Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Magnum bonum; or, Mother Carey's brood (Volume 2) online

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Popinjay Parlour 315

An Offer for Magnum Bonum .... 340

The Snowy Winding-sheet 361

A Race 379

An Act of Independence 401

Shutting the Stable Door 428

The Lost Treasure 450

The Angel Mountain 473




The Land of Afternoon .497

Moonshine 5^7

Bluebeard's Closet 539

The Turn of the Wheel 564

Friends and Unfriends 583

As Weel off as aye Wagging . . * . 606






Happiest of all, in that her gentle spirit
Commits itself to yours to be directed.

Merchant of Venice.

" It is our melancholy duty to record the demise of
James Barnes, Esq., which took place at his residence
at Belforest Park, near Kenminster, on the 20th of
December. The lamented gentleman had long been
in failing health, and an attack of paralysis, which
took place on the 19th, terminated fatally. The vast
property which the deceased had accumulated, chiefly
by steamboat and railway speculations in the West
Indies, rendered him one of the richest proprietors in
the county. We understand that the entire fortune is
bequeathed solely to his grand-niece, Mrs. Caroline
Otway Brownlow, widow of the late Joseph Browniow,
Esq., and at present resident in the Pagoda, Ken-



minster Hill. Her eldest son, Allen Brownlow, Esq.,
is being educated at Eton."

That was the paragraph which David Ogilvie placed
before the eyes of his sister in a newspaper lent to
him in the train by a courteous fellow-traveller.

" Poor Caroline ! " said Mary.

They said no more till the next day, when, after
the English service at Florence, they were strolling
together towards San Miniato, and feeling themselves
entirely alone.

" I wonder whether this is true," began Mary at last.

" Why not true .? "

" I thought Mr. Barnes had threatened the boys
that they should remember the Midas escapade."

" It must have been only a threat. It could only
lie between her and the Spanish child ; and, if report
be true, even the half would be an enormous fortune."

" Will it be fortune or misfortune, I wonder ? "

"At any rate, it puts an end to my chances of
being of any service to her. Be it the half or the
whole, she is equally beyond my reach."

" As she was before."

"Don't misinterpret me, Mary. I mean out of
reach of helping her in any way. I was of little use
to her before. I could not save little Armine from
those brutal bullies, and never suspected the abuse that
engulphed Bobus. I am not fit for a schoolmaster."


" To tell the truth, I doubt whether you have enough
high spirits or geniality."

" That's the very thing ! I can't get into the boys,
or prevent their thinking me a Don. I had hoped
there was improvement, but the revelations of this
half-year have convinced me that I knew just nothing
at all about it."

" Have you thought what you will do .?"

" As soon as I get home, I shall send in my notice
of resignation at Midsummer. That will see out her
last boy, if he stays even so long."

"And then.?"

" I shall go for a year to a theological college, and
test my fitness to offer myself for Holy Orders."

A look of satisfaction on his sister's part made him
add, " Perhaps you were disappointed that I was not
ordained on my fellowship seven years ago."

" Certainly I was ; but I was in Russia, and I
thought you knew best, so I said nothing."

"You were right. You would only have heard
what would have made you anxious. Not that there
was much to alarm you, but it is not good for any one
to be left so entirely without home-influences as I was
all the time you spent abroad. I fell among a set of
daring talkers, who thought themselves daring thinkers ;
and though the foundations were never disturbed with
me, I was not disposed to bind myself more closely
to what might not bear investigation, and I did


not like the aspect of clerical squabbles on minutiae.
There was a tide against the life that carried me
along with it, half from sound, half from unsound,
motives, and I shrank from the restraint, outward
and inward."

" Very likely it was wise, and the best thing in the
end. But what has brought you to it .? "

" I hope not as the resource of a shelved school-

" Oh, no ; you are not shelved. See how you have
improved the school. Look at the numbers."

" That is no test of my real influence over the
boys. I teach them, I keep them in external order,
but I do not get into them. The religious life is at a
low ebb."

" No wonder, with that vicar ; but you have done
your best."

"Even if my attempts are a layman's best, they
always get quenched by the cold water of the Rigby
element. It is hard for boys to feel the reality of
what is treated with such business-like indifference,
and set forth so feebly, not to say absurdly."

" I know. It is a terrible disadvantage."

" Listening to Rigby, has, I must say, done a good
deal to bring about my present intention."

" By force of contradiction."

" If that means of longing to be in his place and
put the thing as it ought to be put."


" It is a contradiction in which I most sincerely
rejoice, David," she said ; " one of the wishes of my
heart fulfilled when I had given it up."

" You do not know that it will be fulfilled."

" I think it will, though you are right to take time,
in case the decision should be partly due to disap-

'' If there can be disappointment where hope has
never existed. But if a man finds he can't have
his great good, it may make him look for the greater."

Mary sighed a mute and thankful acquiescence.

" The worst of it is about you, Mary. It is throw-
ing you over just as you were coming to make me
a home."

" Never mind, Davie. It is only deferred, and at
any rate we can keep together till Midsummer. Then
I can go out again for a year or two, and perhaps you
will settle somewhere where the curate's sister could
get a daily engagement."

The next day they found the following letter at the
post office : —

" T/ie Folly, Jan. yd.

" My dear Mary, — I suppose you may have at-
tained the blessed realms that lie beyond the borders
of Gossip, and may not have heard the nine days'
wonder that Belforest had descended on the Folly,
and that poor old Mr. Barnes has left his whole
property to me. My dear, it would be something


awful even if he had done his duty and halved it
between Elvira and me, and he has ingeniously tied
it up with trustees so as to make restitution im-
possible. As it is, my income will be not less than
40,000/. a year, and when divided among the chil-
dren they will all be richer than perhaps is good
for them.

" And now, my dear old dragon, will you come and
keep me in order under the title of governess to
Barbara and Elvira .? For, of course, the child will go
on living with us, and will have it made up to her as
far as possible. You know that I shall do all manner
of foolish things, but I think they will be rather fewer
if you will only come and take me in hand. My
trustees are the Colonel and an old solicitor, and will
both look after the estate ; but as for the rest, all that
the Colonel can say is, that it is a frightful responsi-
bility, and her Serene Highness is awe-struck. I could
not have conceived that such a thing could have made
so much difference in so really good a woman. Now
I don't think you will be subject to gold dust in the
eyes, and, I believe, you will still see the same little
wild goose, or stormy petrel, that you used to bully at
Bath, and will be even more willing to perform the
process. As I should have begun by saying, on the
very first evening Babie showed her sense by proposing
you as governess, and you were unanimously elected
in full and free parliament. It really was the child's


own thought and proposal, and what I want is to
have those two children made wiser and better than I
can make them, as well as that you should be the
dear comrade and friend I need more than ever. You
will see more of your brother than you could other-
wise, for Belforest will be our chief home, and I need
not say how welcome he will always be there. It is
not habitable at present, so I mean to stay on in the
Folly till Easter, and then give Janet the London
lectures and classes she has been raving for these two
years, and take Jessie also for music lessons, if she
can be spared.

I'm afraid it is a come down for a finisher like you
to condescend to my little Babie, but she is really
worth teaching, and I would say, make your own
terms, but that I am afraid you would not ask enough.
Please let it be 150/., there's a good Mary ! I think
you would come if you knew what a relief it would be.
Ever since that terrible August, two years and a half
ago, I have felt as if I were drifting in an endless mist,
with all the children depending on me, and nobody to
take my hand and lead me. You are one of the
straws I grasp at. Not very complimentary after all,
but when I thought of the strong, warm, guiding
hands that are gone, I could not put it otherwise.
Do, Mary, come, I do need you so.

" Your affectionate

" C. O. Brownlow."


" May I see it ? " asked David.

" If you will ; but I don't think it will do you any
good. My poor Carey ! "

" Few women would have written such a letter in
all the first flush of wealth."

" No ; there's great sweetness and humility and
generosity in it, dear child."

" It changes the face of affairs."

'' I'm engaged to you."

" Nonsense ! As if that would stand in the way.
Besides, she will be at Kenminster till Easter. You
are not hesitating, Mary .? "

" I don't think I am, and yet I believe I ought to
do so."

" You are not imagining that I - — "

" I was not thinking of you ; but I am not certain
that it would not be better for our old friendship if I
did not accept the part poor Carey proposes to me.
I might make myself more disagreeable than could
be endured by forty thousand a year."

"You do yourself and her equal injustice."

" I shall settle nothing till I have seen her."

"Then you will be fixed," he said, in a tone of

So she expected, though believing that it would be
the ruin of her pleasant old friendship. Her nineteen
years of governess-ship had shown her more of the
shady side of high life than was known to her brother


or her friend. She knew that, whatever the owner
may be at the outset, it is the tendency of wealth and
power to lead to arbitrariness and impatience of con-
tradiction and censure, and to exact approval and
adulation. Even if Caroline Brownlow's own nature
should, at five-and-thirty, be too much confirmed in
sweetness and generosity to succumb to such tempta-
tion, her children would only too probably resent any
counter-influence, and set themselves against their
mother's friend, and guide, under the title of governess.
Moreover, Mary was too clear-sighted not to feel that
there was a lack in the Brownlow household of what
alone could give her confidence in the charming
qualities of its mistress. Yet she knew that her
brother would never forgive her for refusing, and that
she should hardly forgive herself for following — not so
much her better, as her more prudent, judgment. For
she was infinitely touched and attracted by that warm-
hearted letter, and could not bear to meet it with a
refusal. She hoped, for a time at least, to be a
■comfort, and to make suggestions, with some chance
of being attended to. Such aid seemed due from the
old friendship at whatever peril thereto, and she would
leave her final answer till she should see whether
lier friend's letter had been written only on the im-
pulse of the moment, and half retracted immediately

The brother and sister crossed the Channel at night


and arrived at Kenmlnster at noon, on a miserably
wet day. At the station they were met by Jock and
a little yellow dog. His salutation, as he capped his
master, was —

" Please, mother sent me up to see if you were come
by this train, because if you'd come to early dinner,
she would be glad, because there's a builder or some-
body coming with Uncle Robert about the repairs
afterwards. Mother sent the carriage because of the
rain. I say, isn't it jolly cats and dogs } "

Mary was an old traveller, who could sleep anywhere,,
and had made her toilet on landing, so as to be fresh
and ready ; but David was yellow and languid enough
to add force to his virtuous resolution to take no
advantage of the invitation, but leave his sister to settle
her affairs her own way, thinking perhaps she might
trust his future discretion the more for his present
abstinence, so he went off in the omnibus. Jock, with
the unfailing courtesy of the Brood, handed Miss
Ogilvie into a large closed waggonet, explaining, " We
have this for the present, and a couple of job horses ;
but Uncle Robert is looking out for some real good
ones, and ponies for all of us. I am going over with
him to Woolmarston to-morrow to try some."

It was said rather magnificently, and Mary answered,
" You must be glad to get back into the Belforest

"Ain't we .^ It was just in time for the skating,"


said Jock. " Only the worst of it is, everybody will
come to the lake, and so mother won't learn to skate.
We thought we had found a jolly little place in the
wood, where we could have had some fun with her,
but they found it out, though we halloed as loud as
ever we could to keep them off."

** Can your mother skate ? "

" No, you see she never had a chance at home.
Father was so busy, and we were so little ; but she'd
learn. Mother Carey can learn anything, if one could
hinder her Serene Highness from pitching into her. I
say, Miss Ogilvie, you'll give her leave to skate, won't
you .'' " he asked in an insinuating tone.

" I give her leave ! "

" She always says she'll ask you when we want her
to be jolly and not mind her Serene Highness."

Mary avoided pledging herself, and Jock's attention-
was diverted to the dog, who was rising on his hind
legs, vainly trying to look out of the window ; and his
history, told with great gusto by Jock, lasted till they
reached home.

The drawing-room was full of girls about their
lessons as usual — sums, exercises, music, and grammar
all going on at once ! but Caroline put an end to
them, and sent the Kencroft party home at once
in the carriage.

" So you have not dropped the old trade .? " said

C 2


" I couldn't. Ellen is not strong enough yet to
have the children on her hands all day. I said
I'd be responsible for them till Easter, and I 'dare
say you won't mind helping me through it as the
beginning of ever^^thing. Will you condescend ?
You know I want to be your pupil too."

" You can be no one's pupil but your own, my dear !
no one's on earth, I mean."

" Oh, don't ! I know that. Mary. I'm trying and
trying to be their pupil still. Indeed I am ! It makes
me patient of Robert, and his fearful responsi-
bihty, and his good little sister, to know that my
husband always thought him right, and meant him to
look after me. But as one lives on, those dear voices
seem to get farther and farther away, as if one was
drifting more out of reach in the fog. I do hate
myself for it, but I can't help it."

" Is there not a voice that cau never go out of
reach, and that brings you nearer to them ? "

" You dear old Piety, Prudence, and Charity all in
one ! That is if you have the charity to come and
infuse a little of your piety and prudence into me.
You know you could always make me mind you, and
you'll make me — what is it that Mrs. Coffinkey
says ? — a credit to my position before you've done.
I've had your room got ready ; won't you come and
take off your things ? "

" I think, if you don't object, I had better sleep at


the schoolhouse, and come up here after David's

" Very well ; I won't try to rob him of you more
than can be helped. Though you know he would be
welcome here every evening if he liked."

"Thank you very much, I can help him more at
home ; but I'll come for the whole day, for I am sure
you must have a great deal on your hands."

"Well ! I've almost as many classes as pupils, and
then there are so many interruptions. The Colonel
is always bringing something to be signed, and then
people will come and offer themselves, though I'm sure
I never asked them. Yesterday there was a stupendous
butler and house-steward who could also act as courier,
and would do himself the honour of arranging my
household in a truly ducal style. Just as I got rid of
him, came a man with a future history of the landed
gentry in quest of my coat of arms and genealogy, also
three wine merchants, a landscape gardener, and a
woman with a pitcher of gold fish. Emma is so soft
she thinks everybody is a gentleman. I am trying to
get the good old man-servant we had in our old home
to come and defend me ; not that he is old, for he was
a boy whom Joe trained. Oh Mary, the bewilderment
of it ! " and she pushed back the little stray curly rings
of hair on her forehead, while a peal at the bell was
heard and a card was brought in. " Oh ! Emma ! don't
bring me any more ! Is it a gentleman ? "


" Y — es, ma'am. Leastways it is a clergyman."

The clergyman turned out to be a Dissenting minister
seeking subscriptions, and he was sent off with a

" I know it was very weak," she said ; " but it was
the only way to stop his mouth, and I must have
time to talk to you, so don't begin your mission by
scolding me."

Terms w^ere settled ; Mary would remain at the
schoolhouse, but daily come to the Pagoda till the
removal to London, when her residence was to begin
in earnest.

She took up her line from the first as governess,
dropping her friend's Christian name, and causing her
pupils to address herself as Miss Ogilvie, a formality
which was evidently approved by Mrs. Robert
Brownlow, and likewise by Janet.

That young lady was wonderfully improved by
prosperity. She had lost her caustic manner and air
of defiance, so that her cleverness and originality made
her amusing instead of disagreeable. She piqued her-
self on taking her good fortune sensibly, and, though
fully seventeen, professed not to know or care whether
she was out or not, but threw herself into hard study,
with a view to her classes, and gladly availed herself
of Miss Ogilvie's knowledge of foreign languages.

Mrs. Coffinkey supposed that she would be presented
at court with her dear mamma ; but she laughed at


courts and ceremonies, and her mother said that the
first presentation in the family would be of Allen's wife
when he was a member of parliament. But Janet was
no longer at war with Kenminster. She laughed
good-humouredly, and was not always struggling for
self-assertion, since the humiliations of going about
as the poor, plain cousin of the pretty Miss Brownlow
were over. Now that she was the rich Miss Brownlow,
she was not likely to feel that she was the plain one.

The sense of exile was over when the house in
London was taken, and so Janet could afford to be
kind to Kenminster ; and she was like the Janet of
old times, without her slough of captious disdain.
Even then there was a sense that the girl was not
fathomed ; she never seemed to pour out her inner
self, but only to talk from the surface, and certainly
not to have any full confidence with her mother —
nay, rather to hold her cheap.

Mary Ogilvie detected this disloyal spirit, and was
at a loss whether to ascribe it to modern hatred of
control, to the fact that Caroline had been in her old
home more like the favourite child than the mother, or
to her own eager naturalness of demeanour, and total
lack of assumption. She was anything but weak, yet
she could not be dignified, and was quite ready to laugh
at herself with her children. Janet could hardly be
overawed by a mother who had been challenged by
her own gamekeeper creeping down a ditch, with the


two Johns, to see a wild duck on her nest, and with
her hat half off, and her hair disordered by the bushes.
The ''Folly" laughed till its sides ached at the
adventure, and Caroline asked Mary if she were not
longing to scold her.

"No, I think you will soon grow more cautious
about getting into ridiculous positions."
" Isn't laughing a wholesome pastime ^ "
' Not when it is at those who ought to be looked
up to."

" Oh ! I'm not made to be looked up to. I'm not
going to be a hero to my va/el de chambre, or to any-
body else, my dear, if that's what you want of me ! "

Mary secretly hoped that a little more dignity would
come in the London life, and was relieved when the
time came for the move. The new abode was a charm-
ing house, with the park behind it, and the space
between nearly all glass. Great ferns, tall citrons,
fragrant shrubs, brilliant flowers, grew there ; a stone-
lined pool, with water-lilies above, gold-fish below, and
a cool, sparkling, babbling fountain in the middle.
There was an open space round it, with low chairs and
tables, and the parrot on her perch. Indeed, Popinjay
Parlour was the family title of this delightful abode ;
but it might almost as well have been called Mother
Carey's bower. Here, after an audience with the house-
keeper, who was even more overpowering than her
Serene Highness, would Caroline retreat to write notes,

"or, mother CAREY'S BROOD. 33 1

keep accounts, and hear Armine's lessons, secure
before luncheon from all unnecessary interruption ; and
here was her special afternoon and evening court.

This first summer she was free to take her own
course as to society, for Janet cared for the Cam-
bridge examination far more than for gaiety, and
thus she had no call, and no heart for " going out,"
even if she had as yet been more known. Some
morning calls were exchanged, but she sent refusals
on mourning cards to invitations to evening parties,
though she took her young people to plays, concerts,
and operas, and all that was pleasant. Her young
people included Jessie. Colonel and Mrs. Brownlow
made her a visit as soon as she was settled, and
were so much edified by the absence of display and
extravagance, that they did not scruple to trust their
daughter to her for the long-desired music-lessons.

Caroline had indeed made no attempt to win her
way into the great world ; but she had brought together
as much as possible of the old society of her former
home. On two evenings in the week, the habitiies of
Joe Brownlow's house were secure of finding her either
in the drawing-room or conserv^atory ; beautiful things,
and new books and papers on the tables, good music
on the piano, sometimes acted charades, or paper games,
according to the humour or taste of the party. If she
had been a beautiful duchess, Popinjay Parlour would
have been a sort of salon bleic ; but it was really a kind


of paradise to a good many clever, hardworked men
and women. Those of the upper world, such as Ken-
minster county folks, old acquaintances of her husband,
or natural adherents of Midas, who found their way to
these receptions, either thought them odd but charming,
or else regretted that Mrs. Brownlow should get such
queer people together, and turn Hyde Corner House
into another Folly.

Mary Ogilvie enjoyed, but not without misgivings.
It was delightful, and yet, what with Joe Brownlow

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