mrs. Brownlow's
good sense and instinct were to be trusted, a dictum
which not a little surprised her brother-in-law, who had
never ceased to think of " poor Joe's fancy " as a mere
child, and who forgot that she was fifteen years older
than at her marriage.

He told his wife what Dr. Lucas had said, to which
she replied, " That's just the way. Men know nothing
about it."

However, Dr. Drake's offer was sufficiently eligible
to be accepted. Moreover, it proved that the most
available house at Kenminster could not be got ready
for the family before the winter, so that the move could
not take place till the spring. Li the meantime, as
Dr. Drake could not marry till Easter, the lower part
of the house was to be given up to him, and Carey and
Janet felt that they had a reprieve.




I do say, thou art quick in answers :

Thou heatest my blood. — Lovis Labour's Lost.

Kem'STER, as county tradition pronounced what was
spelt Kenminster, a name meaning St. Kenelm's
minster, had a grand collegiate church and a foundation-
school, which, in the hands of the Commissioners, had of
late years passed into the rule of David Ogilvie, Esq., a
spare, pale, nervous, serisitive-looking man of eight or
nine and twenty, who sat one April evening under his
lamp, with his sister at work a little way off, listening
with some amusement to his sighs and groans at the
holiday tasks that lay before him.

" Here's an answer, Mary. What was Magna
Charta } The first map of the world."

" Who's that ingenious person 1 "

"Brownlow Major, of course; and here's French,
who says it was a new sort of cow invented by Henry
Vni. — a happy feminine, I suppose, to the Papal Bull.
Here's a third ! The French fleet defeated by Queen
Elizabeth. Most have passed it over entirely."


" Well, you know this is the first time you have tried
such an examination, and boys never do learn history."

"Nor anything else in this happy town," was the
answer, accompanied by a ruffling over of the papers.

" For shame, David ! The first day of the term ! "

"It is the dead weight of Brownlows, my dear.
Only think ! There's another lot coming ! A set of
duplicates. They haven't even the sense to vary the
Christian names. Three more to be admitted to-

" That accounts for a good deal ! "

"You are laughing at me, Mary ; but did you never
know what it is to feel like Sisyphus ? Whenever you
think you have rolled it a little way, down it comes, a
regular dead weight again, down the slope of utter in-
difference and dulness, till it seems to crush the very
heart out of you ! "

" Have you really nobody that is hopeful } "

"Nobody who does not regard me as his worst
enemy, and treat all my approaches with distrust and
hostility. Mary, how am I to live it down ? "

" You speak as if it were a crime ! "

" I feel as if it were one. Not of mine, but of the
pedagogic race before me, who have spoilt the relations
between man and boy ; so that I cannot even get one
to act as a medium."

" That would be contrary to esprit de corpsT

" Exactly ; and the worst of it is, I am not one of
those genial fellows, half boys themselves, who can join


in the sports con amove ; I should only make a
mountebank of myself if I tried, and the boys would
distrust me the more."

" Quite true. The only way is to be oneself, and
one's best self, and the rest will come."

" I'm not so sure of that. Some people mistake
their vocation."

" Well, when you have given it a fair trial, you can
turn to something else. You are getting the school
up again, which is at least one testimony."

David Ogilvie made a sound as if this were very
base kind of solace, and his sister did not wonder when
she remembered the bright hopes and elaborate
theories with which he had undertaken the mastership
only nine months ago. He was then fresh from the
university, and the loss of constant intercourse with
congenial minds had perhaps contributed as much as
the dulness of the Kenminster youth to bring him into
a depressed state of health and spirits, which had
made his elder sister contrive to spend her Easter
at the seaside with him, and give him a few days at
the beginning of the term. Indeed, she was anxious
enough about him, when he went down to the old
grammar-school, to revolve the possibility of acceding
to his earnest wish, and coming to live with him,
instead of continuing in her situation as governess.

He came back to luncheon next day with a
brightened face, that made his sister say, *' Well, have
you struck some sparks V


" I've got some new material, and am come home
saying, ' What's in a name ? ' "

" Eh ! Is it those very new Brownlows, that seemed
yesterday to be the last straw on the camel's back ? "

" I wish you could have seen the whole scene, Mary.
There were half-a-dozen new boys to be admitted,
four Brownlows ! Think of that ! Well, there stood
manifestly one of the old stock, with the same oval
face and sleepy brown eyes, and the very same drawl
I know so well in the ' No — a — ' to the vain question,

* Have you done any Latin ? ' And how shall I do
justice to the long, dragging drawl of his reading ?
Aye, here's the sentence I set him on : * The — Gowls
— had — con — sen — ted — to — accept — a — sum — of —
gold — and — retire. They were en — gagged — in — wag-
ging out the sum — required, and — ' I had to tell him
what to call Brennus, and he proceeded to cast the
sword into the scale, exclaiming, just as to a cart-horse,

* Woh ! To the Worsted ' (pronounced like yarn).
After that you may suppose the feelings with which I
called his ditto, another Joseph Armine Brownlow ;
and forth came the smallest sprite, with a white face
and great black eyes, all eagerness, but much too wee
for this place. ' Begun Latin ? ' ' Oh, yes ; ' and he
rattled off a declension and a tense with as much ease
as if he had been born speaking Latin. I gave him
Phsedrus to see whether that would stump him, and I
don't think it would have done so if he had not made
OS a mouth instead of a bone, in dealing with the


*Wolf and the Lamb.' He was almost crying, so I
put the Roman history into his hand, and his reading
was something refreshing to hear. I asked if he knew
what the sentence meant, and he answered, ' Isn't it
when the geese cackled ? ' trying to turn round the page.
* What do you know about the geese ? ' said I. To
which the answer was, * We played at it on the stairs !
Jock and I were the Romans, and Mother Carey and
Babie were the geese.' "

" Poor little fellow ! I hope no boys were there to
listen, or he will never hear the last of those geese."

" I hope no one was within earshot but his brothers,
who certainly did look daggers at him. He did very
well in summing and in writing, except that he went
out of his way to spell fish, p h y c h, and shy, s c h y ;
and at last, I could not resist the impulse to ask him
what Magna Charta is. Out came the answer, ' It is
yellow, and all crumpled up, and you can't read it, but
it has a bit of a great red seal hanging to it.' "

" What, he had seen it .? "

" Yes, or a facsimile, and what was more, he knew
who signed it. Whoever taught that child knew how
to teach, and it is a pity he should be swamped among
such a set as ours."

" I thought you would be delighted."

" I should be, if I had him alone, but he must be put
with a crew who will make it their object to bully him
out of his superiority, and the more I do for him, the
worse it will be for him, poor little fellow ; and he locks


too delicate to stand the ordeal. It is sheer cruelty to
send him."

" Hasn't he brothers .? "

" Oh, yes ! I was going to tell you, two bigger boys,
another Robert and John Brownlow — about eleven and
nine years old. The younger one is a sort of black
spider monkey, wanting the tail. We shall have some
trouble with that gentleman, I expect."

" But not the old trouble .? "

" No, indeed ; unless the atmosphere affects him.
He answered as no boy of twelve can do here ; and as
to the elder one, I must take him at once into the fifth
form, such as it is."

'' Where have they been at school } "

" At a day school in London. They are Colonel
Brownlow's nephews. Their father was a medical man
in London, who died last summer, leaving a young
widow and these boys, and they have just come
down to live in Kenminster. But it can't be owing to
the school. No school would give all three that kind
of — what shall I call it ? — culture, and intelligence, that
they all have ; besides, the little one has been entirely
taught at home."

" I wonder whether it is their mother's doing }

" I am afraid it is their father's. The Colonel spoke
of her as a poor helpless little thing, who was thrown
on his hands with all her family."

After the morning's examination and placing of the
boys, there was a half-holiday ; and the brother and


sister set forth to enjoy it together, for Kenminster
was a place with special facilities for enjoyment. It was
built as it were within a crescent, formed by low hills
sloping down to the river ; the Church, school, and
other remnants of the old collegiate buildings lying in
the flat at the bottom, and the rest of the town, one of
the small decayed wool staples of Somerset, being in
terraces on the hill-side, with steep streets dividing the
rows. These were of very mixed quality and architec-
ture, but, as a general rule, improved the higher they
rose, and were all interspersed with gardens running
up or down, and with a fair sprinkling of trees, whose
budding green looked well amid the yellow stone.

On the summit were some more ornamental villa-
like houses, and grey stone buildings with dark tiled
roofs, but the expansion on that side had been checked
by extensive private grounds. There were very beauti-
ful woods coming almost close to the town, and in the
absence of the owner, a great moneyed man, they were
open to all those who did not make themselves ob-
noxious to the keepers ; and these, under an absentee
proprietor, gave a free interpretation to rights of way.
Thither were the Ogilvies bound, in search of primrose
banks, but their way led them past two or three houses
on the hill-top, one of which, being constructed on
supposed Chinese principles of architecture, was known
to its friends as "the Pagoda," to its foes as "the
Folly." It had been long untenanted, but this winter
it had been put into complete repair, and two rooms,



showing a sublime indifference to consistency of archi-
tecture, had been lately built out with sash windows
and a slated roof, contrasting oddly with the frilled and
fluted tiles of the tower from which it jutted.

Suddenly there sounded close to their ears the
words — " School time, my dear ! "

Starting and looking round for some impertinent
street boy, Mr. Ogilvie exclaimed, '' What's that .?"

" Mother Carey ! We are all Mother Carey's

" See, there," exclaimed Mary, and a great parrot
was visible on the branch of a sumach, which stretched
over the railings of the low wall of the pagoda garden.
*' O you appropriate bird, — you surely ought not to be
here ! "

To which the parrot replied, " Hie, hcec, hoc ! " and
burst out in a wild scream of laughing, spreading her
grey wings, and showing intentions of flying away ;
but Mr. Ogilvie caught hold of the chain that hung
from her leg.

Just then voices broke out —

" That's Polly ! Where is she ? That's you, Jock,
you horrid boy." " W^ell, J didn't see why she shouldn't
enjoy herself." " Now you've been and lost her. Poll,
Poll ! "

" I have her ! " called back Mr. Ogilvie. " I'll bring
her to the gate."

Thanks came through the hedge, and the brother
and sister walked on.


" It's old Ogre. Cut ! " growled in what was meant
to be an aside, a voice the master knew full well, and,
there was a rushing off of feet, like ponies in a field.

When the sheep gate was reached, a great furniture
van was seen standing at the door of the " Folly," and
there appeared a troop of boys and girls in black, eager
to welcome their pet.

" Thank you, sir ; thank you very much. Come
Polly," said the eldest boy, taking possession of the

" I think we have met before," said the schoolmaster
to the younger ones, glad to see that two — i.e. the new
Robert and Armine Bro\ynlow — had not joined in the
sauve qni petit.

Nay, Robert turned and said, "Mother, it is Mr.

Then that gentleman was aware that one of the
black figures had a widow's cap, with streamers flying
behind her in the breeze, but while he was taking off
his hat and beginning, " Mrs. Brownlow," she held out
her hands to his sister, crying, ** Mary, Mary Ogilvie,"
and there was an equally fervent response. " Is it 1
Is it really Caroline Allen T and the two friends linked
eager hands in glad pressure, turning, after the first
moment, towards the house, while Mary said, " David,
it is my dear old schoolfellow ; Carey, this is my

"You were very kind to these boys," said Carey,
warmly shaking hands with him. " The name sounded

G 2


friendly, but I little thought you were Mary's brother.
Are you living here, Mary ? How delightful ! "

" Alas, no ; I am only keeping holiday with David.
I go back to-morrow."

" Then stay now, stay and let me get all I can of
you, in this frightful muddle," entreated Caroline.
" Chaos is come again, but you won't mind."

" I'll come and help you," said Mary. " David, you
must go on alone and come back for me."

" Can't I be of use ? " offered David, feeling rather
shut out in the cold ; " I see a bookcase. Isn't that in
my line ? "

"And here's the box with its books," said Janet.
*' Oh ! mother, do let that be finished off at least !
Bobus, there are the shelves, and I have all their pegs
in my basket."

The case was happily in its place against the wall,
and Janet had seized on her recruit to hold the shelves
while she pegged them, while the two friends were still
exchanging their first inquiries, Carey exclaiming,
" Now, you naughty Mary, where have you been, and
why didn't you write ? "

" I have been in Russia, and I didn't write, because
nobody answered, and I didn't know where anybody

" In Russia ! I thought you were with a Scottish
family, and wrote to you to the care of some laird
with an unearthly name."

" But you knew that they took me abroad."


" And Alice Brown told me that letters sent to the
place m Scotland would find you. I wrote three

times, and when you did not answer my last " and

Caroline broke off with things unutterable in her face.
" I never had any but the first when you were going
to London. I answered that. Yes, I did ! Don't
look incredulous. I wTote from Sorrento."

" That must have miscarried. Where did you ad-
dress it."

" To the old place, inside a letter to Mrs. Mercer."
" I see ! Poor Mrs. Mercer went away ill, and did
not live long after, and I suppose her people never
troubled themselves about her letters. But why did
not you get ours."

'' Mrs. M'lan died at Venice, and the aunts came
out, and considering me too young to go on with
the laird and his girls, they fairly made me over
to a Russian family whom we had met. Unluckily,
as I see now, I wrote to Mrs. Mercer, and as I never
heard more I gave up writing. Then the Crimean
War cut me off entirely even from David. I had only
one letter all that time."

" How is it that you are a governess } I thought
one was sure of a pension from a Russian grandee ! "

" These were not very grand grandees, only counts,
and though they paid liberally, they could not pension
one. So when I had done with the youngest daughter,
I came to England and found a situation in London.
I tried to look up our old set, but could not get on


the track of anyone except Emily Collins, who told
me you had married veiy soon, but was not even sure
of your name. Very soon ! Why, Caroline, your
daughter looks as old as yourself."

" I sometimes think she is older ! And have you
seen my Eton boy ? "

" Was it he who received the delightful popinjay,
who * Up and spak ' so much to the purpose ? " asked
Mr. Ogilvie.

" Yes, it was Allen. He is the only one you did
not see in the morning. Did they do tolerably } "

" I only wish I had any boys who did half as well,"
said Mr. Ogilvie, the lads being gone for more books.

" I was afraid for John and Armlne, for we have
been unsettled, and I could not go on so steadily with
them as before," she said eagerly, but faltering a little.
" Armine told me he blundered in Phsedrus, but I
hope he did fairly on the whole."

" So well that if you ask my advice, I should say,
keep him to yourself two years more."

" Oh ! I am so glad," with a little start of joy.
"You'll tell his uncle.? He insisted — he had some
impression that they were very naughty boys, whom
I could not cope with, poor little fellows."

" I can decidedly say he is learning more from you
than he would in school among those with whom, at
his age, I must place him."

"Thank you, thank you. Then Babie won't lose
her companion. She wanted to go to school with


Armie, having always gone on with him. And the
other -two — what of them ? Bobus is sure to work
for the mere pleasure of it — but Jock ? "

" I don't promise that he may not let himself down
to the standard of his age and develop a capacity for
idleness, but even he has time to spare, and he is at
that time of life when boys do for one another what
no one else can do for them."

" The Colonel said the boys were a good set and
gentlemanly," said Carey wistfully.

" I think I may say that for then)," returned their
master. " They are not bad boys as boys go. There
is as much honour and kindliness among them as you
would find anywhere. Besides, to boys like yours
this would be only a preparatory school. They are
sure to fly off to scholarships."

'' I don't know," said Carey. " I want them to be
where physical science is an object. Or do you think
that thorough classical training is a better preparation
than taking up any individual line ^ "

" I believe it is easier to learn /lozu to learn through
languages than through anything else."

" And to be taught /lozv to learn is a much greater
thing than to be crammed," said Carey. " Of course
when one begins to teach oneself, the world has
become " mine oyster," and one has the dagger. The
point becomes how to sharpen the dagger."

At that moment three or four young people rushed
in with arms ^uU of books, and announcing that the


uncle and aunt were coming. The next moment they
appeared, and stood amazed at the accession of
volunteer auxiliaries. Mr. Ogilvie introduced his
sister, while Caroline explained that she was an old
friend, — meanwhile putting up a hand to feel for her
cap, as she detected in Ellen's eyes those words,
' * Caroline, your cap."

" We came to see how you were getting on," said
the Colonel, kindly.

" Thank you, we are getting on capitally. And
oh, Robert, Mr. Ogilvie will tell you ; he thinks
Armine too — too — I mean he thinks he had better
not go into school yet," she added, thankful that she
had not said " too clever for the school."

The Colonel turned aside with the master to discuss
the matter, and the ladies went into the drawing-room,
the new room opening on the lawn, under a verandah,
with French windows. It was full of furniture in the
most dire confusion. Mrs. Robert Brownlow wanted
to clear off at once the desks and other things that
seemed school-room properties, saying that a little
room downstairs had always served the purpose.

" That must be nurse's sitting-room," said Carey.

" Old nurse ! She can be of no use, my dear ! "

" Oh yes, she is ; she has lived with us ever since
dear grandmamma married, and has no home, and no
relations. We could not get on without dear old
nursey ! "

" Well, my dear, I hope you will find it answer to


keep her on. But as to this room ! It is such a pity
not to keep it nice, when you have such handsome
furniture too."

'' I want to keep it nice with habitation," said Caro-

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