Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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

. (page 6 of 18)
Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMagnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

line. " That's the only way to do it. I can't bear
fusty, shut-up smart rooms, and I think the family
room ought to be the pleasantest and prettiest in the
house for the children's sake."

" Ah, well," said Mrs. Brownlow, with a serene good
nature, contrasting with the heat with which Caroline
spoke, " it is your affair, my dear, but my boys would
not thank me for shutting them in with my pretty
things, and I should be sorry to have them there.
Healthy country boys like to have their fun, and I
would not coop them up."

" Oh, but there's the studio to run riot in, Ellen,"
said Carey. " Didn't you see ? The upper story of
the tower. We have put the boy's tools there, and I
can do my modelling there, and make messes and all
that's nice," she said, smiling to Mary, and to Allen,
who had just come in.

" Do you model, Carey .? " Mary asked, and Allen
volunteered to show his mother's groups and bas-
reliefs, thereby much increasing the litter on the floor,
and delighting Mary a good deal more than his aunt,
who asked, "What will you do for a store-room then V

" Put up a few cupboards and shelves anywhere."

It is not easy to describe the sort of air with which
Mrs. Robert Brownlow received this answer. She


said nothing but " Oh," and was perfectly unruffled in
a sort of sublime contempt, as to the hopelessness of
doing anything with such a being on her own ground.

There did not seem overt provocation, but poor
Caroline, used to petting and approval, chafed and
reasoned : " I don't think anything so important as a
happy home for the boys, where they can have their
pursuits, and enjoy themselves."

Mrs. Brownlow seemed to think this totally irre-
levant, and observed, ** When I have nice things, I like
to keep them nice."

" I like nice boys better than nice things," cried

Ellen smiled as though to say she hoped she was
not an unnatural mother, and again said " Oh ! "

Mary Ogilvie was very glad to see the two gentle-
men come in from the hall, the Colonel saying, *' Mr.
Ogilvie tells me he thinks Armine too small at present
for school, Caroline."

" You know I am very glad of it, Robert," she said,
smiling gratefully, and Ellen compassionately ob-
served, " Poor little fellow, he is very small, but
country air and food will soon make a man of him if
he is not overdone with books. I make it a point
never to force my children."

" No, tJiat you don't," said Caroline, with a
dangerous smile about the corners of her mouth.

"And my boys do quite as well as if they had
their heads stuffed and their growth stunted," said


Ellen. " Joe is only two months older than Armine,
and you are quite satisfied with him, are you not,
Mr. Ogilvie .? "

" He is more on a level with the others," said j\Ir.
Ogilvie politely ; " but I wish they were all as forward
as this little fellow."

" Schoolmasters and mammas don't always agree
on those points," said the Colonel good-humouredly.

" Very true," responded his wife. " I never was
one for teasing the poor boys with study and all that.
I had rather see them strong and well grown. They'll
have quite worry enough when they go to school."

" I'm sorry you look at me in that aspect," said
Mr. Ogilvie.

*' Oh, I know you can't help it," said the lady.

" Any more than Trois Echelles and Petit Andre,"
said Carey, in a low voice, giving the two Ogilvies the
strongest desire to laugh.

Just then out burst a cry of wrath and consternation,
making everyone hurry out into the hall, where, through
a perfect cloud of white powder, loomed certain figures,
and a scandalised voice cried ''Aunt Caroline, Jock
and Armine have been and let all the arrowroot fly

" You told me to be useful and open parcels," cried

"Oh, jolly, jolly! first-rate!" shouted Armine in
ecstasy. "It's just like Paris in the cloud! More,
more, Babie. You are Venus, vou know."


" Master Armine, Miss Barbara ! For shame," ex-
claimed the nurse's voice. "All getting into the
carpet, and in your clothes, I do declare ! A whole
case of best arrowroot wasted, and worse."

" 'Twas Jessie's doing," replied Jock. " She told

Jessie, decidedly the most like Venus of the party,
being a very pretty girl, with an oval face and brown
eyes, had retreated, and was with infinite disgust
brushing the white powder out of her dress, only in
answer ejaculating, " Those boys ! "

Jock had not only opened the case, but had opened
it upside down, and the classical performances of
Armine and Barbara had powdered themselves and
everything around, while the draught that was rushing
through all the wide open doors and windows dispersed
the mischief far and wide.

** Can you do nothing but laugh, Caroline ? " gravely
said Mrs. Brownlow. "Janet, shut that window.
Children, out of the way ! If you were mine, I should
send you to bed."

"There's no bed to be sent to," muttered Jock,
running round to give a sly puff to the white heap,
diffusing a sprinkling of white powder over his aunt's

" Jock," said his mother with real firmness and
indignation in her voice, "that is not the way to
behave. Beg your aunt's pardon this instant."

And to everyone's surprise the imp obeyed the


hand she had laid on him, and muttered some-
thing- like, "beg pardon," though it made his face

His uncle exclaimed, " That's right, my boy," and
his aunt said, with dignity, " Very well, we'll say no
more about it."

Mary Ogilvie was in the meantime getting some of
the powder back into the tin, and Janet running in
from the kitchen with a maid, a soup tureen, and
sundry spoons, everyone became busy in rescuing the
remains — in the midst of which there was a smash
of glass.

"Jock again ! " quoth Janet.

" Oh, mother ! " called out Jock. " It's so long ! I
thought I'd get the feather-brush to sweep it up with,
and the other end of it has been and gone through
this stupid lamp."

" Things are not unapt to be and go through, where
you are concerned, Mr. Jock, I suspect," said Mr.
Ogilvie. " Suppose you were to come with me, and
your brothers too, and be introduced to the swans on
the lake at Belforest."

The boys brightened up, the mother said, " Thank
you most heartily, if they will not be a trouble," and
Babie put her hand entreatingly into the schoolmaster's,
and said, " Me too ? "

"What, Venus herself! I thought she had dis-
appeared in the cloud ! Let her come, pray, Mrs.


" I thought the children would have been with their
cousins," observed the aunt.

"So we were," returned Armine ; "but Johnnie and
Joe ran away when they saw Mr. Ogilvie coming."

Babie having by this time had a little black hat
tied on, and as much arrowroot as possible brushed
out of her frock ; Carey warned the schoolmaster not
to let himself be chattered to death, and he walked off
with the three younger ones.

Caroline would have kept her friend, but Mary,
seeing that little good could be gained by staying
with her at present, replied that she would take the
walk now, and return to her friend in a couple of
hours' time ; and Carey was fain to consent, though
with a very wistful look in her eyes.

At the end of that time, or more, Janet met the
party at the garden gate. " You are to go down to
my uncle's, children," she said ; " mother] has one of
her very bad headaches."

There was an outcry that they must take her the
flowers, of which their hands and arms were full ; but
Janet was resolute, though Babie was veiy near

" To-morrow — to-morrow," she said. " She must lie
still now, or she won't be able to do anything. Run
away, Babie, they'll be waiting tea for you. Allen's
there. He'll take care of you."

"I want to give Mother Carey those dear white
flowers," still entreated Babie.


"I'll give them, my dear. They want you down
there — Ellie and Esther."

" I don't want to play with Ellie and Essie," sturdily
declared Barbara. " They say it is telling falsehoods
when one wants to play at anything."

"They don't understand pretending," said Armine.
''Do let us stay, Janet, we'll not make one smallest
little atom of noise, if Jock doesn't stay."

"You can't," said Janet, "for there's nothing for
you to eat, and nurse and Susan are as savage as
Carribee islanders."

This last argument was convincing. The children
threw their flowers into Janet's arms, gave their hands
to Miss Ogilvie, and Babie between her two brothers,
scampered off, while Miss Ogilvie uttered her griefs
and regrets.

" My mother would like to see yoit',' said Jane ;
" indeed, I think it will do her good. She told me to
bring you in."

" Such a day of fatigue," began Mary.

"That and all the rest of it," said Janet moodily.

" Is she subject to headaches } "

" No, she never had one, till " Janet broke off,

for they had reached her mother's door.

" Bring her in," said a weary voice, and Mary found
herself beside a low iron bed, where Carey, shaking
off the handkerchief steeped in vinegar and water on
her brow, and showing a tear-stained, swollen-eyed
face, threw herself into her friend's arms.


But she did not cry now, her tears all came when
she was alone, and when Mary said something of
being so sorry for her headache, she said, " Oh ! it's
only with knocking one's head against a mattress like
mad people," in such a matter-of-fact voice, that Mary
for a moment wondered whether she had really
knocked her head.

Mary doubted what to say, and wetted the kerchief
afresh with the vinegar and water.

" Oh, Mary, I wish you were going to stay here."

" I wish ! I wish I could, my dear ! "

" I think I could be good if you were here I " she
sighed. " Oh, Mary, why do they say that troubles
make one good .? "

" They ought," said Mary.

"They don't," said Carey. "They make me wicked!"
and she hid her face in the pillow with a great gasp.

" My poor Carey ! " said the gentle voice.

" Oh ! I want to tell you all about it. Oh ! Mary,
Ave have been so happy ! " and what a wail there was
in the tone. "But I can't talk," she added faintly,
*' it makes me sick, and that's all /ler doing too."

"Don't try," said Mary tenderly. "We know
where to find each other now, and you can write
to me."

" I will," said Caroline ; " I can write much better
than tell. And you will come back, Mary } "

" As soon as I can get a holiday, my dear, indeed
I will."


Carey was too much worn out not to repose on the
promise, and though she was unwIlHng to let her
friend go, she said very little more.

Mary longed to give her a cup of strong coffee, and
suggested it to Janet ; but headaches were so new in
the family, that domestic remedies had not become
well-known. Janet instantly rushed down to order it,
but in the state of the house at that moment, it was
nearly as easy to get a draught of pearls.

" But she shall have it. Miss Ogilvie," said Janet,
putting on her hat. " Where's the nearest grocer ? "

" Oh, never mind, my dear," sighed the patient.
*' It will go off of itself, when I can get to sleep."

^'You shall \\dMQ it," returned Janet.

And Mary having taken as tender a farewell as
Caroline was able to bear, they walked off together ;
but the girl did not respond to the kindness of Miss

She was too miserable not to be glum, too reserved
to be open to a stranger. Mary guessed a little of
the feeling, though she feared that an uncomfortable
daughter might be one of poor Carey's troubles, and
she could not guess the girl's sense of banishment from
all that she had enjoyed, society, classes, ever3^thing,
or her feeling that the Magimm Bomim itself was
imperilled by exile into the land of dulness, which of
course the poor child exaggerated in her imagination.
Her only consolation was to feel herself the Masterman
Ready of the shipwreck.





And sometimes a meriy train
Comes upon us from the lane
All through April, May, or June,
Every gleaming afternoon ;
All through April, May, and June,
Boys and maidens, birds and bees,
Airy whisperings from all trees.

PetitioTi of the Flowers — Keble,

The headache had been carried .off by a good night's
rest ; a droll, scrambling breakfast had been eaten,,
German fashion, Avith its head-quarters on the kitchen
table ; and everybody running about communicating
their discoveries. Bobus and Jock had set off to
school, and poor little Armine, who firmly believed
that his rejection was in consequence of his confusion
between os^ ossis, and os, oris, and was very sore about
it, had gone with Allen and Barbara to see them on
their way, and Mother Carey and Janet had agreed ta
get some real work done and were actually getting-
through business, when in rushed, rosy and eager,
Allen, Armine, and Babie, with arms stretched and in
breathless haste.

" Mother Carey ! Oh, mother ! mammie, dear !
come and see!"


" Come — where ? "

" To fairy-land. Get her bonnet, Bable."

" Out of doors, you boy ? just look there ! "

" Oh ! bother all that ! It can wait."

" Do pray come, mother," entreated Armine ; " you
never saw anything like it ! "

" What is it } Will it take long ? " said she, begin-
ning to yield, as Babie danced about with her bonnet,
Armine tugged at her, and Allen look half-command-
ing, half-coaxing.

"She is not to know till she sees! No, don't tell
her," said Armine. " Bandage her eyes, Allen. Here's
my silk handkerchief."

"And Janet. She mustn't see," cried Babie, in

" I'm not coming," said Janet, rather crossly. " I'm
much too busy, and it is only some nonsense of yours."

" Thank you," said Allen, laughing ; " mother shall
judge of that."

" It does seem a shame to desert you, my dear," said
Carey, " but you see "

What Janet was to see was stifled in the flap of the
handkerchief with which Allen was binding her eyes,
while Armine and Babie sang rapturously —

" Come along, Mother Carey,
Come along to land of fairy j "

an invocation to which, sooth to say, she had become
so much accustomed that it prevented her from
expecting a fairy-land where it was net necessary to
*' make believe very much."

H 2


Janet so entirely disapproved of the puerile interrup-
tion that she never looked to see how Allen and Babie
managed the bonnet. She only indignantly picked up
the cap which had fallen from the sofa to the floor, and
disposed of it for security's sake on the bronze head oi
Apollo, which was waiting till his bracket could be
put up.

Guided most carefully by her eldest son, and with
the two little ones dancing and singing round her, and
alternately stopping each other's mouths when any
premature disclosure was apprehended, pausing in
wonder when the cuckoo note, never heard before, came
on them, making them laugh with glee.

Thus she w^as conducted much further than she ex-
pected. She heard the swing of the garden gate and
felt her feet on the road and remonstrated, but she was
coaxed on and through another gate, and a path where
Allen had to walk in front of her, and the little ones
fell behind.

Then came an eager " Now."

Her eyes were unbound, and she beheld what they
-might well call enchanted ground.

She was in the midst of a cun^ed bank where the
copsewood had no doubt been recently cut away, and
which was a perfect marvel of primroses, their profuse
bunches standing out of their wrinkled leaves at every
hazel root or hollow among the exquisite moss, varied
by the pearly stars of the wind-flower, purple orchis
spikes springing from black-spotted leaves, and deep-
grey crested dog-violets. On one side v»as a perfect


grove of the broad-leaved, waxen-belled Solomon's
seal, sloping down to moister ground where was a
golden river of king-cups, and above was a long glade
between young birch-trees, their trunks gleaming
silvery white, the boughs over head breaking out into
foliage that looked yellow rather than green against
the blue sky, and the ground below one sheet of that
unspeakably intense purple blue which is only produced
by masses of the wild hyacinth.

"There!" said Allen.

"There!" re-echoed the children. "Oh mammy,
mammy dear I Is it not delicious ? "

Carey held up her hand in silence, for a nightingale
was pouring out his song close by ; she listened
breathlessly, and as it ceased she burst into tears.

" O mother ! " cried Allen, " it is too much for you."

" No, dear boy, it is — it is — only too beautiful. It
is what papa always talked of and would have so

" Do you think he has better flowers up there } "
asked Babie. " I don't think they can be much better."
And without waiting for more she plunged down
among the primroses and spread her little self out
with a scream of ecstasy.

And verily the strange sense of rapture and enchant-
ment was no less in the mother herself There is no
charm perhaps equal to that of a primrose bank on a
sunny day in spring, sight, sound, scent all alike
exquisite. It comes with a new and fresh delight even
to those to whom this is an annual experience, and to


those who never saw the Hke before it gives, like the
first sight of the sea or of a snowy mountain, a sensa-
tion never to be forgotten. Fret, fatigue, anxiety,
sorrow all passed away like dreams in that sweet
atmosphere. Carey, like one of her children, absolutely
forgot everything in the charm and wonder of the scene,
in the pure, delicate unimaginable odour of the prim-
roses, in debating with Allen whether (cockneys that
they were) it could be a nightingale " singing by day
when every goose is cackling," in listening to the mar-
vellous note, only pausing to be answered from further
depths, in the beauty of the whole, and in the individual
charm of every flower, each heavily-laden arch of dark
blue-bells with their curling tips, so infinitely more
graceful than their pampered sister, the hyacinth of
the window-glass, of each pure delicate anemone she
gathered, with its winged stem, of the smiling primrose
of that inimitable tint it only wears in its own woodland
nest ; and when Allen lighted on a bed of wood-
sorrel, with its scarlet stems, lovely trefoil leaves, and
purple striped blossoms like insect's wings, she
absolutely held her breath in an enthusiasm of reverent
admiration. No one can tell the happiness of those
four, only slightly diminished by Armine's getting
bogged on his way to the golden river of king-cups,
and his mother in going after him, till Allen from
an adjacent stump pulled them out, their feet deeply
laden with mud.

They had only just emerged when the strokes of a


great bell came pealing up from the town below ; Allen

and his mother looked at each other in amused dismay,

then at their watches. It was twelve o'clock ! Two

hours had passed like as many minutes, and the boys

would be coming home to dinner.

" Ah ! well, we must go," said Carey, as they

gathered up their armloads of flowers. "You naughty

children to make me forget everything."

" You are not sorry you came though, mother. It

has done you good," said Allen solicitously. He was

the most affectionate of them all.

" Sorry ! I feel as if I cared for nothing while I

have a place like that to drink up delight in."

With which they tried to make their way back to
the path again, but it was not immediately to be found ;
and their progress was further impeded by a wood-
pigeon dwelling impressively on the notes "Take two
cows, Taffy ; Taffy take TWO ! " and then dashing out,
flapping and grey, in their faces, rather to Barbara's
alarm, and then by Armine's stumbling on his first
bird's nest, a wren's in the moss of an old stump,
where the tiny bird unadvisedly flew out of her leafy
hole full before their eyes. That was a marvel of
marvels, a delight equal to that felt by any ex-
plorer the world has seen. Armine and Barbara,
who lived in one perpetual fairy tale, were saying to
one another that

" One needn't make believe here, it was every bit


" And more ;" added the other Httle happy voice.

Barbara did however begin to think of the numerous
children in the wood, and to take comfort that it
was unprecedented that their mother and big brother
should be with them, but they found the park palings
at last, and then a little wicket gate, where they were
very near home.

" Mother, where have you been } " exclaimed Janet,
somewhat suddenly emerging from the door.

" In Tom Tiddler's ^ground, picking up gold and
silver," said Carey, pointing to the armsful of king-
cups, cuckoo-flowers, and anemones, besides blue-bells,
orchises, primroses, &c. " My poor child, it was a
great shame to leave you, but they got me into the
enchanted land and I forgot all about everything."

" I think so," said a gravely kind voice, and Caroline-
was aware of Ellen's eye looking at her as the Court
Queen might have looked at Ophelia if she had
developed her taste for " long purples " as Hamlet's
w^idow. At least so it struck Mother Carey, who
immediately became conscious that her bonnet was
awry, having been half pulled off by a bramble, that
her ankles w^ere marked by the bog, and that bits of
green were sticking all over her.

" Have you been helping Janet } Oh, how kind ! "
she said, refreshed by her delightsome morning into
putting a bright face on it.

" We have done all we could in your absence," said
her sister-in-law, in a reproachful voice.


"Thank you ; I'm sure it is very good of you. Janet —
Janet, where's the great Dutch bowl — and the little
Salviati .? Nothing else is worthy of this dear little
fairy thing."

" What is it .? Just common wood-sorrel," said the
other lady, in utter amaze.

"Ah, Ellen, you think me demented. You little
know what it is to see spring for the first time. Ah !
that's right, Janet. Now, Babie, we'll make a little bit
of fairy-land "

"Don't put all those littering flowers on that nice
clean chintz, children," exclaimed the aunt, as though
all her work were about to be undone.

And then a trampling of boy's boots being heard
and shouts of " Mother," Carey darted out into the hall
to hear fragments of school intelligence as to work and
play, tumbling over one another, from Bobus and Jock
both at once, in the midst of which Mrs. Robert
Brownlow came out with her hat on, and stood, with
her air of patient serenity, waiting for an interval.

Caroline looked up, and said, " I beg your pardon,
Ellen — what is it .? "

" If you can attend a moment," said she, gravely ;
" I must be going to my boys' dinner. But Robert
wishes to know whether he shall order this paper for
the drawing-room. It cannot be put up yet, of
course ; but Smith has only a certain quantity of it,,
and it is so stylish that he said the Colonel had better
secure it at once."


She spread the roll of paper on the hall table. It
was a white paper, slightly tinted, and seemed intended
to represent coral branches, with starry-looking things
at the ends.

" The aquarium at the Zoo," muttered Bobus ; and
Caroline herself, meeting Allen's eye, could not refrain
from adding,

*' The worms they crawled in,
And the worms they crawled out."

" Mother ! " cried Jock, " I thought you were going
to paint it all over with jolly things."

" Frescoes," said Allen ; " sha'n't you, mother ? "

"If your uncle does not object," said his mother,
choking down a giggle. " Those plaster panels are so
tempting for frescoes, Ellen."

" Frescoes ! Why, those are those horrid improper-
looking gods and goddesses in clouds and chariots on
the ceilings at Belforest," observed that lady, in a half-
puzzled, half-offended tone of voice, that most
perilously tickled the fancy of Mother Carey and her
brood ! and she could hardly command her voice to
make answer, " Never fear, Ellen ; we are not going
to attempt allegorical monstrosities, only to make
a bower of green leaves and flowers such as we see
round us ; though after what we have seen to-day that
seems presumptuous enough. Fancy, Janet ! golden
green trees and porcelain blue ground, all in one
bath of sunshine. Such things must be seen to be
believed in."


Poor Mrs. Robert Brownlow ! She went home and
sighed, as she said to her husband, " Well, what is to
become of those poor things I do not know. One

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMagnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 18)