Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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lifetime, thouoh I have no doubt he w^ould cive me
up my share of my mother's portion — about £3000.
Now this is what has occurred to me : In the place
where I found my uncle's wife — Micklethwayte, close
to Monks Horton — there's a great umbrella factory,
with agencies everywhere. There are superior people
belonging to it. I've seen some of them, and I've
been talking to the young fellow who helped us last
night, who is in the office. I find that to go into tlie
thing with such capital as I might hope for, would
bring in a much larger and speedier return than I
could hope for any other way, if only my belongings
would set aside their feelings. And you see there are
the Kirkaldys close by to secure her good society.'

Lady Eonnisglen put out her transparent-looking,
black-mittened hand, and gave a little dainty pat to his
arm. * I Like to see a man in earnest,' said she. Her
little Skye terrier was seized with jealousy at her
gesture, and came nuzzling in between with his black
nose. ' Mull objects ! ' she said, smiling ; but then,
with a graver look, ' And so will your father.'

158 NUTTIE'rf FATllKK. ['HAI'.

' At lirst,' said ^Mark ; ' but I tliink lie will give
way when he has had time to look at the matter, and
sees how good you are. That will make all the

So Annaple, wlio had been banished for a little
while, was allowed to return, and mother, daughter,
and lover built themselves a little castle of umbrellas,
and bestowed a little arch commiseration on poor Lady
Delmar ; wlio, it was agreed, need know nothing until
something definite was arranged, since Annaple was
clearly accountable to no one except her mother. She
would certainly think the latter part of her dream only
too well realised, and consider that an unfair advantage
had been taken of her seclusion in her own room. In
spite of all loyal efforts to the contrary, ]\Iark, if he
had been in a frame of mind to draw conclusions,
would have perceived that the prospect of escaping
from the beneficent rule of Lescombe was by no
means unpleasant to Lady Eonnisglen. The books
that lay within her reach would hardly have found a
welcome anywhere else in the house. Sir John was
not brilliant, and his wife had turned her native wits
to the practical rather than the intellectual line, and
had quite enough to think of in keeping up the
dignities of Lescombe with a large family amid agri-
cultural difiiculties.

Annaple remembered at last that she ought to go
and look after her guests, assisted therein by the
pleasure of giving May a hearty kiss and liglit squeeze,
with a murmur that * all was right.'

She brought them downstairs just as the gong was
sounding, and the rush of girls descending from the
schoolroom, and Lady Eonnisglen being wlieeled across
the hall in her chair. Xuttie, who had expected to


see a gray, passive, silent old lady like Mrs. ISTugeiit,
was quite amazed at the bright, lively face and voice
that greeted the son-in-law and grandchildren. May
and herself, congratulating these two on having been so
well employed all the morning, and observing that she
was afraid her Nannie could not give so good an
account of herself.

' Well,' said Sir John, * I am sure she looks as if
she found plodding along the lanes as wholesome as
sleeping in her bed ! Nan Apple-cheeks, eh ? '

Whereupon Annaple's cheeks glowed all the more
into resemblance of the baby-name which she had long
ceased to deserve ; but May could see tlie darkness
imder her eyes, betraying that it was only excitement
that drove away fatigue.

Sir John had not gone far in his circumstantial
description of the injuries to his unfortunate carriage
when the Canon arrived, with his wife and Blanche.
Mark would have given worlds in his impatience to
have matters settled between the two parents then and
there ; but Lady Eonnisglen had already warned him
that this would not be possible, and assured him that
it would be much wiser to prepare his father before-

Then he fixed his hopes on a solitary drive with
his father back in the pony carriage, but he found him-
self told off to take that home, and had to content him-
self with May as a companion. Nor was his sister's
mode of receiving the umbrella plan reassuring. She
had smiled too often with her stepmother over JSTuttie's
having been brought up among umbrellas to be ready
to accept the same lot for her brother and her friend,
and she was quite sure that her father would never
consent. ' An Egremont an umbrella - maker ! how

160 NUITIE'S FATIlKi:. [hiai-. xv.

lionible ! Just fancy seeing; Puttoii, Egreinuiit and
Co. on tlie handle of one's nniLrella ! '

* Well, you need not patronise us,' said Mark.

* But is it possible that Lady Ilonnisglen did not
object ? ' said ^lay.

* She seemed to think it preferable to driving pigs
in the Texas, like her son Malcolm.'

' Yes, but then that was the Texas.'

* Oh May, May, I did not tliink you were sucli a
goose ! '

* I should have thought the folly was in not being
patient. Stick to yoiu- profession, and something must
come in time.'

' Ay, and how many men do you think are sticking
to it in that hope ? No, May, 'tis not real patience to
wear out the best years of my life and hers in idleness,
waiting for something not beneath an Egremont to

* But is there notliing to do better than that ? '
' Find it for me, May.'



' Till every penny which she told,
Creative Fancy turned to gold.' — R. Lloyd.

The Blueposts Bridge had produced a good deal of
effect. Ursula Egremont in special seemed to herself
to have been awakened from a strange dream, and to
have resumed her real nature and affections. She felt
as if she would give all her partners at the ball for
one shake of Monsieur's fringed paws ; her heart
yearned after Aunt Ursel and Miss Mary ; she longed
after the chants of the choir ; and when she thought
of the effort poor Gerard Godfrey had made to see her,
she felt him a hero, and herself a recreant heroine, who
had well-nigh been betrayed into frivolity and deser-
tion of him, and she registered secret resolutions of

She burned to pour out to her mother all tlie
Micklethwayte tidings, and all her longings to be
there ; but when the Eectory party set her down at
the door, the footman, with a look of grave importance,
announced that Mr. Egremont was very unwell. ' Mr.
Gregory thinks he have taken a chill from the effect
of exposure, sir, and Dr. Hamilton has been sent for.'


102 NUTTIE'.S father. [(.hap.

The Canon and his wife both got out on this in-
telligence, and Mrs. Egremont was summoned to see
them. She came, looking more frightened than they
tliought the occasion demanded, for she was appalled
by the severe pain in the head and eyes ; but they
comforted her by assuring her that lier husband had
suffered in the same manner in the spring, and she saw
how well he liad recovered ; and then telling Xuttie to
brmg word what the doctor's report was, and then spend
the evening at the Eectory, they departed, wliile poor
Nuttie only had one kiss, one inquiry whether she
were rested, before her mother tied back to the patient.

Nor did she see her again till after the doctor's
visit, and then it was only to desire her to tell lier
uncle that the attack was pronounced to be a return
of the illness of last spring, and that it would be
expedient to go abroad for the winter.

Go abroad ! It had always been a vision of delight
to Nuttie, and she could not be greatly concerned at the
occasion of it ; but she did not find the Eectory in a
condition to converse and sympathise. Blanche was
lying down with a bad headache. The Edwardses and
a whole party of semi-genteel parish visitors had come
in to inquire about the accident, and had to be enter-
tained with afternoon tea ; and May, though helping
her stepmother to do her devoir towards them, seemed
more preoccupied than ever.

As indeed she was, for she knew that ]\Iark was
putting his fate to the touch with his father in the

The Canon heard the proj^osal witli utter consterna-
tion and dismay at the perverseness of the two young
people, who might have been engaged luiy time these
two years with the full approbation of their families,

XVI.] INFRA DUi. 103

luid now cliose the very iiKJiuent wlieii every one was
rejoicing at their freedom.

' When a young man has got into a })ickle,' lie said,
' the first thing is to want to he married !'

'Exactly so, sir, to give him a motive for getting
out of the pickle.'

' Umbrellas ! I should like to hear what your
grandfather would have said !'

' These are not my grandfather's days, sir.'

* No indeed ! There was nothing to do but to give
a hint to old Lord de Lyonnais, and he could get you
put into any berth you chose. Interest was interest
in those days ! I don't see why Kirkaldy can't do
the same.'

' Not unless I had foreign languages at my tongue's

Whereat the Canon groaned, and Mark had to work
again through all the difficulties in the way of the
more liberal professions ; and the upshot was that his
father agi-eed to drive over to Lescombe the next
day and see Lady Eonnisglen. He certainly had
always implicitly trusted his son's veracity, but he
evidently thought that there must have been much
warping of the imagination to make the young man
believe the old Scottish peeress to have consented to
her daughter's marrying into an umbrella factory.

Nuttie was surprised and gratified that both ]\fark
and May put her through an examination on the
habits of Micklethwayte and the position of Mr.
Godfrey, which she thought was entirely due to the
favourable impression Gerard had produced, and she
felt proportionably proud of him when ]\Iark pro-
nounced him a very nice gentlemanly young fellow.
She could not think why her uncle, with more testiness

164 NUTTIE's FATllKK. [chap.

than slie liad ever seen in tliat good-natured dignitary,
ordered ]May not to stand ehattering there, but to give
them some musie.

The Canon drove to Lescombe the next day under
pretext of inquiring after Lady Delmar, and then ahnost
forgot to do so, after he had ascertained that she was
a prisoner to her dressing-room, and that Sir John was
out sliooting. The result of his interview fdled him
with astonishment. Lady Eonnisglen having had a
large proportion of sons to put out in life on very
small means had learnt not to be fastidious, and
held that the gentleman might ennoble the vocation
instead of the vocation debasing the gentleman.
Moreover, in her secret soul she felt that her daugliter
Janet's manoeuvres were far more truly degrading than
any form of honest labour; and it was very sore to
her to have no power of preventing them, ridicule,
protest, or discouragement being all alike treated as
the dear mother's old-world unpractical romance. It
galled her lilvcwise that she could perceive the deter-
mination that Annaple Euthven should be disposed of
before Muriel Delmar came on the scene; and the
retiring to ever so small a home of their own had been
discussed between mother and daughter, and only put
aside because of the pain it would give their honest-
hearted host and their hostess, wlio really loved them.

Thus she did her best to persuade her old friend
that there were few openings for a man of his son's
age, and that if the Micklethwayte bushiess were all
that Mark imagined, it was not beneath the attention
even of a well-born gentleman in these " modern days,
and would involve less delay than any other plan,
except emigration, which was equally dreaded by
each i)arent. Delay there must be, not only in order

XYi.] INFRA Dm. 1G5

to ascertain the facts respecting the firm, but to prove
whether ^lark had any aptitude for the business
before involving any capital in it. However, every
otlier alternative w^ould involve much longer and more
doubtful waiting. And altogether the Canon felt that
if a person of Lady Eonnisglen's rank did not object,
he had scarcely a right to do so. However, both alike
reserved consent until full inquiry should have been

The Canon wrote to Lord Kirkaldy, and in the
meantime wanted to gather wdiat information he could
from his sister-in-law ; but he found her absolutely
engrossed as her husband's nurse, and scarcely per-
mitted to snatch a meal outside the darkened room.
He groaned and grumbled at his brother's selfishness,
and declared that her health would be damaged, while
his shrewder lady declared that nothing would be so
good for her as to let Alwyn find her indispensable to
his comfort, even beyond Gregorio.

This absorption of her mother fell hard on Ursula,
especially when the first two days' alarm was over, and
her mother was still kept an entire prisoner, as com-
panion rather than nurse. As before, the rheumatic
attack fastened upon the head and eyes, causing
lengthened suffering, and teaching Mr. Egremont that
he had never had so gentle, so skilful, so loving, or
altogether so pleasant a slave as his wife, the only
I)erson except Gregorio whom, in his irritable state, he
would tolerate about him.

His brother could not be entirely kept out, but
was never made welcome, more especially when he
took upon himseK to remonstrate on Alice's being
deprived of air, exercise, and rest. He got no thanks ;
Mr. Egremont snarled, and Alice protested that she

166 NUTTIF/S father. Ichap.

was never tired, and needed notliing. The Rectory
party were, excepting tlie schoolroom girls, engaged to
make visits from liome before going into residence at
Eedcastle, and were to begin with Monks Horton.
They offered to escort Ursula to see her great aunt at
Micklethwayte — Oh joy of joys ! — but when tlie Canon
made the proposition in his brother's room, ^Ir.
Egremont cut it short with ' I'm not going to have
her running after those umbrella-mongers.'

The Canon's heart sank within him at the tone,
and he was really very soiTy for his niece, who was
likely to have a fortnight or three weeks of compara-
tive solitude before her father was ready to set out on
the journey.

' Can't she help you, in reading to her father — or
anything V he asked Alice, who had come out with
him into the anteroom to express her warm thanks
for the kind proposal.

She shook her head. ' He would not like it, nor
I, for her."

* I should think not !' exclaimed the Canon, as his
eye fell on the title of a yellow French book on the
table. ' I have heard of this ! Does he make you
read such as this to him, Alice V

'Nothing else seems to amuse him,' she said. 'Dt)
you think I ought not ? I don't understand much of
that kind of modern French, but Nuttic knows it

*Not tJmt kind, I hope,' said the Canon hastily.
'No, no, my dear,' as he saw her colour mantling,
' small blame to you. You have only to do the best
you can with lihn, poor fellow ! Tlien we'll take any-
thing for you. We've said nothing to Nuttio, Jane
said 1 had better ask you lirst.'


'Oh, that was kind ! I am glad she is spared tlie

Not that she was. For when she learnt lier
cousins' destination, she entreated to go with them,
and had to be told that the proposal had been made
and refused.

There is no denying that she behaved very ill. It
was the first real sharp collision of wills. She had
differed from, and disapproved of, her father all along,
but what had been required of her had generally been
pleasant to one side at least of her nature ; but here
she was condemned to the dulness of the lonely out-
sider to a sick room, when her whole soul was leaping
back to the delights of her dear old home at Mickle-

She made her mother's brief meal with her such a
misery of protests and insistences on pleadings with
her father that poor Alice was fain to rejoice when the
servants' presence silenced her, and fairly fled from her
when the last dish was carried out.

When they met again Nuttie demanded, 'Have
you spoken to my father?'

' I told you, my dear, it would be of no use.'

' You promised.'

' No, Nuttie, I did not.'

'I'm sure I understood you to say you would if
you could.'

' It was your hopes, my dear child. He is quite

' And you leave him so. Mother, I can't under-
stand your submitting to show such cruel ingratitude !'

Nuttie was very angry, though she was shocked at
the burning colour and hot tears that she beheld as,
half choked, her mother said : ' Oli, my dear, my

168 NUTTIE'S father. [chap.

dear, do not speak so ! You know — you know it is
not in my lieart, but my first duty, and yours too, is to
your father.'

'Whatever he tells us?' demanded Nuttie, still
hot and aui^ny.

' 1 did nut say tliat,' returned lier mother gently,
' but you know, Nuttie, Aunt Ursel herself would say
that it is our duty to abide by his decision here.'

' But you could speak to liim,' still argued Nuttie,
' what's the use of his being so fond of you if he won't
do anything you want ? '

* Hush ! hush, Nuttie ! you know that is not a riglit
way of speaking. I cannot worry liim now he is ill.
You don't know what that dreadful pain is ! '

Happily Nuttie did refrain from saying, ' No doubt
it makes him very cross ;' but she muttered, ' And so
we are to be cut off for ever from Aunt Ursel, and
Miss Mary, and — and — every thing good — and nice —
and catholic ? '

' I hope not, indeed, I hope not. Only he wants us
to get the good society manners and tone — like your
cousins, you know. You are young enough for it, and
a real Egremont, you know Nuttie, and when you have
learnt it, he will trust you there,' said the mother,
making a very mild version of his speech about the

' Yes, he wants to make me worldly, so that I should
not care, but that he never shall do, whatever you may
let him do to you.'

His bell rang sharply, and away hurried Alice,
leaving her daughter with a miserably sore and im-
patient heart, and the consciousness of having harshly
wounded the mother whom she had meant to protect.
And there was no liugging and kissing to nuxke up for


it possible. They would not meet till dinner-time,
and Nuttie's mood of stormy repentance had cooled
before that time into longing to be more tender than
usual towards her mother, but how was that possible
during the awful household ceremony of many courses,
with three solemn men-servants ministering to tlieni ?
And poor Alice jumped up at the end, and ran
away as if afraid of fresh objurgations, so that all
Nuttie could do was to rush headlong after her, catch
her on the landing, kiss her face all over, and exclaim,
' Oh, mother, mother, I was dreadfully cross ! '

' There, there ! I knew you would be sorry, dear,
dear child, I know it is very hard, but let me go. He
wants me ! '

And a very forlorn and deplorable person was left
behind, feeling as if her father, after carrying her away
from everything else that she loved, had ended by
robbing her of her mother.

She stood on the handsome staircase, and contrasted
it with the little cosy entrance at her aunt's. She felt
how she hated all these fine surroundings, and how very
good and unworldly she was for so doing. Only, was
it good to have been so violent towards her mother ?

The Eectory folks were dining out, so she could
only have recourse to Mudie's box to try to drive dull
care away.

A few days more and they were gone. Though
Mr. Egremont was gradually mending, he still required
his wife to be in constant attendance. In point of
fact Alice could not, and in her loyalty would not, tell
lier dignified brother-in-law, far less her daughter, of
the hint that the doctor had given her, namely, that
lier husband was lapsing into the constant use of
opiates, founded at first on the needs of his malady,

170 NUTTIE'S father. [chap.

but growini[:j into a perilous lial)it, which accounted for
his shutting himself up all the forenoon.

While under medical treatment it was possible to
allowance him, and keep him under orders, but Dr.
Hamilton warned her not to allow the quantity to be
exceeded or the drugs to be resorted to after his
recovery, speaking seriously of the consequences of
indulgence. He spoke as a duty, but as he looked at
the gentle, timid woman, he saw little hope of her
doing any good !

Poor Alice was appalled. All she could do was to
betake herself to ' the little weapon called All-Prayer,'
and therewith to use all vigilance and all her arts of
coaxing and cheering away weariness and languor,
beguiling sleeplessness, soothing pain by any other
means. She had just enough success to prevent her
from utterly despairing, and to keep her always on the
strain, and at her own cost, for Mr. Egremont was far
more irritable when he was without the narcotic, and
the serenity it produced was an absolute relief. She
soon found too that Gregorio was a contrary power.
Once, when he had suggested the dose, and she had
replied by citing the physician's commands, ]\Ir. Egre-
mont had muttered an imprecation on doctors, and she
had caught a horrible grin of hatred on the man's face,
which seemed to her almost diabolical. She had pre-
vailed then, but the next time her absence was at all
prolonged, she found that the opiate had been taken,
and her dread of quitting her post increased, though
she did not by any means always succeed. Sometimes
she was good-huniourcdly set aside, sometimes roughly
told to mind her own business ; but she could not
relin([uish the struggle, and whenever she did succeed
in preventing the indulgence she felt a hopefulness


that — in spite of himself and Gregorio, she might yet
save him.

Another liint she had from both the Canon and his
wife. When they asked what place was chosen, Mr.
Egremont said he had made Alice write to inquire of
tlie houses to be had at various resorts — Mentone, Nice,
Cannes, and the like. She was struck by the ardour
with which they both began to praise Nice, Genoa,
Sorrento, any place in preference to Mentone, which
her husband seemed to know and like the best.

And when she went downstairs with them the
Canon held her hand a moment, and said, ' Anywhere
but Mentone, my dear.'

She looked bewildered for a moment, and the
Canoness added, ' Look in the guide-books.'

Then she remembered Monte Carlo, and for a
moment it was to her as shocking a warning as if she
had been bidden to keep her husband out of the
temptation of tliieving.

She resolved, however, to do her best, feeling im-
mediately that again it was a pull of her influence
against Gregorio's. Fortune favoured her so far that
the villa favoured by Mr. Egremont was not to be
had, only the side of the bay he disliked, and that a
pleasant villa offered at Nice.

Should she close with it ? Well — was there great
haste ? Gregorio knew a good many people at Mentone,
and could ascertain in his own way if they could get
the right side of the bay by going to the hotel and
waiting. Alice, however, pressed the matter — repre-
sented the danger of falling between two stools, pleaded
personal preference, and whereas Mr. Egremont was too
lazy for resistance to any persuasion, she obtained per-
mission to engaf:je the Nice villa. The next day

172 nuttie's FATHEH. [mw.

Gregorio announced tliat lie had lieard tliat the pro-
prietor of Villa Eraucaleone at Mentone was giving
up hopes of liis usual tenants, and an offer might
secure it.

' Villa Eug(jnie at Nice is taken,' said Alice, and
she received one of those deadly black looks, which
were always like a stab.

Of all this Nuttie knew nothing. She was a good
deal thrown with the schoolroom party and with the
curate's wife for companionship. Now Mrs. Edwards
did not approve of even the canonical Egremonts,
having an ideal far beyond the ritual of Bridgefield ;
and she was delighted to find how entirely ]\Iiss Egre-
mont sympathised with her.

Nuttie described St. Ambrose^s as a paradise of
church observances and parish management, every-
thing becoming embellished and all shortcomings for-
L^otten in the lovincr mists of distance. The harmonium
was never out of tune ; the choir-boys were only just
naughty enough to show how wisely Mt. Spyers dealt
with them ; the surplices, one would think, never needed
washing ; Mr. Dutton and Gerard Godfrey were para-
gons of lay helpers, and district visitors never were
troublesome. Mrs. Edwards listened with open ears,
and together they bewailed the impracticability of
moving the Canon to raising Bridgefield to anything

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeNuttie's father → online text (page 11 of 28)