Admiral had the right of search, and, oh! it was foolish of me to
believe them for a moment, but I only thought that the fright would,
kill my grandmother. Oh, you were so good, Madame, I shall never
forget; no, not to the end of my life, how you rescued me!'
'We did not bring you here to be teased,' said Albinia, caressing
her. 'I should like to ask your pardon for what they have made you
'Ah, Madame!' said Genevieve, smiling, 'it is nothing. I am well
used to the like, and I heed it little, except when it falls on such
subjects as these.'
She was easily drawn into telling the full history of her treasure,
as she had learnt from her father's lips, the Huguenot shot down by
the persecutors, and the son who had fled into the mountains and
returned to bury the corpse, and take the prized, blood-stained Bible
from the breast; the escapes and dangers of the two next generations;
the few succeeding days of peace; and, finally, the Dragonnade, when
the children had been snatched from the Durant family, and the father
and mother had been driven at length to fly in utter destitution, and
had made their way to England in a wretched, unprovisioned open boat.
The child for whose sake they fled, was the only one rescued from the
hands of these enemies, and the tradition of their sufferings had
been handed on with the faithfully preserved relic, down to the
slender girl, their sole descendant, and who in early childhood had
drunk in the tale from the lips of her father. The child of the
persecutors and of the persecuted, Genevieve Durant did indeed
represent strangely the history of her ancestral country; and as
Albinia said to her, surely it might be hoped that the faith in which
she had been bred up, united what was true and sound in the religion
of both Reformed and Romanist.
The words made the brown cheek glow. 'Ah, Madame, did I not say I
could talk with you? You, who do not think me a heretic, as my dear
grandmother's friends do, and who yet can respect my grandmother's
Assuredly little Genevieve was one of the most interesting and
engaging persons that Albinia had ever met, and she listened
earnestly to her artless history, and pretty enthusiasms, and the
story which she could not tell without tears, of her father's care,
when the reward of her good behaviour had been the reading one verse
in the quaint black letter of the old French Bible.
The conversation lasted till Gilbert made his appearance, and Albinia
was glad to find that his greeting to Genevieve was cordial and
affectionate, and free from all that was unpleasant in his sisters'
manner, and he joined himself to their company when Albinia proposed
a walk along the broad causeway through the meadows. It was one of
the pleasantest walks that she had taken at Bayford, with both her
companions so bright and merry, and the scene around in all the
beauty of spring. Gilbert, with the courtesy that Albinia's very
presence had infused into him, gathered a pretty wild bouquet for
each, and Albinia talked of cowslip-balls, and found that neither
Gilbert nor Genevieve had ever seen one; then she pitied them, and
owned that she did not know how to get through a spring without one;
and Gilbert having of course a pocketful of string, a delicious ball
was constructed, over which Genevieve went into an inexpressible
All the evening, Gilbert devoted himself to Genevieve, though more
than one of the others tried to attract him, playing off the follies
of more advanced girlhood, to the vexation of Albinia, who could not
bear to see him the centre of attention to silly girls, when he ought
to have been finding his level among boys.
'Gilbert makes himself so ridiculous about Jenny Durant,' said his
sisters, when he insisted on escorting her home, and thus they
brought on themselves Albinia's pent-up indignation at their usage of
their guest. Lucy argued in unsatisfactory self-defence, but Sophy,
when shown how ungenerous her conduct had been, crimsoned deeply, and
though uttering no word of apology, wore a look that gave her step-mother
for the first time a hope that her sullenness might not be so much
from want of compunction, as from want of power to express it.
Oh! for a consultation with her brother. But he and his wife were
taking a holiday among their kindred in Ireland, and for once Albinia
could have echoed the aunts' lamentation that Winifred had so many
Albinia needed patience to keep alive hope and energy, for a sore
disappointment awaited her. Whatever had been her annoyances with
the girls, she had always been on happy and comfortable terms with
Gilbert, he had responded to her advances, accommodated himself to
her wishes, adopted her tastes, and returned her affection. She had
early perceived that his father and sisters looked on him as the
naughty one of the family, but when she saw Lucy's fretting
interference, and, Sophia's wrangling contempt, she did not wonder
that an unjust degree of blame had often fallen to his share; and
under her management, he scarcely ever gave cause for complaint.
That he was evidently happier and better for her presence, was
compensation for many a vexation; she loved him with all her heart,
made fun with him, told legends of the freaks of her brother Maurice
and cousin Fred, and grudged no trouble for his pleasure.
As long as The Three Musqueteers lasted, he had come constantly to
her dressing-room, and afterwards she promised to find other pleasant
reading; but after such excitement, it was not easy to find anything
that did not appear dry. As the daughter of a Peninsular man, she
thought nothing so charming as the Subaltern, and Gilbert seemed to
enjoy it; but by the time he had heard all her oral traditions of the
war by way of notes, his attendance began to slacken; he stayed out
later, and always brought excuses - Mr. Salsted had kept him, he had
been with a fellow, or his pony had lost a shoe. Albinia did not
care to question, the evenings were light and warm, and the one thing
she desired for him was manly exercise: she thought it much better
for him to be at play with his fellow-pupils, and she could not
regret the gain of another hour to her hurried day.
One morning, however, Mr. Kendal called her, and his look was so
grave and perturbed, that she hardly waited till the door was shut to
ask in terror, what could be the matter.
'Nothing to alarm you,' he said. 'It is only that I am vexed about
Gilbert. I have reason to fear that he is deceiving us again; and I
want you to help us to recollect on which days he should have been at
Tremblam. My dear, do not look so pale!'
For Albinia had turned quite white at hearing that the boy, on whom
she had fixed her warm affection, had been carrying on a course of
falsehood; but a moment's hope restored her. 'I did keep him at home
on Tuesday,' she said, 'it was so very hot, and he had a headache. I
thought I might. You told me not to send him on doubtful days.'
'I hope you may be able to make out that it is right,' said Mr.
Kendal, 'but I am afraid that Mr. Salsted has too much cause of
complaint. It is the old story!'
And so indeed it proved, when Albinia heard what the tutor had come
to say. The boy was seldom in time, often altogether missing,
excusing himself by saying he was kept at home by fears of the
weather; but Mr. Salsted was certain that his father could not know
how he disposed of his time, namely, in a low style of sporting with
young Tritton, the son of a rich farmer or half-gentleman, who was
the pest of Mr. Salsted's parish. Ill-learnt, slurred-over lessons,
with lame excuses, were nothing as compared with this, and the amount
of petty deceit, subterfuge, and falsehood, was frightful, especially
when Albinia recollected the tone of thought which the boy had seemed
to be catching from her. Unused to duplicity, except from mere
ignorant, unmanageable school-children, she was excessively shocked,
and felt as if he must be utterly lost to all good, and had been
acting a lie from first to last. After the conviction had broken on
her, she hardly spoke, while Mr. Kendal was promising to talk to his
son, threaten him with severe punishment, and keep a strict account
of his comings and goings, to be compared weekly with Mr. Salsted's
notes of his arrival. This settled, the tutor departed, and no
sooner was he gone, than Albinia, hiding her face in her hands, shed
tears of bitter grief and disappointment. 'My dearest,' said her
husband, fondly, 'you must not let my boy's doings grieve you in this
manner. You have been doing your utmost for him, if any one could do
him good, it would be you.'
'O no, surely I must have made some dreadful mistake, to have
promoted such faults.'
'No, I have long known him not to be trustworthy. It is an evil of
'Was it always so?'
'I cannot tell,' said he, sitting down beside her, and shading his
brow with one hand; 'I have only been aware of it since he has been
left alone. When the twins were together, they were led by one soul
of truth and generosity. What this poor fellow was separately no one
could know, while he had his brother to guide and shield him. The
first time I noticed the evil was when we were recovering. Gilbert
and Sophia were left together, and in one of their quarrels injured some
papers of mine. I was very weak, and had little power of self-control;
I believe I terrified him too much. There was absolute falsehood,
and the truth was only known by Sophia's coming forward and confessing
the whole. It was ill managed. I was not equal to dealing with him,
and whether the mischief began then or earlier, it has gone on ever
since, breaking out every now and then. I had hoped that with your
care - But oh! how different it would have been with his brother!
Albinia, what would I not give that you had but seen _him!_ Not a
fault was there; not a moment's grief did he give us, till - O
what an overthrow of hope!' And he gave way to an excess of grief
that quite appalled her, and made her feel herself powerless to comfort.
She only ventured a few words of peace and hope; but the contrast
between the brothers, was just then keen agony, and he could not help
exclaiming how strange it was, that Edmund should be the one to be taken.
'Nay,' he said, 'was not he ripe for better things? May not poor
Gilbert have been spared that longer life may train him to be like
'He never will be like him,' cried Mr. Kendal. 'No! no! The
difference is evident in the very countenance and features.'
'Was he like you?'
'They said so, but you could not gather an idea of him from me,' said
Mr. Kendal, smiling mournfully, as he met her gaze. 'It was the most
beautiful countenance I ever saw, full of life and joy; and there
were wonderful expressions in the eyes when he was thinking or
listening. He used to read the Greek Testament with me every
morning, and his questions and remarks rise up before me again. That
text - You have seen it in church.'
'Because I live, ye shall live also,' Albinia repeated.
'Yes. A little before his illness we came to that. He rested on it,
as he used to do on anything that struck him, and asked me, "whether
it meant the life hereafter, or the life that is hidden here?" We
went over it with such comments as I could find, but his mind was not
satisfied; and it must have gone on working on it, for one night,
when I had been thinking him delirious, he called me, and the light
shone out of those bright dark eyes of his as he said, joyfully, "It
is both, papa! It is hidden here, but it will shine out there," and
as I did not catch his meaning, he repeated the Greek words.'
'Dear boy! Some day we shall be glad that the full life and glory
came so soon.'
He shook his head, the parting was still too recent, and it was the
first time he had been able to speak of his son. It was a great
satisfaction to her that the reserve had once been broken; it seemed
like compensation for the present trouble, though that was acutely
felt, and not softened by the curious eyes and leading questions of
the sisters, when she returned to give what attention she could to
their interrupted lessons.
Gilbert returned, unsuspicious of the storm, till his father's stern
gravity, and her depressed, pre-occupied manner, excited his
attention, and he asked her anxiously whether anything were the
matter. A sad gesture replied, and perhaps revealed the state of the
case, for he became absolutely silent. Albinia left them together.
She watched anxiously, and hurried after Mr. Kendal into the study,
where his manner showed her not to be unwelcome as the sharer of his
trouble. 'I do not know what to do,' he said, dejectedly. 'I can
make nothing of him. It is all prevarication and sulkiness! I do
not think he felt one word that I said.'
'People often feel more than they show.'
'Will you go to him?' he presently added. 'Perhaps I grew too angry
at last, and I believe he loves you. At least, if he does not, he
must be more unfeeling than I can think him. You do not dislike it,
'O no, no! If I only knew what would be best for him!'
'He may be more unreserved with you,' said Mr. Kendal; and as he was
anxious for her to make the attempt, she moved away, though in
perplexity, and in the revulsion of feeling, with a sort of disgust
towards the boy who had deceived her so long.
She found him seated on a wheelbarrow by the pond, chucking pebbles
into the still black water, and disturbing the duckweed on the
surface. His colour was gone, and his face was dark and moody, and
strove not to relax, as she said, 'O Gilbert, how could you?'
He turned sharply away, muttering, 'She is coming to bother, now!'
It cut her to the heart. 'Gilbert!' was all she could exclaim, but
the tone of pain made him look at her, as if in spite of himself, and
as he saw the tears he exclaimed in an impatient voice of rude
consolation, 'There's nothing to take so much to heart. No one
thinks anything of it!'
'What would Edmund have thought?' said Albinia; but the appeal came
too soon, he made an angry gesture and said, 'He was nearly three
years younger than I am now! He would not have been kept in these
She was too much shocked to find an answer, and Gilbert went on,
'Watched and examined wherever I go - not a minute to myself - nothing
but lessons at Tremblam, and bother at home; driven about hither and
thither, and not allowed a friend of my own, nor to do one single
thing! There's no standing it, and I won't!'
'I am very sorry,' said Albinia, struggling with choking tears. 'It
has been my great wish to make things pleasant to you. I hope I have
not teased or driven you to - '
'Nonsense!' exclaimed Gilbert, disrespectfully indeed, but from the
bottom of his heart, and breaking at once into a flood of tears.
'You are the only creature that has been kind to me since I lost my
mother and Ned, and now they have been and turned you against me
too;' and he sobbed violently.
'I don't know what you mean, Gilbert. If I stand in your mother's
place, I can't be turned against you, any more than she could,' and
she stroked his brow, which she found so throbbing as to account for
his paleness. 'You can grieve and hurt me, but you can't prevent me
from feeling for you, nor for your dear father's grief.'
He declared that people at home knew nothing about boys, and made an
uproar about nothing.
'Do you call falsehood nothing?'
'Falsehood! A mere trifle now and then, when I am driven to it by
being kept so strictly.'
'I don't know how to talk to you, Gilbert,' said Albinia, rising;
'your conscience knows better than your tongue.'
'Don't go;' and he went off into another paroxysm of crying, as he
caught hold of her dress; and when he spoke again his mood was
changed; he was very miserable, nobody cared for him, he did not know
what to do; he wanted to do right, and to please her, but Archie
Tritton would not let him alone; he wished he had never seen Archie
Tritton. At last, walking up and down with him, she drew from him a
full confidence, and began to understand how, when health and
strength had come back to him in greater measure than he had ever
before enjoyed, the craving for boyish sports had awakened, just
after he had been deprived of his brother, and was debarred from
almost every wholesome manner of gratifying it. To fall in with
young Tritton was as great a misfortune as could well have befallen a
boy, with a dreary home, melancholy, reserved father, and wearisome
aunt. Tritton was a youth of seventeen, who had newly finished his
education at an inferior commercial school, and lived on his father's
farm, giving himself the airs of a sporting character, and fast
hurrying into dissipation.
He was really good-natured, and Gilbert dwelt on his kindness with
warmth and gratitude, and on his prowess in all sporting accomplishments
with a perfect effervescence of admiration. He evidently patronized
Gilbert, partly from good-natured pity, and partly as flattered by
the adherence of a boy of a grade above him; and Gilbert was proud
of the notice of one who seemed to him a man, and an adept in all
athletic games. It was a dangerous intimacy, and her heart sank as
she found that the pleasures to which he had been introducing Gilbert,
were not merely the free exercise, the rabbit-shooting and rat-hunting
of the farm, nor even the village cricket-match, all of which, in
other company, would have had her full sympathy. But there had been
such low and cruel sports that she turned her head away sickened at
the notion of any one dear to her having been engaged in such amusements,
and when Gilbert in excuse said that every one did it, she answered
indignantly, 'My brothers never!'
'It is no use talking about what swells do that hunt and shoot and go
to school,' answered Gilbert.
'Do you wish you went to school?' asked Albinia.
'I wish I was out of it all!'
He was in a very different frame. He owned that he knew how wrong it
had been to deceive, but he seemed to look upon it as a sort of fate;
he wished he could help it, but could not, he was so much afraid of
his father that he did not know what he said; Archie Tritton said no
one could get on without. - There was an utter bewilderment in his
notions, here and there showing a better tone, but obscured by the
fancies imbibed from his companion, that the knowledge and practice
of evil were manly. At one moment he cried bitterly, and declared
that he was wretched; at another he defended each particular case
with all his might, changing and slipping away so that she did not
know where to take him. However, the conclusion was far more in pity
than anger, and after receiving many promises that if she would
shield him from his father and bear with him, he would abstain from
all she disapproved, she caressed and soothed the aching head, and
returned to his father hopeful and encouraged, certain that the evil
had been chiefly caused by weakness and neglect and believing that
here was a beginning of repentance. Since there was sorrow and
confession, there surely must be reformation.
For a week Gilbert went on steadily, but at the end of that time his
arrivals at home became irregular, and one day there was another
great aberration. On a doubtful day, when it had been decided that
he might go safely between the showers, he never came to Tremblam at
all, and Mr. Salsted sent a note to Mr. Kendal to let him know that
his son had been at the races - village races, managed by the sporting
farmers of the neighbourhood. There was a sense of despair, and
again a talk, bringing at once those ever-ready tears and
protestations, sorrow genuine, but fruitless. 'It was all Archie's
fault, he had overtaken him, persuaded him that Mr. Salsted would not
expect him, promised him that he should see the celebrated
'Blunderbuss,' Sam Shepherd's horse, that won the race last year.
Gilbert had gone 'because he could not help it.'
'Not help it!' cried Albinia, looking at him with her clear indignant
eyes. 'How can you be such a poor creature, Gilbert?'
'It is very hard!' exclaimed Gilbert; 'I must go past Robble's Leigh
twice every day of my life, and Archie will come out and be at me.'
'That is the very temptation you have to resist,' said Albinia.
'Fight against it, pray against it, resolve against it; ride fast,
and don't linger and look after him.'
He looked desponding and miserable. If she could only have put a
spirit into him!
'Shall I walk and meet you sometimes before you get to Robbie's
His face cleared up, but the cloud returned in a moment.
'What is it?' she asked. 'Only tell me. You know I wish for nothing
so much as to help you.'
He did confess that there was nothing he should like better, if
Archie would not be all the worse another time, whenever he should
catch him alone.
'But surely, Gilbert, he is not always lying in ambush for you, like
a cat for a mouse. You can't be his sole game.'
'No, but he is coming or going, or out with his gun, and he will
often come part of the way with me, and he is such a droll fellow!'
Albinia thought that there was but one cure. To leave Gilbert daily
exposed to the temptation must be wrong, and she laid the case before
Mr. Kendal with so much earnestness, that he allowed that it would be
better to send the boy from home; and in the meantime, Albinia
obtained that Mr. Kendal should ride some way on the Tremblam road
with his son in the morning, so as to convoy him out of reach of the
tempter; whilst she tried to meet him in the afternoon, and managed
so that he should be seldom without the hope of meeting her.
Albinia's likings had taken a current absolutely contrary to all her
preconceived notions; Sophia, with her sullen truth, was respected,
but it was not easy to like her even as well as Lucy, who, though
pert and empty, had much good-nature and good-temper, and was not
indocile; while Gilbert, in spite of a weak, shallow character,
habits of deception, and low ungentlemanly tastes, had won her
affection, and occupied the chief of her time and thoughts; and she
dreaded the moment of parting with him, as removing the most
available and agreeable of her young companions.
That moment of parting, though acknowledged to be expedient, did not
approach. Gilbert, could not be sent to a public school without risk
and anxiety which his father did not like, and which would have been
horror to his grandmother; and Albinia herself did not feel certain
that he was fit for it, nor that it was her part to enforce it. She
wrote to her brother, and found that he likewise thought a tutor
would be a safe alternative; but then he must be a perfect man in a
perfect climate, and Mr. Kendal was not the man to make researches.
Mr. Dusautoy mentioned one clergyman who took pupils, Maurice Ferrars
another, but there was something against each. Mr. Kendal wrote four
letters, and was undecided - a third was heard of, but the locality
was doubtful, and the plan went off, because Mr. Kendal could not
make up his mind to go thirty miles to see the place, and talk to a
Albinia found that her power did not extend beyond driving him from
'I'll see about it,' to 'Yes, by all means.' Action was a length to
which he could not be brought. Mr. Nugent was very anxious that he
should qualify as a magistrate since a sensible, highly-principled
man was much wanted counterbalance Admiral Osborn's misdirected,
restless activity and the lower parts of the town were in a dreadful
state. Mrs. Nugent talked to Albinia, and she urged it in vain. To
come out of his study, examine felons, contend with the Admiral, and
to meet all the world at the quarter sessions, was abhorrent to him,
and he silenced her almost with sternness.
She was really hurt and vexed, and scarcely less so by a discovery
that she made shortly after. The hot weather had made the houses
beneath the hill more close and unwholesome than ever, Simkins's wife
had fallen into a lingering illness, and Albinia, visiting her
constantly, was painfully sensible of the dreadful atmosphere in
which she lived, under the roof, with a window that would not open.
She offered to have the house improved at her own expense, but was
told that Mr. Pettilove would raise the rent if anything were laid
out on it. She went about talking indignantly of Mr. Pettilove's
cruelty and rapacity, and when Mr. Dusautoy hinted that Pettilove was