Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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anything, nor assist your unwholesome desire to be second

" I don't know what you mean, Ethel ; of course you
always tell me what to do, and how to do it."

Ethel quite laughed now, but gave up the contest, only
Raying, as she fondly smoothed back a little refractory lock
on Mary's smooth open brow, "Very well then, go and do
Avhatever comes to hand at Bankside, my dear. I do really
want to stay at home, both on Aubrey's accomit, and because
papa says Dr. Spencer is done up, and that I must catch
him and keep him quiet this evening."


Mary was satisfied in her obedience, and set off with
her father. Just as they reached Bankside, a gig drove
up containing the fattest old man she had ever beheld ;
her father whispered that it was old ^Ir. Axworthy, and
sent her at once to the nursery, where she was welcomed
with a little shriek of delight, each child bounding in her
small arm-chair, and pulling her down between them on
the floor for convenience of double hugging, after which
she was required to go on with the doll-dressing.

Mary could not bear to do this, while the knell was
vibrating on her ear, and the two coffins being borne across
the threshold ; so she gathered the orphans within her
embrace as she sat on the floor, and endeavoured to find
out how much they understood of what was passing, and
whether they had any of the right thoughts. It was rather
disap2^ointing. The little sisters had evidently been well
and rehgiously taught, but they were too childish to dwell
on thoughts of awe or grief, and the small minds were
chiefly fixed upon the dolls, as the one bright s^Dot in
the dreary day. Islsury jielded, and worked and answered
their chatter till twilight came on, and the rival ]\Iary
came up to put them to bed, an operation in which she
gave her assistance, almost questioning if she were not
forgotten; but she learnt that her father was still in the
house, the nurse believed looking at papers in ^Mr. Henry's
room with the other gentlemeiu

" And you will sit by us while we go to sleep. Oh !
don't go away ! "

The nurse was thankful to her for so doing, and a some-
what graver mood had come over Minna as she laid her
head on her pillow, for she asked the difficult question.


" Can Mamma see us now ?" Avliicli Mary could only answer
with a tender " Perhaps/' and an attempt to direct the
child to the thought of the Heavenly Father ; and then
]\Iinna asked, " AAlio will take care of us now ? "

" Oh, will you 1 " cried Ella, sitting up ; and both little
maids holding out their arms, made a proffer of themselves
to be her little children. They would be so good if she
would let them be —

Mary could only fondle and smile it off, and put them
in mind that they belonged to their brother and sister ;
but the answer was, '' Ave is not so nice as you. Oh, do
let us—"

" But I can't, my dears. I am Dr. May's child, you know.
What could I say to him 1 "

" Oh ! but Dr. May wouldn't mind ! T know he wouldn't
mind ! Mamma says there w\is never any one so fond of
little children, and he is such a dear good old gentle-

Mary had not recognised him as an old gentleman at
fifty-eight, and did not like it at all. She argued on the
impracticability of taking them from their natural protectors,
and again tried to lead them upwards, finally betaking
herself to the repetition of hymns, which put them to
sleep. She had spent some time in sitting between them
in the summer darkness, when there was a low tap, and
opening the door, she saw her father. Indicating that
they slept, she followed him out, and a whispered conference
took place as he stood below her on the stairs, their heads
on a level.

" Tired, Mary ? I have only just got rid of old


" The nurse said you were busy witli papers in Henry's

" Ay — the "Will. Henry behaves very well ; and is full
of right feeling, poor fellow ! "

" AVhat becomes of those dear little girls 1 They want
to make themselves a present to me, and say they know
you would like it."

" So I should, the darlings ! Well, as things are left, it
all goes to Henry, except the 10,000^. Ward had insured
his life for, which divides between the five. He under-
takes, most properly, to make them a home — whether in
this house or not is another thing ; he and Averil will
look after them ; and he made a most right answer when
]\Ir. Axworthy offered to take Leonard into his office,"
proceeded the communicative doctor, unable to help pouring
himself out, in spite of time and place, as soon as he had
a daughter to himself. " Settle nothing now — education
not finished ; but privately he tells me he believes his
mother would as soon have sent Leonard to the hulks as
to that old rascal, and the scamp, his grandnephew."

Mary's answer to this, as his tones became incautiously
emphatic, was a glance round all the attic doors, lest they
should have ears.

" iN'ow then, do you want to get home 1 " said the doctor,
a little rebuked.

" Oh no, not if there is anything I can do."

" I want to get this girl away from Leonard. He is just
come to the state when it all turns on getting him off to
sleep quietly, and not disturbing him, and she is too excited
and restless to do anything with her ; she has startled him
twice already, and then gets upset — tired out, poor thing !



and will end in being hysterical if she does not get fed and
rested, and then we shall be done for ! IS^ow I want you to
take charge of her. See, here's her room, and I have ordered
np some tea for her. You must get her quieted down, make
her have a tolerable meal, and when she has worked off her
excitement, put her to bed — undressed, mind — and you
might lie down by her. If you can't manage her, call me.
That's Leonard's door, and I shall be there all night ; but
don't if you can help it. Can you do this, or must X get
Miss What-d'ye-call-her, the elder one, if she can leave the
Greens in Eandall's Alley ? "

AYell was it that Mary's heart was stout as well as
tender ; and instead of mentally magnifying the task, and
diminishing her own capabilities, she simply felt that she
had received a command, and merely asked that Ethel should
be informed.

" I am going to send up to her."

"And shall I give Averil anything to take ? "

" Mutton-chops, if you can."

" I meant sal-volatile, or anything to put her to sleep." .

" Xonsense ! I hate healthy girls drugging themselves.
You don't do that at home, ISIary ! "

Mary showed her white teeth in a silent laugh at the
improbability, there being nothing Ethel more detested than
what she rather rudely called nervous quackeries. Her
father gave her a kiss of grateful approbation, and was

There was a light on the table, and preparations for tea ;
and Mary looked round the pretty room, where the orna-
mental paper, the flowery chintz furniture, the shining brass
of the bedstead, the fi'illed muslin toilet, and et ceteras, were


more luxurious than wliat she ever saw, except when visiting
with Flora, and so new as to tell a tale of the mother's fond
preparation for the return of the daughter from school. In
a few moments she heard her father saying, in a voice as if
speaking to a sick child, " Yes, I promise you, my dear. Be
good, be reasonable, and you shall come back in the morning,
jN"©, you can't go there. Henry is going to bed. Here is a
friend for you. Xow, Mary, don't let me see her till she
has slept."

Mary took the other hand, and between them they
placed her in an arm-chair, whose shining fresh white ground
and gay rose-pattern contrasted with her heated, rumpled,
over- watched appearance, as she sank her head on her hand,
not noticing either Mary's presence or the doctor's departure.
Mary stood doubtful for a few seconds, full of pity and
embarrassment, trying to take in the needs of the case.

Averil T^^ard was naturally a plump well-looking girl of
eighteen, with clearly-cut features, healthy highly-coloured
complexion, and large bright hazel eyes, much darker than
her profuse and glossy hair, which was always dressed in the
newest and most styhsh fashion, which, as well as the whole
air of her dress and person, was, though perfectly lady-like,
always regarded by the Stoneborough Vorld as something
on the borders of presumption on the part of the entire
"Ward faroily.

To Mary's surprise, the five weeks terrible visitation, and
these last fearful five days of sleepless exertion and bereave-
ment, had not faded the bright red of the cheek, nor were
there signs of tears, though the eyes looked bloodshot. In-
deed, there was a purple tint about the eyelids and hj^s, a
dried-up appearance, and a heated oppressed air, as if the

D 2


faculties were deadened and burnt up, though her hand was
cold and trembling. Her hair, still in its elaborate arrange-
ment, hung loose, untidy, untouched ; her collar and sleeves
were soiled and tumbled ; her dress, with its inconvenient
machinery of inflation, looked wretched from its incongruity,
and the stains on the huge hanging sleeves. !N"ot a moment
could have been given to the care of her own person, since
the sole burthen of nursing had so grievously and suddenly
descended on her.

Mary's first instinct was to pour out ^ome warm water,
and^ bringing it with a sponge to say, "Would not this
refresh you ? "

Averil moved petulantly ; but the soft warm stream was
so grateful to her burning brow, that she could not resist ;
she put her head back, and submitted like a child to have
her face bathed, saying, " Thank you."

Mary then begged to remove her tight heavy dress, and
make her comfortable in her dressing-gown.

" Oh, I can't ! Then I could not go back."

" Yes, you could ; this is quite a dress ; besides, one can
move so much more quietly without crinoline."

"I didn't think of that;" and she stood up, and un-
fastened her hooks. "Perhaps Dr. May would let me go
back now 1 " as a mountain of mohair and scarlet petticoat
remained on the floor, upborne by an over-grown steel

" Perhaps he will by-and-by ; but he said you must sleep

" Sleep — I can't sleep. There's no one but me. I
couldn't sleep."

" Then at least let me try to freshen you up. There.


You don't know what good it used to do my sister Blanche,
for me to brush her hair. I like it."

And Mary obtained a dreamy soothed submission, so that
she almost thought she was brushing her victim to sleep in
her chair, before the maid came up with the viands that Dr.
May had ordered.

" I can't eat that," said Averil, with almost disgust.
" Take it away."

" Please don't," said Mary. " Is that the way you use me,
Miss Ward, when I come to drink tea with you 1 "
" Oh, I beg your pardon," was the mechanical answer.
Mary having made the long hair, glossy once more, into a
huge braid, and knotted it up, came forth, and insisted that
they were to be comfortable over their grilled chickens' legs.
She was obliged to make her own welcome, and entertain her
hostess; and strenuously she worked, letting the dry lips
imbibe a cup of tea, before she attempted the solids ; then
coaxing and commanding, she gained her point, and suc-
ceeded in causing a fair amount of provisions to be swal-
lowed ; after which Averil seemed more inclined to linger in
enjoyment of the liquids, as though the feverish restlessness
were giving place to a sense of fatigue and need of repose.

"This is all wrong," said she, ivith a faint bewildered
smile, as Mary filled up her cup for her. " I ought to be
treating you as guest. Miss May."

" Oh, don't call me Miss May ! Call me Mary. Think
me a sister. You know I have known something of like
trouble, only I was younger, and I had my sisters."

" I do not seem to have felt anything yet," said Averil,
passing her hands over her face. " I seem to be made of


" You have done : and that is better than feeling."

" Done ! and how miserably ! Oh, the difference it might
have made, if I had been a better nurse ! "

" Papa and Dr. Spencer both say you have been a wonder-
ful nurse, considering — " the last word came out before
Mary was aware.

" Oh, Dr. May has been so kind and so patient with me,
I shall never forget it. Even when I scalded his fingers
with bringing him that boiling water — but I always do
wrong when he is there — and now he won't let me go back
to Leonard."

" But, Averil, the best nurse in the world can't hold out
for ever. People must sleep, and make themselves fit to
go on."

" Not when there is only one : " and she gasped.

" All the more reason, when there is but one. Perhaps it
is because you are tu-ed out that you get nervous and agi-
tated. You will be quite different after a rest."

" Are you sure? " whispered Averil, with her eyes rounded,
" are you sure that is all the reason %''

^' What do you mean '? " said Mary.

Averil drew in her breath, and squeezed both hands tight
on her chest, as she spoke very low : " They sent me away
from mamma — they told me papa wanted me : then they
sent me from him ; they said I was better with Leonard ;
and — and I said to myself, nothing should make me leave

"It was not papa — mi/ father — that sent you without
telling you," said Mary confidently.

" No," said Averil.

" No 3 I have heard him say that he would take all risks,

THE TltlAL. 39

rather than deceive anybody," said ^Nlary eagerly. " I have
heard him and Dr. Spencer argue about what they called
pious frauds, and he always said they were want of faith.
You may trust him. He told me Leonard was in the state
when calm sleep was chiefly wanted. I know he would
think it cmel not to call you if there were need j and I do
not believe there will be need."

Something like this was reiterated in different forms ;
and though Averil never regularly yielded, yet as they sat
on, there came pauses in the conversation, when Mary saw
her nodding, and after one or two vibrations in her chair,
she looked up with lustreless glassy eyes. Mary took one
of these semi-wakened moments, and in the tone of caressing
authority, that had been already found effectual, said she
must sleep in bed ; took no notice of the murmur of refusal,
but completed the undressing, and fairly deposited her in
her bed.

Mary's scrupulous conscience was distressed at having thus
led to the omission of all evening orisons ; but if her own
simple-hearted loving supplications at the orphan's bedside
could compensate for their absence, she did her utmost.
Then, as both the room-door and that of the sick-chamber
had been left open, she stole into the passage, where she
could see her father, seated at the table, and telegraphed to
him a sign of her success. He durst not move, but he smiled
and nodded satisfaction ; and Mary, after tidying the room,
and considering with herself, took off her more cumbrous
garments, wrapped herself in a cloak, and lay down beside
Averil, not expecting to sleep, but passing to thoughts of
Harry, and of that 23rd Psalm, which they had agreed to say
at the same hour every night. By how many hours was


Harry beforehand with her 1 Tliat was a calculation that to
Mary was always like the beads of the chaplain of Xorham
Castle. Certain it is, that after she had seen Harry lighting
a fire to broil chickens' legs in a Chinese temple, under the
willow-pattern cannon-ball tree, and heard Henry "Ward
sapng it was not like a lieutenant in the navy, she found
herself replying, "Use before gentility ;" and in the enuncia-
tion of this — her first moral sentiment — discovered that it
was broad daylight.

"What o'clock it was she could not guess. Averil was
sound asleep, breathing deeply and regularly, so that it was
a pleasure to listen to her ; and Mary did not fear wakening
her by a shoeless voyage of discovery to the place Avhence
Dr. May was visible.

He turned at once, and with his noiseless tread came to
her. " Asleep still 1 So is he. All right. Here, waken
me the moment he stirs."

And rather by sign than word, he took Mary into the sick-
room, indicated a chair, and laid himself on a sofa, where he
was instantaneously sound asleep, before his startled daughter
had quite taken everything in ; but she had only to glance at
his haggard wearied face, to be glad to be there, so as to
afford him even a few moments of \^gorous slumber with all
his might.

In some awe, she looked round, not venturing to stir hand
or foot. Her chair was in the full draught of the dewy
morning breeze, so chilly, that she drew her shawl tightly
about her ; but she knew that this had been an instance of
her father's care, and if she "wished to make the sliglitest
move, it was only to secure a fuUer view of the patient, from
whom she was half cut off by a curtain at the foot of the


bed. A sort of dread, liowever, made 'Mary gaze at every-
thing around lier before she brought her eyes upon him —
her father's watch on the table, indicating ten minutes to
four, the Minster Tower in the rising sun-hght — nay, the very
furniture of the room, and Dr. May's position, before she
durst famiharize herself with Leonard's appearance — he
whom she had last seen as a sturdy, ruddy, healthfal boy,
looking able to outweigh two of his friend Aubrey.

The original disease had long since passed into typhus, and
the scarlet eruption was gone, so that she only saw a yellow
whiteness, that, marked by the blue veins of the bared temples,
was to her mind death-like. Mary had not been sheltered
from taking part in scenes of suffering ; she had seen sickness
and death in cottages, as well as in her own home, and
she had none of the fanciful alarms, either of novelty or
imagination, to startle her in the strange watch that had so
suddenly been thrust on her ; but what did fill her with a
certain apprehension, was the new and lofty beauty of ex-
pression that sat on that sleeping countenance. "A nice
boy," " rather a handsome lad," " a boy of ingenuous face,"
they had always called Leonard Ward, when animated with
health and spirits ; and the friendship between him and
Aubrey had been encouraged, but without thinking of him as
more than an ordinary lad of good style. ISTow, however, to
Mary's mind, the broad brow and wasted features in their
rest, had assumed a calm nobility that was like those of Ethel's
favourite champions — those who conquered by "suffering
and being strong." She looked and listened for the low
regular breath, almost doubting at one moment whether it
still were drawn, then only reassured by its freedom and
absence from effort, that it was not soon to pass away. There


"was something in that look as if death must set his seal on
it, rather than as if it could return to the flush of health,
and the struggle and strife of school-boy life and of

More than an hour had passed, and all within the house
was as still as ever; and through the window there only
came such sounds as seem like audible silence — the twittering
of birds, the humming of bees, the calls of boys in distant
fields, the far-away sound of waggon wheels — when there was
a slight move, and Mary, in the tension of all her faculties,
had well-nigh started, but restrained herself ; and as she saw
the half-closed fingers stretch, and the head turn, she leant
forward, and touched her father's hand.

Dr. ^lay was on his feet even before those brown eyes
of Leonard's had had time to unclose ; and as Mary was
silently moving to the door, he made a sign to her to

She stood behind the curtain : " You are better for your

" Yes, thank you — much better."

The doctor signed towards a tray, which stood by a spirit-
lamp, on a table in the further corner. Mary silently brought
it, and as quietly obeyed the finger that directed her to
cordial and spoon — well knowing the need — since that un-
serviceable right arm always made these operations trouble-
some to her father.

" Have you been here all night. Dr. May 1 "

" Yes ; and very glad to see you sleeping so welL"

" Thank you." And there was something that made
Mary's eyes dazzle with tears in the tone of that " Thank
you." The doctor held out his hand for the spoon she had


prepared, and there was another " Thank you ; " then, " Is
Ave there 1 "

" ^0, I made her go to bed. She is quite well ; but she
wanted sleep sorely."

" Thank you," again said the boy ; then with a moment's
pause, " Dr. May, tell me 7iow.'^

Mary would have fled as breaking treacherously in uj^on
such tidings ; but a constraining gesture of her father obliged
her to remain, and keep the cordial ready for immediate

"My dear, I believe you know," said Dr. May, bending
over him — and Mary well knew what the face must be

" Both 1 " the faint tones asked.

" Eecollect the sorrow that they have been spared," said
Dr. May in his lowest tenderest tones, putting his hand out
behind him, and signing to Mary for the cordial.

" She could not have borne it j " and the feebleness of
those words made Mary eager to put the spoon once more
into her father's hands.

" That is right, my boy. Think of their being together ; "
and Mary heard tears in her father's voice.

"Thank you," again showed that the cordial was swal-
lowed ; then a pause, and in a quiet, sad, low tone, " Poor
Ave ! "

" Your mending is the best thing for her."

Then came a long sigh ; and then, after a pause, the doctor
knelt down, and said the Lord's Prayer— the orphan's prayer,
as so many have felt it in the hour of bereavement.

All was quite still, and both he and Mary knelt on for
some short space ; then he arose in guarded stillness, hastily


wiped away the tears that Avere streaming over his face, and
holding back the curtain, showed Mary the boy, again sunk
into that sweet refreshing sleep. " That is well over," he said,
with a deep sigh of relief when they had moved to a safe
distance. " Poor fellow ! he had better become used to the
idea while he is too weak to think."

" He is better ] " asked Mary, repressing her agitation with

" I believe the danger is over ; and you may tell his sister
so when she wakes."



" And a heart at leisure from itself
To soothe and sympathise."

Miss Waring.

Recovery had fairly set in, and " better " was tlie universal
bulletin, eating and drinking the prevailing remedy.

Henry TTard had quickly thrown off his illness. The
sense that all depended on him, acted as a stimulus to his
energies ; he Avas anxious to be up and doing, and in a few
days was downstairs, looking over his father's papers, and
making arrangements. He was eager and confident, declaring
that his sisters should never want a home while he lived ;
and, when he first entered his brother's room, his effusion of
affection overwhelmed Leonard in his exceeding weakness,
and the thought of which during the rest of the day often
brought tears to his eyes.

Very grateful to Dr. ^lay, Henry declared himself anxious
to abide by his advice ; and discussed with him all his plans.
There had been no >vill, but the house and land of course
were Henry's. The other property gave about 2,000?. to each
of the family ; and Averil had about as much again from the
old aunt, from whom she had taken her peculiar name. The


home of all should, of course, still be their present one ;
Averil would teach her sisters, and superintend the house ;
and Leonard continue at the school, where he had a fair
chance of obtaining the Eandall scholarship in the course of
a year or two. " And if not," said Henry, " he may still not
lose his University education. My father was i)roud of
Leonard ; and if he would have sent him there, why should
not 1 1 "

And when Dr. May tliought how his own elder sons had
insisted on greater advantages of education for their juniors
than they had themselves enjoyed, he felt especially fatherly
towards the young surgeon. On only one point was he
dissatisfied, and that he could not press. He thought the
establishment at Bankside too expensive, and counselled
Henry to remove into the town, and let the house ; but this
was rejected on the argument of the uncertainty of finding a
tenant, and the inexpediency of appearing less prosperous ;
and considering that ]VIr. and Mrs. "Ward had themselves
made the place, Dr. May thought his proposal hard-hearted.
He went about impressing every one with his confidence in

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