Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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and he hid his face, the features working with anguish.

" So pleased and proud she used to look, walking \\ith
you on Saturday afternoons."

" Those Saturdays ! They were the only walks she ever
would take ; but she would always come with me.''

More followed in the same strain ; and Ethel began to
gather more distinct impressions of the Ward family. She
saw that her present charge was warm and sound-hearted,
and that the strength of his affections had been chiefly
absorbed by the homely housewifely mother, comparatively
little esteemed by the modernized brother and sister. Of
the loss of his father he seemed to think less ; it seemed,
indeed, rather to reconcile him to that of his mother, by the
gri'ef it spared her; and it confirmed Ethel's notion, that
Mr. AVard, a busy and dull man, paid no great attention


to his childi-en between the plaything period and that of
full development. The mother was the home ; and Averil,
though Leonard showed both love for and pride in her, had
hitherto been a poor substitute ; wdiile as to Henry, there
was something in each mention of him which gave Etliel
an undefined dread of the future of the young household,
and a doubt of the result of her father's kind schemes of

At any rate, this conversation had the happy effect of
banishing constraint, and satisfying Ethel that the let-alone
system Avas kindness, not neglect. She was at ease in
discussing fossils, though he contributed no w^ord, and she
let him sleep or wake as he best liked ; whilst Aubrey read
to her the " Cruise of the Betsey."

Henry's prescription was sent to invigorate the fishes,
when its cessation was found to be follo^ved by the recovery
of sleep and appetite ; and in the cool of the evening, by a
disposition to stroll on the beach, and lie under the lee of
a rock upon a railway rug, which Ethel had substituted for
the "three-legged delusion."

There he w^as left, while his companions went fossil-
hunting, and staj'ed so long as to excite their comiDunction,
and quicken their steps wdien they at length detached them-
selves from the enticing blue lias.

" AMiat has he got there 1 " cried Aubrey. " Hillo, old
fellow ! have you fallen a prey to a black cat 1 "

" Cat ! " returned Leonard indignantly ; " don't you see it
is the j oiliest little dog in the world 1 "

" You call that a dog V said the other boy with redoubled
contempt ; " it is just big enough for little Margaret's Xoah's
Ark ! "


" It really is a beauty ! " said Ethel. " I have known one
of Flora's guests bring a bigger one in her muff."

" It is the most sensible little brute," added Leonard.
" See ; beg, my man, beg ! "

And the beauteous little black-coated Iving Charles erected
itseK on its hind legs, displaying its rich ruddy tan waistcoat
and sleeves, and beseeching with its black diamond eyes for
the biscuit, dropped and caught in mid-air. It was the first
time Leonard had looked bright.

" So you expect us to sanction your private dog stealing ? "
said Aubrey.

" I have been watching for his mistress to come back,"
said Leonard ; " but she must have passed an hour ago ; and
she does not deserve to have him, for she never looked back
for him ; and he had run up to me, frisking and making
much of me, as if he had found an old friend."

" Perhaps it will run home when we move."

Xo such thing; it trotted close at Leonard's heels, and
entered the house with them. Earbara was consulted, and
on Leonard's deposition that the dog's mistress was in deep
mourning, opined that she could be no other than the widow
of an officer, who during his lingering illness had been often
laid upon the beach, and had there played with his little
dogs. This one, evidently very young, had probably, in the
confusion of its puppy memory, taken the invalid for its lost

" Stupid little thing," said Aubrey ; "just like an under-
sized lady's toy."

" It knows its friends. These little things have twice the
sense of overgro-svn dogs as big and as stupid as jackasses."

A retort from Leonard was welcome in Ethel's ears, and


she quite developed his conversational powers, in an argument
on the sagacity of all canine varieties. It was too late to
send the little animal home ; and he fondled and played
with it till bedtime, when he lodged it in his own room ;
and the attachment was so strong, that it was with a dee])
sigh, that at breakfast he accepted Aubrey's offer of con-
veying it home.

" There she is ! " he exclaimed in the midst, gazing from
he window.

*' And see the perfection of the animal ! " added Aubrey,
poijiting to a broad-backed waddling caricature of the little
black fairy.

*' Eestitution must be made, little as she deserves you, you
little jewel," said Leonard, picking up the object of his
admiration. " I'll take you out."

" 'No, no ; I am not so infectious, "said Ethel, tying on her
hat ; " I liad better do it."

And after Leonard's parting embrace to his favourite, she
received it ; and quickly overtaking the pensive steps of the
lady, arrested her progress with, " I beg your pardon, but I
think this is your dog."

'' Poor little Mab ! " as the dog struggled to get to her,
and danced gladly round her. " I missed her last night, and
was coming to look for her."

" She joined one of our party," said Ethel ; " and he was
not strong enough to follow you. Indeed, he has had scarlet
fever, so perhaps it was better not. But he has taken great
care of the little dog, and hopes it is not the worse."

"Thank you. I wish poor Mab may always meet such
kind friends," said the lady sadly.

" She secured her welcome," said Ethel. " We were very


grateful to her, for it was tlie first thing that has seemed to
interest him since his illness ; and he has just lost both his

"Ah! Thank you."

Ethel wondered at herself for having been so communi-
cative ; but the sweet sad face and look of interest had
drawn her words out ; and on her return she made such a
touching history of the advenlure, that Leonard listened
earnestly, and Aubrey looked subdued.

When they went out Leonard refused to spread his rug
in that only bed of pulverized shingle ; and Ethel respected
his avoidance of it as delicacy to her whose husband had
no doubt often occupied that spot.

"He is a thorough gentleman," said she, as she walked
away with Aubrey.

" He might be an Eton fellow," was the significant reply.

" I wonder what made him so 1 " said Ethel musingly.

" Looking at Tom," returned Aubrey, not in jest.

"Even with that advantage, I don't quite see where he
learnt that refined consideration."

" Pshaw, Ethel ! The light of nature would show that
to any one but a stupex."

Ethel was not sorry that such were Aubrey's views of
courtesy ; but all thought of that subject was soon lost in
the pursuit of ammonites.

" I wonder what Leonard will have picked up now ? "
they speculated, as they turned homewards with their weighty
baskets ; but what was their amazement, when Leonard
waved his hand, pointing to the little black dog again at
his feet ?

" She is mine ! " he exclaimed, " my own ! Mrs. Gisborne



has given her to me ; and she is to be the happiest little
mite going ! "

" Given ! "

" Yes. She came as soon as you were gone, and sat by me,
and talked for an hour, but she goes to-morrow to live ^^dth
an old hag of an aunt."

" Eeally, you seem to have been on confidential terms."

" I mean that she must be a nuisance, because she doesn't
like dogs ; so that Mrs. Gisborne can only take the old one,
which she could never part with. So she wanted to give
jNIab to some one who would be kind to her ; and she has
come to the right shop ; hasn't she, my httle queen ? "

" I thought she almost wished it this morning," said Ethel,
" when she heard how you and IMab had taken to each other :
but it is a very choice present j the creature looks to me to
be of a very fine sort."

*'Xow Miss May, how could you know that ? "

" Why, by her own deportment ! Don't you know the
aristocratic look that all high bred animals have — even
bantams 1 "

Leonard looked as if this were the most convincing proof
of Ethel's wisdom, and proceeded. " Well, she is descended
from a real King Charles, that Charles II. brought from
Erance, and gave to Mrs. Jane Lane ; and they have kept up
the breed ever since."

" So that Mab will have the longest pedigree in Stone-
borough ; and we must all respect her ! " said Ethel, stroking
the black head.

" I am only surprised at Leonard's forgetting his place,"
said Aubrey. " Walking before her majesty, indeed ! "
'• Oh, attendants do come first sometimes."


" Tlien it should be backwards ! I have a mind to try lying
on the beach to-morrow, looking interesting, to see what will
descend upon me ! "

" A great yellow mongrel," said Ethel, '' as always befalls
imitators in the path of the hero."

" "What 1 You mean that it was all the work of Leonard's
beaux yeiix 1 "

Leonard gave a sort of growl, intimating that Aubrey was
exciting his displeasure ; and Ethel was glad to be at home,
and break off the conversation ; but in a few minutes Aubrey
knocked at her door, and edging himself in, mysteriously
said, " Such fun ! So it was your beaux ym.x, not Leonard's,
that made the conquest ! "

"I suppose she was touched with what I said of poor
Leonard's circumstances, and the pleasure the creature gave

"That is as prosy as Mary, Ethel. At any rate, the
woman told Leonard yours was the most irresistibly attractive
countenance she ever saw, short of beauty ; and that's not
the best of it, for he is absolutely angry."

" Ko wonder," laughed EtheL

" Xo, but it's about the beauty ! He can't conceive a
face more beautiful than yours."

"Except the gurgoyle on the church tower," said Ethel,
gaping into as complete a model of that worthy as flesh and
blood could perpetrate.

**But he means it," persisted Aubrey, fixing his eyes
critically on his sister's features, but disturbed by the con-
tortions into whtch she threw them. " 2^ow don't, don't. I
never saw any fellow with a hundredth part of your gift for
making faces," he added, between the unwilling paroxysms of

G 2


mirth at each, fresh grimace ; " but I want to judge of you ;
and — oh ! that solemn one is worse than all ; it is like Julius
Cajsar, if he had ever been photographed ! — but really, when
one comes to think about it, you are not so very ugly after
all ; and ai-e much better looking than Flora, whom we were
taught to believe in."

" Poor Flora ! You were no judge in her blooming days,
before Avear and tear came."

"And made her like our Scotch grandfather."

" But Blanche ! your own Blanche, Aubrey ! She might
have extended Leonard's ideas of beauty."

" Blanche has a pretty little visage of her own ; but it's
not so well worth looking at as yours," said Aubrey. " One
has seen to the end of it at once ; and it won't light up.
Hers is just the May blossom ; and yours the — the — I knov/
— the orchis ! I have read of a woman with an orchidaceous
face ! "

Teeth, tongue, lips, eyes, and nose, were at once made to
serve in hitting off an indescribable likeness to an orchis
blossom, which was rapturously applauded, till Ethel, relax-
ing the straiu and permitting herself to laugh triumphantly
at her own achievement, said " There ! I do pride myself on
being of a high order of the grotesque."

" It is not the grotesque that he means," said Aubrey, " he
is very cracked indeed. He declares that when you came and
sat by him the day before yesterday, you were perfectly

" then, I understand and it is no matter," said Ethel.



" They stwons, tliev stwous, they stwons, they shvons."

Scouring of the White Horse.

" So (wrote Etliel in lier daily letter to her father), mine is
at present a maternal mission to Leonard, and it is highly
gratifying. I subscribe to all your praise of him, and repent
of my ungtacious murmurs at his society. You had the
virtue, and I have the reward (the usual course of this
world), for his revival is a very fresh and pleasant spectacle,
burning hot with enthusiasm. AYhatever we do, he overdoes,
till I recollect how AYilkes said he had never been a "Wilkite.
Three days ago, a portentous looking ammonite attracted his
attention ; and whereas he started from the notion that earth
was dirt, and stones were stones, the same all over the world,
he lias since so far outstripped his instructors, that as I write
this he is dra^ving a plan of the strata, with the inhabitants
dramatically arranged, Aubrey suggesting tragic scenes and
uncomplimentary likenesses. His talent for drawing shows
that Averil's was worth culture* If our geology alarm
Ptichard, tell him that I think it safer to get it over young,
and to face apparent discrepancies with revelation, rather


than leave tliem to be discovered afterwards as if they had
"been timidly kept out of sight. And whether Hugh Miller's
theory be right or wrong, his grand fervid language leaves
the conviction that undoubting confidence in revelation con-
sists with the clearest and most scientific mind."

^^ June 30th. — I consider my boys as returned to their
normal relations. I descended on them as they were sparring
like lion cubs at play ; Leonard desisted in confusion at my
beholding such savage doings, but cool and easy, not having
turned a hair ; Aubrey, panting, done up, railing at him as
first cousin to Hercules, all as a delicate boast to me of his
friend's recovered strength. Aubrey's forte is, certainly vene-
ration. His first class of human beings is a large one, though
quizzing is his ordinary form of adoration. For instance, he
teazes Mab and her devoted slave some degrees more than the
victim can bear, and then relieves his feelings in my room by
asseverations that the friendship with Leonard will be on the
May and Spencer pattern. The sea is the elixir of life to
both ; Leonard looks quite himself again, " onli/ more so,"
and Aubrey has a glow never seen since his full moon visage
waned, and not all tan, though we are on the high road to be
coffee berries. Aubrey daily entertains me vrith heroic tales
of diving and floating, till I tell them they will become
enamoured of some * lady of honour who lives in the sea,'
grow fishes' tails and come home no more. And really, as
the time wanes, I feel that such a coast is Elysium — above
all, the boating. The lazy charm, the fresh purity of air, the
sights and sounds, the soft summer wave when one holds
one's hand over the side, the excitement of sea- weed catching,
and the nonsense we all talk, are so delicious and such new
sensations, (except the nonsense, which loses by your absence.


learned doctor !) that I fully perceive how pleasures un-
tried cannot even be conceived. But ere the lotos food has
entirely depraved my memory, I give you warning to come
and fetch us home, now that the boys are in full repair.
Come yourself, and be feasted on shrimps and mackerel, and
take one sail to the mouth of the bay. I won't say who
shall bring you ; it would be fun to have Daisy, and Mary
ought to have a holiday, but then Eichard would take better
care of you, and Tom would keep you in the best order.
Could you not all come? only if you don't yourself, I won't
promise not to take up with a merman."

***** *

" July ith. — Yery well. If this is to make a strong man
of Aubrey, tant mieux, and even home and Cocksmoor
yearnings concern me little in this Castle of Indolence, so
don't flatter yourself that I shall grumble at having had to
take our house on again. Let us keep Leonard ; we should
both miss him extremely, and Aubrey would lose half the
good without some one to swim, scramble, and fight with.
Indeed, for the poor fellow's own sake, he should stay, for
though he is physically as strong as a young megalosaur, and
in the water or on the rocks all day, I don't think his head
is come to application, nor his health to bearing depression ;
and I see he dreads the return, so that he had better stay
away till school begins again."

^ y^ 71^ ^ ^ 'P

" Juli/ 1th. — Oh ! you weak-minded folks ! Xow I know
why you wanted to keep me away — tliat you might yield
yourselves a prey to Flora. Paper and chintz forsooth ! All
I have to say is this, ^Miss Mary — as to my room, touch it if
you dare ! I leave papa to protect his own study, but for the


rest, think, Mary, what your feelings would be if Harry were
to come home, and not know what room he was in ! If
I am to choose between the patterns of chintz, I prefer the
sea-weed variety, as in character with things in general, and
with the present occasion ; and as to the carpet, I hope that
Flora, touched with our submission, will not send us anything

* * *

'•'- July 11th. — Can you send me any more of the ISTew
Zealand letters? I have copied out the whole provision
I brought with me for the blank book, and by the way have
inoculated Leonard with such a missionary fever as frightens
me. To be sure, he is cut out for such work. He is intended
for a clergyman (on grounds of gentility, I fear), and is too
full of physical energy and enterprise to take readily to sober
parochial life. His ardour is a gallant thing, and his home
ties not binding ; but it is not fair to take advantage of his
present inflammable state of enthusiasm, and the little we
have said has been taken up so fervently, that I have
resolved on caution for the future. It is foolish to make so
much of a boy's eagerness, especially when circumstances
have brought him into an unnatural dreamy mood ; and
probably these aspirations will pass away with the sound of
the waves, but they are pretty and endearing while they last
in their force and sincerity.

* Just at the age 'twixt boy and youth,
"WTien thought is speech, and speech is trath ; '

and one's heart beats at the thought of what is possible to
creatures of that age."

« ^ ^ ^(t W: *<


^^Jul.y 2\st. — You, who taught us to love our "Walter
Scott next to our Christian Year, and who gave us half-
crowns for rehearsing liini when other children were learning
the Eohin's Petition, what think you of this poor hoy
Leonard knowing few of the novels and none of the poems \
^"0 wonder the taste of the day is grovelling lower and lower,
when people do not begin with the pure high air of his
world ! To take up one of his works after any of our present
school of fiction is like getting up a mountain side after a
feverish di'awing-room or an offensive street. If it were
possible to know the right moment for a book to be really
tasted — not thrust aside because crammed down — no, it
would not be desirable, as I was going to say, we should
only do double mischief. "We are not sent into the world to
mould people, but to let them mould themselves ; and the
internal elasticity will soon unmake all the shapes that just
now seem to form under my fingers like clay.

" At any rate, the introduction of such a congenial spirit
to Sir "Walter was a real treat ; Leonard has the very nature
to be fired by him, and Aubrey being excessively scandalized
at his ignorance, routed a cheap ' Marmion ' out of the little
book-shop, and we beguiled a wet afternoon with it ; Aubrey
snatching it from me at all the critical passages, for fear
I should not do them justice, and thundering out the battle,
which stirred the other boy like a trumpet sound. Indeed,
Leonard got Mab into a corner, and had a very bad cold in
the head when De "Wilton was re-knighted ; and when ' the
hand of Douglas was his own,' he jumped up and shouted
out, * "Well done, old fellow ! ' Then he took it to himself
and read it all over again, introductions and all, and has
raved ever since. I wish you could see Aubrey singing out


some profane couplet of ' midnight and not a nose,' or some
more horrible original parody, and then dodging apparently
in the extremity of terror, just as Leonard furiously charges

" But you would have been struck with their discussions
over it. Last night, at tea, they began upon the woeful
result of the Wager of Battle, which seemed to oppress them
as if it had really happened. Did I believe in it ? Was I of
the Lady Abbess's opinion, that

* Percliance some form was unobsen^ed,
Perchance iu prayer or faith he swerved ? '

This from Aubrey, while Leonard rejoined that even if De
Wilton had so done, it was still injustice that he should be
so cruelly ruined, and Marmion's baseness succeed. It would
be like a king wilfully giving wrong judgment because the
right side failed in some respectful observance. He was sure
such a thing could never be. Did I ever know of a real case
where Heaven did not show the right ? It was confusing
and alarming, for both those boys sat staring at me as if
I could answer them ; and those wonderful searching eyes of
Leonard's were fixed, as if his whole acquiescence in the
dealings of Providence were going to depend on the reply,
that could but be unsatisfactory. I could only try plunging
deep. I said it was Job's difficulty, and it was a new light
to Leonard that Job was about anything but patience. He
has been reading the Book all this Sunday evening ; and is
not De Wilton a curious introduction to it? But Aubrey
knew that I meant the bewilderment of having yet to dis-
cover that Divine Justice is longer sighted than human
justice, and he cited the perplexities of high-minded heathen.


Thence we came to the Christian certainty that * to do well
and suffer for it is thank-worthy ; ' and that though no
mortal man can be so innocent as to feel any infliction wholly
unmerited and disproportioned, yet human injustice at its
worst may be working for the sufi'erer an exceeding weight
of glory, or preparing him for some high commission below.
'Was not Ealph de Wilton far nobler and purer as the poor
palmer, than as Henry the Eighth's courtier ? And if you
could but have heard our sequel, arranging his orthodoxy,
his Scripture reading, and his guardianship of distressed
monks and nuns, you would have thought he had travelled
to some purpose ; only he would certainly have been burnt
by one party, and beheaded by the other. On the whole,
I think Leonard was a little comforted, and I cannot help
hoping that the first apparently cruel wrong that comes
before him may be the less terrible shock to his faith from
his having been set to think out the question by * but half a
robber and but half a knight.' "

^^ August \st. — Yesterday afternoon we three were in our
private geological treasury. Leonard making a spread-eagle
of himself in an impossible place on the cliff side, trying to
disinter what hope, springing eternal in the human breast,
pronounced to be the paddle of a saurian ; Aubrey, climbing
as high as he durst, directing operations and making dis-
coveries ; I, upon a ledge half way up, guarding Mab and
poking in the debris, when one of the bridal pairs, with
whom the place is infested, was seen questing about as if
disposed to invade our premises. Aubrey, reconnoitring in
high dudgeon, sarcastically observed that all red-haired men
are so much alike, that he should have said yonder was
Hec — . The rest ended in a view halloo from above and


below, and three bounds to the beach, whereon I levelled my
glass, and perceived that in very deed it was Mr. and Mrs,
Ernescliffe who were hopping over the shingle. Descending,
I was swung off the last rock in a huge embrace, and Hector's
fiery moustache was scrubbing both my cheeks before my feet
touched the ground, and Blanche with both arms round my
waist. They were ready to devour us alive in their famine
for a Stoneborough face ; and as Flora and Mary are keeping
home uninhabitable, found themselves obliged to rush away
from i\Iaplewood in the middle of their county welcomes for
a little snatch of us, and to join us in vituperating the new
furniture. If Mary could only hear Hector talk of a new
sofa that he can't put his boots upon — he says it is bad
enough at Maplewood, but that he did hope to be still
comfortable at home. They have to get back to dine out
to-morrow, but meantime the fun is more fast and furious
than ever, and as soon as the tide serves, we are to fulfil our
long-cherished desire of boating round to Lyme. I won't
answer for the quantity of discretion added to our freight,
but at least there is six feet more of valour, and Mrs. Blanche

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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeThe trial: More links of the daisy chain (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 21)