suppose you have not begun to teach at the school yet!'
Sophy's great eyes expanded, and Lucy said, 'Oh dear mamma! nobody
does that but Genevieve Durant and the monitors. Miss Wolte did till
Mr. Dusautoy came, but she does not approve of him.'
'Lucy, you do not know what you are saying,' said Mr. Kendal, and
again there was an annihilating silence, which Albinia did not
attempt to disturb.
At church time, she met the young ladies in the hall, in pink bonnets
and sea-green mantillas over the lilac silks, all evidently put on
for the first time in her honour, an honour of which she felt herself
the less deserving, as, sensible that this was no case for bridal
display, she wore a quiet dark silk, a Cashmere shawl, and plain
straw bonnet, trimmed with white.
With manifest wish for reciprocity, Lucy fell into transports over
the shawl, but gaining nothing by this, Sophy asked if she did not
like the mantillas? Albinia could only make civility compatible with
truth by saying that the colour was pretty, but where was Gilbert?
He was on a stool before the dining-room fire, looking piteous, and
pronouncing his tooth far too bad for going to church, and she had
just time for a fresh administration of camphor before Mr. Kendal
came forth from his study, and gave her his arm.
The front door opened on a narrow sweep, the river cutting it off
from the road, and crossed by two wooden bridges, beside each of
which stood a weeping-willow, budding with fresh spring foliage.
Opposite were houses of various pretentious, and sheer behind them
rose the steep hill, with the church nearly at the summit, the noble
spire tapering high above, and the bells ringing out a cheerful
chime. The mist had drawn up, and all was fresh and clear.
'There go Lizzie and Loo!' cried Lucy, 'and the Admiral and Mrs.
Osborn. I'll run and tell them papa is come home.'
Sophy was setting off also, but Mr. Kendal stopped them, and lingered
a moment or two, making an excuse of looking for a needless umbrella,
but in fact to avoid the general gaze. As if making a desperate
plunge, however, and looking up and down the broad street, so as to
be secure that no acquaintance was near, he emerged with Albinia from
the gate, and crossed the road as the chime of the bells changed.
'We are late,' he said. 'You will prefer the speediest way, though
it is somewhat steep.'
The most private way, Albinia understood, and could also perceive
that the girls would have liked the street which sloped up the hill,
and thought the lilac and green insulted by being conducted up the
steep, irregular, and not very clean bye-lane that led directly up
the ascent, between houses, some meanly modern, some picturesquely
ancient, with stone steps outside to the upper story, but all with
far too much of pig-stye about them for beauty or fragrance. Lucy
held up her skirts, and daintily picked her way, and Albinia looked
with kindly eyes at the doors and windows, secretly wondering what
friends she should find there.
The lane ended in a long flight of more than a hundred shallow steps
cut out in the soft stone of the hill, with landing-places here and
there, whence views were seen of the rich meadow-landscape beyond,
with villages, orchards, and farms, and the blue winding river Baye
in the midst, woods rising on the opposite side under the soft haze
of distance. On the other side, the wall of rock was bordered by
gardens, with streamers of ivy or periwinkle here and there hanging
The ascent ended in an old-fashioned stone stile; and here Sophy,
standing on the step, proclaimed, with unnecessary loudness, that Mr.
Dusautoy was carrying Mrs. Dusautoy across the churchyard. This had
the effect of making a pause, but Albinia saw the rector, a tall,
powerful man, rather supporting than actually carrying, a little
fragile form to the low-browed door leading into the chancel on the
north side. The church was handsome, though in the late style, and a
good deal misused by eighteenth-century taste; and Albinia was full
of admiration as Mr. Kendal conducted her along the flagged path.
She was rather dismayed to find herself mounting the gallery stairs,
and to emerge into a well-cushioned abode, with the shield-bearing
angel of the corbel of an arch all to herself, and a very good view
of the cobwebs over Mr. Dusautoy's sounding-board. It seemed to suit
all parties, however, for Lucy and Sophia took possession of the
forefront, and their father had the inmost corner, where certainly
nobody could see him.
Just opposite to Albinia was a mural tablet, on which she read what
revealed to her more of the sorrows of her household than she had
'To the memory of Lucy, the beloved wife of Edmund Kendal.
Died February 18th, 1845, aged 35 years.
Edmund Meadows Kendal, born January 20th, 1834.
Died February 10th, 1845.
Maria Kendal, born September 5th, 1840.
Died September 14th, 1840.
Sarah Anne Kendal, born October 3rd, 1841.
Died November 20th, 1843.
John Augustus Kendal, born January 4th, 1842.
Died July 6th, 1842.
Anne Maria Kendal, born June 12th, 1844.
Died June 19th, 1844.'
Then followed, in the original Greek, the words, 'Because I live, ye
shall live also.'
Four infants! how many hopes laid here! All the English-born
children of the family had died in their cradles, and not only did
compassion for the past affect Albinia, as she thought of her
husband's world of hidden grief, but a shudder for the future came
over her, as she remembered having read that such mortality is a test
of the healthiness of a locality. What could she think of Willow
Lawn? It was with a strong effort that she brought her attention
back to Him Who controlleth the sickness that destroyeth at noon-day.
But Mr. Dusautoy's deep, powerful intonations roused her wandering
thoughts, and she was calmed and reassured by the holy Feast, in
which she joined with her husband.
Mr. Kendal's fine face was calm and placid, as best she loved to look
upon it, when they came out of church, and she was too happy to
disturb the quiet by one word. Lively and animated as she was, there
was a sort of repose and enjoyment in the species of respect exacted
by his grave silent demeanour.
If this could only have lasted longer! but he was taking her along an
irregular street, and too soon she saw a slight colour flit across
his cheek, and his eyebrows contract, as he unlatched a green door in
a high wall, and entered a little flagged court, decorated by a stand
destined for flowers.
Albinia caught the blush, and felt more bashful than she had believed
was in her nature, but she had a warm-hearted determination that she
would work down prejudices, and like and be liked by all that
concerned him and his children. So she smiled at him, and went
bravely on into the matted hall and up the narrow stairs, and made a
laughing sign when he looked back at her ere he tapped at the
It was opened from within before he could turn the handle, and a
shrill voice, exaggerating those of the girls, showered welcomes with
such rapidity, that Albinia was seated at the table, and had been
helped to cold chicken, before she could look round, or make much
answer to reiterations of 'so very kind.'
It was a small room, loaded with knicknacks and cushions, like a
repository of every species of female ornamental handiwork in vogue
for the last half century, and the luncheon-tray in the middle of
all, ready for six people, for the two girls were there, and though
Mr. Kendal stood up by the fire, and would not eat, he and his black
image, reflected backwards and forwards in the looking-glass and in
the little round mirror, seemed to take up more room than if he had
Mrs. Meadows was slight, shrunken, and gentle-looking, with a sweet
tone in her voice, great softness of manner, and pretty blue eyes.
Albinia only wished that she had worn mourning, it would have been so
much more becoming than bright colours, but that was soon overlooked
in gratitude for her affectionate reception, and in the warmth of
feeling excited by her evident fondness and solicitude for Mr.
Miss Meadows was gaily dressed in youthful fashion, such as evidently
had set her off to advantage when she had been a bright, dark,
handsome girl; but her hair was thin, her cheeks haggard, the colour
hardened, and her forty years apparent, above all, in an
uncomfortable furrow on the brow and round the mouth; her voice had a
sharp distressed tone that grated even in her lowest key, and though
she did not stammer, she could never finish a sentence, but made
half-a-dozen disjointed commencements whenever she spoke. Albinia
pitied her, and thought her nervous, for she was painfully assiduous
in waiting on every one, scarcely sitting down for a minute before
she was sure that pepper, or pickle, or new bread, or stale bread, or
something was wanted, and squeezing round the table to help some one,
or to ring the bell every third minute, and all in a dress that had a
teasing stiff silken rustle. She offered Mr. Kendal everything in
the shape of food, till he purchased peace by submitting to take a
hard biscuit, while Albinia was not allowed her glass of water till
all manner of wines, foreign and domestic, had been tried upon her in
Conversation was not easy. Gilbert was inquired after, and his aunt
spoke in her shrill, injured note, as she declared that she had done
her utmost to persuade him to have the tooth extracted, and began a
history of what the dentist ought to have done five years ago.
His grandmother softly pitied him, saying poor little Gibbie was such
a delicate boy, and required such careful treatment; and when Albinia
hoped that he was outgrowing his ill-health, she was amused to find
that desponding compassion would have been more pleasing.
There had been a transaction about a servant in her behalf: and Miss
Meadows insisted on hunting up a note, searching all about the room,
and making her mother and Sophy move from the front of two table-drawers,
a disturbance which Sophy did not take with such placid looks as did
The name of the maid was Eweretta Dobson, at which there was a
'I wonder what is the history of the name,' said Albinia; 'it sounds
like nothing but the diminutive of ewer. I hope she will not be the
little pitcher with long ears.'
Mr. Kendal looked as much amused as he ever did, but no one else gave
the least token of so much as knowing what she meant, and she felt as
if she had been making a foolish attempt at wit.
'You need not call her so,' was all that Mrs. Meadows said.
'I do not like calling servants by anything but their true names,'
answered Albinia; 'it does not seem to me treating them with proper
respect to change their names, as if we thought them too good for
them. It is using them like slaves.
Lucy exclaimed, 'Why! grandmamma's Betty is really named
Albinia laughed, but was disconcerted by finding that she had really
given annoyance. 'I beg your pardon,' she said. 'It is only a fancy
of my own. I am afraid that I have many fancies for my friends to
bear with. You see I have so fine a name of my own, that I have a
fellow-feeling for those under the same affliction; and I believe
some servants like an alias rather than be teased for their finery,
so I shall give Miss Eweretta her choice between that and her
The old lady looked good-natured, and that matter blew over; but Miss
Meadows fell into another complication of pros and cons about writing
for the woman's character, looking miserably harassed whether she
should write, or Mrs. Kendal, before she had been called upon.
Albinia supposed that Mrs. Wolfe might call in the course of the
week; but this Miss Meadows did not know, and she embarked in so many
half speeches, and looked so mysterious and significant at her
mother, that Albinia began to suspect that some dreadful truth was
'Perhaps,' said the old lady, 'perhaps Mrs. Kendal might make it
understood through you, my dear Maria, that she is ready to receive
'I suppose they must be!' said Albinia.
'You see, my dear, people would be most happy, but they do not know
whether you have arrived. You have not appeared at church, as I may
'Indeed,' said Albinia, much diverted by her new discoveries in the
realms of etiquette, 'I was rather in a cupboard, I must allow.
Ought we to have sailed up the aisle in state in the Grandison
pattern? Are you ready?' and she glanced up at her husband, but he
only half heard.
'No,' said Miss Meadows, fretfully; 'but you have not appeared as a
bride. The straw bonnet - you see people cannot tell whether you are
not incog, as yet - '
To refrain from laughing was impossible. 'My tarn cap,' she
exclaimed; 'I am invisible in it! What shall I do? I fear I shall
never be producible, for indeed it is my very best, my veritable
Lucy looked as if she thought it not worth while to be married for no
better a bonnet than that.
'Absurdity!' said Mr. Kendal.
If he would but have given a good hearty laugh, thought Albinia, what
a consolation it would be! but she considered herself to have had a
lesson against laughing in that house, and was very glad when he
proposed going home. He took a kind, affectionate leave of the old
lady, who again looked fondly in big face, and rejoiced in his having
recovered his looks.
As they arrived at home, Lucy announced that she was just going to
speak to Lizzie Osborn, and Sophy ran after her to a house of about
the same degree as their own, but dignified as Mount Lodge, because
it stood on the hill side of the street, while Mr. Kendal's house was
for more gentility called 'Willow Lawn.' Gilbert was not to be
found; but at four o'clock the whole party met at dinner, before the
Gilbert could eat little, and on going back to the fire to roast his
cheek instead of going to church, was told by his father, 'I cannot
have this going on. You must go to Mr. Bowles directly after
breakfast to-morrow, have the tooth drawn, and then go on to Mr.
The tone was one that admitted of no rebellion. If Mr. Kendal
interfered little, his authority was absolute where he did interfere,
and Albinia could only speak a few kind words of encouragement, but
the boy was vexed and moody, seemed half asleep when they came home,
and went to bed as soon as tea was over.
Sophy went to bed too, Mr. Kendal went to his study, and Albinia,
after this day of novelty and excitement, drew her chair to the fire,
and as Lucy was hanging wearily about, called her to her side, and
made her talk, believing that there was more use in studying the
girl's character than even in suggesting some occupation, though that
was apparently the great want of the whole family on Sunday.
Lucy's first confidence was that Gilbert had not been out alone, but
with that Archibald Tritton. Mr. Tritton had a great farm, and was a
sort of gentleman, and Gilbert was always after that Archy. She
thought it 'very undesirable,' and Aunt Maria had talked to him about
it, but he never listened to Aunt Maria.
Albinia privately thought that it must be a severe penance to listen
to Aunt Maria, and took Gilbert's part. She supposed that he must be
very solitary; it must be a melancholy thing to be a twin left alone.
'And Edmund, dear Edmund, was always so kind and so fond of Gilbert!'
said Lucy. 'You would not have thought they were twins, Edmund was
so much the tallest and strongest. It seemed so odd that Gilbert
should have got over it, when he did not. Should you like to hear
all about it, mamma?'
It was Albinia's great wish to lift that dark veil, and Lucy began,
with as much seriousness and sadness as could co-exist with the
satisfaction and importance of having to give such a narration, and
exciting emotion and pity. It was remarkable how she managed to make
herself the heroine of the story, though she had been sent out of the
house, and had escaped the infection. She spoke in phrases that
showed that she had so often told the story as to have a set form,
caught from her elders, but still it had a deep and intrinsic
interest for the bride, that made her sit gazing into the fire,
pressing Lucy's hand, and now and then sighing and shuddering
slightly as she heard how there had been a bad fever prevailing in
that lower part of the town, and how the two boys were both unwell
one damp, hot autumn morning, and Lucy dwelt on the escape it had
been that she had not kissed them before going to school. Sophy had
sickened the same day, and after the tedious three weeks, when father
and mother were spent with attendance on the three, Edmund, after
long delirium, had suddenly sunk, just as they had hopes of him; and
the same message that told Lucy of her brother's death, told her of
the severe illness of both parents.
The disease had done the work rapidly on the mother's exhausted
frame, and she was buried a week after her boy. Lucy had seen the
procession from the window, and thought it necessary to tell how she
Mr. Kendal's had been a long illness; the first knowledge of his loss
had caused a relapse, and his recovery had long been doubtful. As
soon as the children were able to move, they were sent with Miss
Meadows to Ramsgate, and Lucy had joined them there.
'The day before I went, I saw papa,' she said. 'I had gone home for
some things that I was to take, and his room door was open, so he saw
me on the stairs, and called me, for there was no fear of infection
then. Oh, he was so changed! his hair all cut off, and his cheeks
hollow, and he was quite trembling, as he lay back on pillows in the
great arm-chair. You can't think what a shock it was to me to see
him in such a state. He held out his arms, and I flung mine round
his neck, and sobbed and cried. And he just said, so faintly, "Take
her away, Maria, I cannot bear it." I assure you I was quite
'You must have wished for more self-command,' said Albinia, disturbed
by Lucy's evident pleasure in having made a scene.
'Oh, but it was such a shock, and such a thing to see the house all
empty and forlorn, with the windows open, and everything so still!
Miss Belmarche cried too, and said she did not wonder my feelings
overcame me, and _she_ did not see papa.'
'Ah! Lucy,' said Albinia, fervently, 'how we must try to make him
happy after all that he has gone through!'
'That is what grandmamma said when she got his letter. "I would be
glad of anything," she said, "that would bring back a smile to him."
And Aunt Maria said she had done her best for him, but he must
consult his own happiness; and so I say. When people talk to me, I
say that papa is quite at liberty to consult his own happiness.'
Lucy did not understand the tone, and went on patronizing. 'And if
they say you look younger than they expected, I don't object to that
at all. I had rather you were not as old as Aunt Maria, or Miss
'Who thinks me so young?'
'Oh! Aunt Maria, and grandmamma, and Mrs. Osborn, and all; but I
don't mind that, it is only Sophy who says you look like a girl.
Aunt Maria says Sophy has an unmanageable temper.'
'Don't you think you can let me find that out for myself?'
'I thought you wanted me to tell you about everybody.'
'Ah! but tell me of the good in your brother and sister.'
'I don't know how,' said Lucy. 'Gilbert is so tiresome, and so is
Sophy. I heard Mary telling Jane, "I'm sure the new missus will have
a heavy handful of those two."'
'And what of yourself?' said Albinia.
'Oh! I don't know,' said Lucy, modestly.
Mr. Kendal came in, and as Albinia looked at his pensive brow, she
was oppressed by the thought of his sufferings in that dreary
convalescence. At night, when she looked from her window, the fog
hung white, like mildew over the pond, and she could not reason
herself out of a spectral haunting fancy that sickness lurked in the
heavy, misty atmosphere. She dreamt of it and the four babies,
started, awoke, and had to recall all her higher trust to enable her
vigour to chase off the oppressive imagination.
Fog greeted Mrs. Kendal's eyes as she rose, and she resolved to make
an attack on the pond without loss of time. But Mr. Kendal was
absorbed nearly all breakfast-time in a letter from India, containing
a scrap in some uncouth character. As he finished his last cup of
tea, he looked up and said, 'A letter from my old friend Penrose, of
Bombay - an inscription in the Salsette caves.'
'Have you seen the Salsette caves?
She was longing to hear about them, but his horse was announced.
'You said you would be engaged in the morning while I ride out,
Albinia?' he said, 'I shall return before luncheon. Gilbert, you had
better go at once to Mr. Bowles. I shall order your pony to be ready
when you come back.'
There was not a word of remonstrance, though the boy looked very
disconsolate, and began to murmur the moment his father had gone.
Albinia, who had regarded protection at a dentist's one of the
offices of the head of a family, though dismayed at the task, told
Gilbert that she would come with him in a moment. The girls
exclaimed that no one thought of going with him, and fearing she had
put an affront on his manliness, she asked what he would like, but
could get no answer, only when Lucy scolded him for lingering, he
said, 'I thought _she_ was going with me.'
'Amiable,' thought Albinia, as she ran up to put on her bonnet; 'but
I suppose toothache puts people out of the pale of civilization. And
if he is thankless, is not that treating me more like a mother?'
Perhaps he had accepted her escort in hopes of deferring the evil
hour, for he seemed discomfited to see her so quickly ready, and not
grateful to his sisters, who hurried them by saying that Mr. Bowles
would be gone out upon his rounds.
Mr. Bowles was amazed at the sight of Mrs. Kendal, and so elaborate
in compliments and assurances that Mrs. Bowles would do herself the
honour of calling, that Albinia, pitying Gilbert, called his
With him the apothecary was peremptory and facetious. 'He had
expected that he should soon see him after his papa's return!' And
with a 'soon be over,' he set him down, and Albinia bravely stood a
desperate wringing of her hand at the tug of war. She was glad she
had come, for the boy suffered a good deal, and was faint, and Mr.
Bowles pronounced his mouth in no state for a ride to Tremblam.
'I must go,' said Gilbert, as they walked home, 'I wish papa would
listen to anything.'
'He would not wish you to hurt yourself.'
'When papa says a thing - ' began Gilbert.
'Well, Gilbert, you are quite right, and I hope you don't think I
mean to teach you disobedience. But I do desire you, on my own
responsibility, not to go and catch an inflammation in your jaw.
I'll undertake papa.'
Gilbert at once became quite another creature. He discoursed so
much, that she had to make him restore the handkerchief to his mouth;
he held open the gate, showed her a shoal of minnows, and tried to
persuade her to come round the garden before going in, but she
clapped her hands at him, and hunted him back into the warm room,
much impressed and delighted by his implicit obedience to his father.
With Lucy and Sophy, his remaining seemed likewise to make a great
sensation; they looked at Mrs. Kendal and whispered, and were
evidently curious as to the result of her audacity. Albinia, who had
grown up with her brother Maurice and cousin Frederick, was more used
to boys than to girls, and was already more at ease with her son than
Gilbert lent a ready hand with hammer and chisel, and boxes were
opened, to the great delight and admiration of the girls. They were
all very happy and busy setting things to rights, but Albinia was in
difficulty how to bestow her books. There was an unaccountable
scarcity both of books and book-cases; none were to be seen except
that, in a chiffoniere in the drawing-room, there was a row in gilded
bindings, chiefly Pope, Gray, and the like; and one which Albinia
took out had pages which stuck together, a little pale blue string,
faded at the end, and in the garlanded fly-leaf the inscription, 'To
Miss Lucy Meadows, the reward of good conduct, December 20th, 1822.'
The book seemed rather surprised at being opened, and Albinia let it