Charlotte Mary Yonge.

The trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) online

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three miles off, with tidings of other unheard-of treasures j
and a walk was projected in quest of them, in which Leonard
was invited to join. He gladly came to the early dinner,


where he met reduced numbers — the Ernescliffes being at
Maplewood, Tom at Cambridge, and Harry in the Channel
fleet; and as usual, he felt the difference between the
perfect understanding and friendship in the one home, and
the dread of dangerous subjects in the other. The ex-
pedition had all the charms of the Coombe times ; and the
geological discoveries were so numerous and precious, that
the load became sufficient to break do^vn the finders, and
Ethel engaged a market woman to bring the baskets in her
cart the next morning.

That morning a note from Eichard begged Ethel to come
early to Cocksmoor to see Granny Hall, who was djing.
Thus left to their own devices, Aubrey and Gertrude con-
scientiously went through some of their studies ; then pro-
ceeded to unpack their treasury of fossils, and endeavour to
sort out Leonard's share, as to which doubts arose. Daisy
proposed to carry the specimens at once to Bankside, where
she wanted to see Leonard's prime echinus ; and Aubrey
readily agreed, neither of the young heads having learnt the
undesirableness of a morning visit in a house preparing for a
dinner-party too big for it.

However, Leonard made them extremely welcome. It
was too foggy a day for rifle practice, and all the best plate
and china were in the school-room, his only place of refuge ;
Ave was fluttering about in hopes of getting everything done
before Mrs. Pugh could take it out of her hands, and the
energies of the household were spent on laying out the
dining table. It was clearly impossible to take Gertrude
anywhere but into the dra^ning-room, which was in demi-
toilette state, the lustres released from their veils, the gayer
cushions taken out of their hiding-places, and the brown


holland covers half off. This was the only tranquil spot,
and so poor little Mab thought, forbidden ground though it
■was. Even in her own home, the school-room, a strange
man had twice trod upon her toes ; so no wonder, when she
saw her own master and his friends in the drawing-room,
that she ventured in, and leaping on a velvet cushion she
had never seen before, and had never been ordered ofi^ she
there curled herself up and went to sleep, trnseen by
Leonard, who was in eager controversy upon the specimens,
which Gertrude, as she unpacked, set down on floor, chair,
or ottoman, unaware of the offence she was committing. So,
unmolested, the young geologists talked, named, and sorted
the specimens, till the clock striking the half hour, warned
the Mays that they must return ; and Leonard let them out
at the window, and crossed the lawn to the side gate with
them to save the distance.

He had just returned, and was kneeling on the floor hastily
collecting the fossils, when the door opened, and Henry
'Ward, coming home to inspect the preparations, beheld the-
drawing-room bestrewn with the rough stones that he had
proscribed, and Mab, not only in the room, but reposing in
the centre of the most magnificent cushion in the house !

His first movement of indignation was to seize the dog
with no gentle hand. She whined loudly ; and Leonard,
whom he had not seen, shouted angrily " Let her alone ; "
then, at another cry from her, finding his advance to her
rescue impeded by a barricade of the crowded and dis-
arranged furniture, he grew mad with passion, and launched
the stone in his hand, a long sharp-pointed belemnite. It
did not strike Henry, but a sound proclaimed the mischief,
as it fell back from the surface of the mirror, making a huge


star of cracks, unmarked by Leonard, who, pushing sofa and
ottoman to the right and left, thundered up to his brother,
and with uplifted hand demanded what he meant by his

"Is — is this defiance?" stammered Henry, pointing to
the disordered room. ** Look here, Averil," as she appeared
at the sounds, " do you defend this boy now he has very
nearly killed me 1 "

" Killed you ! " and Leonard laughed angrily ; but when
Henry held up the elf-bolt, and he saw its sharp point, he
was shocked, and he saw horror in Averil's face.

" I see," he said gravely. " It was a mercy I did not ! "
and he paused. " I did not know what I was about when
you were mis-using my dog, Henry. Shake hands; I am
sorry for it."

But Henry had been very much frightened as well as
angered, and thought, perhaps, it was a moment to pursue
his advantage.

" You treat things lightly," he said, not accepting the hand.
" See what you have done."

" I am glad it was not your head," said Leonard. " What
does it cost ? I'll pay."

" More than your keep for a year," moaned Henry, as
he sighed over the long limbs of the starfish-like fracture.

" Well, I will give up anything you like, if you will only
not be sulky about it, Henry. It was unlucky, and I'm
sorry for it ; I can't say more ! "

" But I can," said Henry with angry dignity, re-inforced by
the sight of the seamed reflection of his visage in the
shivered glass. " I tell you, Leonard, there's no having you
in the house ; you defy my authority, you insult my friends.


you waste and destroy more than you are worth, and you are
absohitely dangerous. I would as soon have a wild beast about
the place. If you don't get the Eandall next week, and get off
to the University, to old Axworthy's office you go at once."

"Very well, I will/' said Leonard, turning to collect the
fossils, as if he had done with the subject.

" Henry, Henry, what are you saying ] " cried the sister.

" ^ot a word, Ave," said Leonard. " I had rather break
stones on the road than live where my keep is grudged, and
there's not spirit enough to get over a moment's fright."

" It is not any one individual thing," began Henry, in a
tone of annoyance, " but your whole course — "

There he paused, perceiving that Leonard paid no attention
to his words, continuing quietly to replace the furniture and
collect the fossils, as if no one else were in the room, after
which he carried the basket up-stairs.

Averil hurried after him. " Leonard ! oh why don't you
explain? "Why don't you tell him how the stones came
there ? "

Leonard shook his head sternly.

" Don't you mean to do anything 1 "

" Nothing."

" But you wanted another year before trj-ing for the

" Yes ; I have no chance there."

" He will not do it ! He cannot mean it ! "

" I do then. I will get my own living, and not be a
burthen, where my brother cannot forgive a broken glass
or a moment's fright," said Leonard ; and she felt that his
calm resentment was worse than his violence.

" He will be cooler, and then — "


" I will have no more said to him. It is plain that we
cannot live together, and there's an end of it. Don't cry, or
you won't be fit to be seen."

" I won't come down to dinner."

" Yes, you will. Let us have no more about it. Some-
one wants you."

" Please, Ma'am, the fish is come."

*' Sister, Sister, come and see how I have done up the
macaroons in green leaves."

" Sister, Sister, do come and reach me down some caly-
canthus out of the greenhouse ! "

" I will," said Leonard, descending ; and for the rest of
the day he was an efficient assistant in the decorations, and
the past adventure was only apparent in the shattered glass,
and the stern ceremonious courtesy of the younger brother
towards the elder.

Averil hurried about, devoid of all her former interest in
so doing things for herself as to save interference ; and when
Mrs. Ledwich and Mrs. Pugh walked in, overflowing with
suggestions, she let them have their way, and toiled under
them with the sensation of being like " dumb driven cattle."
If Leonard were to be an exile, what mattered it to her who
ruled, or what appearance things made 1

Only when she went to her own room to dress, had she a
moment to realize the catastrophe, its consequences, and the
means of avertmg them. So appalled was she, that she sat
with her hair on her shoulders as if spell-bound, till the first
ring at the door aroused her to speed and consternation,
perhaps a little lessened by one of her sisters rushing in to
say that it was ]SIrs. Ledwich and ]Mrs. Pugh, and that
Henry was still in the cellar, decanting the wine.

THE JFdXI.. 191

Long before the hosts were ready, Dr. !May and Ethel had
likewise arrived, and became cognizant of the fracture of
the mirror, for, though the nucleus was concealed by a large
photograph stuck into the frame, one long crack extended
even to the opposite corner. The two ladies were not slow
to relate all that they knew ; and while the aunt dismayed
Ethel by her story, the niece, with much anxiety, asked
Dr. May how it Avas that these dear nice superior young
people should have such unfortunate tempers — was it from
any error in management ? So earnest was her manner, so
inquiring her look, that Dr. May suspected that she was
feeling for his opinion on personal grounds, and tried to
avert the danger by talking of the excellence of the parents,
but he was recalled from his eulogium on poor Mrs. "Ward.

" Oh yes ! one felt for them so very much, an«l they are
so religious, so well principled, and all that one could wish ;
but family dissension is so dreadful. I am very little used
to young men or boys, and I never knew anytliing like

" The lads are too nearly of an age," said the Doctor.

*' And would such things be likely to happen among any
brothers ? "

" I should trust not ! " said the Doctor emphatically.

" I should so like to know in confidence which you think
likely to be most to blame."

Xever was the Doctor more glad that Averil made her
appearance ! He carefully avoided getting near Mrs. Pugh
for the rest of the evening, but he could not help obserA-ing
that she was less gracious than usual to the master of the
house ; while she summoned Leonard to her side to ask


about the volunteer proceedings, and formed lier immediate
court of Harvey Anderson and Mr. Scudamore.

The dinner went off fairly, though heavily. Averil, in
her one great trouble, lost the sense of the minor offences
that would have distressed her pride and her taste had she
been able to attend to them, and forgot the dulness of the
scene in her anxiety to seek sympathy and counsel in the
only quarter where she cared for it. She went mechanically
through her duties as lady of the house, talking common-
place subjects dreamily to Dr. May, and scarcely even giving
herself the trouble to be brief with_^Mr. Anderson, who was
on her other side at dinner.

In the drawing-room, she left the other ladies to their own
devices in her eagerness to secure a few minutes with Ethel
May, and disabuse her of whatever Mrs. Ledwich or Mrs.
Pugh might have said. Ethel had been more hopeful before
she heard the true version ; she had hitherto allowed much
for Mrs. Ledwich's embellishments ; and she was shocked
and took shame to her own guiltless head for Gertrude's

" Oh no ! " said Averil, " there was nothing that any one
need have minded, if Henry had waited for explanation !
And now, will you get Dr. May to speak to him'? If he
only knew how people would think of his treating Leonard
so, I am sure he would not do it."

" He cannot ! " said Ethel. " Don't you know what he
thinks of it himself ? He said to papa last year that your
father would as soon have sent Leonard to the hulks as to
the Vintry Mill"

" Oh, I am so glad some one heard him. He would care


about having that cast up against him, if he cared for
nothing else."

" It must have been a mere threat. Leonard surely has
only to ask his pardon."

" Xo, indeed, not again. Miss May ! " said Averil. Leo-
nard asked once, and was refused, and cannot ask again.
Xo, the only difficulty is whether he ought not to keep to
his word, and go to the mill if he does not get the Eandall."

" Did he say he would ? "

" Of course he did, when Henry threatened him with it,
and talked of the burden of his maintenance ! He said,
* Very well, I will,' and he means it ! "

" He will not mean it when the spirit of repentance has
had time to waken."

" He will take nothing that is grudged him," said Averil.
" Oh ! is it not hard that I cannot get at my own money,
and send him at once to Cambridge, and never ask Henry
for another farthing ? "

" Kay, Averil ; I think you can do a better part by trying
to make them forgive one another."

Averil had no notion of Leonard's again abasing himself,
and though she might try to bring Henry to reason by
reproaches, she would not persuade. She wished her guest
had been the sympathizing jMary rather than ]\Iiss May, who
was sure to take the part of the elder and the authority.
Eepentance ! Forgiveness ! If Miss May should work on
Leonard to sue for pardon and toleration, and Mrs. Pugh
should intercede with Henry to take him into favour, slie
had rather he were at the Vintry Mill at once in his dignity,
and Henry be left to his disgrace.

Ethel thought of Dr. Spencer's w^ords on the beach at

VOL. I. o


Coombe, " Never threaten Providence ! " She longed to
repeat them to Leonard, as she watched his stern determined
face, and the elaborately quiet motions that spoke of a fixed
resentful purpose ; but to her disappointment and misgiving
he gave her no opportunity, and for the first time since their
sea-side intercourse, held aloof from her,

Xor did she see him again during the week that intervened
before the decision of the scholarship, though three days of
it were holidays. Aubrey, whom she desired to bring him
in after the rifle drill, reported that he pronounced himself
sorry to refuse, but too busy to come in, and he seemed to
be cramming with fiery vehemence for the mere chance of

The chance w^as small. The only hope lay in the pos-
sibility of some hindrance preventing the return of either
Forder or Folliot ; and in the meantime the Mays anxiously
thought over Leonard's prospects. His remaining at home
was evidently too great a trial for both brothers, and without
a scholarship he could not go to the University. The evils
of the alternative ofi'ered by his brother were duly weighed
by the Doctor and Ethel with an attempt to be im-

Mr. Axworthy, though the mill was the centre of his
business, was in fact a corn merchant of considerable wealth,
and with opportunities of extending his connexion much
further. Had his personal character been otherwise. Dr. May
thought a young man could not have a better opening than
a seat in his office, and the fature power of taking shares in
his trade ; there need be no loss of position, and there was
great likeUhood both of prosperity and the means of ex-
tensive usefulness.


Ethel sighed at the thought of the higher aspirations that
she had fostered till her own mind was set on them.

" ^ay," said the Doctor, " depend upon it, the desk is
admirable training for good soldiers of the Church. See the
fearful evil that befals great schemes entrusted to people
who cannot deal with money matters ; and see, on the other
hand, what our merchants and men of business have done
for the Church ; and do not scorn * the receipt of custom.' "

" But the man, papa ! "

" Yes, there lies the hitch ! If Leonard fails, I can lay
things before Henry, such as perhaps he may be too young
to know, and which must change his purpose."

Mr. Axworthy^s career during his youth and early man-
hood was guessed at rather than known, but even since his
return and occupation of the Yintry Mill, his vicious habits
had scandalized the neighbourhood ; and though the more
flagrant of these had been discontinued as he advanced in
age, there was no reason to hope that he had so much " left
off his sins, as that his sins had left him off." His great
nephew, who lived Avith him and assisted in his business,
was a dashing sporting young man of no good character,
known to be often intoxicated, and concerned in much low
dissipation, and as dangerous an associate as could be con-
ceived for a high-spirited lad like Leonard. Dr. May could
not believe that any provocation of temper, any motive of
economy, any desire to be rid of encumbrances to his court-
ship, could induce a man with so much good in him, as there
certainly was in Henry Ward, to expose his orphan brother
to such temptations ; and he only reserved his remonstrance
in the trust that it would not be needed, and the desire to
offer some better alternative of present relief

o 2


One of the examiners was Norman's old school and college
friend, Charles Cheviot, now a clergyman and an under-master
at one of the great schools recently opened for the middle
classes, where he was meeting with great success, and was
considered a capital judge of boys' characters. He was the
guest of the INIays during the examination j and though his
shy formal manner, and con\^ilsive efforts at young lady talk
greatly affronted Gertrude, the brothers liked him.

He was in consternation at the decline of Stoneborough
school since Mr. Wilmot had ceased to be an under-master ;
the whole tone of the school had degenerated, and it was
no wonder that the Government inquiries were ominously
directed in that quarter. Scholarship was at a low ebb,
Dr. Hoxton seemed to have lost what power of teaching he
had ever possessed, and as Dr. May obsei'ved, the poor old
school was going to the dogs. But even in the present state
of things Leonard had no chance of excelling his competitors.
His study, like theirs, had been mere task-work, and though
he showed more native power than the rest, yet perhaps this
had made the mere learning by rote even more difficult to an
active mind full of inquiry. He was a whole year younger
than any other who touched the foremost ranks, two year
younger than several ; and though he now and then showed
a feverish spark of genius, reminding Mr. Cheviot of Norman
in his famous examination, it was not sustained — there were
will and force, but not scholarship — and besides, there was
a wide blurred spot in his memory, as though all the brain-
work of the quarter before his illness had been confused,
and had not yet become clear. There was every likelihood
that a few years would make him superior to the chosen
Randall scholar, but at present his utmost efforts did not


even place Min among the seven whose names appeared
honourably in the newspaper. It was a failure ; but jVIt.
Cheviot had become much interested in the boy for his own
sake, as well as from what he heard from the Mays, and he
strongly advised that Leonard should at Easter obtain em-
ployment for a couple of years at the school in which he
himself was concerned. He would thus be maintaininsr
himself, and pui'suing his own studies under good direction,
so as to have every probability of success in getting an open
scholarship at one of the Universities.

Nothing could be better, and there was a perfect jubilee
among the Mays at the proposal. Aubrey was despatched
as soon as breakfast was over to bring Leonard to talk it
over, and Dr. jMay undertook to propound it to Henry on
meeting him at the hospital ; but Aubrey came back looking
very blank, Leonard had started of his own accord that
morning to announce to his uncle his acceptance of a clerk's
desk at the Vintry :Mill !

Averil followed upon Aubrey's footsteps, and arrived while
the schoolroom was ringing with notes of vexation and con-
sternation. She was all upon the defensive. She said that
not a word had passed on the subject since the dinner-party,
and there had not been a shadow of a dispute between the
brothers ; in fact, she evidently was delighted with Leonard's
dignified position and strength of determination, and thought
this expedition to the Yintry ]\Iill a signal victory.

AATien she heard what the Mays had to propose, she was
enchanted ; she had no doubt of Henry's willing consent, and
felt that Leonard's triumph and independence were secured
without the sacrifice of prospects, which she had begun to
regard as a considerable price for liis dignity.


But Dr. May was not so successful with. Henry Ward.
He did not want to disoblige his uncle, who had taken a fancy
to Leonard, and might do much for the family ; he thought
his father would have changed his views of the uncle and
nephew had he known them better, he would not accept the
opinion of a stranger against people of his own family, and he
had always understood the position of an usher to be most
wretched ; nor would he perceive the vast difference between
the staff of the middle school and of the private commercial
academy. He evidently was pleased to stand upon his
rights, to disappoint Dr. May, and perhaps to gratify his
jealousy by denying his brother a superior education.

Yet in spite of this ebullition, which had greatly exasperated
Dr. May, there was every probability that Henry's consent
might be wrung out or dispensed with, and plans of attack
were being arranged at the tea-table, when a new obstacle
arose, in tbe shape of a note from Leonard himself.

" My dear Aubrey,

" I am very much obliged to Dr. May and Mr.
Cheviot for their kind intentions ; but I have quite settled
with jNlr. Axworthy, and I enter on my new duties next
week. I am sorry to leave our corps, but it is too far off, and
I must enter the Whitford one.


'•'L. A. Ward."

*' The boy is mad with i)ride and temper," said the Doctor.
" And his sister has made him so," added Ethel.
"Shall I run down to Bankside and tell him it is all
bosh 1 " said Aubrey, jumping up.


" I don't think that is quite possible under Henry's very
nose," said Ethel. " Perhaps they •svill all be tamer by to-
morrow, now they have blown their trumpets ; but I am very
much vexed."

" And really," added ]Mr. Cheviot, " if he is so wrong-
headed, I begin to doubt if I could recommend him."

"You do not know how he has been galled and irritated,"
said the general voice.

" I wonder what Mrs. Pugh thinks of it," presently observed
the Doctor.

"Ah!" said Ethel, "Mrs. Pugh is reading 'John of
Anjou.' "

" Indeed ! " said the Doctor ; " I suspected the vnnd. was
getting into that quarter. Master Henry does not know his own
interest ; she was sure to take part with a handsome lad."

" VThj have you never got ^Irs. Pugh to speak for him ? "
said Mary. " I am sure she would."

" Mary ! simple Mary, you to be Ave's friend, and not
know that her interposition is the only thing wanting to
complete the frenzy of the other two 1 "

Ethel said little more that evening, she was too much
grieved and too anxious. She was extremely disappointed in
Leonard, and almost hopeless as to his future. She saw but
one chance of preventing his seeking this place of temptation
and that was in the exertion of her personal influence. His
avoidance of her showed that he dreaded it, but one attempt
must be made. All night was spent in broken dreams of just
failing to meet him, or of being unable to utter what was on
her tongue ; and in her waking moments she almost reproached
herself for the discovery how near her heart he was, and how
much pleasure his devotion had given her.


Nothing but resolution on her own part could bring about
a meeting, and she was resolute. She stormed the castle in
person, and told Averil she micst speak to Leonard. Ave was
on her side now, and answered with tears in her eyes that she
should be most grateful to have Leonard persuaded out of this
dreadful plan, and put in the way of excelling as he ought to
do ; she never thought it would come to this.

"Xo," thought Ethel ; "people blow sparks without think-
ing they may burn a house down.^'

Ave conducted her to the summer-house, where Leonai-d
was packing up his fossils. He met them with a face reso-
lutely bent on brightness. " I am to take all my household
gods," he said, as he shook hands with Ethel.

" I see," said Ethel gravely ; and as Averil was already
falling out of hearing, she added, " I thought you were
entirely breaking with your old life."

"Xo, indeed," said Leonard, turning to walk with her in
the paths ; " I am leaving the place where it is most im-
possible to live in."

" This has been a place of great, over-great trial, I know,"
said Ethel, " but I do not ask you to stay in it."

" My word is my word," said Leonard, snapping little

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 21)