Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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Lilias was not satisfied with either herself, her home, her sisters,
or her school; she was far from being the fresh, happy creature that
she had been the year before. She had seen the fallacy of her
principle of love, but in her self-willed adherence to it she had
lost the strong sense and habit of duty which had once ruled her; and
in a vague and restless frame of mind, she merely sought from day to
day for pleasure and idle occupation. Lent came, but she was not
roused, she was only more uncomfortable when she saw the Rector, or
Alethea, or went to church. Alethea's unfailing gentleness she felt
almost as a rebuke; and Mr. Devereux, though always kind and good-
natured, had ceased to speak to her of those small village matters in
which she used to be prime counsellor.

The school became a burthen instead of a delight, and her attendance
there a fatigue. On going in one Sunday morning, very late, she
found Alethea teaching her class as well as her own. With a look of
vexation she inquired, as she took her place, if it was so very late,
and on the way to church she said again, 'I thought I was quite in
time; I do not like to hurry the children - the distant ones have not
time to come. It was only half-past nine.'

'Oh, Lilias,' said Marianne, 'it was twenty minutes to ten, I know,
for I had just looked at the clock.'

'That clock is always too fast,' said Lily.

The next Sunday was very cold, and Lilias did not feel at all
disposed to leave the fire when the others prepared to go to the
afternoon school.

'Is it time?' said she. 'I was chilled at church, and my feet are
still like ice; I will follow you in five minutes.'

Alethea went, and Lilias lingered by the fire. Mrs. Weston once
asked her if she knew how late it was; but still she waited, until
she was startled by the sound of the bell for evening service. As
she went to church with Mrs. Weston and Emily she met Jane, who told
her that her class had been unemployed all the afternoon.

'I would have taken them,' said she, 'but that Robert does not like
me to teach the great girls, and I do think Alethea might have heard
them.'

'It is very provoking,' said Lily, pettishly; 'I thought I might
depend - ' She turned and saw Miss Weston close to her. 'Oh,
Alethea!' said she, 'I thought you would have heard those girls.'

'I thought you were coming,' said Alethea.

'So I was, but I am sure the bell rang too early. I do wish you had
taken them, Alethea.'

'I am sorry you are vexed,' said Alethea, simply.

'What makes you think I am vexed? I only thought you liked hearing
my class.'

They were by this time at the church door, and as they entered
Alethea blamed herself for feeling grieved, and Lily awoke to a sense
of her unreasonableness. She longed to tell Alethea how sorry she
felt, but she had no opportunity, and she resolved to go to Broomhill
the next day to make her confession. In the night, however, snow
began to fall, and the morning showed the February scene of thawing
snow and pouring rain. Going out was impossible, both on that day
and the next. Wednesday dawned fair and bright; but just after
breakfast Lily received a little note, with the intelligence that Mr.
Weston had arrived at Broomhill on Monday evening, and with his wife
and daughters was to set off that very day to make a visit to some
friends on the way to London. Had not the weather been so bad,
Alethea said she should have come to take leave of her New Court
friends on Tuesday, but she could now only send this note to tell
them how sorry she was to go without seeing them, and to beg Emily to
send back a piece of music which she had lent to her. The messenger
was Faith Longley, who was to accompany them, and who now was going
home to take leave of her mother, and would call again for the music
in a quarter of an hour. Lily ran to ask her when they were to go.
'At eleven,' was the answer; and Lily telling her she need not call
again, as she herself would bring the music, went to look for it.
High and low did she seek, and so did Jane, but it was not to be
found in any nook, likely or unlikely; and when at last Lily, in
despair, gave up the attempt to find it, it was already a quarter to
eleven. Emily sent many apologies and civil messages, and Lily set
out at a rapid pace to walk to Broomhill by the road, for the thaw
had rendered the fields impassable. Fast as she walked, she was too
late. She had the mortification of seeing the carriage turn out at
the gates, and take the Raynham road; she was not even seen, nor had
she a wave of the hand, or a smile to comfort her.

Almost crying with vexation, she walked home, and sat down to write
to Alethea, but, alas! she did not know where to direct a letter.
Bitterly did she repent of the burst of ill-temper which had stained
her last meeting with her friend, and she was scarcely comforted even
by the long and affectionate letter which she received a week after
their departure. Kindness from her was now forgiveness; never did
she so strongly feel Florence's inferiority; and she wondered at
herself for having sought her society so much as to neglect her
patient and superior friend. She became careless and indifferent to
Florence, and yet she went on in her former course, following Emily,
and fancying that nothing at Beechcroft could interest her in the
absence of her dear Alethea Weston.



CHAPTER XVII: LITTLE AGNES



'O guide us when our faithless hearts
From Thee would start aloof,
Where patience her sweet skill imparts,
Beneath some cottage roof.'

Palm Sunday brought Lily many regrets. It was the day of the school
prize giving, and she reflected with shame, how much less she knew
about the children than last year, and how little they owed to her;
she feared to think of the approach of Easter Day, a dread which she
had never felt before, and which she knew to be a very bad sign; but
her regret was not repentance - she talked, and laughed, and tried to
feel at ease. Agnes Eden's happy face was the most pleasant sight on
that day. The little girl received a Bible, and as it was given to
her her pale face was coloured with bright pink, her blue eyes
lighted up, her smile was radiant with the beauty of innocence, but
Lily could not look at her without self-reproach. She resolved to
make up for her former neglect by double kindness, and determined
that, at any rate, Passion Week should be properly spent - she would
not once miss going to church.

But on Monday, when Emily proposed to ride to Devereux Castle, she
assented, only saying that they would return for evening service.
She took care to remind her sister when it was time to set out
homewards; but Emily was, as usual, so long in taking her leave that
it was too late to think of going to church when they set off.

About two miles from Beechcroft Lily saw a little figure in a gray
cloak trudging steadily along the road, and as she came nearer she
recognised Kezia Grey. She stopped and asked the child what brought
her so far from home.

'I am going for the doctor, Miss,' said the child.

'Is your mother worse?' asked Lily.

'Mother is pretty well,' said Kezia; 'but it is for Agnes Eden, Miss-
-she is terrible bad.'

'Poor little Agnes!' exclaimed Lily. 'Why, she was at school
yesterday.'

'Yes, Miss, but she was taken bad last night.'

After a moment's consultation between the sisters, Kezia was told
that she might return home, and the servant who accompanied the Miss
Mohuns was sent to Raynham for the doctor. The next afternoon Lily
was just setting out to inquire for Agnes when Lord Rotherwood
arrived at the New Court with his sister. He wanted to show Florence
some of his favourite haunts at Beechcroft, and had brought her to
join his cousins in their walk. A very pleasant expedition they
made, but it led them so far from home that the church bell was heard
pealing over the woods far in the distance. Lily could not go to
Mrs. Eden's cottage, because she did not know the nature of Agnes's
complaint, and her aunt could not bear that Florence should go into
any house where there was illness. In the course of the walk,
however, she met Kezia, on her way to the New Court, to ask for a
blister for Agnes, the doctor having advised Mrs. Eden to apply to
the Miss Mohuns for one, as it was wanted quickly, and it was too far
to send to Raynham. Lily promised to send the blister as soon as
possible, and desired the little messenger to return home, where she
was much wanted, to help her mother, who had a baby of less than a
week old.

Alas! in the mirth and amusement of the evening Lily entirely forgot
the blister, until just as she went to bed, when she made one of her
feeble resolutions to take it, or send it early in the morning. She
only awoke just in time to be ready for breakfast, went downstairs
without one thought of the sick child, and never recollected her,
until at church, just before the Litany, she heard these words: 'The
prayers of the congregation are desired for Agnes Eden.'

She felt as if she had been shot, and scarcely knew where she was for
several moments. On coming out of church, she stood almost in a
dream, while Emily and Jane were talking to the Rector, who told them
how very ill the child was, and how little hope there was of her
recovery. He took leave of them, and Lily walked home, scarcely
hearing the soothing words with which Emily strove to comfort her.
The meaning passed away mournfully; Lily sat over the fire without
speaking, and without attempting to do anything. In the afternoon
rain came on; but Lily, too unhappy not to be restless, put on her
bonnet and cloak, and went out.

She walked quickly up the hill, and entered the field where the
cottage stood. There she paused. She did not dare to knock at the
cottage door; she could not bear to speak to Mrs. Eden; she dreaded
the sight of Mrs. Grey or Kezia, and she gazed wistfully at the
house, longing, yet fearing, to know what was passing within it. She
wandered up and down the field, and at last was trying to make up her
mind to return home, when she heard footsteps behind her, and
turning, saw Mr. Devereux advancing along the path at the other end
of the field.

'Have you been to inquire for Agnes?' said he.

'I could not. I long to know, but I cannot bear to ask, I cannot
venture in.'

'Do you like to go in with me?' said her cousin. 'I do not think you
will see anything dreadful.'

'Thank you,' said Lily, 'I would give anything to know about her.'

'How you tremble! but you need not be afraid.'

He knocked at the door, but there was no answer; he opened it, and
going to the foot of the stairs, gently called Mrs. Eden, who came
down calm and quiet as ever, though very pale.

'How is she?'

'No better, sir, thank you, light-headed still.'

'Oh! Mrs. Eden, I am so sorry,' sobbed Lily. 'Oh! can you forgive
me?'

'Pray do not take on so, Miss,' said Mrs. Eden. 'You have always
been a very kind friend to her, Miss Lilias. Do not take on so,
Miss. If it is His will, nothing could have made any difference.'

Lily was going to speak again, but Mr. Devereux stopped her, saying,
'We must not keep Mrs. Eden from her, Lily.'

'Thank you, sir, her aunt is with her,' said Mrs. Eden, 'and no one
is any good there now, she does not know any one. Will you walk up
and see her, sir? will you walk up, Miss Lilias?'

Lily silently followed her cousin up the narrow stairs to the upper
room, where, in the white-curtained bed, lay the little child,
tossing about and moaning, her cheeks flushed with fever, and her
blue eyes wide open, but unconscious. A woman, whom Lily did not at
first perceive to be Mrs. Naylor, rose and courtsied on their
entrance. Agnes's new Bible was beside her, and her mother told them
that she was not easy if it was out of sight for an instant.

At this moment Agnes called out, 'Mother,' and Mrs. Eden bent down to
her, but she only repeated, 'Mother' two or three times, and then
began talking:

'Kissy, I want my bag - where is my thimble - no, not that I can't
remember - my catechism-book - my godfathers and godmothers in my
baptism, wherein I was made a member - my Christian name - my name, it
is my Christian name; no, that is not it -


"It is a name by which I am
Writ in the hook of life,
And here below a charm to keep,
Unharmed by sin and strife;
As often as my name I hear,
I hear my Saviour's voice."'


Then she began the Creed, but, breaking off, exclaimed, 'Where is my
Bible, mother, I shall read it to-morrow - read that pretty verse
about "I am the good Shepherd - the Lord is my Shepherd, therefore can
I lack nothing - yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art within me."


"I now am of that little flock
Which Christ doth call His own,
For all His sheep He knows by name,
And He of them is known."'


'Let us call upon your good Shepherd, Agnes,' said the pastor, and
the child turned her face towards him as if she understood him.
Kneeling down, he repeated the Lord's Prayer, and the feeble voice
followed his. He then read the prayer for a sick child, and left the
room, for he saw that Lily would be quite overcome if she remained
there any longer. Mrs. Eden followed them downstairs, and again
stung poor Lily to the heart by thanks for all her kindness.

They then left the house of mourning; Lily trembled violently, and
clung to her cousin's arm for support. Her tears streamed fast, but
her sobs were checked by awe at Mrs. Eden's calmness. She felt as if
she had been among the angels.

'How pale you are!' said her cousin, 'I would not have taken you
there if I thought it would overset you so much. Come into Mrs.
Grey's, and sit down and recover a little.'

'No, no, do not let me see any one,' said Lily. 'Oh! that dear
child! Robert, let me tell you the worst, for your kindness is more
than I can bear. I promised Agnes a blister and forgot it!'

She could say no more for some minutes, but her cousin did not speak.
Recovering her voice, she added, 'Only speak to me, Robert.'

'I am very sorry for you,' answered he, in a kind tone.

'But tell me, what shall I do?'

'What to do, you ask,' said the Rector; 'I am not sure that I know
what you mean. If your neglect has added to her sufferings, you
cannot remove them; and I would not add to your sorrow unless you
wished me to do so for your good.'

'I do not see how I could be more unhappy than I am now,' said Lily.

'I think if you wish to turn your grief to good account you must go a
little deeper than this omission.'

'You mean that it is a result of general carelessness,' said Lily; 'I
know I have been in an odd idle way for some time; I have often
resolved, but I seem to have no power over myself.'

'May I ask you one question, Lily? How have you been spending this
Lent?'

'Robert, you are right,' cried Lily; 'you may well ask. I know I
have not gone to church properly, but how could you guess the
terrible way in which I have been indulging myself, and excusing
myself every unpleasant duty that came in my way? That was the very
reason of this dreadful neglect; well do I deserve to be miserable at
Easter, the proper time for joy. Oh! how different it will be.'

'It will be, I hope, an Easter marked by repentance and amendment,'
said the Rector.

'No, Robert, do not begin to be kind to me yet, you do not know how
very bad I have been,' said Lily; 'it all began from just after
Eleanor's wedding. A mad notion came into my head and laid hold of
me. I fancied Eleanor stern, and cold, and unlovable; I was
ingratitude itself. I made a foolish theory, that regard for duty
makes people cold and stern, and that feeling, which I confused with
Christian love, was all that was worth having, and the more Claude
tried to cure me, the more obstinate I grew; I drew Emily over to my
side, and we set our follies above everything. Justified ourselves
for idling, neglecting the children, indulging ourselves, calling it
love, and so it was, self-love. So my temper has been spoiling, and
my mind getting worse and worse, ever since we lost Eleanor. At last
different things showed me the fallacy of my principle, but then I do
believe I was beyond my own management. I felt wrong, and could not
mend, and went on recklessly. You know but too well what mischief I
have done in the village, but you can never know what harm I have
done at home. I have seen more and more that I was going on badly,
but a sleep, a spell was upon me.'

'Perhaps the pain you now feel may be the means of breaking the
spell.'

'But is it not enough to drive me mad to think that improvement in me
should be bought at such a price - the widow's only child?'

'You forget that the loss is a blessing to her.'

'Still I may pray that my punishment may not be through them,' said
Lily.

'Surely,' was the answer, 'it is grievous to see that dear child cut
off; and her patient mother left desolate - yet how much more grievous
it would be to see that spotless innocence defiled.'

'If it was to fall on any one,' said Lilias, 'I should be thankful
that it is on one so fit to die.'

The church bell began to ring, and they quickened their steps in
silence. Presently Lily said, 'Tell me of something to do, Robert,
something that may be a pledge that my sorrow is not a passing
shower, something unnecessary, but disagreeable, which may keep me in
remembrance that my Lent was not one of self-denial.'

'You must be able to find more opportunities of self-denial than I
can devise,' said her cousin.

'Of course,' said Lily; 'but some one thing, some punishment.'

'I will answer you to-morrow,' said Mr. Devereux.

'One thing more,' said Lily, looking down; 'after this great fall,
ought I to come to next Sunday's feast? I would turn away if you
thought fit.'

'Lily, you can best judge,' said the Rector, kindly. 'I should think
that you were now in a humble, contrite frame, and therefore better
prepared than when self-confident.'

'How many times! how shall I think of them! but I will,' said Lily;
'and Robert, will you think of me when you say the Absolution now and
next Sunday at the altar?'

They were by this time at the church-porch. As Mr. Devereux
uncovered his head, he turned to Lilias, and said in a low tone, 'God
bless you, Lilias, and grant you true repentance and pardon.'

Early the next morning the toll of the passing-bell informed Lily
that the little lamb had been gathered into the heavenly fold.

When she took her place in church she found in her Prayer-book a slip
of paper in the handwriting of her cousin. It was thus: 'You had
better find out in which duty you have most failed, and let the
fulfilment of that be your proof of self-denial. R. D.'

Afterwards Lily learnt that Agnes had been sensible for a short time
before her peaceful death. She had spoken much of her baptism, had
begged to be buried next to a little sister of Kezia's, and asked her
mother to give her new Bible to Kezia.

It was not till Sunday that Lilias felt as if she could ever be
comforted. Her heart was indeed ready to break as she walked at the
head of the school children behind the white-covered coffin, and she
felt as if she did not deserve to dwell upon the child's present
happiness; but afterwards she was relieved by joining in prayer for
the pardon of our sins and negligences, and she felt as if she was
forgiven, at least by man, when she joined with Mrs. Eden in the
appointed feast of Easter Day.

Mrs. Naylor was at church on that and several following Sundays; but
though her husband now showed every kindness to his sister, he still
obstinately refused to be reconciled to Mr. Devereux.

For many weeks poor little Kezia looked very unhappy. Her blithe
smiles were gone, her eyes filled with tears whenever she was
reminded of her friend, she walked to school alone, she did not join
the sports of the other children, but she kept close to the side of
Mrs. Eden, and seemed to have no pleasure but with her, or in nursing
her little sister, who, two Sundays after the funeral, was christened
by the name of Agnes.

It was agreed by Mr. Mohun and Lilias that the grave of the little
girl should be marked by a stone cross, thus inscribed

'AGNES EDEN,
April 8th, 1846,
Aged 7 years.
"He shall gather the lambs in His arms."'



CHAPTER XVIII: DOUBLE, DOUBLE TOIL AND TROUBLE



'Truly the tender mercies of the weak,
As of the wicked, are but cruel.'

And how did Lilias show that she had been truly benefited by her
sorrows? Did she fall back into her habits of self-indulgence, or
did she run into ill-directed activity, selfish as her indolence,
because only gratifying the passion of the moment?

Those who lived with her saw but little change; kind-hearted and
generous she had ever been, and many had been her good impulses, so
that while she daily became more steady in well-doing, and exerting
herself on principle, no one remarked it, and no one entered into the
struggles which it cost her to tame her impetuosity, or force herself
to do what was disagreeable to herself, and might offend Emily.

However, Emily could forgive a great deal when she found that Lily
was ready to take any part of the business of the household and
schoolroom, which she chose to impose upon her, without the least
objection, yet to leave her to assume as much of the credit of
managing as she chose - to have no will or way of her own, and to help
her to keep her wardrobe in order.

The schoolroom was just now more of a labour than had ever been the
case, at least to one who, like Lilias, if she did a thing at all,
would not be satisfied with half doing it. Phyllis was not altered,
except that she cried less, and had in a great measure cured herself
of dawdling habits and tricks, by her honest efforts to obey well-
remembered orders of Eleanor's; but still her slowness and dulness
were trying to her teachers, and Lily had often to reproach herself
for being angry with her 'when she was doing her best.'

But Adeline was Lily's principal trouble; there was a change in her,
for which her sister could not account. Last year, when Eleanor left
them, Ada was a sweet-tempered, affectionate child, docile, gentle,
and, excepting a little occasional affectation and carelessness, very
free from faults; but now her attention could hardly be commanded for
five minutes together; she had lost the habit of ready and implicit
obedience, was petulant when reproved, and was far more eager to
attract notice from strangers - more conceited, and, therefore, more
affected, and, worse than all, Lily sometimes thought she perceived a
little slyness, though she was never able to prove any one instance
completely to herself, much less to bring one before her father.
Thus, if Ada had done any mischief, she would indeed confess it on
being examined; but when asked why she had not told of it directly,
would say she had forgotten; she would avail herself of Phyllis's
assistance in her lessons without acknowledging it, and Lilias found
it was by no means safe to leave the Key to the French Exercises
alone in the room with her.

Emily's mismanagement had fostered Ada's carelessness and
inattention. Lady Rotherwood's injudicious caresses helped to make
her more affected; other faults had grown up for want of sufficient
control, but this last was principally Esther's work. Esther had
done well at school; she liked learning, was stimulated by notice,
was really attached to Lilias, and tried to deserve her goodwill; but
her training at school and at home were so different, that her
conduct was, even at the best, far too much of eye-service, and she
had very little idea of real truth and sincerity.

On first coming to the New Court she flattered the children, because
she did not know how to talk to them otherwise, and afterwards,
because she found that Miss Ada's affections were to be gained by
praise. Then, in her ignorant good-nature, she had no scruples about
concealing mischief which the children had done, or procuring for Ada
little forbidden indulgences on her promise of secrecy, a promise
which Phyllis would not give, thus putting a stop to all those in
which she would have participated. It was no wonder that Ada,
sometimes helping Esther to deceive, sometimes deceived by her,
should have learnt the same kind of cunning, and ceased to think it a
matter of course to be true and just in all her dealings.

But how was it that Phyllis remained the same 'honest Phyl' that she
had ever been, not one word savouring of aught but strict truth


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