spirits - nay, death itself she augured - and all - all her own fault!
The last and best of Edmund's children so cruelly and deeply wounded,
and by her folly! She longed to throw herself at his feet and ask
his pardon, but it was Sophy's secret as well as hers, and how could
womanhood betray that unrequited love? At least she thought, for
noble Sophy's sake, she would not raise a finger to hinder the
marriage, but as to forwarding it, or promoting the courtship under
Sophy's very eyes - that would be like murdering her outright, and she
would join Mr.
Kendal with all her might in removing their daughter
from the trying spectacle. Talk of Aunt Maria! This trouble was ten
thousand times worse!
Albinia began to watch the timepiece, longing to have the evening
over, that she might prepare Mr. Kendal. It ended at last, and
Genevieve took up her candle, bade good-night, and disappeared.
Sophy lingered, till coming forward to her father as he stood by the
fire, she said, 'Papa, did you not promise Gilbert that Genevieve
should be as another daughter?'
'I wish she would be, my dear,' said Mr. Kendal; 'but she is too
independent, and your mamma thinks she would consider it as a mere
farce to call her little Albinia's governess, but if you can persuade
her - '
'What I want you to do, papa, is to promise that she shall be married
from this house, as her home, and that you will fit her out as you
'Ha! Is she beginning to relent?'
'No, papa. It will be Ulick O'More.'
'You don't mean it!' exclaimed Mr. Kendal, more taken by surprise
than perhaps he had ever been, and looking at his wife, who was
standing dismayed, yet admiring the gallant girl who had forestalled
her precautions. Obliged to speak, she said, 'I am afraid so, Sophy
and I witnessed a scene to-day.'
'Afraid?' said Mr. Kendal; 'I see no reason to be afraid, if Ulick
likes it. They are two of the most agreeable and best people that
ever fell in my way, and I shall be delighted if they can arrange it,
for they are perfectly suited to each other.'
'But such a match!' exclaimed Albinia.
'As to that, a sensible, economical wife will be worth more to him
than an expensive one, with however large a fortune. And for the
family pride, I am glad the lad has more sense than I feared; he has
a full right to please himself, having won the place he has, and he
may make his father consent. He wants a wife - nothing else will keep
him from running headlong into speculation, for want of something to
do. Yes, I see what you are thinking of, my dear, but you know we
could not wish her, as you said yourself, never to form another
'But _here_!' sighed Albinia, the ground knocked away from under her,
yet still clinging to the last possible form of murmur.
'It will cost us something,' said Mr. Kendal, 'but no more than we
will cheerfully bear, for the sake of one who has such claims upon
us; and it will be amply repaid by having such a pair of friends
settled close to us.'
'Then you will, papa?' said Sophy.
'Will do what, my dear?'
'Treat her as - as you did Lucy, papa.'
'And with much more pleasure, and far more hope, than when we fitted
out poor Lucy,' said Mr. Kendal.
Sophy thanked him, and said 'Good-night;' and the look which
accompanied her kiss to her step-mother was a binding over to secrecy
'Is she gone?' said Mr. Kendal, who had been musing after his last
words. 'Gone to tell her friend, I suppose? I wanted to ask what
this scene was.'
'Oh!' said Albinia, 'it was in the garden - we saw it from the
window - only he brought her a bit of holly, and was trying to kiss
'Strong premises, certainly. How did she receive the advance?'
'She would not listen, but made her escape.'
'Then matters are not in such a state of progress as for me to
congratulate her? I suppose that you ladies are the best judges
whether he may not meet with the same fate as poor Hope?'
'Sophy seems to take it for granted that he will not.'
'Irishman as he is, he must be pretty secure of his ground before
coming to such strong measures. Well! I hope we may hear no more of
brow-ague. But - ' with sudden recollection - 'I thought, Albinia,
you fancied he had some inclination for Sophy?'
Was it not a good wife to suppress the 'You did'? If she could
merrily have said, 'You told me so,' it would have been all very
well, but her mood would admit of nothing but a grave and guarded
answer - 'We did fancy so, but I am convinced it was entirely without
That superior smile at her lively imagination was more than human
nature could bear, without the poor relief of an entreaty that he
would not sit meditating, and go to sleep in his chair.
Albinia thought she had recovered equanimity during her night's rest,
but in the midst of her morning toilette, Sophy hurried in,
exclaiming, 'She'll go away! She is writing letters and packing!'
and she answered, 'Well, what do you want me to do? You don't
imagine that I can rush into her room and lay hands on her? She will
not go upon a wishing-carpet. It will be time to interfere when we
know more of the matter.'
Sophy looked blank, and vanished, and Albinia felt excessively vexed
at having visited on the chief sufferer her universal crossness with
all mankind. She knew she had only spoken common sense, but that
made it doubly hateful; and yet she could not but wish Miss Durant
anywhere out of sight, and Mr. O'More on the top of the Hill of
At breakfast, Sophy's looks betrayed nothing to the uninitiated,
though Albinia detected a feverish restlessness and covert
impatience, and judged that her sleep had been little. Genevieve's
had perhaps been less, for she was very sallow, with sunken eyes, and
her face looked half its usual size; but Albinia could not easily
have compassion on the poor little unwitting traitress, even when she
began, 'Dear Mrs. Kendal, will you excuse me if I take a sudden
leave? I find it will answer best for me to accept Mrs. Elwood's
invitation; I can then present myself to any lady who may wish to see
me, and, as I promised my aunt another visit, I had better go to
Hadminster by the three o'clock omnibus.'
Albinia was thankful for the loud opposition which drowned the faint
reluctance of her own; Mr. Kendal insisting that she should not leave
them; little Awk coaxing her; and Maurice exclaiming, 'If the ladies
want her, let them come after her! One always goes to see a horse.'
'I'm not so well worth the trouble, Maurice.'
'I know Ulick O'More _would_ come in to see you when all the piebalds
for the show were going by!'
'Some day you will come to the same good taste,' said his father, to
lessen the general confusion.
'See a lady instead of a piebald? Never!' cried Maurice with
indignation, that made the most preoccupied laugh; under cover of
which Genevieve effected a retreat. Sophy looked imploringly at
Albinia - Albinia was moving, but not with alacrity, and Mr. Kendal
was saying, 'I do not understand all this,' when, scarcely pausing to
knock, Ulick opened the door, cheeks and eyes betraying scarcely
'What - where,' he stammered, as if even his words were startled away;
'is not Miss Durant well?'
'She was here just this moment,' said Mr. Kendal.
'I will go and see for her,' said Sophy. 'Come, children.'
Whether Sophy's powers over herself or over Genevieve would avail,
was an anxious marvel, but it did not last a moment, for Maurice came
clattering down to say that Genevieve was gone out into the town. In
such a moment! She must have snatched up her bonnet, and fled one
way while Ulick entered by the other. He made one step forward,
exclaiming, 'Where is she gone?' then pausing, broke out, 'Mrs.
Kendal, you must make her give me a hearing, or I shall go mad!'
'A hearing?' repeated Mrs. Kendal, with slight malice.
'Yes; why, don't you know?'
'So your time has come, Ulick, has it?' said Mr. Kendal.
'Well, and I were worse than an old ledger if it had not, when she
was before me! Make her listen to me, Mrs. Kendal, if she do not, I
shall never do any more good in this world!'
'I should have thought,' said Albinia, 'that an Irishman would be at
no loss for making opportunities.'
'You don't know, Mrs. Kendal; she is so fenced in with scruples,
humility - I know not what - that she will not so much as hear me out.
I'm not such a blockhead as to think myself worthy of her, but I do
think, if she would only listen to me, I might stand a chance: and
she runs off, as if she thought it a sin to hear a word from my
'It is very honourable to her,' said Mr. Kendal.
'Very honourable to her,' replied Ulick, 'but cruelly hard upon me.'
'I think, too,' continued Mr. Kendal, stimulated thereto by his
lady's severely prudent looks, 'that you ought - granting Miss Durant
to be, as I well know her to be, one of the most excellent persons
who ever lived - still to count the cost of opening such an affair.
It is not fair upon a woman to bring her into a situation where
disappointments may arise which neither may be able to bear.'
'Do you mean my family, Mr. Kendal? Trust me for getting consent
from home. You will write my father a letter, saying what you said
just now; Mrs. Kendal will write another to my mother; and I'll just
let them see my heart is set on it, and they'll not hold out.'
'Could you bear to see her - looked down on?' said Albinia.
'Ha!' he cried, with flashing eyes. 'No, believe me, Mrs. Kendal,
the O'Mores have too much gentle blood to do like that, even if she
were one whom any one could scorn. Why, what is my mother herself
but a Goldsmith by birth, and I'd like to see who would cast it up to
any of the family that she was not as noble as an O'More! And
Genevieve herself - isn't every look and every movement full of the
purest gentility her fathers' land can show?'
'I dare say, once accepted, the O'Mores would heartily receive her;
but here, in this place, there are some might think it told against
you, and might make her uncomfortable.'
'What care I? I've lived and thriven under Bayford scorn many a day.
And for her - Oh! I defy anything so base to wound a heart so high as
hers, and with me to protect her!'
'And you can afford it?' said Mr. Kendal. 'Remember she has her aunt
'I can,' said Ulick. 'I have gone over it all again and again; and
recalling his man-of-business nature, he demonstrated that even at
present he was well able to support Mdlle. Belmarche, as well as to
begin housekeeping, and that there was every reason to believe that
his wider and more intelligent system of management would continue to
increase his income.'
'Well, Ulick,' said Mr. Kendal at last, 'I wish you success with all
my heart, and esteem you for a choice so entirely founded upon the
qualities most certain to ensure happiness.'
'You don't mean to say that she has not the most glorious eyes, the
most enchanting figure!' exclaimed Ulick, affronted at the compliment
that seemed to aver that Genevieve's external charms were not equal
to her sterling merit.
Mr. Kendal and Albinia laughed; and the former excused himself, not
quite to the lover's satisfaction, by declaring the lady much more
attractive than many regularly handsome people; but he added, that
what he meant was, that he was sure the attachment was built upon a
sound foundation. Then he entreated that Mrs. Kendal would persuade
her to listen to him, for she had fled from him ever since his
betrayal of his sentiments till he was half crazed, and had been
walking up and down his room all night. He should do something
distracted, if not relieved from suspense before night! And Mr.
Kendal got rid of him in the midst of his transports, and turning to
Albinia said, 'We must settle this as fast as possible, or he will
lose his head, and get into a scrape.'
'I do not like such wild behaviour. It is not dignified.'
'It is only temperament,' said Mr. Kendal. 'Will you speak to her?'
'Yes, whenever she comes in.'
'I suspect she has gone out on purpose. Could you not go to find her
at the school, or wherever she is likely to be?'
'I don't know where to find her. I cannot give up the children's
lessons. Nothing hurts Maurice so much as irregularity.'
He made no answer, but his look of disappointment excited her to
observe to herself that she supposed he expected her to run all over
the town without ordering dinner first, and she wondered how he would
Presently she heard him go out at the front door, and felt some
She had not the heart to seek Sophy to report progress, and did not
see her till about eleven o'clock, when she came in hastily with her
bonnet on, asking, 'Well, mamma?'
'Where have you been, Sophy?'
'To school,' she said. 'Has anything happened?'
'We have had it out, and I am to speak to her when she comes in,'
said Albinia, glad as perhaps was Sophy of the enigmatical form to
which Maurice's presence restrained the communication.
Sophy went away, but presently returning and taking up her work, but
with eyes that betrayed how she was listening; but there was so
entire an apparent absence of personal suffering, that Albinia began
to discharge the weight from her mind, and believe that the sentiment
had been altogether imaginary even on Sophy's side, and the whole a
marvellous figment of her own.
At last, Mr. Kendal's foot was heard; Sophy started up, and sat down
again. He came upstairs, and his face was all smiles.
'Well,' he said, 'I don't think she will go by the three o'clock
'You have spoken to her?' cried Albinia in compunction.
'Has Maurice finished? Then go out, my boy, for the present.'
'Well?' said Albinia, interrogatively, and Sophy laid down her work
and crossed one hand over the other on her knees, and leant back as
though to hinder visible tremor.
'Yes,' he said, going on with what had been deferred till Maurice was
gone. 'I thought it hard on him - and as I was going to speak to
Edwards, I asked if she were at the Union, where I found her, taking
leave of the old women, and giving them little packets of snuff, and
small presents, chiefly her own work, I am sure. I took her with me
into the fields, and persuaded her at last to talk it over with me.
Poor little thing! I never saw a more high-minded, conscientious
spirit: she was very unhappy about it, and said she knew it was all
her unfortunate manner, she wished to be guarded, but a little
excitement and conversation always turned her head, and she entreated
me not to hinder her going back to a school-room, out of the way of
every one. I told her that she must not blame herself for being more
than usually agreeable; but she would not listen, and I could hardly
bring her to attend to what I said of young O'More. Poor girl! I
believe she was running away from her own heart.'
'You have prevented her?' cried Sophy.
'At least I have induced her to hear his arguments. I told her my
opinion of him, which was hardly needed, and what I thought might
have more weight - that he has earned the right to please himself, and
that I believed she would be better for him than riches. She
repeated several times "Not now," and "Not here;" and I found that
she was shocked at the idea of the subject being brought before us.
I was obliged to tell her that nothing would gratify any of us so
much, and that this was the time to fulfil her promise of considering
me as a father.'
'Oh, thank you,' murmured Sophy.
'So finally I convinced her that she owed Ulick a hearing, and I
think she felt that to hear was to yield. She had certainly been
feeling that flight was the only measure, and between her dread of
entrapping him and of hurting our feelings, had persuaded herself it
was her duty. The last thing she did was to catch hold of me as I
was going, and ask if he knew what her father was.'
'I dare say it has been the first thing she has said to him,' said
Albinia. 'She is a noble little creature! But what have you done
with them now?'
'I brought him to her in the parsonage garden. I believe they are
walking in the lanes,' said Mr. Kendal, much gratified with his
'She deserves him,' said Sophy; and then her eyes became set, as if
looking into far distance.
The walk in the lanes had not ended by luncheon-time, and an
afternoon loaded with callers was oppressive, but Sophy kept up well.
At last, in the twilight, the door was heard to open, and Genevieve
came in alone. They listened, and knew she must have run up to her
own room. What did it portend? Albinia must be the one to go and
see, so after a due interval, she went up and knocked. Genevieve
opened the door, and threw herself into her arms. 'Dear Mrs. Kendal!
Oh! have I done wrong? I am so very happy, and I cannot help it!'
Albinia kissed her, and assured her she had done nothing to repent
'I am so glad you think so. I never dreamt such happiness could be
meant for me, and I am afraid lest I should have been selfish and
wrong, and bring trouble on him.'
'We have been all saying you deserve him.'
'Oh no - no - so good, so noble, so heroic as he is. How could he
think of the poor little French teacher! And he will pay my aunt's
fifty pounds! I told him all, and he knew it before, and yet he
loves me! Oh! why are people so very good to me?'
'I could easily find an answer to that question,' said Albinia.
'Where is he, my dear?'
'He is gone home. I would not come into the town with him. It is
nothing, you know; no one must hear of it, for he must be free unless
his parents consent - and I know they never can,' she said, shaking
her head, sadly, 'but even then I shall have one secret of happiness-
-I shall know what has been! But oh! Mrs. Kendal, let me go away - '
'Go away now?' exclaimed Albinia.
'Yes - it cannot be - here, in this house! Oh! it is outraging your
'No,' said Albinia; 'it is but letting us fulfil a very precious
Genevieve's tears flowed as she said, 'Such goodness! Mr. Kendal
spoke to me in this way in the morning, when he was more kind and
patient than I can express. But tell me, dearest madame, tell me
candidly, is my remaining here the cause of any secret pain to him?'
With regard to him, Albinia could answer sincerely that it was a
gratification; and Genevieve owned that she should be glad to await
the letters from Ireland, which she tried to persuade herself she
believed would put an end to everything, except the precious
Sophy here came in with some tea. She had recollected that Genevieve
had wandered all day without any bodily sustenance.
There was great sweetness in the quiet, grave manner in which she
bent over her friend and kissed her brow. All she said was, 'Papa
had goes to fetch him to dinner. Genevieve, you must let me do your
It was in Genevieve's eyes an astonishing fancy, and Albinia said,
'Come away now, my dear; she must have a thorough rest after such a
Genevieve looked too much excited for rest, but that was the more
reason for leaving her to herself; and besides, it was so
uncomfortable not to be able to be kind enough.
However, when people are happy, a little kindness goes a great way,
and there was a subdued lustre like a glory in her eyes when she came
downstairs, with the holly leaves and berries glistening in her hair,
the first ornament she had ever worn there.
'It was Sophy's doing,' she said. 'Naughty girl; she tried to take
me by surprise. She would not let me look in the glass, but I
guessed - and oh! she was wounding her poor hands so sadly.'
I must thank her,' said Ulick, looking ecstatic. 'Why does she not
As she did not appear, Albinia went up, doubtful if it were wise, yet
too uneasy not to go in quest of her.
It was startling to have so faint an answer on knocking, and on
entering the room, she saw Sophy lying on her bed, upon her back,
with her arms by her sides, and with a ghastly whiteness on her
Scarcely a pulse could be felt, and her hands were icy cold, her
voice sank to nothing, her eyelids scarcely raised, as if the strain
of the day had exhausted all vital warmth or energy, and her purpose
accomplished, annihilation was succeeding. Much terrified, Albinia
would have hurried in search of remedies, but she raised her hand
imploringly, and murmured, 'Please don't. I'm not faint - I'm not
ill. If you would only let me be still.'
Albinia teased her so far as to cover her with warmed shawls, and
force on her a stimulant. She shut her eyes, but presently opened
them to say, 'Please go.'
She was so often unable to appear at dinner, that no observation was
made; and it was to be feared that her absence was chiefly regretted
by the lovers, because it prevented them from sitting on the same
side of the table.
Always frank and unrestrained, Ulick made his felicity so apparent,
that Albinia had no toleration for him, and not much for the
amusement it afforded Mr. Kendal. She would have approved of her
husband much more if he had put her into a great quandary by anxious
inquiries what was the matter with his daughter, instead of that
careless, 'O you are going up to Sophy; I hope she will be able to
come down to tea,' when she left him on guard over the children and
'So it is with woman's martyrdoms,' said she to herself as she walked
upstairs, chewing the cud of all the commonplaces by which women
have, of late years, flattered themselves, and been flattered; 'but
at any rate I'll have her out of sight of all their absurdity. It is
enough to kill her!'
Sophy hardly stirred at her entrance, but there was less ghastliness
about her, and as Albinia sat down she did not remove her hand, and
turned slightly round, so as to lose that strange corpse-like
attitude of repose.
'You are not so cold, dearest,' said Albinia. 'Have you slept?'
'I think not.'
'Are you better? Have you been comfortable?'
'Oh yes.' Then, with a pause, 'Yes - it was like being nothing!'
'You were not faint, I hope?'
'No - only lying still. Don't you know the comfort of not thinking or
'Yes; this has been far too much for you. You have done enough now,
my generous Sophy.'
'Not generous; one can't give away what one never had.'
'I think it more gracious to yield without jealousy or bitterness - '
'Only not quite base,' said Sophy. Then presently, turning on her
pillow as though more willing to converse, she said, 'I am glad it
was not last year.'
'We had troubles enough then!'
'Not for that - because I should have been base then, and hated myself
for it all the time.'
'That you never could have been!' cried Albinia. 'But, my dear, you
must let me contrive for you; I would not betray you for all the
world, but the sight of these two is more than you ought to undergo.
I will not send Genevieve away, but you must go from home.'
'I don't think I shall be cross,' said poor Sophy, simply; 'I should
'Cross! It is I who am cross, because I am to blame; but, dearest,
think if you are keeping up out of pride; that will never, never do.'
'I do not believe it is pride,' said Sophy, meekly; 'at least, I hope
not. I feel humiliated enough, and I think it may be a sort of
shame, as well as consideration for them, that would make me wish
that no difference should be made. Do you not think we may let
things go on?' she said, in so humble a manner, that it brought
Albinia's tears, and a kiss was the only answer. 'Please tell me,'
said Sophy; 'for I don't want to deceive myself.'
'I am sure I am no judge,' cried Albinia, 'after the dreadful
mischief I have done.'
'The mischief was in me,' said Sophy, 'or you could not have done it.
I saw it all when I was lying awake last night, and how it began, or
rather it was before I can remember exactly. I always had craving
after something - a yearning for something to fix myself on - and after
I grew to read and look out into the world, I thought it must be
that. And when I knew I was ugly and disagreeable, I brooded and
brooded, and only in my better moments tried to be satisfied with you
and papa and the children.'
'And the All-satisfying, Sophy dear.'
'I tried - I did - but it was duty - not heart. I used to fancy what
might be, if I shot out into beauty and grace - not admiration, but to
have that one thing to lean on. You see it was all worldly, and only
submissive by fits - generally it was cross repining, yielding because