Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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act. He exclaimed, " By the by, Miss "Ward, would you not
like to see it ? They have a very nice brass to old Mr.
Pavers, and have been doing up the chancel"

" Thank you," said Ave, " I should prefer going to see
how Leonard is getting on."

" Eight, Miss "Ward," said Harry ; "the church won't run

"Well, then," said Tom, after a moment's hesitation, "I
think I shall just run down, as the church is oj^en, and see
what sort of work they have made of the chancel."

Ethel had the strongest fancy to try what he would do if
she were to be seized with a desire to inspect the chancel ;
but she did not wish to let Harry and Averil appear on the
ground under no escort but Minna's, and so permitted Tom


to leave tliem to her keeping, and watched him hasten to
break up the tete-a-tete.

Coming among the spectators, who, chiefly drawn up on
the carriage drive, were watching from a safe distance the
grey figures in turn take aim and emit from their rifles the
flash and cotton- wool-like tuft of smoke. Ethel's interest was
somewhat diminished by hearing that all the other marks-
men had been distanced by the head keepers of Abbotstoke
and Drydale, between whom the contest really lay.

"The rest is a study of character," said Dr. Spencer,
taking a turn up and down the road with her. " I have
been watching the various pairs of brothers ; and I doubt if
an}^ stand the test as well as the house of May."

" There's only one in the field to-day."

"Yes, but I've seen them together before now, and I
will say for even Tom that he has no black looks when his
junior shoots better than he does."

" Oh, yes ! But then it is Aubrey ! "

Dr. Spencer laughed. " Lucky household where that ' it
is ' accounts for all favours to the youngest, instead of for
the countenance falling at his successes."

" I am afraid I know whom you mean. But he has no
generosity in him."

" And his sister helps to make him jealous."

" I am afraid she does ; but though it is very sad, one
can't wonder at her preference of the great to the small."

" Poor girl, I wonder how she will get on when there is a
new inmate in the happy family."

" Ha ! you shocking old gossip, what have you found out
now ] "


" Xegociation for the introduction of a Pug dog from the
best circles — eh 1 "

" Well, if he were alone in the world, it would be a capital

" So she thinks, I fancy; but 500/. a year might do better
than purchase so many incumbrances. Depend upon it, the
late lamented will remain in the ascendant till there are no
breakers ahead."

In process of time, ladies, volunteers, and all, were as-
sembled in the great music- room for the concert ; and Ethel,
having worked hard in the service of the company, thought
her present duty lay with the sick child, and quietly crept
away, taking, however, one full view of the entire scene,
partly for her own satisfaction, partly in case Margaret
should be inclined to question her on what every one was

There was the orchestra, Avhose erection Eichard had super-
intended ; there was the conductor in his station, and the
broad back of the Cathedral organist at the piano, the jolly
red visages of the singing men in their ranks, the fresh faces
of the choristers full of elation ; the star from London,
looking quiet and lady-like, courteously led to her place by
George Rivers himself. But, for all his civility, how bored
and sullen he looked ! and how weary were poor Flora's
smiles, though her manner was so engaging, and her uni-
versal attention so unremitting ! What a contrast to the
serene, self-enfolded look of happiness and prosperity on
the pretty youthful face of Blanche, her rich delicate silk
spreading far beyond the sofa where she sat among the great
ladies j and her tall yellow-haired husband leaning against


the wall behind her, in wondering contemplation of his
Blanche taking her place in her own county.

Further back, among the more ordinary herd, Ethel per-
ceived ]\Irs. Pugh, bridling demurely, with Tom on guard
over her on one side, and Henry Ward looking sulky on the
other, with his youngest sister in his charge. The other was
looking very happy upon Leonard's knee, close to Averil and
Mary, who were evidently highly satisfied to have coalesced.
Averil was looking strikingly pretty — the Hght fell favour-
ably on her profuse glossy hair, straight features, and bril-
liant colouring ; her dark eyes were full of animation, and
her lips were apart with a smile as she listened to Leonard's
eager narration ; and Ethel glanced towards Harry to see
whether he were admiring. No ; Harry was bringing in a
hall arm-chair in the background, for a very large, heavy,
vulgar-looking old man, who seemed too ponderous and in-
firm for a place on the benches. Eichard made one of a
black mass of clergy, and Aubrey and Gertrude had asserted
their independence by perching themselves on a window-seat,
as far as possible from all relations, whence they nodded
a merry saucy greeting to Ethel, and she smiled back again,
thinking her tall boy in his grey tunic and black belt, and
her plump girl in white with green ribbons, were as goodly
a pair as the room contakied.

But where was the Doctor ?

Ethel had a shrewd suspicion where she should find him ;
and in the nursery he was, playing at spillekens with his left

It was not easy to persuade him that the music would be
wasted on her, and that he ought to go down that it might
receive justice ; but Margaret settled the question. " You


may go, grandpapa, Aunt Ethel is best to play at spillekens,
for she has not got a left hand."

"There's honour for me, who used to have two!" and
therewith Ethel turned him out in time for the overture.

Margaret respected her aunt sufficiently not to be extra
wayward with her, and between the spillekens, and a long
story about cousin Dickie in New Zealand, all went well till
bed-time. There was something in the child's nervous tem-
perament that made the first hours of the night peculiarly
painful to her, and the sounds of the distant festivity added
to her excitability. She fretted and tossed, moaned and
wailed, sat up in bed and cried, snapped off attempts at
hymns, would not listen to stories, and received Ethel's
attempts at calm grave commands with bursts of crying, and
calls for mamma and papa. The music had ceased, tuning of
violins was heard, and Ethel dreaded the cries being heard
down stairs. She was at her wits' end, and was thinking
who would most avail, and could be fetched with least sensa-
tion ; when there was a soft knock at the door, and Harry's
voice said, " Hollo, what's the matter here 1 " In he came
with his white glove half on, and perceiving the state of the
case said, " Can't go to sleep V

" Oh Uncle Harry, take me ; " and the arms were stretched
out, and the tear-stained face raised up.

"We'll put you to sleep as sound as if you were in a
hammock just off middle watch," said Harry ; and the next
moment he had her rolled up in her little blue dressing-gown,
nestling on his broad shoulder, while he walked up and down
the room, crooning out a nautical song, not in first-rate style,
but the effect was perfect ; the struggles and sobs were over,
and when at the end of a quarter of an hour Harry paused


and looked at the little thin sharp face, it was softened by
peaceful sleep.

Ethel pointed to the door. There stood Flora, her eyes
full of tears.

Harry laid the little sleeper on her bed, and covered her
up. Flora laid her arm on his shoulder and gave him such
a kiss as she had not given even when he had come back as
from the dead. Then she signed to them to come, but sped
away before them, not trusting herself to speak. Ethel tarried
with Harry, who was in difficulties with gloves too small for
his broad hand, and was pshawing at himseK at having let
Tom get them for him at Whitford.

" Oh Harry," said Ethel, " you are the most really like papa
of us all ! How did you come to think of it ? "

" I'd have given a good deal if any one would have walked
quarter deck with me some nights last summer," said Harry,
still intent on the glove. '' What is to be done, Ethel? that
rogue Tom always snaps up all the beauty. I dare say he has
engaged Miss Ward and the widow both."

It was no time for sentiment ; so Ethel suggested getting
half into one glove, and carrying the other. " You'll be quite
irresistible enough, Harry ! And if all the beauty is engaged,
I'll dance with you myself."

" Will you 1 " cried the Lieutenant with sparkling eyes,
"then you are a jolly old Ethel ! Come along, then ;" and
he took her on his arm, ran down stairs with her, and before
she well knew where she was, or what was going on, she
found herself in his great grasp passive as a doll, dragged
off into the midst of a vehement polka that took her breath
j away. She trusted to him, and remained in a passive, lialf-
I frightened state, glad he was so happy ; but in the first pause


heartily -wishing he would let her go, instead of which she
only heard, " Well done, old Ethel, you'll he a prime dancer
yet ! you're as light as a feather ; " and before she had re-
covered her breath, o£f he led her with " Go it again ! "

AMien at length, panting and bewildered, she was safely
placed on a seat, with " You've had enough, have you 1 mind, I
sha'n't let you off another time," she found that her aberration
had excited a good deal of sensation in her own family.
Blanche and Gertrude could not repress their amusement ;
and Dr. May, with merry eyes, declared that she was coming
out in a new light. She had only time to confide to him the
reason that she had let Harry do what he pleased with her,
before two volunteers were at her side.

" Miss May, I did not think you ever danced ! "

" 'Not I," said Ethel ; " but you see what sailors can do
with one."

" JS'ow, Ethel," said the other over his shoulder, " now
you have danced with Harry, you must have this waltz with

" A dangerous precedent, Ethel," said the Doctor, laughing.

" I couldn't waltz to save my life, Aubrey," said Ethel ;
" but if you can bear me through a polka as well as Harry
did, you may try the next."

" And won't you — will you — for once dance with me ?" said
his companion imploringly.

" Very well, Leonard, if I ,can get through a quadrille ; "
and therewith Ethel was seized upon by both boys to hear
the story of every hit and miss, and of each of the difficulties
that their unpractised corps had encountered in getting round
the comers between Stoneborough and the Grange. Then
came Leonard's quadrille, which it might be hoped was grati-


l'}ing to him ; but which he executed with as much solemn
deference as if he had been treading a minuet with a princess,
plainly regarding it as the great event of the day. In due
time, he resigned her to Aubrey j but poor Aubrey had been
deluded by the facility with which the strong and practised
sailor had swept his victim along ; and Ethel grew terrified
at the danger of collisions, and released herself and pulled
him aside by force, just in time to avoid being borne down
by the ponderous weight of Miss Boulder and her partner.

" You did not come to grief with Harry ! " muttered the
discomfited boy.

" Xo more did the lamb damage the eagle ; but remember
the fate of the jackdaw, Mr. Grey-coat ! I deserve some ice
for my exertions, so come into the hall and get some, and tell
me if you have had better luck elsewhere."

" I have had no partner but Minna AVard, and she trips as
if one was a dancing master."

" And how has Tom been managing 1 "

" Stunningly civil ! He began with Ave "Ward, in the
Lancers, and it was such fun — he chafied her in his solemn
way, about music I believe it was, and her harmonium. I
could not quite hear, but I could see she was in a tremendous
taking, and she won't recover it all the evening."

" AATiat a shame it is of Tom ! "

" Oh ! but it is such fun ! And since that he has been
parading with Pug."

" She has not danced ! "

" Oh no ! She got an audience into ]Meta's little sitting-
room — Henry Ward, Harvey Anderson, and some of the
curates ; they shut the door, and had some music on their
own hook,"



" Was Richard there ? "

" At first ; but either he could not bear to see Meta's piano
profaned, or he thought it too strong when they got to the
sacred line, for he bolted, and is gone home."

" There's Harry dancing with Fanny Anderson. He has
not got Miss Ward all this time."

" Nor will," said Aubrey. " Tom had put her in such a
rage that she did not choose to dance with that cousin of
hers, Sam Axworthy, so she was obliged to refuse every one
else ; and I had to put up with that child ! "

" Sam Axworthy ! He does not belong to our corps. How
does he come here ? "

" Oh ! the old man has some houses in the borough, and
an omnium gatherum like this was a good time to do the
civil tiling to him. There he is ; peep into the card-room,
and you'll see his great porpoise back, the same old man that
Harry iu liis benevolence assisted to a chair. He shook
hands with Leonard, and told him there was a snug desk at
the Vintry Mill for him."

" I dare say ! "

" And when Leonard thankod him, and said he hoped to
get off to Cambridge, he laughed that horrid fat laugh, and
told him learning would never put him in good case. Where
shall I find you a place to sit down 1 Pug and her tail have
taken up all the room," whispered Aubrey, as by the chief of
the glittering tables in the hall, he saw Mrs. Pugh, drinking
tea, surrounded by her attendant gentlemen, and with her
aunt and Ella Ward, like satellites, a little way from her.

" Here is a coign of vantage," said Ethel, seating herself on
a step a little way up the staircase. " How those people have
taken possession of that child all day ! "


" I fancy Leonard is come to reclaim her," said Aubrey,
" don't you see him trying to work through and get at her ?
and Miss Ward told me she was going home early, to put the
children to bed. Ha ! what's the row ? There's Leonard
flaring up in a regular rage ! Only look at his eyes — and
Henry just like Gertrude's Java sparrow in a taking — "

" It must not be," cried Ethel, starting up to attempt she
knew not what, as she heard Leonard's words, '' Say it was a
mistake, Henry I You cannot be so base as to persist ! "

There it became evident that Ethel and Aubrey were seen
over the balusters ; Leonard's colour deepened, but his eye
did not flinch ; though Henry quailed and backed, and the
Avidow gave a disconcerted laugh ; then Leonard pounced on
his little sister and carried her off to the cloak-room. ""What
treason could it have been 1 " muttered Aubrey ; "we shall
get it all from "Ward ; " but when Leonard re-appeared it was
with his sister cloaked and bonneted on his arm, each leading
a little one ; he took them to the entrance and was seen no

Xor was the true history of that explosion ever revealed
in the May family, though it had grave consequences at

Eumour had long declared at Stoneborough that the mem-
ber's little daughter was carefully secluded on account of
some deformity, and jVIrs. Pugh had been one of many ladies
who had hoped to satisfy their curiosity on this head upon
the present occasion. She had asked Henry Ward whether
it were so, and he had replied with picj^ue that he had no
means of judging, he had never been called in at the Grange.
By way of salve to his feelings, the sympathizing lady had
suggested that the preference for London advice might be

N 2


from the desire of secrecy, and improbable as he knew this to
be, his vanity had forbidden him to argue against it. When
no little Miss Rivers appeared, the notion of her affliction
gained ground, and Leonard, whose grey back was undis-
tinguishable from other gi-ey backs, heard Mrs. Pugh citing
his brother as an authority for the misfortune which Mr. and
Mrs. Rivers so carefully concealed as to employ no surgeon
from their own neighbourhood.

Falsehood, slander, cruelty, ingratitude, breach of hos-
pitality, were the imputations that fired the hot brain of
Leonard, and ^Tithed his lips, as he started round, confronted
the lady, and assured her it was a — a — a gross mistake. His
father had always attended the child, and she must have
misunderstood his brother. Then, seeing Henry at a little
distance, Leonard summoned him to contradict the allegation ;
but at that moment the sudden appearance of the two Mays
put the whole conclave to silence.

iN'ot aware that ^Irs. Pugh had confounded together his
intelligence and her surmise, and made him responsible for
both, Henry was shocked and grieved at his brother's in-
sulting and violent demeanour, and exhausted himself in
apologies and denunciations ; while the kind-hearted lady
interceded for the boy, declaring that she doted on his
generous spirit, but not confessing the piece of female em-
broidery which had embroiled the matter, probably not even
aware of it, though sincerely and kindly desirous to avert the
brother's anger. Her amiability therefore only strengthened
Henry's sense of his brother's outrage, and his resolve to call
him to account.

It was impossible that night, for Leonard had gone home
with the sisters, and was in bed long before his brother


retiirned. But at breakfast Henry found the forces drawn up
against him, and his first attempt to remonstrate was retorted
by the demand what he could mean by spreading sueli
an abominable report — cruel — unfounded — ungrateful —
spiteful —

Averil indeed divined that it was Mrs. Pugh's invention ;
but Henry was not inclined to give up ]\Irs. Pugh, and con-
tinued in the belief that Leonard's fiery imagination had
fabricated the sentence, and then most improperly charged it
on the lady, and on himsel£ Had it been as Leonard stated,
said Henr}', his conduct was shameful and required an apology ;
whereupon Leonard burst out in passion at being disbelieved,
and Averil was no less indignant. The storm raged till the
business of the day interrupted it ; and in Henry's absence,
Averil and her brother worked up their wi^ath again, at
the atrocity of the assertion regarding the child of their
entertainers, the grand-daughter of their truest, kindest

Averil would have rushed to ^lary with the whole stor}^,
but for Leonard's solemn asseveration that if ever it came
to the ears of any one of the Mays, he should send back
his rifle to iSIr. Emescliffe, and work his way out to one
of the colonies rather than again look any of the family in
the face.

Henry divided his opponents next time, asking Leonard,
in his sister's absence, whether he had come to his senses
and would apologize 1 Leonard hoped Henry had come to
his ! On the whole, the dispute had lost some asperity by
the absence of Averil, and though Leonard held his ground,
and maintained that he had every right to deny the statement,
and that it was Henry's duty to make Mrs. Pugh contradict

182 ' THE TRIAL.

it everywhere, yet the two approached nearer together, and
there was less misunderstanding, fewer personalities.

But Averil could not forget or forgive. She persisted in
manifesting her displeasure, and recurred to the subject till
her pertinacity wore out Leonard himself.

" Xonsense, Ave," he said at last, " it was a foolish woman's
gossip that Henry ought to have quashed ; but that is no
reason you should treat them like toads."

" AVould you have me sanction vile slander ? "

"As if you were sanctioning slander by being decently
civil ! Is not it an intolerable thing that we three should
never sit down to a meal in peace together ? "

" Leonard, don't you think I feel the misery ? "

" Put an end to it then, and don't pit those poor children
one against the other. Just fancy Minna's saying to me, * I
love you and sister, but Ella loves Mrs. Pugh and Henry.' "

" Yes, they have set Ella against me. She always appeals
to Henry, and I can do nothing with her."

Leonard looked out of the window and whistled, then said
as if he had made a discovery, " I'll tell you what, Ave, some-
thing must be done to set things to rights between us, and I
believe the best thing will be to call on Mrs. Pugh."

" !N'ot to apologize 1 Leonard ! "

" Stuff and nonsense ! Only to show we don't bear malice.
Henry had been at you to call ever so long before this, had
he not r'

" I can't see any reason for intimacy."

" I declare, Ave, you are too bad ! I only want you just
to keep the peace with your own brother. You have led him
the life of a dog these three days, and now when I want you
to be a little obliging, you talk of intimacy ! "


" Only because I know how it will be. If I give that
woman an inch, she will take an ell."

" Let her then. It would be much better than always
living at daggers-drawn with one's brother." Then, after
waiting for her to say something, he added, " If you won't go
with me, I shall go alone."

Averil rose, subdued but not convinced, reverencing her
brother, but afraid of his concessions.

However, the call turned out weU. Mrs. Pugh had a
talent for making herself agreeable, and probably had liked
the boy for his outburst. She would not let Mab be ex-
cluded, loaded her with admiration, and was extremely inter-
ested in the volunteer practice, so that both the young people
were subjugated for the time by her pleasant manners, and
went away ashamed of their own rancour against one so
friendly and good natured, and considerably relieved of their
burden of animosity.

Their greeting to their brother was so cordial that he per-
ceived their good will, and was sorry that the dread of an
evening of warfare had induced him to accept an invitation
to dine at the Swan mth Sam Axworthy and a party of his



** This night is my departing night,
For here nae longer must I stay ;
There's neither friend nor foe of mine

But wishes me away.
"What I have done through lack of wit,

I never never can recall :
I hope ye're all my friends as yet.
Good-night, and joy be with you all,"

Armstrong'' s Good-night.

The storm had blown over, but hea^T" flakes of cloud still
cumbered the air, and gusts of wind portended that it might
gather again.

Henry AVard took this opportunity of giving his first
dinner-part}'. He said it was a necessary return for the
civilities they had received ; and to Averil's representation
that it transgressed the system of rigid economy that so
much tormented her, he replied by referring her to Mrs.
Pugh for lessons in the combination of style and inex-

Averil had almost refused, but the lady herself proffered
her instructions, and reluctance was of no avail ; nothing
but demonstrations from which her conscience shrank, could


have served to defend her from the officious interference
so eagerly and thankfully encouraged by the master of
the house. Vainly did she protest against pretension, and
quote the example of the Grange ; she found herself com-
pelled to sacrifice the children's lessons to learn of Mrs.
Pugh to make the paper flowers that, with bonbons and
sweetmeats, were to save the expense of good food on the
dinner table, and which she feared would be despised by
!Miss ^lay, nay, perhaps laughed over ^ "Mr. Tom ! "

She hated the whole concern, even the invitation to Dr.
and Miss May, knowing that it was sent in formal vanity,
accepted in pure good nature, would bring them into society
they did not like, and expose her brother's bad taste. Only
one thing could have added to her dislike, namely — that which
all Stoneborough perceived excepting herself and Leonard
— that this dinner was intended as a step in Henry's court-
ship, and possibly as an encouragement of Harvey Anderson's
liking for herself. Averil held her head so high, and was so
little popular, that no one of less assurance than ]\Irs.
Ledwich herself would have dared approach her with per-
sonal gossip j and even Mrs. Ledwich was silent here ; so
that Averil, too vounsj and innocent to connect second
marriages with recent widowhood, drew no conclusions from
Henry's restless eagerness that his household should present
the most imposing appearance.

"While the bill of fare was worrying Averil, Leonard was
told by Aubrey, that his father had brought home a fossil
Tower of Babel, dug up with some earth out of a new 'well,

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 21)