Susan Warner.

The Old Helmet, Volume II online

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you are at home. Now be quick!"

"But, mamma - "

"Well? Put your hair lower, Eleanor; that will not do."

"Mamma, isn't Mr. Carlisle there?"

"Mr. Carlisle? What if he is? I hope he is. You are well in that hat,
Eleanor."

"Mamma, if Mr. Carlisle is there, - "

"Hold your tongue, Eleanor! - take your whip and go. They are all
waiting. You may talk to me when you come back, but now you must go. I
should think Mr. Carlisle would like to be of the party, for there
isn't such another figure on the ride. Now kiss me and go. You are a
good girl."

Mrs. Powle said it with some feeling. She had never found Eleanor so
obediently tractable as since her return; she had never got from her
such ready and willing cooperation, even in matters that her mother
knew were not after Eleanor's heart, as now when her heart was less in
them than ever. And at this moment she was gratified by the quiet grave
obedience rendered her, in doing what she saw plainly enough Eleanor
did not like to do. She followed her daughter down stairs with a proud
heart.

It happened again, as it was always happening, that Mr. Carlisle was
Eleanor's special attendant. Eleanor meditated possible ways of
hindering this in future; but for the present there was no remedy. Mr.
Carlisle put her on her horse; it was not till she was taking the reins
in her left hand that something struck her with a sense of familiarity.

"What horse is this?" she asked.

"No other than your old friend and servant - I hope you have not
forgotten her. She has not forgotten you."

Eleanor perceived that. As surely as it was Black Maggie, Maggie knew
her; and displeased though Eleanor was with the master, she could not
forbear a little caress of recognition to the beautiful creature he had
once given her. Maggie was faultless; she and Eleanor were accustomed
to each other; it was an undeniable pleasure to be so mounted again, as
Eleanor could not but acknowledge to herself during the first few
dainty dancing steps that Maggie made with her wonted burden.
Nevertheless it was a great deal too much like old times that were
destroyed; and glancing at Mr. Carlisle Eleanor saw that he was on
Tippoo, and furthermore that there was a sparkle in his eye which meant
hope, or triumph. Something put Eleanor on her mettle; she rode well
that day. She rode with a careless grace and ease that even drew a
compliment from Mr. Carlisle; but beyond that, his companion at first
gave him little satisfaction. She was grave and cold to all his
conversational efforts. However, there she was on his black mare; and
Mr. Carlisle probably found an antidote to whatever discouragement she
threw in his way. Chance threw something else in his way.

They had turned into one of the less frequented streets of the town, in
their way to get out of it, when Eleanor's eye was seized by a figure
on the sidewalk. It startled her inexpressibly; and before she could be
sure her eyes did not deceive her the figure had almost passed, or they
had almost passed the person. But in passing he had raised his bat; she
knew then he had recognized her, as she had known him; and he had
recognized her in such company. And he was in Brighton. Without a
moment for thought or delay, Eleanor wheeled her horse's head sharply
round and in one or two smart steps brought herself alongside of Mr.
Rhys. He stopped, came up to her stirrup and shook hands. He looked
grave, Eleanor thought. She hastened to speak.

"I could not pass you, Mr. Rhys. I had to leave Plassy without bidding
you good bye."

"I am glad to meet you now," he said, - "before I go."

"Do you leave Brighton very soon?"

"To-morrow. I go up to London, and in a few days I expect to sail from
there."

"For - ?"

"Yes, - for my post in the Southern Ocean. I have an unexpected
opportunity."

Eleanor was silent. She could not find anything to say. She knew also
that Mr. Carlisle had wheeled his horse after her, and that Tippoo was
taking steps somewhere in her close neighbourhood. But she sat
motionless, unable to move as well as to speak.

"I must not detain you," said Mr. Rhys. "Do you find it as easy to live
well at Brighton as at Plassy?"

Eleanor answered a low and grave "no;" bending down over her saddlebow.

"Keep that which is committed to thy charge," he said gently.
"Farewell - and the Lord bless you!"

Eleanor had bared her gauntleted hand; he gave it the old earnest
grasp, lifted his hat, and went on his way. Eleanor turned her horse's
head again and found herself alongside of Mr. Carlisle. She rode on
briskly, pointing out to him how far ahead were the rest of the party.

"Was not your friend somebody that I know?" he enquired as soon as
there was a convenient pause.

"I am sure I do not know," said Eleanor. "I do not know how good your
memory may be. He is the gentleman that was my brother's tutor at
home - some time ago."

"I thought I remembered. Is he tutoring some one else now?"

"I should think not. He just tells me he is about to sail for the South
Seas. Mr. Carlisle, Maggie has a very nice mouth."

"Her mistress has a very nice hand," he answered, bending forward to
Maggie's bridle so that he could look up in Eleanor's face. "Only you
let her rein be too slack, as of old. You like her better than Tippoo?"

"Tippoo is beyond my management."

"I am not going to let you say that. You shall mount Tippoo next time,
and become acquainted with your own powers. You are not afraid of
anything?"

"Yes, I am."

"You did not use it."

"Well I have not grown cowardly," said Eleanor; "but I am afraid of
mounting Tippoo; and what I am afraid of, Mr. Carlisle, I will not do."

"Just the reverse maxim from that which I should have expected from
you. Do you say your friend there is going to the South Seas?"

"Mr. Rhys?" said Eleanor, turning her face full upon him.

"If that is his name - yes. Why does he not stick to tutoring?"

"Does anybody stick to tutoring that can help it?"

"I should think not; but then as a tutor he would be in the way of
better things; he could mount to something higher."

"I believe he has some expectation of that sort in going to the
Pacific," said Eleanor. She spoke it with a most commonplace coolness.

"Seems a very roundabout road to promotion," said Mr. Carlisle,
watching Eleanor's hand and stealthily her face; "but I suppose he
knows best. Your friend is not a Churchman, is he?"

"No."

"I remember him as a popular orator of great powers. What is he leaving
England for?"

"You assume somewhat too much knowledge on my part of people's
designs," said Eleanor carelessly. "I must suppose that he likes work
on the other side of the world better than to work here; - for some
reason or other."

"How the reason should be promotion, puzzles me," said her companion;
"but that may be owing to prejudice on my part. I do not know how to
conceive of promotion out of the regular line. In England and in the
Church. To be sent to India to take a bishopric seems to me a descent
in the scale. Have you this feeling?"

"About bishoprics?" said Eleanor smiling. "They are not in my line, you
know."

"Don't be wicked! Have you this feeling about England?"

"If a bishopric in India were offered me? - "

"Well, yes! Would you accept it?"

"I really never had occasion to consider the subject before. It is such
a very new thought, you see. But I will tell you, I should think the
humblest curacy in England to be chosen rather, - unless for the sake of
a wider sphere of doing good."

"Do you know," said Mr. Carlisle, looking very contented, and coming up
closer, "your bridle hand has improved? It is very nearly faultless.
What have you been riding this winter?"

"A wiry little pony."

"Honour, Eleanor!" said Mr. Carlisle laughing and bringing his hand
again near enough to throw over a lock of Maggie's mane which had
fallen on the wrong side. "I am really curious."

"Well I tell you the truth. But Mr. Carlisle, I wonder you people in
parliament do not stir yourselves up to right some wrongs. People ought
to live, if they are curates; and there was one where I was last
winter - an excellent one - living, or starving, I don't know which you
would call it, on thirty pounds a year."

Mr. Carlisle entered into the subject; and questions moral,
legislative, and ecclesiastical, were discussed by him and Eleanor with
great earnestness and diligence; by him at least with singular delight.
Eleanor kept up the conversation with unflagging interest; it was
broken by a proposal on Mr. Carlisle's part for a gallop, to which she
willingly agreed; held her part in the ensuing scamper with perfect
grace and steadiness, and as soon as it was over, plunged Mr. Carlisle
deep again into reform.

"Nobody has had such honour, as I to-day," he assured her as he took
her down from her horse. "I shall see you to-night, of course?"

"Of course. I suppose," said Eleanor.

It cannot be said that Eleanor made any effort to change the "of
course," though the rest of the day as usual was swallowed up in a
round of engagements. There was no breathing time, and the evening
occasion was a public one. Mrs. Powle was in a great state of
satisfaction with her daughter to-day; Eleanor had shunned no company
nor exertion, had carried an unusual spirit into all; and a minute with
Mr. Carlisle after the ride had shewed him in a sort of exultant mood.
She looked over Eleanor's dress critically when they were about leaving
home for the evening's entertainment. It was very simple indeed; yet
Mrs. Powle in the depth of her heart could not find that anything was
wanting to the effect.

Nor could a yet more captious critic, Mr. Carlisle; who was on the
ground before them and watched and observed a little while from a
distance. Admiration and passion were roused within him, as he watched
anew what he had already seen in Eleanor's manner since she came to
Brighton; that grace of absolute ease and unconsciousness, which only
the very highest breeding can successfully imitate. No Lady Rythdale,
he was obliged to confess, that ever lived, had better advanced the
honours of her house, than would this one; could she be persuaded to
accept the position. This manner did not use to be Eleanor's; how had
she got it on the borders of Wales? Neither was the sweetness of that
smile to be seen on her lip in the times gone by; and a little gravity
was wanting then, which gave a charm of dignity to the exquisite poise
which whether of character or manner was so at home with her now. Was
she too grave? The question rose; but he answered it with a negative.
Her smile came readily, and it was the sweeter for not being always
seen. His meditations were interrupted by a whisper at his elbow.

"She will not dance!"

"Who will not?" said he, finding himself face to face with Mrs. Powle.

"Eleanor. She will not. I am afraid it is one of her new notions."

Mr. Carlisle smiled a peculiar smile. "Hardly a fault, I think, Mrs.
Powle. I am not inclined to quarrel with it."

"You do not see any faults at all, I believe," said the lady. "Now I am
more discerning."

Mr. Carlisle did not speak his thoughts, which were complimentary only
in one direction, to say truth. He went off to Eleanor, and prevented
any more propositions of dancing for the rest of the evening. He could
not monopolize her, though. He was obliged to see her attention divided
in part among other people, and to take a share which though perfectly
free and sufficiently gracious, gave him no advantage in that respect
over several others. The only advantage he could make sure of was that
of attending Eleanor home. The evening left him an excited man, not
happy in his mind.

Eleanor, having quitted her escort, went slowly up the stairs; bade her
mother good night; went into her own room and locked the door. Then
methodically she took off the several parts of her evening attire and
laid them away; put on a dressing-gown, threw her window open, and
knelt down by it.

The stars kept watch over the night. A pleasant fresh breeze blew in
from the sea. They were Eleanor's only companions, and they never
missed her from the window the whole night long. I am bound to say,
that the morning found her there.

But nights so spent make a heavy draft on the following day. In spite
of all that cold water could do in the way of refreshment, in spite of
all that the morning cup of tea could do, Eleanor was obliged to
confess to a headache.

"Why Eleanor, child, you look dreadfully!" said Mrs. Powle, who came
into her room and found her lying down. "You are as white! - and black
rings under your eyes. You will never be able to go with the riding
party this morning."

"I am afraid not, mamma. I am sorry. I would go if I could; but I
believe I must lie still. Then I shall be fit for this evening,
perhaps."

She was not; but that one day of solitude and silence was all that
Eleanor took for herself. The next day she joined the riders again; and
from that time held herself back from no engagement to which her mother
or Mr. Carlisle urged her.

Mr. Carlisle felt it with a little of his old feeling of pride. It was
the only thing in which Eleanor could be said to give the feeling much
chance; for while she did not reject his attendance, which she could
not easily do, nor do at all without first vanquishing her mother; and
while she allowed a certain remains of the old wonted familiarity, she
at the same never gave Mr. Carlisle any reason to think that he had
regained the least power over her. She received him well, but as she
received a hundred others. He was her continual attendant, but he never
felt that it was by Eleanor's choice; and he knew sometimes that it was
by her choice that he was thrown out of his office. She bewildered him
with her sweet dignity, which was more utterly unmanageable than any
form of pride or passion. The pride and passion were left to be Mr.
Carlisle's own. Pride was roused, that he was stopped by so gentle a
barrier in his advances; and passion was stimulated, by uncertainty not
merely, but by the calm grace and indefinable sweetness which he did
not remember in Eleanor, well as he had loved her before. He loved her
better now. That charm of manner was the very thing to captivate Mr.
Carlisle; he valued it highly; and did not appreciate it the less
because it baffled him.

"He's ten times worse than ever," Mrs. Powle said exultingly to her
husband. "I believe he'd go through fire and water to make sure of her."

"And how's she?" growled the Squire.

"She's playing with him, girl-fashion," said Mrs. Powle chuckling. "She
is using her power."

"What is she using it for?" said the Squire threateningly.

"O to enjoy herself, and make him value her properly. She will come
round by and by."

How was Eleanor? The world had opportunities of judging most of the
time, as far as the outside went; yet there were still a few times of
the day which the world did not intrude upon; and of those there was an
hour before breakfast, when Eleanor was pretty secure against
interruption even from her mother. Mrs. Powle was a late riser. Julia,
who was very much cast away at Brighton and went wandering about like a
rudderless vessel, found out that Eleanor was dressed and using the
sunshine long before anybody else in the house knew the day was begun.
It was a golden discovery. Eleanor was alone, and Julia could have her
to herself a little while at least. Even if Eleanor was bent on reading
or writing, still it was a joy to be near her, to watch her, to smooth
her soft hair, and now and then break her off from other occupations to
have a talk.

"Eleanor," said Julia one day, a little while after these oases in time
had been discovered by her, "what has become of Mr. Rhys? do you know?"

"He has gone," said Eleanor. She was sitting by her open window, a book
open on her lap. She looked out of the window as she spoke.

"Gone? Do you mean he has gone away from England? You don't mean that?"

"Yes."

"To that dreadful place?"

"What dreadful place?"

"Where he was going, you know, - somewhere. Are you sure he has gone,
Eleanor?"

"Yes. I saw it in the paper - the mention of his going - He and two
others."

"And has he gone to that horrible place?"

"Yes, I suppose so. That is where he wished to go."

"I don't see how he could!" said Julia. "How could he! where the people
are so bad! - and leave England?"

"Why Julia, have you forgotten? Don't you know whose servant Mr. Rhys
is?"

"Yes," said Julia mutteringly, - "but I should think he would be afraid.
Why the people there are as wicked as they can be."

"That is no reason why he should be afraid. What harm could they do to
him?"

"Why! - they could kill him, easily," said Julia.

"And would that be great harm to Mr. Rhys?" said Eleanor looking round
at her. "What if they did, and he were called quick home to the court
of his King, - do you think his reception there would be a sorrowful
thing?"

"Why Nell," said Julia, "do you mean heaven?"

"Do you not think that is Mr. Rhys's home?"

"I haven't thought much about it at all," said Julia laying her head
down on Eleanor's shoulder. "You see, nobody talked to me ever since he
went away; and mamma talks everything else."

"Come here in the mornings, and we'll talk about it," said Eleanor. Her
voice was a little husky.

"Shall we?" said Julia rousing up again. "But Eleanor, what are your
eyes full for? Did you love Mr. Rhys too?"

It was an innocent question; but instead of answering, Eleanor turned
again to the window. She sat with her hand pressed upon her mouth,
while the full eyes brimmed and ran over, and filled again; and drop
after drop plashed upon the window-sill. It was impossible to help it,
for that minute; and Julia looked on wonderingly.

"O Nell," she repeated almost awe-struck, "what is it? What has made
you sorry too? - " But she had to wait a little while for her answer.

"He was a good friend to me," said Eleanor at last, wiping her eyes;
"and I suppose it is not very absurd to cry for a friend that is gone,
that one will never see again."

"Maybe he will come back some time," said Julia sorrowfully.

"Not while there is work there for him to do," said Eleanor. She waited
a little while. There was some difficulty in going on. When she did
speak her tone was clear and firm.

"Julia, shall we follow the Lord as Mr. Rhys does?"

"How?"

"By doing whatever Jesus gives us to do."

"What has he given us to do?" said Julia.

"If you come to my room in the mornings, we will read and find out. And
we will pray, and ask to be taught."

Julia's countenance lightened and clouded with alternate changes.

"Will you, Eleanor! But what have we got to do?"

"Love Jesus."

"Well I - O I did use to, Eleanor! and I think I do now; only I have
forgotten to think about anything, this ever so long."

"Then if we love him, we shall find plenty of things to do for him."

"What, Eleanor? I would like to do something."

"Just whatever he gives us, Julia. Come, darling, - have you not duties?"

"Duties?"

"Have you not things that it is your duty to do? - or not to do?"

"Studies!" said Julia. "But I don't like them."

"For Jesus' sake?"

Julia burst into tears. Eleanor's tone was so loving and gentle, it
reached the memories that had been slumbering.

"How can I do them for him, Eleanor?" she asked, half perversely still.

"'Whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.' So he has
told us."

"But my studies, Eleanor? how can I?"

"Who gave you the opportunity, Julia?"

"Well - I know."

"Well, if God has given you the opportunity, do you think he means it
for nothing? He has work for you to do, Julia, some time, for which you
will want all these things that you have a chance of learning now; if
you miss the chance, you will certainly not be ready for the work."

"Why, Eleanor! - that's funny."

"What is it?"

"Why I never thought of such a thing."

"What did you think?"

"I thought I had French and German to study, for instance, because
everybody else learned French and German. I did not think there was any
use in it."

"You forgot who had given you them to learn."

"No, mamma would have it. Just her notion. Papa didn't care."

"But dear Julia, you forget who has made it your duty to please mamma's
notions. And you forget who it is that has given you your place in the
world. You might have been born in poverty, with quite other lessons to
learn, and quite other work in the world."

"You talk just as queer as if you were Mr. Rhys himself," said Julia.
"I never heard of such things. Do you suppose all the girls who are
learning French and German at school - all the girls in England - have
the same sort of work to do? that they will want it for?"

"No, not all the same. But God never gives the preparation without the
occasion."

"Then suppose they do not make the preparation?"

"Then when the occasion comes, they will not be ready for it. When
their work is given them to do, they will be found wanting."

"It's so queer!" said Julia.

"What?"

"To think such things about lessons."

"You may think such things about everything. Whatever God gives you, he
gives you to use in some way for him."

"But how can I possibly know _how_, Eleanor?"

"Come to me in the mornings, and you and I will try to find out."

"Did you say, I must please all mamma's notions?"

"Certainly - all you can."

"But I like papa's notions a great deal better than mamma's."

"You must try to meet both," said Eleanor smiling.

"I do not like a great many of mamma's notions. I don't think there is
any sense in them."

"But God likes obedience, Julia. He has bid you honour mamma and papa.
Do it for him."

"Do you mean to please all mamma's notions?" said Julia sharply.

"All that I can, certainly."

"Well it is one of her notions that Mr. Carlisle should get you to the
Priory after all. Are you going to let her? Are you going to let him, I
mean?"

"No."

"Then if it is your duty to please mamma's notions, why mustn't you
please this one?"

"Because here I have my duty to others to think of."

"To whom?" said Julia as quick as lightning.

"To myself - and to Mr. Carlisle."

"Mr. Carlisle!" said Julia. "I'll be bound he thinks your duty to him
would make you do whatever he likes."

"It happens that I take a different view of the subject."

"But Eleanor, what work do you suppose I have to do in the world, that
I shall want French and German for? real work, I mean?"

"I can't tell. But I know _now_ you have a beautiful example to set?"

"Of what? learning my lessons well?"

"Of whatever is lovely and of good report. Of whatever will please
Jesus."

Julia put her arms round her sister's neck and hid her face there.

"I am going to give you a word to remember to-day; keep it with you,
dear. 'Whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.' Just
think of that, whether you are busy or not busy. And we will ask the
Lord to make us so full of his love, that we cannot help it."

They knelt and prayed together; after which Julia gave her sister a
great many earnest caresses; and they went down to breakfast a much
comforted pair.




CHAPTER V.

IN LONDON.


"London makes mirth! but I know God hears
The sobs i' the dark, and the dropping of tears."


The morning meetings were kept up. Julia had always been very fond of
her sister; now she almost worshipped her. She would get as close as
possible, put her arm round Eleanor's waist, and sometimes lay her head
on her shoulder; and so listen to the reading and join in the talking.
The talks were always finished with prayer; and at first it not seldom
happened that Eleanor's prayer became choked with tears. It happened so
often that Julia remarked upon it; and after that it never happened
again.

"Eleanor, can you see much use in my learning to dance?" was a question
which Julia propounded one morning.

"Not much."

"Mamma says I shall go to dancing school next winter."

"Next winter! What, at Brompton?"

"O we are going to London after we go from here. So mamma says. Why
didn't you know it?"

Eleanor remained silent.

"Now what good is that going to do?" Julia went on. "What work is that
to fit me for, Eleanor? - dancing parties?"

"I hope it will not fit you for those," the elder sister replied
gravely.

"Why not? don't you go to them?"

"I am obliged to go sometimes - I never take part."

"Why not Eleanor? Why don't you? you can dance."

"Read," said Eleanor, pointing to the words. Julia read.

"'Whatsoever ye do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; giving thanks



Online LibrarySusan WarnerThe Old Helmet, Volume II → online text (page 5 of 25)