never liked to begin about it,' he said, 'but I ought to have given
them this. It was done when he was so bad at Scutari. One night he
worked himself into a fever lest he should not live till his
birthday, and said a great deal about this Dusautoy making himself an
annoyance, perhaps insisting on a sale and turning his father out.
Nothing pacified him till, the very day he was of age, we got the
vice-consul to draw up what he wanted, and witness it, and so did I
and the doctor, and here it is. Afterwards he warned me to say
nothing of it when Mr. Kendal came, for he said if the other fellow
made a row, it would be better his father should be able to say he
had known nothing of the matter.'
'Does he make his father his heir?'
'That's the whole of it. He said his sisters would see it was the
only way to get things even, and I was to tell Albinia something
about building cottages or almshouses. Ay, "his father was to do
what ought to have been done."'
'Well, there's the best deed of poor Gilbert's life!'
'Thank you,' mumbled Fred, hall drolly, half gravely.
'Ay, Kendal and Albinia will do more good with that property than you
have thought of in all your life, sir.'
'Their future and my past,' laughed Fred, adding more gravely, 'Scamp
as I am, there's more responsibility coming on me now, and I have
gone through some preparation for it. If I can get out to Canada - '
'You will not lessen your responsibilities,' said Maurice, smiling,
'nor your competency to meet them.'
'I _trust_ not,' said Fred.
Mr. Ferrars read in his countenance far more than was implied by
those words. The General, by treating him as a boy, had kept him
one, and perhaps his levity had been prolonged by the rejection of
his first love; but a really steady attachment had settled his
character, and he had been undergoing much training through his own
sufferings, Gilbert's illness, and the sense of the new position that
awaited him as commanding officer; and for the first time Maurice,
who had always been very fond of him, felt that he was talking to a
high-principled and right-minded man instead of the family pet and
'I suppose,' he said, 'that you cannot have heard often from Montreal
since you have been in the East.'
'No. If my letters are anywhere, it is at the Family Office. I
desired them to be forwarded thither from head-quarters, not
expecting to be detained here. But,' cried Fred with animation,
'what think you of the General actually writing to Mr. Kinnaird from
'It would have been too bad if he had not.'
'I believe he did so solely to make me sleep, but it is the first
time he has deigned to treat the affair as anything but a delusion,
and he can't retract now. Since that, poor Gilbert has made a scrap
or two of mine presentable, and there's all that I have been able to
accomplish; but I hope it may have set her mind at rest.'
'Shall I be secretary?'
'Thank you, I think not. She would only worry herself about what is
before me; and if the doctors let me off easy, I had rather report of
myself in person.'
His eyes danced, and Maurice thought his unselfishness deserved a
'My poor Gilbert's last secret,' said Mr. Kendal, as he laid before
his wife the brief document by which his son had designated him as
his sole heir and executor. 'A gift to you, and a trust to me.'
Albinia looked up for explanation.
'While he intrusts his sisters to my justice, he tacitly commends to
me the works which you wished to see accomplished.'
'The almshouses! The improvements! Do you mean to undertake them?'
'It shall be my most sacred duty.'
'Oh! that we could have planned it with him!'
'Perhaps I value this the more from the certainty that it is
spontaneous,' said Mr. Kendal. 'It showed great consideration and
forethought, that he said nothing of his intention to me. Had he
mentioned it, I should have thought it right to suggest his leaving
his sisters their share; and yet, as we are situated with young
Dusautoy, it would have been awkward to have interfered. He did well
and wisely to be silent.'
'You don't expect Algernon to be discontented. Impossible, at such a
time, and so well off as he is!'
'I wish it may be impossible.'
'What do you mean, to do?'
'As far as I can see at present, I shall do this. I fear neither the
mode of acquisition nor the management of that property was such as
to bring a blessing, and I believe my poor boy has made it over to me
in order to free his sisters from the necessity of winking at
oppression and iniquity. Had it gone to them, matters must have been
let alone till Sophia came of age, and even then, all improvements
must have depended on Algernon's consent. The land and houses we
will keep, and sufficient ready money for the building and repairs;
and to this, Sophia, at least, will gladly agree. The rest -
something under twenty thousand, if I remember correctly - is the
girls' right. I will settle Lucy's share on her so as to be out of
her husband's power, and Sophia shall have hers when she comes of
'I am sure that will take from Algernon all power of grumbling,
though I cannot believe that even he could complain.'
'You approve, then?'
'How can yon ask? It is the first thing that has seemed like
happiness, if it did not make one long for him to talk it over!' The
wound was still very recent, and her spirits very tender, and the
more she felt the blessing of the association with Gilbert in the
work of love, the more she wept, though not altogether in sorrow.
Mortified at having come so much overworked and weakened, as to
occasion only trouble and anxiety, she yielded resignedly when
forbidden to wear out strength and spirits by a visit to the burial-ground
before her embarkation. She must content herself with Maurice's
description of the locality, and carry away in her eye only the general
picture of the sapphire ocean and white rock fortress of the holy
warriors vowed to tenderness and heroism, as the last resting-place
of her cherished Gilbert, when 'out of weakness he had been made strong'
in penitence and love.
Had Sophia's wishes been consulted, she would have preferred nursing
her sorrows at home; but no choice had been left, and at the vicarage
the fatherly kindness of Mr. Dusautoy, and the considerate let-alone
system of his wife, kept her at ease and not far from cheerful,
albeit neither the simplicity of the one nor the keenness of the
other was calculated to draw her into unreserve: comfort was in the
The children clung to her as if she made their home, little Albinia
preferring her even to Uncle John, as he had insisted on being called
ever since Lucy had become his niece, and Maurice invoking caresses,
the bestowal of which was his mother's rare privilege. The boy was
dull and listless, and though riot and mirth could be only too easily
excited, his wildest shouts and most frantic gesticulations were like
efforts to throw off a load at his heart. Time hung heavy on his
hands, and he would lie rolling and kicking drearily on the floor,
watching with some envy his little sister as she spelt her way
prosperously through 'Little Charles,' or daintily and distinctly
repeated her hymns. 'Nothing to do' was the burthen of his song, and
with masculine perverseness he disdained every occupation suggested
to him. Sophy might boast of his obedience and quiescence, but Mrs.
Dusautoy pitied all parties, and wondered when he would be disposed
of at school.
Permission to open letters had been left with Sophy, who with silent
resignation followed the details of poor Gilbert's rapid decay. At
last came the parcel by the private hand, containing a small packet
for each of the family. Sophy received a silver Maltese Cross, and
little Albinia a perfumy rose-leaf bracelet. There was a Russian
grape-shot for Maurice, and with it a letter.
With childish secrecy, he refused to let any one look at so much as
the envelope, and ran away with it, shouting 'It's mine.' Sophy was
grieved that it should be treated like a toy, and fearing that, while
playing at importance, he would lose or destroy it, without coming to
a knowledge of the contents, she durst not betray her solicitude,
lest she should give a stimulus to his wilfulness and precipitate its
fate. However, when he had galloped about enough, he called
imperatively, 'Sophy;' and she found him lying on his back on the
grass, the black cat an unwilling prisoner on his chest.
'You may read it to Smut and me,' he said.
It bore date the day after his father's arrival, but it had evidently
been continued at many different times; and as the handwriting became
more feeble, the style grew more earnest, so that, but for her
hoarse, indifferent voice, Sophy could hardly have accomplished the
'My dear Maurice,
'Many, many thanks to you and dear little Awkey for your present. I
have set it up like a picture, and much do I like to look at it, and
guess who chose the colours and who are the hunters. I am sure the
fat man in the red coat is the admiral. It makes the place seem like
home to see what tells so plainly of you and baby.
'Kiss my little Awk for me, and thank her for wanting to send me Miss
Jenny, dear little maid; I like to think of it. You will not let her
quite forget me. You must show her my name if it is put up in
church, like Edmund's and all the little ones'; and you will
sometimes tell her about dear old Ned on a Sunday evening when you
are both very good.
'I think you know that you and she will never again run out into the
hall to pull Gibbie almost down between you. Perhaps by the time you
read this, you will be the only son, with all the comfort and hope of
the house resting upon you. My poor Maurice, I know what it is to be
told so, and only to feel that one has no brother; but at least it
cannot be to you as it was with me, when it was as if half myself
were gone, and all my stronger, better, braver self.
'My father has been reading to me the Rich Man and Lazarus. Maurice,
when you read of him and the five brethren, think of me, and how I
pray that I may not have left seeds of temptation for you. In the
time of my loneliness, Tritton was good-natured, but I ought to have
avoided him; and that to which he introduced me has been the bane of
my life. Nothing gives me such anguish as to think I have made you
acquainted with that set. Keep out of their way! Never go near
those pigeon-shootings and donkey-races; they seem good fun, but it
is disobedience to go, and the things that happen there are like the
stings of venomous creatures; the poison was left to fester even when
your mother seemed to have cured me. Neither now nor when you are
older resort to such things or such people. Next time you meet
Tritton and Shaw tell them I desired to be remembered to them; after
that have nothing to do with them; touch your hat and pass on. They
meant it in good nature, and thought no harm, but they were my worst
enemies; they led me astray, and taught me deception as a matter of
course. Oh! Maurice, never think it manly to have the smallest
reserve with your parents. I would give worlds to have sooner known
that truth would have been freedom and rest. Thank Heaven, your
faults are not my faults. If you go wrong, it will be with a high
hand, but you would wring hearts that can ill bear further grief and
disappointment. Oh! that I were more worthy to pray that you may use
your strength and spirit the right way; then you will be gladness to
our father and mother, and when you lie down to die, you will be
happier than I am.
'I want to tell you more, but it hurts me to write long. If I could
only see you - not only in my dreams. I wake, and my heart sickens
with longing for a sight of my brave boy's merry face, till I almost
feel as if it would make me well; but it is a blessing past hope to
have my father with me, and know him as I have never done before.
Give little Albinia these beads, with my love, and be a better
brother to her than I was to poor Lucy.
'Good-by, Maurice. No one can tell what you have been to me since
your mother put you into my arms, and I felt I had a brother again.
God bless you and cancel all evil you may have caught from me. Papa
will give you my sword. Perhaps you will wear it one day, and under
my colonel. I have never been so happy as in the time it was mine.
When you look at it, always say this to yourself: "Fear God, and fear
nothing else." O that I had done so!
'Let your dear, dear mother be happy in you: it will be the only way
to make her forgive me in her heart. Good-by, my own dear, brave
'Your most affectionate brother,
'I say, Smut,' quoth Maurice, 'I think you and our Tabby would make
two famous horses for Awkey's little cart. I shall take you home and
Sophy sat breathless at his indifference. 'You mustn't,' she said in
hasty anger; 'Smut is not yours.'
'Well, Jack said that our Tabby had two kittens up in the loft; I
think they'll make better ponies. I shall go and try them!'
'Don't plague the kittens.'
'I'll not plague them; I'll only make ponies of them. Give me the
'No, not to play with the cats. I thought you would have cared about
such a letter!'
'You have no right to keep it! It is mine; give it me!' cried
'Promise to take real care of it.'
He only tore it from her, and was gone.
'I'm a fool to expect anything from such a child,' she thought.
At two o'clock the Vicar hurried into the bank. 'Good morning, Mr.
Goldsmith, I beg your pardon; I wanted to ask if Mr. O'More has seen
little Maurice Kendal.'
'Not since yesterday - what's the matter?'
'The child is not come in to dinner. He is nowhere at home or at
'Ha!' cried Ulick. 'Can he be gone to see his pony at Hobbs's!'
'No, it has been sent to Fairmead. Then you have no notion where the
child can be? Sophy is nearly distracted. She saw him last about
ten o'clock, bent on harnessing some kittens, but he's not in the
'He may be gone to the toy-shop after the harness. Or has anyone
looked in the church-tower - he was longing to go up it, and if the
door were open - '
'The very thing!' cried the Vicar. 'I'll go this moment.'
'Or there's old Peter, the sailor,' called Ulick; 'if he wanted any
tackle fitted, he might go to him.'
'You had better go yourself, More,' said Mr. Goldsmith. 'One would
not wish to keep poor Miss Kendal in suspense, though I dare say the
boy is safe enough.'
Mr. Goldsmith was thanked, and Ulick hurried out, Hyder Ali leaping
up in amazement at his master being loose at that time of day.
Everybody had thought the child was with somebody else till dinner-time,
and the state of the vicarage was one of dire alarm and self-reproach.
Sophy was seeking and calling in every possible place, and had just
brought herself to own the message of remembrance in Gilbert's letter,
thinking it possible Maurice might have gone to deliver it at Robbles
Leigh; and Mr. Hope had undertaken to go thither in quest of him. Ulick
and Mr. Dusautoy, equally disappointed by the tower and the sailor,
went again to Willow Lawn to interrogate the servants. The gardener's
boy had heard Maurice scolding and the cat squalling, and the cook had
heard his step in the house. They hurried into his little room - he
was not there, but the drawers had been disturbed.
'He may be gone to Fairmead!' cried the Vicar.
'How?' said Ulick. 'Ha! Hyder, sir!' holding up a little shoe.
'Seek! That's my fine doggie - they only call you a mongrel because
you have all the canine virtues united. See what you can do as
sleuth hound. Ha! We'll nose him out for you in no time, Mr.
After sniffing round the drawers, the yellow tripod made an ungainly
descent of the stairs, his nose down all the way, then across the
hall and out at the gate; but when, after poking about, the animal
set off on the turnpike-road, the Vicar demurred.
'Stay; the poor dog only wants to get you out for a walk. He is
making for the Hadminster road.'
'And why wouldn't he, if the child is nowhere in Bayford?
'I can't answer it to his mother wasting time in this way. You may
do as you like. I shall go to the training-stables, where he has
once been, if not on to Fairmead. I can't see Sophy till he is
'I shall abide by my little Orangeman,' said Ulick; and they parted.
Hyder Ali pursued his way in the March dust, while Ulick eagerly
scanned for the traces of a child's foot. Four miles did the dog go
on, evidently following a scent, but Ulick's mind misgave him as
Hadminster church-tower rose before him, and the dog took the ascent
to the station.
Ulick made his way in as a train stood panting before the platform.
He had a glimpse of a square face and curly hair at the window of a
'Maurice, come back!' he cried. 'Here, guard! this little boy must
'Go on!' shouted Maurice. 'I've got my ticket. 'No one can stop me.
I'm going to Malta!' and he tried to get to the other side of a
stout traveller, who defended his legs from him, and said, 'Ha!
Running away from school, young master! Here's your usher.'
'No, I'm not running away! I'm not at school! I'm Maurice Kendal!
I'm going to my brother at Malta!'
'He is the son of Mr. Kendal of Bayford,' said Ulick to the
station-master,' his parents are from home, and there will be dreadful
distress if he goes in this way. Maurice, your sister has troubles
'I've my ticket, and can't be stopped.'
But even as he spoke, the stout traveller picked him up by the
collar, and dropped him like a puppy dog into Ulick's arms, just as
the train was getting into motion; and a head protruded from every
window to see the truant, who was pommelling Ulick in a violent fury,
and roaring, 'Let me go; I will go to Gilbert!'
'Behave like a man,' said Ulick; 'don't disgrace yourself in that
The boy coloured, and choking with passion and disappointment, and
straining against Ulick's hold of his shoulder.
'Indeed, sir,' said the station-master, 'if we had recognised the
young gentleman, we would have made more inquiries, but he asked so
readily for his ticket, not seeming at a loss, and we have so many
young travellers, that we thought of nothing amiss. Will you have a
'I'm not going home,' said the boy, undaunted.
'You must submit, Maurice. You do not wish to make poor Sophy
'I must go to Malta,' the boy persisted. 'Gilbert says it would make
him well to see me. I know my way; I saw it in the map, and I've a
roll, and the end of a cold tongue, and a clean shirt, and my own
sovereign, and four shillings, and a half-crown, and a half-penny in
my pocket; and I'm going!'
'But, Maurice, this gentleman will tell you that your whole sovereign
would not carry you a quarter of the way to Malta.'
The station-master gave so formidable a description of the
impossibilities of the route, that the hardy little fellow's look of
decision relaxed into dejection, his muscles lost their tension, and
he struggled hard with his tears.
He followed Ulick to the carriage, and hid his face in a corner,
while orders were given to stop at the post-office in case there were
fresh letters. There was one for Miss Kendal, in Mr. Ferrars'
writing, and with black borders. Ulick felt too surely what it must
be, and hardly could bear to address Maurice, who had shrunk from him
with some remains of passion, but hearing suppressed sobs, he put his
hand on him and said, 'My poor little man.'
'Get away,' said Maurice, shaking him off. 'Why did you come and
'I came because it would have almost killed your sister and mother
for you to be lost. If you had seen Sophy's face, Maurice!'
'I don't care. Now I shall never see Gilbert again, and he did want
me so!' Maurice hid his face, and his frame shook with sobs.
'Yes,' said Ulick, 'every one knew he wanted you; but if it had been
possible for you to go, your mamma would have taken you. If your
uncle had to take care of her how could you go alone?'
'I'd have got there somehow,' cried Maurice. 'I'd have seen and
heard Gilbert. He's written me a letter to say he wants to see me,
and I can't even make that out!'
'Has not your sister read it to you!'
'I hate Sophy's reading!' cried Maurice. 'It makes it all grumpy,
like her. Take it, Ulick - you read it.'
That rich, sensitive, modulated voice brought out the meaning of the
letter, though there were places where Ulick had nearly broken down;
and Maurice pressed against him with the large tears in his eyes, and
was some minutes without speaking.
'He does not think of your coming; he does not expect you, dear boy,'
said Ulick. 'It is a precious letter to have. I hope you will keep
it and read it often, and heed it too.'
'I can't read it,' said Maurice, ruefully. 'If I could, I shouldn't
'You soon will. You see how he tells you you are to be a comfort;
and if you are a good boy, you'll quickly leave the dunce behind.'
'I can't,' said Maurice. 'Mamma said I should not do a bit of a
lesson with Sophy, or I should tease her heart out. Would it come
'Well, I think you've gone hard to try to-day,' said Ulick.
'Mamma said my being able to read would be a comfort, and papa says
he never saw such an ignorant boy! so what's the use of minding
Gilbert's letter? It wont let me.'
'What wont let you?'
'Fun!' said Maurice, with a sob.
'He is a rogue!' cried Ulick, vehemently; 'but a stout heart and good
will can get him under yet. Think of what your brother says of
making your father and mother happy!'
'If I could do something to please them very, very much! Oh! if I
could but learn to read all at once.'
'You can read - anybody can read!' said Ulick, pulling a book out of
his pocket. 'There! try.'
There was some laughing over this; and then Maurice leant out of
window, and grew sleepy. They had descended into the wide basin of
alluvial land through which the Baye dawdled its meandering course,
and were just about to cross the first bridge about two miles from
Bayford, when Maurice shouted, 'There's Sophy! - how funny.'
It was a tall figure, in deep mourning, slowly moving along the
towing-path, intently gazing into the river; but so strange was it to
see Sophy so far from home, that Ulick paused a moment ere calling to
the driver to stop.
As he hastily wrenched open the door, she raised up her face, and he
was shocked. She looked as if she had lived years of sorrow, and
even Maurice was struck with consternation.
'Sophy! Sophy!' he cried, hanging round her. 'I wouldn't have gone
without telling you, if I had thought you would mind it. Speak to
She could say nothing save a hoarse 'Where?' as with both arms she
pressed him as if she could never let him go again.
'In the train - intending to go to Malta,' said Ulick.
'I didn't know I could not; I didn't mean to vex you, Sophy,'
continued the child. 'I'm come home now, and I wont try again.'
'Oh! Maurice, what would have become of you?' She held out her hand
to Ulick, the first time for months.
'And we've got a letter for you, proceeded Maurice.
Ulick would fain have withheld it, but he had not the choice. She
caught at it, still holding Maurice fast, and ere he could propose
her opening it in the carriage while he walked home she had torn it
open, and the same moment she had sunk down, seated on the path, with
an arm round her brother. 'Oh! Maurice, it is well you are here!
You would not have found them - it is over!'
She had found one brother to lose the other; but the relief of
Maurice's safety had so softened the blow, that her tears gushed
The sense of Ulick's presence restrained her, but raising her head,
she missed him, and felt lonely, desolate, deserted, almost fainting,
and in a strange place.
'Is he dead?' said Maurice, in a solemn low voice, and she wept
helplessly, while the little fellow stood sustaining her weight like
a small pillar, perplexed and dismayed.
'Are you poorly, Sophy? What shall I do?' said he, as she almost
fell back, but a stronger arm held her up.
'Lean on me, dear Sophy,' said Ulick, who had returned, bringing some
water from a small house near at hand, and supported her and soothed