Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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Henry Ward, and fought successfully at the Board of
Guardians to have him considered as a continuation of his
father, instead of appointing a new union doctor ; and he
watched Avith paternal solicitude that the young man's first
return to his practice should be neither too soon for his own
health or his patients' fears ; giving him no exhortation
more earnest, nor more thankfully accepted, than that he
was to let no scruple prevent his applying to himself in the
slightest difficulty ; calling him in to pauper patients, and
privately consulting in cases which could not be visited
gratis. The patronage of Henry Ward was one of the hob-


bies that Dr. May specially loved, and he cantered off upon
it with vehemence such as he had hardly displayed for

Aubrey recovered with the tardiness of a weakly constitu-
tion, and was long in even arriving at a drive in the
brougham : for Dr. May had set up a brougham. As long
as Hector EmesclifFe's home was at StoneborouEjh, drivins
the doctor had been his privilege, and the old gig had been
held together by diligent repairs ; but when Maplewood
claimed him, and Adams was laid aside by rheumatism,
Flora would no longer be silenced, and preached respect-
ability and necessity. Dr. May did not admit the plea,
unless Adams were to sit inside and drive out of window ;
but then he was told of the impropriety of liis daughters
going out to dinner in gigs, and the expense of flies. When
Flora talked of propriety in that voice, the family might
protest and grumble, but were always reduced to obedience ;
and thus Blanche's wedding had been the occasion of Ethel
being put into a hoop, and the doctor into a brougham. He
was better off under the tjTanny than she was, in spite of
the sohtude he had bewailed. Young Adams was not the
companion his father had been, and was no loss ; and he
owned that he now got through a great deal of reading, and
at times a great deal of sleep ; and mourned for nothing but
his moon and stars — so romantic a regret, that Dr. Spencer
advised him not to mention it.

After Aubrey^s first drives, Dr. Spencer declared that the
best way of invigorating him would be to send him for a
month to the sea-side, while the house could be thoroughlj-
purified before Gertrude's return. Dr. Spencer and Mary
would take care of Dr. Islay ; and Ethel had begun to look


forward to a tete-a-tete witli Aubrey Ly the sea, whicli they
had neither of tliem ever seen, when her anticipations were
somewhat dashed by her father's exclaiming, that it would be
the best thing for Leonard Ward to go with them. She
said something about his not being well enough to travel
so soon.

" Oh, yes, he will ! " said Dr. May ; *' he only wants
stimidus to get on fast enough. I declare I'll ask Henry
about it ; I'm just going to meet him at the hospital."

And before another word could be said, he let himself out
at the back door of the garden, in which they had been
meeting Eichard, who was now allowed to come thus far,
though both for Daisy's sake and his flock's, he had hitherto
submitted to a rigorous quarantine ; and the entire immunity
of Cocksmoor from the malady was constantly adduced by
each doctor as a convincing proof of his own theory.

" Well, I do hope that will go off ! " exclaimed Ethel, as
soon as her father was out of hearing. " It will be a terrible
upset to all one's peace and comfort with Aubrey ! "

"Indeed — what harm will the poor boy do?" asked

"]\[ake Aubrey into the mere shame-faced, sister-hating,
common-place creature, that the collective boy thinks it due
to himself to be in society," said Ethel ; " and me from an
enjojdng sister, into an elderly, care- taking, despised spinster
— a burden to myself and the boys."

"But why, Ethel, can't you enjoy yourself?"

" ^ly dear Eichard, just imagine turning loose a lot of
boys and girls, w^ith no keeper, to enjoy themselves in some
wild sea place ! Xo, no : the only way to give the arrange-
ment any shade of propriety, will be to be elderly, infuse as


mucli \'inegar as possible into my countenance, wear my
spectacles, and walk at a staid pace up and down th.e parade,
while my two sons disport themselves on the rocks."

" K you really think it would not be proper," said Eichard,
rather alarmed, " I could run after my father."

" Stuff, Eichard ; papa must have his way ; and if it is to
do the boy good, I can sacrifice a crab — I mean myseK — not
a crustacean. I am not going to be such a selfish -wretch as
to make objections."

" But if it would not be the correct thing ? Or could not
you get some to stay with you 1 "

"I can make it the correct thing. It is only to abstain
from the fun I had hoped for. I meant to have been a girl,
and now I must be a woman, that's all ; and I dare say
Aubrey will be the happier for it — boys always are."

" If you don't like it, I wish you would let me speak to

" Eichard, have you these five years been the safety-valve
for my murmurs without knowing what they amount

"I thought no one complained unless to get a thing

" Exactly so. That is man ! And experience never shows
man that woman's growls relieve her soul, and that she
dreads nothing more than their betug acted on ! All I wish
is, that this scheme may die a natural death ; but I should
be miserable, and deser\"ed to be so, if I raised a finger to
hinder it. ^Vhat, must you go ? Eule Daisy's lines if she
writes to Meta, please."

'* I did so. I have been trj^g to make her write



" Of course you have. I expect I shall find her organ of
order grown to a huge bump when she comes home. Oh !
when will our poor remnants be once more a united family 1
and when shall I get into Cocksmoor school again 1 "

When Dr. May came home, his plan was in full bloom.
Henry had gratefully accepted it, and answered for his
brother being able to travel by the next Monday; and
Dr. May wanted Ethel to walk with him to Bankside, and
propose it there — talking it over with the sister, and making
it her o^vn invitation. Ethel saw her fate, and complied,
her father talking eagerly all the way.

" You see, Ethel, it is quite as much for his spirits as his
health that I wish it. He is just the age that our Norman

That was the key to a great deal. Ethel knew that her
father had never admitted any of the many excuses for the
neglect of ^N'orman's suffering for the three months after his
mother's death ; but though it thrilled her all over, she was
not prepared to believe that any one, far less any "Ward,
could be of the same sensitive materials as ^N'orman. To
avoid answering, she went more than half way, by saying,
"Don't you think I might ask those poor girls to come
with him 1 "

" By no manner of means," said the doctor, stopping short.

It is just what I want, to get him away from his sister.
She minds nothing else ; and if it were not for Mary, I don't
know what the little ones would do ; and as to Henry, he is
very good and patient ; but it is the way to prevent him
from forming domestic tastes to have no mistress to his
house. He will get into mischief, or marry, if she does not
mind what she is about."


*' That must come to an end when Leonard is well, and
goes back to school."

"And that won't be till after the holidays. Xo, some
break there must be. "When he is gone, ^lary can put her
into the way of doing things ; she is anxious to do right ;
and we shall see them do very well. But this poor boy —
you know he has been always living at home, while the
others were away ; he was very fond of his mother, and the
first coming out of his room was more than he could bear.
I must have him taken from home till he is well again, and
able to turn to other things."

And before Ethel's eyes came a vision of poor Mrs. "Ward
leaning on her son's arm, on Saturday afternoon walks,
each looking fond and proud of the other. She felt her own
hardness of heart, and warmed to the desire of giving

Bankside was basking in summer sunshine, ^-ith small
patches of shade round its young shrubs and trees, and a
baking heat on the little porch.

The maid believed Miss Ward was in the garden. ^Ir.
Leonard had been taken out to-day ; and the doctor moving
on, they found themselves in the cool pretty drawing-
room rather over-crowded with furniture and decoration,
fresh and tasteful, but too much of it, and a contrast to
the Mays' mixture of the shabby and the curious, in the
room that was so decidedly for use, and not for show.

What arrested the attention was, however, the very

sweetest singing Ethel had ever heard. The song was low

and sad, but so intensely sweet, that Dr. May held up his

hand to silence all sound, and stood with restrained breath

and moistened eyes. Ethel, far less sensitive to music,

E 2



was nevertheless touched as she had never before been by
sound ; and the more, as she looked through the window
and saw in the shade of a walnut-tree, a sofa, at the foot
of which sat Averil Ward in her deep mourning, her back
to the window, so that only her young figure and the
braids of her fair hair were to be seen ; and beyond, some-
thing prostrate, covered with wrappers. The sweet notes
ended, Dr. May drew a deep sigh, wiped his spectacles, and
went on ; Ethel hung back, not to startle the invalid by
the sight of a stranger ; but as Averil rose, she saw him
raising himself, "wdth a brightening smile on his pale face,
to hold out his hand to the doctor. In another minute
Averil had come to her, shaken hands, and seated herself
where she could best command a view of her brother.

" I am glad to see him out of doors," said Ethel.

"Henry was bent on it; but I think the air and the
glare of everything is too much for him ; he is so tired and

" I am sure he must like your singing," said Ethel.

" It is abnost the only thing that answers," said Averil,
her eyes wistfully turning to the sofa; *'he can't read, and
doesn't like being read to."

" It is very difficult to manage a boy's recovery," said
Ethel. " They don't know how to be ill."

" It is not that," replied the sister, as if she fancied
censure implied, " but his spirits. Every new room he goes
into seems to beat him down ; and he lies and broods. If
he could only talk !"

"I know that so well !" said Ethel. But to Averil the
May troubles were of old date, involved in the mists of
childhood. And Ethel seeini? that her words were not


taken as sympathy, continued, " Do not the little girls
amuse him 1 "

" Oh no ! they are too much for him ; and I am obliged to
keep them in the nursery. Poor little things ! I don't know
what we should do if your sister Mary were not so kind."

"Mary is very glad," began Ethel confusedly. Then
rushing into her subject : " 'Next week, I am to take
Aubrey to the sea- side ; and we thought if Leonard would
join us, the change might be good for him."

"Thank you," AverU answered, playing with her heavy
jet watch-guard. " You are very good ; but I am sure he
could not move so soon."

" Ave," called Leonard at that moment ; and Ethel, per-
ceiving that she likewise was to advance, came forth in time
to hear, " Ave ! I am to go to the sea next week, with
Aubrey May and his sister. "Won't it — ''

Then becoming aware of the visitor, he stopped short,
threw his feet off the sofa, and stood up to receive her.

" I can't let you come if you do like that," she said,
shaking his long thin hand ; and he let himself down again,
not, however, resuming his recumbent posture, and giving
a sHght but effective frown to silence his sister's entreaties
that he would do so. He sat, leaning back as though
exceedingly feeble, scarcely speaking, but his eyes eloquent
with eagerness. And very fine eyes they were ! Ethel
remembered her own weariness, some twelve or fourteen
years back, of the raptures of her baby-loving sisters about
those eyes ; and now in the absence of the florid colouring
of health, she was the more struck by the beauty of the
deep liquid brown, of the blue tinge of the white, and of
the lustrous light that resided in them, but far more by


their power of expression, sometimes so soft and melancholy,
at other moments earnest, pleading, and almost flashing
wdth eagerness. It was a good mouth too, perhaps a
little inclined to sternness of mould about the jaw and
chin ; but that might have been j^artly from the absence
of all softening roundness, ageing the countenance for the
time, just as illness had shrunk the usually sturdy figure.

"Has Ethel told you of our plan?" asked Dr. May of
the sister.

" Yes," she hesitated, in evident confusion and distress.
" You are all very kind ; but we must see what Henry says."

" I have spoken to Henry ! He answers for our patch-
ing Leonard up for next w^eek ; and I have great faith in
Dr. Neptune."

Leonard's looks were as bright as Averd's were disturbed.

" Thank you, thank you very much ! but can he possibly
be well enough for the journey V*

Leonard's eyes said " I shall."

" A week will do great things," said Dr. May ; " and it is
a very easy journey — only four hours' railway, and a ten
miles' drive."

Averil's face was full of consternation ; and Leonard leant
forward -R^th hope dancing in his eyes.

" You know the place," continued Dr. May ; " Coombe
Hole. Quite fresh, and unhackneyed. It is just where
Devon and Dorset meet. I am not sure in which county ;
but there's a fine beach, and beautiful country. The
Riverses found it out, and have been there every autumn ;
besides sending their poor little girl and her governess
down when London gets too hot. Flora has ^vritten to
the woman of the lodgings she always has, and will lend


them the maid she sends with little Margaret ; so they
will be in clover."

" Is it not a very long way V said Averil, thinking how
long those ten ^^ards of lawn had seemed.

" !N'ot as things go," said Dr. May. " You want Dr.
Spencer to reproach you with being a Stoneborough fungus.
There are places in "V\^ales nearer by the map, but without
railway privilege ; and as to a great gay place, they would
all be sick of it."

" Do you feel equal to it ? as if you should like it,
Leonard V asked his sister, in a trembling would-be grateful

" Of all things," was the answer.

Ethel thought the poor girl had suffered constraint enough,
and that it was time to release the boy from his polite
durance ; so she rose to take leave, and again Leonard pulled
himself upright to shake hands.

''Indeed," said Ethel, when Averil had followed them
into the drawing-room, " I am sorry for you. It would go
very hard with me to make Aubrey over to any one ! but
if you do trust him with me, I must come and hear all you
wish me to do for him."

" I cannot think that he will be able or glad to go
when it comes to the point," said Averil with a shaken

Dr. May was nearer than she thought, and s2X)ke peremp-
torily. " Take care what you are about ! You are not to
worry him with discussions. If he can go, he will ; if not,
he wiU stay at home ; but pros and cons are prohibited.
Do you hear, Averil V

" Yes ; very well."


"Papa ^oti really are very cruel to that poor girl," were
Ethel's first words outside.

" Am I ? I wouldn't be for worlds, Ethel. But some-
how she always puts me in a rage. I msh I knew she
was not worrying her brother at this moment ! "

No, Averil was on the stair-case, struggling, choking,
with the first tears she had shed. All this fortnight of
unceasing \^gilance and exertion, her eyes had been dry,
for want of time to realize, for want of time to weep ;
and now she was ashamed that hurt feeling rather than
grief had opened the fountain. She could not beheve that
it was not a cruel act of kindness, to carry one so weak
as Leonard away from home to the care of a stranger. She
apprehended all manner of ill consequences ; and then
nursing him and regarding his progress as her own work,
had been the sedative to her grief, which would come
on her, "like an armed man," in the dreariness of his
absence. Above all, she felt herself ill requited by his
manifest eagerness to leave her who had nursed him so
devotedly — her, his own sister, for the stiff, plain Miss !May
whom he hardly knew. The blow from the favourite com-
panion brother, so passionately watched and tended, seemed
to knock her down ; and Dr. ^lay, with medical harshness,
forbidding her the one last hope of persuading him out of
the wild fancy, filled up the measure.

Oh, those tears ! How they would swell np at each
throb of the wounded heart, at each dismal foreboding of
the desponding spirit. But she had no time for them !
Leonard must not be left alone, with no one to cover him
u]) '^^ith his wrappers.

The tears were strangled, the eyes indignantly dried. She


ran out at the garden door. The sofa was empty ! Had
Henry come home and helped him in 1 She hurried on
to the window j Leonard was alone in the drawing-room,
resting breathlessly on an ottoman within the window.
** Dear Leonard ! Why didn't you wait for me ? "
" I thought I'd try what I could do. You see I am much
stronger than we thought." And he smiled cheerfully, as
he helped himself by the furniture to another sofa. " I
say, Ave, do just give me the map — the one in Bradshaw
will do. I want to find this place."

"I don't think there is a Bradshaw," said Averil, re-

" Oh yes, there is — behind the candlestick, on the study

"Very well." There were more tears to be gulped down —
and perhaps they kept her from finding the book.

"Where's the Bradshaw 1 "

" I didn't see it."

" I tell you I know it was there. The left-hand candle-
stick, close to the letter-weight. I'll get it myself."

He was heaving himself up, when Averil prevented him
by hastening to a more real search, which speedily produced
the book.

Eagerly Leonard unfolded the map, making her steady
it for his shaking hand, and tracing the black toothed

"There's Bridport — ten miles from there. Can you see
the name, Ave 1 "

" Xo, it is not marked."

" Kever mind. I see where it is ; and I can see it is a
capital place ; just in that little jag, ^^ith famous bathing.


I wonder if they will stay long enougli for me to learn to
swim 1 "

" You are a good way from that as yet," said poor Averil,
her heart sinking lower and lower.

" Oh, I shall be well at once when I get away from here ! "

" I hope so."

" Why, Ave ! " he cried, now first struck with her tone,
" don't you know I shall 1 "

" I don't know," she said, from the soreness of her heart ;
" but I can't tell how to trust you with strangers."

*' Strangers ! You ungrateful child ! " exclaimed Leonard,
indignantly. " ^"hy, what have they been doing for you all
this time 1 "

" I am sure Miss ^lay, at least, never came near us till

" I'm very glad of it ! I'm sick of everythiug and every-
body I have seen ! "

Everybody ! That was the climax ! Averil just held her
tongue ; but she rushed to her own room, and wept bitterly
and angrily. Sick of her after all her devotion ! Leonard,
the being she loved best in the world !

And Leonard, distressed and hurt at the reception of his
natural expression of the weariness of seven weeks' sickness
and sorrow, felt above all the want of his mother's ever-ready
s}Tnpathy and soothing, and as if the whole world, here,
there, and everywhere, would be an equally dreary waste. His
moment of bright anticipation passed into heavy despondency,
and turning his head from the light, he dropped asleep with
a tear on his cheek.

"When he awoke it was at the sound of movements in the
room, slow and cautious, out of regard to his slumbers — and


voices, likewise low — at least one was low, the other that
whisper of the inaudibility of which Averil could not be
disabused. He lay, looking for a few moments through his
eyelashes, before exerting himself to move. Averil, her face
still showing signs of recent tears, sat in a low chair, a book
in her lap, talking to her brother Henry.

Henry was of less robust frame than Leonard promised to
be, and though on a smaller scale, w^as more symmetrically
made, and had more regular features than either his brother
or sister, but his eyes were merely quick lively black beads,
without anything of the clear depths possessed by the others.
His hair too was jet black, whereas theirs was a pale nut
brown ; and his whiskers, long and curling, so nearly met
under his chin, as to betray a strong desire that the hirsute
movement should extend to the medical profession. Always
point-device in apparel, the dust on his boot did not prevent
its perfect make from being apparent ; and the entire sit of
his black suit would have enabled a cursory glance to decide
that it never came out of the same shop as Dr. May's.

" Henry ! " were the words that he first heard distinctly.

" It will be much better for every one — himself and you

"Yes, if— "

" If — nonsense. I tell you he will be quite well enough.
See how well I am now ; how fast I got on as soon as I
took to tonics. — Ha, Leonard, old fellow ! what, awake 1
AVhat do you say to this plan of old May's ? "

" It IS very kind of him ; and I should be very glad if I
am well enough ; but next week is very soon," said Leonard,
waking in the depression in which he had gone to sleep.

" Oh, next week ! That is as good as next year in a


matter like this, as May agreed with me ; here, let us have
your pulse. You have let him get low, Averil. A basin of
good soup will put more heart into you, and you will feel
ready for anything."

" I have got on to-day," said Leonard, briskly raising
liimself, as though the cheerful voice had been cordial in

"Of course you have, now that you have something to
look forward to ; and you will be in excellent hands j the
very thing I wanted for you, though I could not see how to
manage it. I am going to dress. I shall tell them to send
in dinner ; and if I am not do^vTi, I shall be in the nursery.
— You won't come in to dinner, Leonard 1 "

"l!^o," said Leonard, with a shudder.

" I shall send you in some gravy soup, that you may thank
me for. Ave never would order anything but boiled chickens
for you, and forgets that other people ever want to eat.
There will be a chance of making a housekeeper of her

How selfish, thought Averil, to want to get rid of poor
Leonard, that I may attend to his dinners. Yet Henry had
spoken in perfect good humour.

Henry came down with a little sister in each hand. Tliey
were his especial darlings ; and with a touch of fatherly fond-
ness, he tried to compensate to them for their sequestration
from the drawing-room, the consequence of Averil not having
established her authority enough to keep their spirits from
growing too riotous for Leonard's weakness. Indeed, their
chatter was Henry's sole enlivenment, for Averil was con-
stantly making excursions to ask what her patient would eat,
and watch its success ; and but for his pleasure in the little


girls popping about him, he would have had a meal as dull
as it was unsettled. As soon as the strawberries were eaten,
he walked out through the window with them clinging to
him, and Averil returned to her post.

" Some music, Ave," said Leonard, with an instinctive
dread of her conversation.

She knew her voice was past singmg, and began one of
her most renowned instrumental pieces, which she could play
as mechanically as a musical-box.

" !N'ot that jingling airified thing I" cried Leonard, " I want
something quiet and refreshing. There's an evening hymn
that the Mays have."

" The Mays know nothing of music," said Averil.
•' Stay, this is it : " and he whistled a few bars.
" That old thing ! Of course I know that. We had it
every Sunday at Brighton."

She began it, but her eyes were full of tears, partly because
she hated herself for the irritation she had betrayed. She
was a sound, good, honest-hearted girl ; but among all the
good things she had learned at Brighton, had not been num-
bered the art of ruling her own spirit.



' ' Griefs hidden in the mind like treasures,
Will turn with time to solemn pleasures."

On the Monday morning, tlie two convalescents shook hands
in the "waiting-room at the station, surveying each other

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) → online text (page 4 of 21)