M. E. (Mary Elizabeth) Braddon.

The day will come : a novel online

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" Farewell, too — now at last—
i'"arcwell, fair lily."

The ]'o5'-bells clashed out upon the clear, bright air, stjirtUng the
rooks in the elm-trees that showed their leafy tops above the grey
gables of the old church. The bells broke out wth sudden jubila-
tion ; sudden, albeit the village had been on the alert for that very
Bound all the summer afternoon, uncertain as to when the signal for
that joy peal might be given.

The signal had come now, given by the telegraph wires to the
old postmistress, and sent on to the expectant ringers in the churcii
tower. The young couple had arrived at Wareham station, live
miles off; and four horses were bringing them to their honeymoon
home yonder amidst the old woods of Cheriton Chase.

Cheriton village had been on tiptoe witli expectance' ever since
lour o'clock, althoTigh common sense ought to have informed the
villagers that a bride and bridegroom who were to be married at
two o'clock in Westminster Abbey were not very likely to appear
at Cheriton early in the afternoon. But the vUlage having made
up its mind to a half-holiday was glad to begin early. A little knot
of gipsies from the last race-meeting in tlie neighbourhood had
improved the occasion and set up the friendly and familiar image of
Aunt Sally on the green in front of the Eagle Inn ; while a rival
estabhshment had started a pictorial shooting-gallery, with a rubi-
cund giant's face and wide-open mouth, grmning at the populace
across a barrel of Barcelona nuts. There are some peo])le who
might think Ciieriton village and Cheriton Chase too remote from
the busy world and its traffic to be subject to strong emotions of
any kind. Yet even in this region of Purbeck, cut oil" from the rest
of England by a winding river, and ostentatiously calling itself an
island, there were eager interests and warm feelings, and many a
link wth the great world of men and women on the other side of
the stream.

2 The Day will come.

Cheriton Chase was one of the finest places in the cor.nty of
Dorset. It lay south of Wareham, between Corfe Castle and
Branksea Island, and in the midst of scenery which has a peculiar
charm of its own, a curious blending of level pasture and steep
hillside, barren heath and fertile water-meadow ; here a Dutch
landscape, grazing cattle, and winding stream ; there a suggestion
of some lonely Scottish deer- walk ; an endless variety of outhne ;
and yonder on the steep hilltop the grim stone walls and mouldering
bastions of Corfe Castle, standing dark and stern against the blue
fair-weather sky or boldly confronting tlie force of the tempest.

Cheriton House was almost as old as Corfe in the estimation of
some of the country people. Its history went back into the night
of ages. But while the Castle had suffered siege and battery by
Cromwell's ruthless cannon, and had been left to stand as that arch-
destroyer left it, until only the outer walls of the mighty fabric
remained, with a tower or two, and the mullions of one great
■window standing up above the rest, the mere skeleton of the
gigantic pile, Cheriton House had been cared for and added to
century after century, so that it presented now a picturesque
blending of old and new, in wMch almost eveiy corridor and every
room was a surprise to the stranger.

Never had Cheriton been better cared for than by its present
owner, nor had Cheriton village owned a more beneficent lord of
the manor. And yet Lord Cheriton was an alien and a stranger to
the soil, and that kind of person whom rustics mostly are inclined
to look down upon — a self-made man.

The present master of Cheriton was a man who owed wealth and
distinction to his own talents. He had been raised to the peerage
about fifteen years before tiiis day of clashing joy-bells and village
rejoicings. He had been owner of the Cheriton estate for more
than twenty years, having bought the property on the death of the
last squire, and at a time of unusual depression. He was popidarly
supposed to have got the estate for an old song ; but the old song
meant something between seventy and eighty thousand pounds, and
represented the bidk of his ^^^fe's fortune. He had not been aft-aid
BO to swamp his wife's dowry, for he was at this time one of the
most popular silk gowns at the equity Bar. He was making four
or five thousand a year, and he was strong in the belief in his power
to rise higher.

The purchase, prompted by ambition, and a desire to take his
place among the landed gentry, had turned out a very lucky one
from a financial point of view, for a stone quarry that had been
unworked for more than a century was speedily developed by the
new owner of the soil, and became a source of income which
enabled him to improve mansion-house and farms without em-

Under Mr. Dalbrook's improving hand, the Cheriton estate, which

The Day zvill come. 3

had been gradually sinking to decay in the occupation of an exhausted
race, became as perfect as human ingenuity, combined with judicious
outlay, can make any estate. The falcon eye of the master was on
all things. The famous advocate's only idea of a hoHday was to
work his hardest in the supervision of his Dorsetshire property. lie
thought of Cheriton many a time in the law courts, as Fox used to
think of St. Aime's and his turnips amidst the debauchery of a long
night's card-playing, or in the whirl of a stormy debate. Purbcck
might have been the motto and password of his life. He was born
at Dorcliester, the son of humble shopkeeping parents, and was
educated at the quaint old stone grammar school in that good old
town. All his happiest hours of boyhood had been spent in tlie
Isle of Purbcck. Those v/atery meadows and breezy commons and
break-neck hills had been his playground ; and when he went back
to them as a hard-headed, overworked man of the world, made
arrogant from the magnitude of a success which had never known
check or retrogression, the fountains of his heart were unlocked by
the very atmosphere of that fertile land where the salt breath of the
sea came tempered by the balmy perfume of the heather, the odour
of hedgerow flowers, rosemary, and thyme.

At Cheriton James Dalbrook imbent, forgot that he was a great
man, and remembered only that his lot was cast in a pleasant place,
and that he had the most lovable of wives and the loveliest of

His daughter had been born at Cheriton, had known no other
country home, and had never considered the first-floor flat in
Victoria Street where: her father and mother spent the London
season, and where her father had his incd-d-terre all the year round,
in the light of a home. His daughter, Juanita, was the eldest of
three children born in the old manor house. The two younger,
both sons, died in infancy ; and it seemed to James Dalbrook that
there was a blight upon his ofl'spring, such a blight as that which
withered the male children of Henry of England and Catherine of
Arragon. INIuch had been given to him. He had been allowed to
make name and fortune, he whose sole heritage was a little crockery
shop in a second-rate street of Dorchester. He had cnjo3^ed the
lordship of broad acres, the honours and position of a rural squire ;
but he was not to be allowed that crowning glory for which strong
men yearn. He was not to bo the first of a long Hne of Barons
Cheriton of Cheriton.

After the giief and disappointment of those two deaths — first of
an infant of a few weeks old, and afterwards of a lovely child of two
years — James Dalbrook hardened his heart for a little while against
the fair young sister who survived them. She could not perpetuate
that barony which was the crown of his greatness ; or if by special
grace her father's title might bo in after-days bestowed upon tho
husband of her choice — wlaich in the event of her marrying judi-

4 The Day will come.

ciously and marrying wealth, might not be impracticable — it would
be an alien to his race who would bear the title which he, James
Dalbrook, had created. He had so longed for a son, and behold
two had been given to him, and upon both the blight had fallen.
When people praised his daughter's childish loveliness he shook his
head despondent!}'', thinking that she too would be taken, like her
brothers, before ever the bud became a flower.

His heart sickened at thought of this contingency, and of his
heir-at-law in the event of his dying childless, a first cousin, clerk in
an auctioneer's office at Weymouth, a sandy-haired freckled youth,
without an aspirate, with a fixed idea that he was an authority
upon dress, style, and billiards, an insupportable young man under
any conditions, but hateful to murderousness as one's next heir.
To think of that freckled snob strutting about the estate in years to
come, blinking with his white eyelashes at those things which had
been so dear to the dead !

His wife, to whom he owed the estate, had no relations nearer or
dearer to her than the freckled auctioneer was to her husband.
There remained for them both to work out their plans for the dis-
posal of that estate and fortune which was their own to deal with as
they pleased. Already James Dalbrook had dim notions of a
Dalbrook Scholarship Fund, in which future barristers should have
their long years of waiting upon fortime made easier "o them, and
for which they should bless the memory of the famous advocate.

Happily those brooding fears were not realized; this time the
bud was not blighted, the tlower carried no canker in its heart, but
opened its petals to the morning of life, a strong bright blossom,
revelling in sun and shower, wind and spray. Juanita grew from
babyhood to girlhood with hardly an illness, save the regulation
childish complaints, which touched her as hghtly as a butterfly's
wing touches the flowers.

Her mother was of Spanish extraction, the granddaughter of a
Cadiz merchant, who had failed in the wine trade and had left his
tions and daughters to carve their own way to fortune. Her father
had gone to San Francisco at the beginning of the gold fever, had
been one of the first to understand the safest way to take advantage
of the situation, and had started a wine-shop and hotel, out of which
lie made a splendid fortune within fifteen years. He acquired
wealth in good time to send his two daughters to Paris for their
education, and by the time they were grown up he was rich enough
to retire from business, and was able to dispose of his hotel and
wine-store for a sura which made a considerable addition to his
capital. He established himself in a brand-new first-floor in one of
the avenues of the Bois de Boulogne, a rich widower, more of an
American than a Spaniard after his long exile, and he launched his
two handsome daughters in Franco-American society. From Paris
they went to London, and were well received in that upper middle-^

The Day will come. 5

class circle in wliich wealth can generally command a welcome, and
in which a famous barrister, like Mr. Dalbrook, ranks as a star of
the first magnitude. James Dalbrook was then at the apogee of his
Buccess, a large handsome man on the right side of his fortieth birth-
day. He was not by any means the kind of man who would seem
a Hkely suitor for a beautiful girl of three and twenty; but it
happened that his heavily handsome face and commanding manner,
his deep, strong voice and brilliant conversation possessed just the
charm that could subjugate Maria Morales' fancy. His conquest
came upon him as a bewildering surprise, and nothing could be
further from his thoughts than a mamage with the Spaniard's
daughter; and yet within six weeks of their first meeting at a
Royal Academy soirde in the shabby old rooms in Trafalgar Square,
Mr. Dalbrook and !Miss IMorales were engaged, with the full consent
of her father, who declared himself willing to give his daughter forty
thousand pounds, strictly settled upon herself, for her dowry, but
who readily doubled that sum when his future son-in-law revealed
his desire to become owner of Cheriton, and to found a family. For
Buch a laudable purpose Mr. ^loralcs was willing to make sacrifices ;
more especially as Maria's elder sister had offended him by marry-
ing without his consent, an offence which was only cancelled by
her untimely death soon after her marriage.

Juanita was only three years old when her father was raised to
the bench, and she was not more than six when he was ofiered a
peerage, which he accepted promptly, very glad to exchange the
name of Dalbrook — still extant over "the old shop-window in Dor-
chester, though the old shopkeepers were at rest in the cemetery
outside the town — for the title of Baron Cheriton.

As Lord Cheriton James Dalbrook linked himself indissolubly
with the lands which his wife's money had bought — money made in
a 'Frisco ■«nnc-shop for the most part. Happily, however, few of
Lord Cheriton's friends were aware of that fiict. Morales had traded
under an assumed name in the miners' city, and had only resumed
his patronymic on retiring from the bar and the wine-vaults.

It will be seen, therefore, that Juanita could not boast of aristo-
cratic lineage upon either side. Her beauty and grace, her lofty
carriage and high-l)red air, were spontaneous as the beauty of a wild
flower upon one of those furzy knolls over wliich her young feet had
bounded in many a girlish race with her dogs or her chosen com-
panion of the hour. She looked like the daughter of a duke,
although one of her grandfathers had sold pots and pans, and tlio
other had kept order, with a bowie-knife and a revolver in his belt,
over the humours of a 'Frisco tavern, in the days when the city was
Btill in its rough and tumble infancy, fierce as a bull-pup. Her
father, who, as the years went on, worshipped this only child of his,
never forgot that she lacked that one sovereign advantage of good
birth and highly placed kindred ; and thus it was that from her

6 The Day will come.

childhood he had been on the watch for some alliance which should
give her these advantages.

The opportunity had soon offered itself. Among his Dorsetshu-e
neighbom-s one of the most distinguished was Sir Godfrey Carmichael,
a man of old family and good estate, highly cormected on the
maternal side, and well comiected all round, and married to tlie
daughter of an Irish peer. Sir Godfrey showed himself friendly
from the hour of Mr. Dalbrook's advent iu the neighbourhood. Ho
declared himself delighted to welcome new blood when it came in
the person of a man of talent and power. Lady Jane Carmichael
was equally pleased with James Dalbrook's gentle wife. The friend-
ship thus begun never knew any interruption till it ended suddenly
in a ploughed field between Wareham and Wim])oinne, where Sir
Godfrey's horse blundered at a fence, fell, and rolled over his rider,
ten years after Juanita's birth.

There were two daughters and a son, considerably their junior,
Avlio succeeded his father at the age of fifteen, and who had been
Juanita's playfellow ever since she could run alone.

The two fathers had talked together of the possibilities of the
future while their children were playing tennis on the lawn at
Cheriton, or gathering blackberries on the common. Sir Godfrey
was enough a man of the world to rejoice in the idea of kis son's
marriage ^\^tll the heiress of Cheriton, albeit he knew tliat the httle
dark-eyed girl, with the tall slim figure and graceful movements, liad
no place among the salt of the earth. His own estate was a poor
thing compared with Cheriton and the Cheriton stone-quarries ; and
he knew that Dalbrook's professional earnings had accumulated into
a very respectable fortune invested in stocks and shares of the
soundest quality. Altogether his son could hardly do better than
continue to attach himself to that dark-eyed child as he was attach-
ing himself now in his first year at Eton, riding his pony over to
Cheriton every non-hunting day, and ministering to her childish
caprices in all things.

The two mothers had talked of the future with more detail and
more assurance than the fathers, as men of the world, had ventm'ed
upon. Lady Cheriton was in love with her httle girl's boyish
admirer. His frank, handsome face, open-hearted manner, and
undeniable pluck realized her ideal of high-bred youth. His mother
was the daughter of an earl, his gi'andmother was the niece of a
duke. He had the right to call an existing duke his cousin. These
things counted for much in the mind of the storekeeper's daughter.
Her experience at a fashionable Parisian convent had taught her to
worship rank ; her experience of English middle-class society had
not eradicated that wealmess. And then she saw that this fine,
frank lad was devoted to her daughter with all a boy's ardent feeling
for his first sweetheart.

The years went on, and young Godfrey Carmichael and Juanita

The Day zuill come. 7

Dalbrook were sweethearts still — sweetheartg always — sweethearts
when ho was at Eton, sweethearts when ho was at Oxford, sweet-
hearts in union, and sweethearts in absence, neither of them ever
imagining any other love ; and now, in the westering sunlight of
this July evening, the bells of Cheriton Church were ringing a joj'-
peal to celebrate their wedded loves, and the little street was
gay with floral archways and bright-coloured bunting, and mottoes
of welcome and gi-eeting, and Lady Chcriton's barouche was bring-
ing the bride and bridegroom to their first honeymoon dinner, as
fast as fom- horses could trot along the level road from quiet little

By a curious fancy Juanita had elected to spend her honeyrooon
in that one house of which she ought to have been most wearj', the
good old house in which she had been bom, and where all her days
of courtship, a ten years' courtship, had been spent. In vain had
the fairest scenes of Europe been suggested to her. She had
travelled enough to be indifferent to mountains and lakes, glaciers
and fjords.

"I have seen just enough to know that there is no place like
home," she said, with her pretty air of authority. " I won't have a
honeymoon at all if I can't have it at Cheriton. I want to feel what
it is like to have you all to mj'sclf in my own place, Godfrey, among
all the things I love. I shall feel like a queen with a slave ; I shall
feel like Delilah with Samson. When you are quite tired of Cheriton
— and subjection, you shall take me to the Priory; and once there
you shall be master and I will be slave."

" Sweet mastership, tyrannous slavcrj''," he answered, laughing.
" ]\Iy darling, Cheriton will suit me better than any other place in
the world for my honejinoon, for I shall be near my future electors,
and shall be able to study tlic pohtical situation in all its bearings
upon — the Isle of Purbeck."

Sir Godfrey was to stand for his division of the county in the
election that was looming in the distance of the late autumn. Ho
was very confident of success, as a young man might be who camo
of a time-honoured race, and knew himself popular in the district,
armed with all the newest ideas, too, full to the brim of the most
modern intelligence, a brilliant debater at Oxford, a favourite every-
where. Ilis marriage would increase his popularity and strengthen
his position, with the latent power of that larger wealth which must
needs be his in the future.

The sun was shining in golden glory upon grey stone roofs and
grey stone walls, clothed with rose and honeysuckle, clematis and
trumpet ash, — upon the village forge, where there had been no work
done since the morning, where the fire was out, and the men Avero
lounging at door and window in their Sunday clothes, — upon tho
three or four village shops, and tho two village inns, the humblo
little house of call opposite the forge, with its queer old sign, " Live

8 The Day will come.

and Let Live," and the good old " George Hotel," with sprawling,
dilapidated stables and spacious yard, where the mail-coach used to
stop in the days that were gone.

There was a floral arch between the little tavern and the forge —
a floral display along the low rustic front of the butcher's shop — and
the cottage post-office was converted into a bower. There were
calico mottoes flapping across the road — " Welcome to the Bride
and Bridegroom," " God Bless Them Both," " Long Life and Ilapj)i-
ness," and other fond and hearty phrases of time-honoured familiarity.
But those clashing bells, with their sound of tumultuous gladness, a
joy that clamoured to the blue skies above and the woods below, and
out to the very sea yonder, in its loud exuberance, those and the
smiling faces of the villagers were the best of all welcomes.

There were gentlefolks among the crowd — a string of pony carts
and carriages drawn up on the long slip of waste grass beyond the
forge, just where the road turned off to Cheriton Chase ; and there
were two or three horsemen, one a young man upon a fine bay cob,
who had been walking his horse about restlessly for the last hour or
BO, sometimes riding half a mile towards the station in his impatience.

The carriage came towards the turning-point, tlie bride bowing
and smiling as she returned the greetings of gentle and simple.
Emotion had paled the delicate oHve of her complexion, but her
large dark eyes were bright with gladness. Her straw-coloured
tussore gown and leghorn hat were the perfection of simolicity, and
seemed to surround her with an atmosphere of coolness amidst the
dust and glare of the road.

At sight of the young man on the bay cob, she put her hand on
Sir Godfrey's arm and said something to him, on which he told the
coachman to stop. They had driven slowly through the village, and
the horses pulled up readily at the turn of the road.

" Only to think of your coming so far to greet us, Theodore ! " said
Juanita, leaning out of the carriage to shake hands with the owner
of the cob.

" I wanted to be among the first to welcome you, that was all,"
he answered quiet]}^ " I had half a mind to ride to the station and
be ready to hand you into your carriage, but I thought Sir Godfrey
might think me a nuisance."

" No fear of tliat, my dear Dalbrook," said the bridegroom. " I
should have been very glad to see you. Did you ride all the way
from Dorchester ? "

" Yes ; I came over earlj'' in the morning, breakfasted with a
friend, rested the cob all day, and now he is ready to carry me home

" What devotion 1 " said Juanita, laughingly, yet with a shade of

"What good exercise for Peter, you mean. Keeps liim in con-
dition against the cubbing begins. God bless you, Juanita. I can't

The Day will come. 9

flo better than echo the invocation above our heads, ' God bless the
bride and bridegi'oom.' "

lie shook hands with them botli for the second time. A faint
glow of crimson swept over his frank fair face as he clasped those
hands. His honest grey eyes looked at his cousin for a moment
with grave tenderness, in which there was the shadow of a life-long
regret. He had loved and wooed her, and resigned her to her more
favoured lover, and he was honest in his desire for her happiness.
His own gladness, his own life, seemed to him of small account when
weighed against her well-being.

" Yon must come and dine with us before we leave Cheriton,
Dalbrook," said Sir Godfrey.

" You are very good. I am off to Heidelberg for a holiday as
poon as I can wind up my office work. I will offer myself to you
later on, if I may, when you are settled at the Priory."

" Come when you like. Good-bye."

The carriage turned the corner. The crowd burst into a cheer :
one, two, three, and then another one : and then three more cheers
louder than the first three, and the horses were ou the verge of
bolting for the rest of the way to Cheriton.

Theodore Dalbrook rode slowly away from the village festivities,
rode away from the clang of the joy-bells, and the sound of rustic
triple bob majors. It would be night before he reached Dorchester ;
but there was a moon, and he loiew every yard of high road, every

Online LibraryM. E. (Mary Elizabeth) BraddonThe day will come : a novel → online text (page 1 of 42)