Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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" They are only on trial, sir," apologized Hector.

" Very odd then that they all have an eagle and H. E. on
them," observed the doctor drily.

" Oh ! they'll take them again, or I shall find a use for
them," said Hector.

" Well, if Henry can't afford two," said Aubrey, holding
to his point, " he ought to give up to his brother ; he
knows no more how to handle a rifle — "

" That's the very reason," muttered Tom.

"And Flora is going to give a great part}^," proceeded
Gertrude, " as soon as the uniform is settled, and they
are enrolled. Blanche and Hector are to stay for it,
and you'll have to wear your lieutenant's uniform, Harry."

"I can't be going to balls till I've been up to report
myself fit for service," said HaiTy.

" It is not to be a ball," said Blanche's soft serious voice
over her green silk banner ; " it is to be a breakfast and
concert, ending in a dance, such as we had at Maplewood."

" HoUo ! " said Harry, starting, " now I begin to believe
in Mrs. Ernesclifl'e, when I hear her drawing down herself
as an example to Flora."



140 THE TUIAL.

" Only a precedent," said Blanche, blushing a little, but
still grave. " We have had some experience, you know.
Our corps vras one of the earliest enrolled, and Hector
managed it almost entirely. It was the reason we have
npt been able to come here sooner, but we thought it
right to be foremost, as the enemy are sure to attempt our
coast first."

'* I believe the enemy are expected on every coast at first,"
was Ethel's aside, but it was not heard ; for Harry was
declaring,

*' Your coast ! they will never get the length of that. I
was talking to an old messmate of mine in the train, who
was telling me how we could burn their whole fleet before
it could get out of Cherbourg."

" If they should slip by," began Hector.

" Slip by ! " and Harry had weU nigh dislodged Daisy by
his vehemence in demonstrating that they were welcome to
volunteer, but that the Channel Fleet would prevent the
rifles from being seriously put to the proof — a declar-
ation liighly satisfactory to the ladies, and heartily backed
up by the doctor, though Blanche looked rather discomfited,
and Hector argued loud for the probability of active
service.

" 1 say, Aubrey," said Tom, rather tired of the land and
sea debate, " do just reach me a card, to take up some of this
sand upon."

Aubrey obeyed, and reading the black-edged card as he
handed it, said, "Mrs. Pug. What? Pug ought to have
been calling upon Mab."

" Maybe she will, in good earnest," observed Tom again in
Ethel's ear ; while the whole room rang with the laughter



THE TRIAL. 141

that always befalls the unlucky wight guilty of a blunder
in a name.

• "You don't mean that you don't know who she is,
Aubrey 1 " was the cry.

" I— how should I ? "

" What, not ]Mrs. Pugh 1 " exclaimed Daisy.

" Pew or Pug — I know nothing of either. Is this edge as
mourning for all the old pews that have been demolished in
the church r'

"For shame, Aubrey," said Mary seriously. "You must
know it is for her husband."

Aubrey set up his eyebrows in utter ignorance.

" How true it is that one half the world knows nothing of
the other ! " exclaimed Ethel. " Do you really mean you
have never found out the great Mrs. Pugh, Mrs. Ledwich's
dear suffering Matilda V

" I've seen a black lady sitting with Mrs. Ledwich in church."

" Such is life," said Ethel. " How little she thought
herself living in such an unimpressible world ! "

" She is a pretty woman enough," observed Tom.

" And very desirous of being useful," added Eichard.
"She and Mrs. Eedwich came over to Cocksmoor this
morning, and offered any kind of assistance."

" At Cocksmoor ! " cried Ethel, much as if it had been the
French.

" Every district is filled up here, you know," said Eichard,

" and Mrs. Ledwich begged me as a personal favour to give

j her some occupation that would interest her and cheer her

! spirits, so I asked her to look after those new cottages at

, Gould's End, quite out of your beat, Ethel, and she seemed

to be going about energetically."



142 THE TPJAL.

Tom looked unutterable things at Ethel, who replied with
a glance between diversion and dismay.

""Who is the lady]" said Blanche. "She assaulted me
in the street with inquiries and congratulations about Harry,
declaring she had known me as a child, a thing I particu-
larly dislike : " and Mrs. Ernescliffe looked like a ruffled
goldfinch.

" Forgetting her has not been easy to the payers of duty
calls," said Ethel. " She was the daughter of Mrs. Ledwich's
brother, the Colonel of Marines, and used in old times to
be with her aunt ; there used to be urgent invitations to
Elora and me to drink tea there because she was of our age.
She married quite young, something very prosperous and
rather aged, and the glories of dear Matilda's villa at Bristol
have been our staple subject ; but !Mr. Pugh died in the
spring, leaving his lady five hundred a year absolutely her
o^^Ti, and she is come to stay with her aunt, and look for
a house."

" Et cetera," added Tom.

" What, in the buxom widow line 1 " asked Harry.

" !N'o, no ! " said Eichard, rather indignantly.

" Xo, in the pathetic line," said Ethel ; " but that requires
some self-denial."

" Our tongues don't lose their venom, you see, Harry," put
in the doctor.

" ^K'o indeed, papa," said Ethel, really anxious to guard her
brothers. " I was very sorry for her at first, and perhaps I
pity her more now than even then. I was taken with her
pale face and dark eyes, and I believe she was a good wife,
and really concerned for her husband ; but I can't heljo seeing
that she knows her grief is an attraction."



THE Tr.LAX. 143

"To simple parsons," muttered Tom along the tube of his
microscope.

" The sound of her voice shovved her to be full of preten-
sion," said Blanche. " Besides, ^Irs. Ledwich's trumpeting
would iix my opinion in a moment."

" Just so," observed the doctor.

" !N'o, papa," said Ethel, " I was really pleased and touched
in spite of ^Irs. Ledwich's devotion to her, till I found out a
certain manoeuvring to put herself in the foreground, and not
let her sorrow hinder her from any enjoyment or display."

" She can t bear any one to do what she does not."

" What ! Mary's mouth open against her too ? " cried Dr.
May.

" "Well, papa," insisted ^Fary, " nobody wanted her to
insist on taking the harmonium at Bankside last Sunday,
just because Averil had a cold in her head ; and she played
so fast, that every one was put out, and then said she would
come to the practice that they might understand one another.
She is not even in the Bankside district, so it is no business
of hers."

" There, Ptichard, her favours are equally distributed," said
Aubrey ; " but if she would take that harmonium altogether,
one would not mind — it makes Henry Ward as sulky as a
bear to have his sister going out all the evening, and he visits
it on Leonard. I dare say if she stayed at home he would
not have been such a brute about the rifle."

" I should not wonder," said Dr. May. " I sometimes
doubt if home is sweetened to my friend Henry."

" papa ! " cried Mary, bristling up, " Ave is very hard
worked, and she gives up ever5i:hing in the world but her
church music, and that is her great duty and delight."



144 THE TRIAL.

" Miss "Ward's music must be a sore trial to the Pug,'* said
Tom ; " will it be at this affair at Abbotstoke 1 "

" That's the question," said Ethel. " It never goes out,
yet is to be met everywhere, just over-persuaded at the last
moment. Kow Flora, you will see, will think it absolutely
improper to ask her ; and she will be greatly disappointed
not to have the chance of refusing, and then yielding at the
last minute."

" Flora must have her," said Harry.

" I trust not," said Blanche, shrinking.

" Flora will not ask her," said Tom, " but she will be there."

" And will dance with me," said Harry.

" JS'o, with Eichard," said Tom.

" What ! " said Pdchard, looking up at the sound of his
name.

All laughed, but were ashamed to explain, and were relieved
that their father rang the bell.

" At that unhappy skein still, Mary ? " said Mrs. Ernes-
cliffe, as the good-nights were passing. " What a horrid
state it is in ! "

" I shall do it in time," said Mary, ''when there is nothing
to distract my attention. I only hope I shall not hurt it
for you."

" Chuck it into the fire at once ; it is not worth the
trouble," said Hector.

Each had a word of advice, but Mary held her purpose,
and persevered till all had left the room except Richard,
who quietly took the crimson tangle on his wrists, turned
and twisted, opened passages for the winder, and by the
magic of his dexterous hands, had found the clue to the
maze, so that all was proceeding well, though slowly, when



THE TRIAL. 145

the study door opened, and Harry's voice was heard in a last
good-night to his father. Mary's eyes looked wistful, and
one misdirection of her winder tightened an obdurate loop
once more.

" Eun after Harry," said Eichard, taking possession of the
ivory. " Good night ; I can always do these things best
alone. I had rather — yes, really — good night : " and his
kiss had the elder brother's authority of dismissal

His Maimouna was too glad and grateful for more than
a summary " thank you," and flew up stairs in time to find
Harry turning, baffled, from her empty room. " What, only
just done that interminable yam ? " he said.

" Eichard is doing it. I could not help letting him, this
first evening of you."

^ Good old Eichard ! he is not a bit altered since I first
went to sea, when I was so proud of that," said Harry,
taking up his midshipman's dirk, which formed a trophy on
Mar/s mantel-shell

*' Are we altered since you went last 1 " said Mary.

"The younger ones, of course. I was in hopes that
Aubrey would have been more like old June, but he'll
never be so much of a fellow."

** He is a very dear good boy," said ^Mary, warmly.

" Of course he is," said Harry, " but, somehow, he will
always have a woman-bred way about him. Can't be helped,
of course ; but what a pair of swells Tom and Blanche are
come out ! " and he laughed good-naturedly.

"Is not Blanche a beautiful dear darling?" cried Mary,
eagerly. "It is so nice to have her. They could not
come at first because of the infection, and then because of
the rifle corps, and now it is delicious to have all at home."

VOL. I. L



146 THE TRIAL.

" TVell, Molly, I'm glad it wasn't you that liave married.
Mind, you mustn't marry till I do."

And Harry -was really glad that Mary's laugh was per-
fectly " fancy free," as she answered, *' I'm sure I hope not ;
but I won't promise, because that might be unreasonable?
you know."

" Oh, you prudent, provident Polly ! Eut," added Harry,
recalled to a sense of time by a clock striking eleven, "I
came to bring you something, Mary. You shall have it,
if you will give me another."

Mary recognised, with some difficulty, a Prayer-Book with
limp covers that Margaret had given him after his first
voyage. Not only was it worn by seven years' use, but it
was soiled and stained with dark brownish red, and a
straight round hole perforated it from cover to cover.

" Is it too bad to keep ? " said Harry. " Let me just cut
out my name in ^Margaret's hand, and the verse of the
107th Psalm ; luckily the ball missed that."

" The ball 1 " said ISIary, beginning to understand.
"Yes. Every one of those circles that you see cut out
there, was in here," said Harry, laying his hand over his
chest, " before the ball, which I have given to my father."

" Harry ! " was aU Mary could say, pointing to her own
name in a pencil scrawl on the fly leaf

" Yes, I set that down because I could not speak to tell
what was to be done with it, when we didn't know that
that book had really been the saving of my life. That hair's-
breadth deviation of the bullet made all the difference."
!Mary was kissing the blood-stained book, and sobbing.
"Why, Mary, what is there to cry for? It is all over
now, I tell you. I am as well as man would wish, and



THE TRIAL. 147

there's no more about it but to thank God, and trj' to
deserve His goodness/'

" Yes, yes, I know, Harry ; but to think how little we
knew, or thought, or felt — going on in our own way when
you were in such danger and suffering ! "

" Wasn't I very glad you were going on in your own
way 1 " said Harry. " Why, Mary, it was that which did it
— it has been always that thought of you at the !Minster
every day, that kept me to reading the Psalms, and so
having the book about me. And did not it do one good to
lie and think of the snug room, and my father's spectacles,
and all as usual 1 When they used to lay me on the deck
of the Dexter at night, because I could not breathe below,
I used to watch old Orion, who was my great friend in
the Loyalty Isles, and wish the heathen name had not stuck
to the old fellow, he always seemed so like the Christian
warrior, climbing up with his shield before him and his.
A home like this is a shield to a man in more ways than
one, ]\Iary. Hollo, was that the street door ? "

" Yes ; Eitchie going home. Fancy his being at the silk
all this time ! I am so sorry ! "

Maugre her sorrow, there were few happier maidens in
England ^than Mary ^Eay, even though her service was dis-
tracted by the claims of three slave-owners at once, bound
as she was, to Ethel, by habitual fidelity, to Harrj'-, by eager
adoration, to Blanche, by willing submission. Luckily, their
requisitions (for the most part unconscious) seldom clashed,
or, if they did, the two elders gave way, and the bride
asserted her supremacy in the jDlenitude of her youthful
importance and prosperity.

Thus she carried off Mary in her barouche to support

l2



148 THE TRIAL.

her in the return of bridal calls, while the others were
organizing a walk to visit Flora and the rifle target. Ger-
trude's enthusiasm was not equal to walking with a weapon
that might be loaded, nor to being ordered out to admire
the practice, so she accompanied the sisters ; Tom was
reading hard; and Ethel found herself, Aubrey, and the
sailor, the only ones ready to start.

This was a decided treat, for Aubrey and she were so
nearly one, that it was almost a tete-^-tete with Harry,
though it was not his way to enter by daylight, and with-
out strong impulse, on what regarded himself, and there
were no such confidences as those to Mary on the previous
night ; but in talking over home details, it was easier to
speak without Tom's ironical ears and caustic tongue.

Among other details, the story of the summer that Ethel
and Aubrey had spent at Coombe was narrated, and Aubrey
indulged himself by describing what he called Ethel's
conquest.

" It is more a conquest of Norman's, and of Melanesia,"
said Ethel. " If it were not nonsense to build upon people's
generous visions at seventeen, I should sometimes hope a
spark had been lit that would shine some day in your
islands, Harry."

Going up that hill was not the place for Ethebed May
to talk of the futility of youthful aspirations ; but it did not
so strike either of the brothers, to whom Cocksmoor had
long been a familiar fact. Harry laughed to hear the old
Ethel so like herself; and Aubrey said, "By the by, what
did you do, the day you walked him to Cocksmoor 1 he was
fuller of those islands than ever after it."

" I did not mean it," said Ethel ; " but the first day of



THE TRIAL. 149

the holidays I came on him disconsolate in the street, with
nothing to do, and very sore about Henry's refusal to let
him volunteer j he walked on with me till we found our-
selves close to Cocksmoor, and I found he had never seen
the church, and would like to stay for evening service, so
I put him into the parsonage while I was busy, and told
him to take a book."

" I know," said Aubrey ; " the liveliest literature you can
get in Eichard's parlour are the Missionary Eeports."

" Exactly so ; and he got quite saturated with them ; and
when we walked heme, I was so thankful that the rifle
grievance should be a little displaced, that I led him on to
talk and build castles rather more than according to my
resolutions."

"HoUo, Ethel!" said Harry.

^' Yes, I think spontaneous castles are admirable, but
I mistrust all timber from other people's woods."

"Eut isn't this a horrid shame of Henry?" said Aubrey.
" Such a little prig as he is, to take the place of such a fellow
as Leonard, a capital shot already."

" I wish Hero-y had been magnanimous," said Ethel.

"I'd as soon talk of a magnanimous weasel from what
I recollect," said Harry.

" And he is worse now, Harry," continued Aubrey. " So
spruce and silky out of doors, and such a regular old tyran-
nical bachelor in-doors. He is jealous of Leonard, any one
can see, and that's the reason he won't give him his due,"

"You observe," said Ethel, "that this boy thinks the
youngest brother's due is always to come first."

" So it is, in this family," said Harry. "I^o one comes so
last as old Eitchie."



150 THE TRIAL.

" But of course," said Aubrey, rather taken aback, " if I
were not youngest, I should have to knock under to some
one."

Ethel and Harry both laughed heartily ; one congratu-
lating him on not having carried the principle into the cock-
pit, the other adding, " Don't indoctrinate Leonard with it ;
there is enough already to breed bitterness between those
brothers ! Leonard ought to be kept in mind that Henry
has so much to harass him, that his temper should be borne
patiently with/'

"He!"

"I don't think papa's best endeavours have kept all his
father's practice for him, and I am sure their rate of living
must make him feel pinched this Christmas."

" Whew ! He will be in a sweeter humour than ever !"

"I have been trying to show Leonard that there's room
for magnanimity on his side at least ; and don't you go and
upset it all by common-place abuse of tutors and governors."

"I upset it!" cried Aubrey: "I might as well try to
upset the Minster as a word from you to Leonard ."

"Nonsense! What's that?" For they were hailed from
behind, and looking round saw two tall figures — weapon in
hand, in pursuit. They proved to be Hector Ernescliffe and
Leonard Ward, each bearing one of what Dr. May called the
H. E. rifles ; but Leonard looked half shy, half grim, and so
decidedly growled off all Aubrey's attempts at inquiry or con-
gratulation, that Ethel hazarded none, and Aubrey looked
discomfited, wearing an expression which Harry took to mean
that the weight of his rifle fatigued him, and insisted on
carrying it for him, in spite of his rather insulted protests
and declarations that the sailor was an invalid. Ethel had



THE TUI.VL. 151

walked forwards, and found Leonard at her side, with a
darkening brow as he glanced back at the friendly contest.

*' Harry spoils Aubrey as much as all the others do," said
Ethel lightly, deeming it best to draw out the sting of the
rankling thought.

" Ay ! Xone of them would leave him to be pitied and
offered favours by some chance person," said Leonard.

" You don't call my brother Hector a chance person 1 "

"Did you say anything to him, ]Miss ]\Iay ?" said Leonard,
turning on her a flushed face, as if he could almost have been
angered with her.

" I said not one word."

"Xor Aubrey?"

"The volunteer politics were discussed last night, and
Henry got abused among us ; but papa defended him, and
said it did not rain rifles. That's all — whatever Hector may
have done was without a word to either of us — very likely
on the moment's impulse. Did he go to Bankside after
you?"

*'Xo. I was looking in at Shearman's window," said
Leonard, rather sheepishly, "at the locks of the new lot
he has got in, and he came and asked if I were going to
choose one, for he had got a couple down from London, and
the man had stupidly put his cypher on both, so he would
be glad if I would take one ofi" his hands. I didn't accept
— I made that clear — but then he begged, as if it was to
oblige him, that I would come out to Abbotstoke and help
him try the two, for he didn't know which he should
keep."

" Very ingenious of him," said Ethel, laughing.

" Xow, ;Mis3 May, do tell me what I ought to do. It is



152 THE TRIAL.

such a iDeauty, better than any Shearman ever dreamt of;
just look at the finish of the lock,"

" By the time you have shot with it — "

" Now don't, pray," said Leonard, " I haven't any one to
trust for advice but you."

" Indeed, Leonard, I can see no objection. It is a great
boon to you, and no loss to Hector, and he is quite enough
my father's son for you to look on him as a friend. I can't
but be very glad ; for the removal of this vexation ought to
make you get on all the better with your brother."

"Ave would be delighted," said Leonard; "but some-
how—"

" Somehow " was silenced by a coalescing of the party
at a gate ; and Hector and Harry were found deep in an
argument in which the lieutenant's Indian reminiscences of
the Naval Brigade was at issue with the captain's South-
down practice, and the experiences of the one meeting the
technicalities of the other were so diverting, that Leonard
forgot his scruples till at the entrance of the park he turned
off towards the target with Hector and Aubrey, while the
other two walked up to the house.

The Grange atmosphere always had a strange weight of
tedium in it, such as was specially perceptible after the
joyous ease of the house in the High Street. No one was
in the drawing-room, and Harry gazed round at the stiff,
almost petri&ed, aspect of the correct and tasteful arrange-
ment of the tables and furniture, put his hands in his
pockets, and yawned twice, asking Ethel why she did not
go in search of Flora. Ethel shook her head; and in
another moment Elora appeared in eager welcome ; she
had been dressing for a drive to Stoneborough to see her



THE TEUL. 153

brother, little expecting him to be in a state for walking
to her. With her came her little girl, a child whose
aspect was always a shock to those who connected her
with the two Margarets whose name she bore. She had
inherited her father's heavy mould of feature and dark
complexion, and the black eyes had neither sparkle in
themselves nor relief from the colour of the sallow cheek:
the pouting lips were fretful, the whole appearance unhealthy,
and the dark bullet-shaped head seemed too large for the thin
bony little figure. Worn, fagged, and aged as Flora looked,
she had still so much beauty, and far more of refinement and
elegance, as to be a painful foil and contrast to the child that
clung to her, waywardly refusing all response to her uncle's
advances.

Flora made a sign to him to discontinue them, and talked
of her husband, who was hunting, and heard the history of
Harry's return and recovery. In the midst, Kttle Margaret
took heart of grace, crossed the room, and stood by the sailor,
and holding up a great India-rubber ball as large as her own
head, asked, " Uncle Harry, were you shot -uith a cannon-
ball as big as this ? "

Thereupon she was on his knee, and as he had aU his
father's fascination for children, he absolutely beguiled her
into ten minutes of genuine childish mirth, a sight so rare
and precious to her mother, that she could not keep up her
feint of talking to Ethel. The elderly dame, part nurse,
part nursery governess, presently came to take IMiss Eivers
out ; but Miss Eivers, with a whine in her voice, insisted
on going nowhere but to see the shooting, and Uncle Harry
must come with her ; and come he did, the little bony fingers
clasping tight hold of one of his large ones.



154< THE TRIAL.-

"Dear Harry ! " said Flora, " he wins every one ! It is
like a cool refreshing wind from the sea when he comes in."

In Flora's whole air, voice, and manner, there was apparent
a relaxation and absence of constraint such as she never
allowed herself except when alone with Ethel. Then only
did she relieve the constant strain, then only did the veri-
table woman show herself and the effort, the toil, the
weariness, the heart-ache, of her life become visible ; but
close together as the sisters lived, such tete-a-tetes were
rare, and perhaps were rather shunned than sought, as
perilous and doubtful indulgences. Even now, Flora at
once fixed a limit by ordering the carriage to meet her in
a quarter of an hour at the nearest point to the rifle ground,
saying she would walk there, and then take home Ethel and
any brother who might be tired.

"And see that Margaret does not come to harm," said


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