Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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no more for seven months. I went to the Isle of
Wight and made all inquiries, but the nurse and chil-
dren had gone away immediately, and I could obtain
no trace of them.'

' Then she — your niece, never wrote.'

' She was afraid, poor dear. She had never been
at her ease with me. Her mother had taught her to
think me strict and harsh, and she had never opened
to me in those days. Besides, he had forbidden her.
At last, however, in January, came a letter from this
Mrs. Houghton, telling me that my Alice was very
unwell at Dieppe, that nothing had been heard of her
husband, Captain Egremont, to whom she had been
married on the 20 th of July at St. Philippe, in
Jersey, and that she herself was obliged to leave the
place almost immediately ; but she would, if possible,
wait till my arrival, as Mrs. Egremont was not in a
condition to be left alone. My dear friends, with
whom I was then living, were as kind as possible, and
set me free to go. I was there in three days, and
truly the dear, beautiful, merry girl I had parted with
only a year before was a sad piteous sight. Mrs.

iv.] A NAME. 37

Houghton seemed broken-hearted at leaving her,
thinking there was little chance of her living; but
Mr. Houghton, who, I am afraid, was a professed
gambler, had got into some scrape, and was gone to
Paris, where she had to follow him. She told me
all about it, and how, when Captain Egremont fancied
that a marriage in the Channel Islands was one he
could play fast and loose with, she had taken care
that the formalities should be such as to make all
secure. Foolish and wrong as poor Alice had been,
she had awakened all the best side of that poor
woman's nature, and no mother could have been more
careful and tender. She gave me the certificate — here
it is — and assured me that it would hold good. I
have shown it to a lawyer, and he said the same ; but
when I sent a copy to Mr. Egremont, my letter was
returned unopened.'

' Captain Egremont had denied the marriage, and
they believed him,' said Lady Kirkaldy. ' It is hard
to believe that he could be so heartless, but he was in
bondage to the old General Egremont, and dreaded
losing his inheritance.'

' So he told them in his one visit to Dieppe. He
said he must keep his marriage secret, but promised
an allowance, on condition that Alice would live quietly
at Dieppe, and not communicate with any one of her
own family or his. He had left £100 with her, but
that was nearly gone, and she had never heard from
him. It had preyed on her, and she was so ill that 1
never expected, any more than Mrs. Houghton, to see

38 NUTTIE'S FATHER. [chap.

her recover. I stayed there with her ; she could not
be moved, even if she would have consented, when she
was continually expecting him ; but at last — four days
after her little girl was born — came the news of the
Ninon having been burnt, with all on board, three
months before. Do you know, strange to say, though
I had feared so much to tell her, she began to revive
from that time. The suspense and watching were over.
She saw that he had not deserted her, and believed
that he had loved her to the last. She cried a great
deal, but it was in a peaceful, natural way. I wrote
then, as I had already written, to Lady Adelaide and
to Mr. Egremont, but was not answered.'

1 1 can account for that,' said Lady Kirkaldy. ' My
sister had been ordered to Madeira in the autumn, and
there they remained till her death in May. All the
letters were sent to my mother, and she did not think
fit to forward, or open, any bearing on the subject. In
the meantime Mr. Egremont was presented to the family
living, and on his return moved to Bridgefield Egre-
mont. And you came here ? '

' Of course I could not part with my poor Alice
again. Mr. and Mrs. Fordyce, whose daughter I had
long ago educated, had always kept up a correspondence
with me, and, knowing all the story, proposed to me to
come here. He was then rector of the old church, and
by their help and recommendation, with such capital
as I had, we were able to begin a little school ; and
though that has had to give way to the High School,
what with boarders, and with Alice's employment as

iv.] A NAME. 3 9

daily governess, we have, I am thankful to say, gone
on very well and comfortably, and my dear child has
recovered her cheerfulness, though she can never be
quite what — I think she was meant to be,' said the old
lady, with a sad smile, * though perhaps she is some-
thing better.'

' Do you think she was absolutely convinced of his
death ? '

1 Do you mean that he is alive ? ' exclaimed Miss
Headworth in dismay. ' Oh ! he is a wickeder man
than even I supposed, to have forsaken her all these
years. Is my poor child in his power ? Must her
peace, now she has attained it, be disturbed ? '

' There is a great deal to take into consideration,'
said Lady Kirkaldy. ' I had better tell you how this
visit of mine came about, and explain some matters
about the Egremont family.'

She then told how Captain Egremont, after a brief
service in the Life Guards, had been made to retire,
that the old General, whose heir he was, might keep
him in attendance on him. Already self-indulgent
and extravagant, the idleness of the life he led with
the worn-out old roud had deadened his better feelings,
and habituated him to dissipation, while his debts, his
expensive habits, and his dread of losing the inherit-
ance, had bound him over to the General. Both had
been saved from the fire in the Ninon, whence they
were picked up by a Chilian vessel, and they had
been long in communicating with home. The Genera!
hated England, and was in broken health. He had

40 XUTTIE'S FATHER. [chap.

spent the remaining years of his life at various conti-
nental resorts, where he could enjoy a warm climate,
combined with facilities for high play.

When at length he died, Captain Egremont had
continued the life to which he had become accustomed,
and had of late manifested an expectation that his
nephew Mark should play the same part by him as he
had done by the General, but the youth, bred in a
very different tone, would on no account thus surrender
himself to an evil bondage. Indeed he felt all the
severity of youthful virtue, and had little toleration for
his uncle's ways of thinking ; though, when the old
man had come home ill, dejected, and half blind, he
had allowed himself to be made useful on business
matters. And thus he had discovered the marriage,
and had taken up the cause with the ardour stimulated
by a chivalrous feeling for the beautiful vision of his
childhood, whose sudden disappearance had ended his
brightest days.

' I suppose it is right and generous of the young
man,' said Miss Headworth. ' But since the — the
man is alive, I wish my poor Alice could have been
left at peace ! '

'You forget that her daughter has rights which
must be taken into consideration.'

' Little Nuttie ! Dear child ! I should so far like
her to be provided for, so far as that she need not go
out in the world to earn her own livelihood. But no !
better be as we are than accept anything from that
man ! '

IV.] A NAME. 41

' I quite understand and respect your feeling, Miss
Headworth,' returned the lady ; ' but may I return to
my question whether you think your niece has any
doubt of her husband being dead.'

Miss Headworth considered. ' Since you ask me, I
think she has kept the possibility of the life before her.
We have never mentioned the subject, and, as I said, the
belief in his death ended a great suspense and sense of
wounded affection. She began soon and vigorously to
turn her attention to the support of her child, and has
found a fair measure of happiness ; but at the same
time she has shrunk from all notice and society, more
than would be natural in so very young a widow and
so attractive, more than I should have expected from
her original character. And once, when she did
apprehend symptoms of admiration, she insisted that I
should tell the history, enough, as she said, to make it
plain that it was impossible. There was one night
too, when she had scarletina, and was a little light-
headed, only four years ago, when she talked a good
deal about his coming back ; but that might have been
only the old impression on her brain, of that long-
watching at Dieppe. He — Captain Egremont, does
not yet know where she is ? '

'No, certainly not. But I fear he must.'

' I suppose he ought,' sighed Miss Headworth ; ' but
in the meantime, till we know what line he takes,
surely she need not be unsettled by the knowledge of
his existence.'

' By no means. You had better act as you think

42 NUTTIE'S FATHER. [chap.

best about that. But you will not object to my
nephew, her old pupil, Mark, coming to see her? I
will make him promise not to enter upon the

Miss Head worth had only time to make a sign of re-
luctant acquiescence when the door opened and mother
and daughter came in. ISTuttie first, eager as usual and
open-mouthed, unaware that any one was there, for
Lady Kirkaldy, wishing to avoid talk and observation,
had left her carriage at the livery stables, and walked
to St. Ambrose Koad. The girl, whom in a moment
she classed as small, dark, and oddly like May Egre-
mont, stopped short at sight of a stranger ; the mother
would have retreated but for Miss Headworth's nervous
call 'Alice, my dear, here is Lady Kirkaldy.'

Very lovely was Lady Kirkaldy 's impression as she
saw a slender figure in a dark gray linen dress, and a
face of refined, though not intellectual, beauty and
sweetness, under a large straw hat with a good deal of
white gauziness about it, and the curtsey was full of
natural grace.

' You do not know me,' said Lady Kirkaldy, taking
her hand, ' but I am aunt to some former pupils of
yours, one of whom, Mark Egremont, is very anxious
to come and see you.'

' Mark ! My dear little Mark,' and her face
lighted up. 'How very kind of him. But he is not
little Mark now.'

' He is not a very big Mark either. Most of the
Egremonts are small. I see your daughter takes after

iv.] A NAME. 43

them/ said Lady Kirkaldy, shaking hands with Ursula,
who looked at her in unmitigated amazement.

Alice faltered something about Lady Adelaide.

' My dear sister fell into a decline, and died while
the three children were still babies. Poor things, I
believe they had a sad time till their father married
a Miss Condamine, who has been an excellent step-
mother to them. I have been to see them, but Mark
was not then at home, so he has come to me at Monks
Horton. When will he find you at home ? Or may
I bring him in at once. He was to meet me at

' I should like very much to see him,' was the
answer. And Miss Headworth was obliged to say
something about her ladyship taking a cup of tea.
Lady Kirkaldy, knowing that Mark was on the
watch, set off in search of him, and found him, as she
expected, pacing the pavement in front of the church.
There was no great distance in which to utter her
explanations and cautions, warning him of her promise
that the intelligence of the husband's being alive was
to be withheld for a fitter time, but he promised duti-
fully, and his aunt then took him in with her.

The recognition of her claims was a less stunning
shock to Alice Egremont than to her aunt. Shielded
by her illness, as well as by her simplicity and ignor-
ance, she had never been aware of her aunt's attempted
correspondence with the Egremonts, nor of their
deafness to appeals made on her behalf. Far less had
it ever occurred to her that the validity of her marriage

44 NUTTIE'S FATHER. [chap.

could be denied, and the heinous error of her elopement
seemed to her quite sufficient to account for her having
been so entirely cast off by the family. The idea that
as wife or widow she had any claims on them, or that
Ursula might have rights above those of Mark, had
not come into her mind, which, indeed, at the moment
was chiefly occupied by the doubt whether the milk
was come in, and by ordering in the best teacups,
presented by the boarders.

Thus she was in the passage when Mark entered,
and his exclamation instantly was ' Oh, Eclda, dear
old Edda ! You aren't a bit altered ! ' and he put his
head under her hat and kissed her, adding, as she
seemed rather startled, ' You are my aunt, you know ;
and where's my cousin ? You are Ursula ? '

He advanced upon Xuttie, took her by the hand
and kissed her forehead before she was aware, but she
flashed at him with her black eyes, and looked stiff
and defiant. She had no notion of kisses to herself,
still less to her pretty mother whom she protected
with a half proud, half jealous fondness. How could
the man presume to call her by that foolish name ?
However, that single effusion had exhausted Mark's
powers of cordiality, or else Nuttie's stiffness froze
him. They were all embarrassed, and had reason
to be grateful to Lady Kirkaldy's practised powers as
a diplomate's wife. She made the most of Mrs.
Egremont's shy spasmodic inquiries, and Mark's jerks
of information, such as that they were all living at
Bridgefield Egremont, now, that his sister May was very

iv.] A NAME. 45

like his new cousin, that Blanche was come out and was
very like his mother, etc. etc. Every one was more at
ease when Lady Kirkaldy carried the conversation off
to yesterday's entertainment, hoping no one had been
overtired, and the like. Mrs. Egremont lighted up a
little and began telling some of the expressions of
delight she had heard, and in the midst, Xuttie, wak-
ing from her trance of stiff displeasure, came plump
in with ' Oh ! and there's a water - soldier, a real
Stratiotes aculeatus in your lake. May we get it ?
Mr. Dutton didn't think we ought, but it would be
such a prize ! '

' Ursula means a rare water-plant/ said Mrs. Egre-
mont gently, seeing that Lady Kirkaldy had no notion
of the treasure she possessed. f She and some of her
friends are very eager botanists.'

' I am sure you may,' said the lady, amused.

1 Thank you ! Then, mother ! Miss Mary and I
will go. And we'll wait till after office hours, and
then Gerard Godfrey can come and fish it out for
us ! Oh, thank you. He wants the pattern of the
Abbot's cross for an illumination, and he can get
some ferns for the church.'

Soon after this ebullition, Lady Kirkaldy carried
off her nephew, and his first utterance outside the
door was ' A woman like that will be the salvation of
my uncle.'

1 Firstly, if you can bring them together,' said his
aunt ; ' and secondly, if there is stuff enough in that
pretty creature.'



' Where shall the traitor rest
He, the deceiver?' — Scott.

Pooe Miss Headworth's peace of mind was utterly de-
stroyed. That the niece whom she had nursed back to
life and happiness, and brought to love her as a mother,
should be at the mercy of a man whom she looked
on as a heartless profligate, was dreadful to her beyond
measure. And it involved Ursula's young life likewise ?
Could it be a duty, after these eighteen years, to return
to him ? What legal rights had he to enforce the re-
sumption of the wife he had deserted. ' I will consult
Mr. Dutton,' said the old lady to herself ; ' Mr. Dutton
is the only person who knows the particulars. He
will give me the best advice.'

And while Miss Headworth, over her evening
toilette, was coming to this resolution in one bedroom,
Nuttie, in another, was standing aghast at her mother's
agitation, and receiving a confession which filled her
with astonishment.

chap, v.] SUSPENSE. 47

' I can't think why that gentleman should go and be
so affectionate all on a sudden/ quoth Nuttie ; ' if he is
my cousin, and so fond of you, why couldn't he have
come to see us before ? '

' Oh, Nuttie, dear, you don't understand why it is
so good of him ! My dear, now this has come, I
must tell you — you must hear — the sad thing your
mother did. Yes, my dear, I was their governess —
and — and I did not In short, my dear, I eloped.'

' You, mother ! Oh what fun ! ' cried the girl in the
utter extremity of wonder.

1 JSTuttie ! ' exclaimed Mrs. Egremont, in a tone of
horror and indignation — nay, of apprehension.

1 mother — I didn't mean that ! But I can't get
to believe it. You, little mother mine, you that are
so timid and bashful and quiet. That you — you
should have done such a thing.

' Xuttie, my dear, can't you understand that such a
thing would make me quiet ? I am always feeling
when I see people, or they bring their daughters here,
" If they only knew " '

I No, no, no ! They would still see you were the
sweetest dear. But tell me all about it. How very
much in love you must have been ! ' said Xuttie, a
magnificent vision of a young sailor with curly hair
and open throat rising before her.

I I think I was more frightened than in love,' faintly
said Mrs. Egremont. ' At least I didn't know it was
love, I thought he was only kind to me.'

' But you liked it ? ' said Ursula magisterially.

48 xuttie's father. [chap.

' I liked it, oh, I liked it ! It gave me a feeling
such as nothing else ever did, but I never thought of
its being love, he was so much older.'

' Older ! ' exclaimed Nuttie, much taken aback.
' Oh ! as old as Mr. Dutton ? '

' Mr. Dutton is thirty-six, I think. Yes, he was
older than that.'

' Mother, how could you ? ' For to be older than
Mr. Dutton seemed to the youthful fancy to be near
decrepitude ; but she added, ' I suppose he was very
noble, and had done great things.'

' He was the grandest gentleman I ever saw, and
had such a manner,' said the mother, passing over the
latter suggestion. ' Any way, I never thought what it
all meant — all alone with the children as I was — till
I found people looking at me, and laughing at me,
and then I heard Lady de Lyonnais and Mr. Egremont
were coming down, very angry, to send me away. I
ought, I know it now, to have waited, for they would
have written to my aunt. But I was horribly
frightened, and I couldn't bear to think of never
seeing him again, and he came and comforted me, and
said he would take me to Mrs. Houghton, the kind
lady who was staying in the Ninon, and they would
make it all square for me — and then — oh ! it was
very sweet — but I never knew that we were sailing
away to Jersey to be married ! I knew it was very
dreadful without any one's leave, but it was so noble
of him to take the poor little governess and defend
her, and it wasn't as if my mother had been alive.

v.] SUSPENSE. 49

I didn't know Aunt Ursel then as I did afterwards.
And Mrs. Houghton said there was nothing else to be

' don't leave off, mother. Do tell me. How
long did you have him ? '

1 Six weeks then — and afterwards one fortnight at
Dieppe. He was not free. He had an old uncle,
General Egremont, who was sick and hot-tempered,
and he was obliged to keep everything secret from
him, and therefore from everybody else. And so I
was to live at Dieppe, while he went out to take care
of his uncle, and you know — you know '

'Yes, I know, dear mother. But I am sure he
was saving somebody else, and it was a noble death !
And I know how Aunt Ursel came to Dieppe, and
how I — your own little Frenchwoman — came to take
care of you. And haven't we been jolly without any
of these fine relations that never looked after you all
this time ! Besides, you know he is very likely to be
on a lonely coral island, and will come home yet. I
often think he is.'

'My dear child, I have been happier than I de-
served,' said Alice Egremont, drying her eyes. ' But
oh ! Nuttie, I hope you will be a wiser woman than
your mother.'

' Come, don't go on in that way ! Why, I've such
advantages ! I've Miss Mary, and Aunt Ursel, and
Mr. Spyers, and Mr. Dutton, and you, you poor little
thing, had nobody ! One good thing is, we shall get
the water-soldier. Mr. Dutton needn't come, for he's


50 NUTTIE'S FATHER. [chap.

like a cat, and won't soil his boots, but Gerard is dying
to get another look at the old ruin. He can't make
up his mind about the cross on one of the stone-coffin
lids, so he'll be delighted to come, and he'll get it out
of the pond for us. I wonder when we can go. To-
night is choir practice, and to-morrow is cutting-out day.'
Miss Headworth was not sorry that the small
sociabilities of the friends did not leave her alone
with her niece all that evening, or the next day, when
there was a grand cutting-out for the working party, —
an operation always performed in the holidays. Miss
Headworth had of late years been excused from it,
and it gave her the opportunity she wanted of a consult-
ation with Mr. Dutton. He was her prime adviser in
everything, from her investments (such as they were) to
the eccentricities of her timepieces ; and as the cuckoo-
clock had that night cuckooed all the hours round in
succession, no one thought it wonderful that she should
send a twisted note entreating him to call as early as
he could in the afternoon. Of course Nuttie's chatter
had proclaimed the extraordinary visitors, and it needed
not the old lady's dash under ' on an anxious affair '
to bring him to her little drawing-room as soon as he
could quit his desk. Perhaps he hastened his work
with a hope in his heart which he durst not express,
but the agitation on the usually placid face forbade
him to entertain it for an instant, and he only said,
' So our expedition has led to unforeseen consequences,
Miss Headworth.' And then she answered under her
breath, as if afraid of being overheard : ' Mr. Dutton,

v.] SUSPENSE. 51

my poor child does not know it yet, but the man is
alive ! '

Mr. Dutton compressed his lips. It was the greater
shock, for he had actually made inquiries at the Yacht
Club, but the officials there either had not been
made aware of the reappearance of the two Egremonts,
or they did not think it worth while to look beyond
the record which declared that all hands had perished,
and the connection of the uncle and nephew with the
Yacht Club had not been renewed. Presently he
said, ' Then hers was a right instinct. There is reason
to be thankful.'

Miss Headworth was too full of her own anxieties
to heed his causes for thankfulness. She told what
she had heard from Lady Kirkaldy and from Mark
Egremont, and asked counsel whether it could be
Alice's duty to return to the man who had deserted
her, or even to accept anything from him. There was
an impetuous and indignant spirit at the bottom of
the old lady's heart, in spite of the subdued life she
had led for so many years, and she hardly brooked
the measured considerate manner in which her adviser
declared that all depended on circumstances, and the
manner in which Captain Egremont made the first
move. At present no one was acting but young Mark,
and, as Mr. Dutton observed, it was not a matter in
which a man was very likely to submit to a nephew's

There was certainly no need for Mrs. Egremont to
force her presence on him. But Mr. Dutton did think

-SRARf "- —

-.N-vERsmr of nin«

52 NUTTIE'S FATHER. [chap.

that for her own sake and her child's there ought to
be full recognition of their rights, and that this should
be proved by their maintenance.

' I imagine that Ursula may probably be a con-
siderable heiress, and her rights must not be sacrificed.'

' Poor little girl ! Will it be for her happiness ? I
doubt it greatly ! '

' Of that I suppose we have no right to judge/ said
Mr. Dutton, somewhat tremulously. 'Justice is what
we have to look to, and to allow Nuttie to be passed
over would be permitting a slur to be cast on her and
her mother.'

' I see that,' said Miss Headworth, with an effort.
' I suppose I am after all a selfish, faithless old woman,
and it is not in my hands after all. But I must pre-
pare my poor Alice for what may be coming.'

1 If any terms are offered to her, she had better put
the matter into a lawyer's hands. Dobson would be a
safe man to deal with.'

Miss Headworth was amazed that he — who had
helped her in many a little question bordering on law —
should not proffer his aid now in this greatest stress.
He was a resolute, self-controlled man, and she never
guessed at the feeling that made him judge himself to
be no fitting champion for Alice Egremont against her
husband. Ever since, ten years ago, he had learnt
that his beautiful neighbour did not regard herself so
certainly a widow as to venture to open her heart to
any other love, he had lived patiently on, content to
serve her as a trustworthy friend, and never betraying

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