in their mourning, as large and important as he had
been when Winnie was married, looking as if he had
never taken his left hand out of his pocket all the
time. He had not been asked to the funeral, and he
marked his consciousness of that fact by making his
appearance in buff waistcoats and apparel which alto-
gether displayed light-heartedness if not levity â€” and
which was very wounding to Aunt Agatha's feelings.
Time, somehow, did not seem to have touched him.
If he was not so offensively and demonstratively a
]\[an, in the sweet-scented feminine house, as he used
to be, it was no reticence of his, but because the boys
were men, or nearly so, and the character of the house-
hold changed. And Hugh was jMr.Ochterlony of Eaidston;
Avhich, perhaps, was the fact that made the greatest dif-
ference of all.
He came the day after Hugh's return, and in the
evening there had been a very affecting scene in the
Cottage. In faithful dischai'ge of his promise, Hugh
had carried the Henri Deux, carefully packed, as be-
came its value and fragile character, to Aunt Agatha;
and she had received it from him with a throbbing
heart and many tears. "It was almost the last thing
84 MADONNA MARY.
he said to me," Hugli liad said. "He put it all aside
with his own hand, the day you admired it so much;
and he tokl me over and over again, to be sure not to
forget." Aunt Agatha had been sitting with her hands
clasped upon the arm of his chair, and her eyes fixed
upon him, not to lose a word; but when he said this,
she covered her face with those soft old hands, and
was silent and did not even weep. It was the truest
grief that was in her heart, and yet with that, there
was an extpiisite pang of delight, such as goes through
and through a girl when first she perceives that she is
loved, and sees her power! SheAvas as a widow, and yet
she was an innocent maiden, full of experience and in-
experience, feeling the heaviness of the evening shadows,
and yet still in the age of splendour in the grass and
glory in the flower. The sense of that last tenderness
went through her with a thrill of joy and grief beyond
description. It gave him back to her for ever and ever,
but not with that sober appropriation which might have
seemed natural to her age. She could no more look
them in the face while it was being told, than had he
been a living lover and she a girl. It was a supreme
conjunction and blending of the two extremes of life,
a fusion of youth and of age.
"I never thought he noticed what I said," she an-
swered at last with a soft sob â€” and uncovered the
eyes that were full of tears, and yet dazzled as with a
sudden light; and she would let no one touch the pre-
cious legacy, but iinpacked it herself, shedding tears
that were bitter and yet sweet, over its many wrappings.
Though he was a man, and vaguely buoyed up, with-
out knowing it, by the strange new sense of his own
importance, Hugh could have found it in his heart to
MADOXNA MARY, 85
sLed tears, too, over the precious bits of porcelain, tliat
had now acquired an interest so much more near and
toiiching than anything- connected with Henri Deux;
and so could his mother. I'ut there were two who
looked on with dry eyes: the one was Winnie, who
would have liked to break it all into bits, as she swept
past it with her long dress, and could not put up with
Aunt Agatha's nonsense â€¢, the other was Will, who
watched the exhibition curiously with close observation,
Avondering how it was that people were such fools, and
feeling the shadow of his brother weigh upon him with
a crushing weight. But these two malcontents were
not in sympathy with each other, and never dreamt of
making common cause.
And it was when the house was in this condition,
that Uncle Penrose arrived. He arrived, as usual, just
in time to make a fuss necessary about a late dinner,
and to put Peggy out of temper, which was a fact that
soon made itself felt through the house; and he began
immediately to speak to Hugh about Earlston, and about
"your late iincle," without the smallest regard for Aunt
Agatha's feelings. "I know there was something between
him and Miss Agatha, once," he said, with a kind of
smile at her, "but of course that Avas all over long
ago." And this was said when poor Miss Seton, who
felt tliat tlie bond had never before been so sweet and
so close, was seated at the head of her own table, and
had to bear it and make no sign.
"Probably there will be a great deal to be done on
the estate," Mr. Penrose said; "these studious men
always let things go to ruin out of dooi'S; but there's
a collection of curiosities or antiquities, or something.
86 MADONNA MARY.
If that's good, it will bring in money. When a man
is known, such things sell."
"But it is not to be sold," said Hugh quickly. "I
have settled all about that."
"Not to be sold? â€” nonsense!" said Mr. Penrose;
"you don't mean to say you are a collector â€” at your
age? No, no, my boy, they're no good to him where
he is now, he could not take them into his vault with
him. Feelings are all very well, but you can't be
allowed to lose a lot of money for a prejudice. What
kind of things are they â€” pictures and that sort?
"I have made all the necessary arrangements," said
Hugh with youthful dignity. "I want you to go with
me to Dalken, mother, to see some rooms the mayor
has offered for them â€” â– nice rooms belonging to the
Town HaU. They could have 'Ochterlony Museum'
put up over the doors, and do better than a separate
building, besides saving the expense."
Mr. Penrose gave a long Avhistle, which under any
circumstances would have been very indecorous at a
lady's table. "So that is how it's to be!" he said;
"but we'll talk that over first, with your permission,
Mr. Ochterlony of Earlston. You are too young to
know what you're doing. I suppose the ladies are at
the bottom of it; they never know the value of money.
And yet we know what it costs to get it when it is
wanted. Miss Agatha," said the insolent man of money,
who never would forget that Miss Seton herself had
once been in difficulties. She looked at him with a
kind of smile, as politeness ordained, but tears of pain
stood in Aunt Agatha's eyes. If ever she hated any-
body in her gentle life, it was Mr. Penrose; and some-
MADONNA MARY. 87
liow he made himself hateful in her presence to every-
"It costs more to ^et it than it is ever worth," said
Winnie, indignant, and moved for the first time, to
make a diversion, and come to Aunt Agatha's aid.
"Ah, I have no doubt you know all about it," said
Mr. Penrose, turning his arms upon her. "You should
have taken my advice. If you had come to Liverpool,
as I wanted you, and mamed some steady-going fellow
with plenty of money, and gone at a more reasonable
pace, you would not have changed so much at your
age. Look at Mary, how well preserved she is: I
don't know what you can have been doing with your-
self to look so changed."
"I am sorry you think me a fright," said Winnie,
with an angry sparkle in her eye.
"You are not a fright," said L^ncle Penrose; "one
can see that you've been a very handsome woman, but
you are not what you were when I saw you last,
Winnie. The fault of your family is that you are
extravagant, â€” I am sure you did not get it from
your mother's side; â€” extravagant of your money and
your hospitality, and your looks and everything. I am
sure Mary has nothing to spare, and yet I've found
people li^â– ing here for weeks together. / can't afford
visitors like that â€” I have my family to consider, and
people that have real claims upon me â€” no more than
I could afford to set up a museum. If I had a lot of
curiosities thrown on my hands, I should make them
into money. It is not everybody that can appreciate
pictures, but everybody iindcrstands five per cent. And
then he might have done something worth while for
his brothers: not that I aj)prove of a man impoverishing
88 MADONNA MART.
himself for tlie sake of liis friends, but still two
ihousand jjounds isn't much. And he might have done
something for his mother, or looked after Will's educa-
tion. It's family jjride, I suppose; but I'd rather give
my mother a house of her own than set up an Ochter-
lony Museum. Tastes differ, you know."
"His mother agrees with him entirely in everything
he is doing," said Mary, with natui-al resentment. "I
wish all mothers had sons as good as mine."
"Hush," said Hugh, who was crimson with indigna-
tion and anger: "I decline to discuss these matters
with Uncle Penrose. Because he is your uncle, mother,
he shall inquire into the estate as much as he likes;
but I am the head of the house, and I am responsible
only to God and to those who are dead â€” - and, mother
to you," said Hugh, with his eyes glistening and his
Uncle Penrose gave another contemptuous pro-
longed whistle at this speech, but the others looked at
the young man with admiration and love; even Winnie,
whose heart could still be touched, regarded the young-
paladin with a kind of tender envy and admiration.
She was too young to be his mother, bu.t she did not
feel herself young; and her heart yearned to have some
one who would stand by her and defend her as such a
youth could. A world of softer possibilities than any-
thing she would permit herself to think of now, came
into her mind, and she looked at him. If she too had
but been the mother of children like her sister! but it
appeared that Mary was to have the best of it , always
and in every way.
As for Will, he looked at the eldest son with very
different feelings. Hugh was not particularly clever,
MADONNA MARY. 89
and his brother had long- entertained a certain contempt
for him. He thought what he would have done had he
been the head of the house. He was disposed to sneer,
like Mr. Penrose, at the Ochterlony Museum. Was it
not a confession of a mean mind, an acknowledgment
of weakness, to consent to send away all the lovely
things that made Will's vision of Earlston like a vision
of heaven? If it had been Will he would not have
thought of five per cent., but neither would he have
thought of making a collection of them at Dalken,
where the country bumpkins might come and stare. He
would have kept them all to himself, and they would
have made his life beautiful. And he scorned Hugh
for dispossessing himself of them, and reducing the
Earlston rooms into rooms of ordinary habitation. Had
they but been his â€” had he but been the eldest, the
head of the house â€” the world and the family
and Uncle Penrose would have seen very different
But yet Hugh had character enough to stand firm.
He made his mother get her bonnet and go out with
him after dinner; and everybody in the house looked
after the two as they went away â€” the mother and her
firstborn â€” he, with his young head towering above
her, though ]\[ary was tall, and she putting her arm
within his so proudly â€” not without a tender elation
in his new imj)ortance, a sense of his superior place
and inde])endent rank, which was strangely sweet.
Winnie looked after them, envying her sister, and yet
with an envy which was not bitter; and Will stood
and looked fiercely on this brother who, by no virtue
of his own, had been born before him. As for Aunt
Agatha, who Avas fond of them all, she went to ber
Â©0 MADONNA MARY.
own room to heal lier wounds; and Mr. Penrose, who
was fond of none of them, went up to the Hall to talk
things over with Sir Edward, whom he had once talked
over to such purpose. And the only two who could
stray down to the soft-flowing Kirtell, and listen to the
melody of the woods and waters, and talk in concert
of what they had wished and planned , were Mary and
"The great thing to be settled is about Will," the
head of the house was saying. "You shall see, mother,
when he is in the Avorld and knows better, all that will
blow away. His two thousand pounds is not much, as
Uncle Penrose says-, but it was all my father had: and
when he wants it, and Avhen Islay wants it, there can
always be something added. It is my business to see
"It was all your father had," said Mary, "and all
your uncle intended; and I see no reason why you
should add to it, Hugh. There will be a little more
when I am gone; and in the meantime, if we only
knew what Will would like to do â€” "
"Why, they'll make him a fellow of his college,"
said Hugh. "He'll go in for all sorts of honours.
He's awfully clever, mother; there's no fear of Will.
The best thing I can see is to send him to read with
somebody â€” somebody with no end of a reputation,
that he would have a sort of an awe for â€” and then
the University. It would be no use doing it if he was
just like other people; but there's everything to be
made of Will."
"I hope so," said Mary, with a little sigh. And
then she added, "So I shall be left quite alone?"
' "No; vou are coming to Earlston with mo," said
MADONNA MARY. 91
Hugh; "that is quite understood. There will be a
great deal to do; and I don't think things are quite
comfortable at the Cottage, with Mrs. Percival here."
"Poor Winnie!" said Mrs. Ochterlony. "I don't
think I ought to leave Aunt Agatha â€” at least, while
she is so much in the dark about my sister. And then
you told me you had promised to marry, Hugh?"
"Yes," said the young man; and straightway the
colour came to his cheek, and dimples to the corners
of his mouth; "but she is too y I mean, there is
plenty of time to think of that."
"She is too young?" said Mary, startled. "Do I
know her, I wonder? I did not imagine you had
settled on the person as well as the fact. Well; and
then, you know, I should have to come back again. I
will come to visit you at Earlston: but I must keep
my head-quarters here."
"I don't see why you should have to come back
again," said Hugh, somewhat affronted. "Earlston is
big enough, and you would be sure to be fond of her.
No, I don't know that the person is settled upon.
Perhaps she wouldn't have me; perhaps But, any-
how, you are coming to Earlston, mother dear. And,
after a while, we could have some visitoi's perhaps â€”
your friends; you know I am very fond of your friends,
"All my friends, Hugh?" said his mother, with a
This was the kind of talk they were having while
Mr. Penrose was laying the details of Hugh's extra-
vagance before Sir Edward, and doing all he could to
incite him to a solemn cross-examination of AVinnie.
Whether she had run away from her husband, or if
92 MADONNA MARY.
not exactly that, what were the circumstances under
which she had left him; and whether a reconciliation
could be brought about; â€” all this was as interesting
to Sir Edward as it was to Uncle Penrose; but what
the latter gentleman was particularly anxious about
was, what they had done with their money, and if the
unlucky couple were very deeply in debt. "I suspect
that is at the bottom of it," he said. And they were
both concerned about Winnie, in their way â€” anxious
to keep her from being talked about, and to preserve
to her a place of I'cpentance. ]\[rs. Percival, however,
was not so simple as to subject herself to this ordeal.
When Sir Edward called in an accidental way next
morning, and Uncle Penrose drew a solemn chair to
her side, Winnie sprang up and went away. She went
off, and shut herself up in her own room, and declined
to go back, or give any further account of herself. "If
they want to drive me away, I will go away," she said
to Aunt Agatha, who came up tremulously to her door,
and begged her to go downstairs.
"My darling, they can't drive you away; you have
come to see me," said Aunt Agatha. "It would be
strange if any one wanted to drive you from my
Winnie was excited, and driven out of her usual
self-restraint. Perhaps she had begun to soften a little.
She gave way to momentary tears, and kissed Aunt
Agatha, whose heart in a moment forsook all other
pre-occupations , and returned for ever and ever to her
"Yes, I have come to see yow," she cried; "and
don't let them come and hunt me to death. I have
done nothing to them. I have injured nobody; and I
MADONNA MARY, 93
will not be put upon my trial for anybody in the wide
"My dear love! my poor darling child!" was all
that Aunt Agatha said.
And then Winnie dried her eyes. "I may as well
say it now," she said. "I will give an account of my-
self to nobody but you; and if lie should come after
"Yes, Winnie darling?" said Aunt Agatha, in
great suspense, as Mrs. Percival stojiped to take
"Nothing in the world will make me see him â€”
nothing in the world!" cried Winnie. "It is best you
should know. It is no good asking me â€” nothing in
"Oh, Winnie, my dear child!" cried Aunt Agatha,
in anxious remonstrance, but she was not permitted to
say any more. W^innie kissed her again in a per-
emptory way, and led her to the door, and closed it
softly upon her. She had given forth her ultimatum,
and now it was for her defender to carry on the
But within a few days another crisis arose of a less
manageable kind. Uncle Penrose made everybody
liighly uncomfortable, and left stings in each individual
mind, but fortunately business called him back after
two days to his natural sphere. And Sir Edward, was
affronted, and did not return to the charge; and Mrs.
Percival, with a natural yearning, had begun to make
friends with her nephew, and draw him to her side to
support her if need should be. And Mary was prepar-
ing to go with her boy after a while to Earlston; and
Hugh himself found i're(|ucnt business at Carlisle, and
94 MADONNA MARY.
â– went and came continually; when it happened one day
that her friends came to pay Mrs. Ochterlony a visit,
to offer their condolences and congratulations upon
Hugh's succession and his uncle's death.
They came into the drawing-room before any one
was aware; and Winnie was there, with her shawl
round her as usual. All the ladies of the Cottage were
there: Aunt Agatha seated Avithin sight of her legacy,
the precious Henri Deux, which was all arranged in a
tiny little cupboard, shut in with glass, Avhich Hugh
had found for her; and Mary working as usual for her
boys. Winnie was the one who never had anything to
do; instead of doing anything, poor soul, she wound
her arms closer and closer into her shawl. It was not
a common visit that was about to be paid. There was
Mrs. Kirkman, and Mrs. Askell, and the doctor's sister,
and the wife of a new Captain, who had come with
them; and they all swept in, and kissed Mary, and
took possession of the place. They kissed Mary, and
shook hands with Aunt Agatha; and then Mrs. Kirk-
man stopped short, and looked at Winnie, and made
her a most stately curtsey. The others would have
done the same, had their courage been as good; but
both Mrs. Askell and Miss Sorbette were dovibtful how
Mary would take it, and compromised, and made some
sign of recognition in a distant way. Then they all
subsided into chairs, and did their best to talk.
"It is a coincidence that brings us all here together
to-day," said 'Mrs. Kirkman; "I hope it is not too
much for you, my dear Mary. How affecting was
poor Mr. Ochterlony's death! I hope you have that
evidence of his spiritual state which is the only con-
solation in such a case."
MADONNA MARY. 95
"He was a good man," said Mary, "very kind,
and generous, and just. Hugh, who knew him best,
was very fond of him â€” "
"Ah, fond of him! We are all fond of our friends,"
said Mrs. Kirkman; "but the only real comfort is to
know what was their spiritual state. . Do you know I
am very anxious about your parish here. If you would
but take up the work, it would be a great thing. And
I would like to have a talk with Hugh: he is in an
important position now, he may influence for good so
many people. Dear Miss Seton, I am sure you will
lielp me all you can to lead him in tlie right way."
"He is such a dear!" said Emma Askell. "He
has been to see us four or five times: it was so good
of him. / didn't know Mr. Ochterlony, Madonna dear;
so you need not be vexed if I say right out that I am
so glad. Hugh will make a perfect Squire-, and he is
such a dear. Oh, Miss Seton, I know you will agree
with me â€” isn't he a dear?"
"He's a very fine young fellow," said Miss Sorbette.
"I remember him when he was only that height, so I
think I may speak. It seems like yesterday when he
was at that queer marriage, you know â€” such a funny,
wistful little soul. I daresay you recollect, Mary, for
it was rather hard upon you."
"We all recollect," said Mrs. Kirkman; "don't
speak of it. Thank Heaven, it has done those dear
children no harm."
There was something ringing in Mary's ears, but
she could not sjCy a word. Her voice seemed to die on
her lips, and her heart in her breast. If her boys were
to hear, and demand an explanation! Something al-
most as bad happened. Winnie, who was looking on.
96 MADONNA MARY.
whom nobody had spoken to, now took it upon her to
"What marriage?" she said. "It must have
been something of consequence, and I shoukl like to
This question fluttered the visitors in the strangest
way, none of them looked at Winnie, but they looked
at each other, with a sudden movement of skirts and
consultation of glances. Mrs. Kirkman put her bonnet-
strings straight, slowly, and sighed; and Miss Sorbettc
bent down her head with great concern, and exclaimed
that she had lost the button of her glove; and Emma
Askell shrank behind backs, and made a great rustling
with her dress. "Oh, it was nothing at all," she said;
being by nature the least hard-hearted of the three.
That was all the answer they gave to Winnie, who was
the woman who had been talked about. And the next
moment all three rushed at Mary, and spoke to her in
the same breath, in their agitation; for at least they
were agitated by the bold coup they had made. It was
a stroke which Winnie felt. She turned very red and
then very pale, but she did not flinch: she sat there in
the foreground, close to them all, till they had said
everything they had to say; and held her head high,
ready to meet the eye of anybody who dared to look
at her. As for the other members of the party, Mary
had been driven hors du combat ^ and for the first mo-
ment was too much occupied with her own feelings to
perceive the insult that had been directed at her sister;
and Aunt Agatha was too much amazed to take any
part. Thus they sat, the visitors in a rustle of talk
and silk and agitation and uneasiness, frightened at the
step they had taken, with Winnie immovable and un-
MADONNA JIARV. 97
flinching in tlie midst of tliem, until the other ladies of
the house recovered tlieir self-possession. Then an un-
questionable chill fell upon the party. When such
visitors came to Kirtell on ordinary occasions, they
were received with pleasant hospitality. It was not a
ceremonious call, it was a frank familiar visit, pro-
longed for an iiour or two; and though five o'clock tea
had not then been invented, it was extemporized for
the occasion, and fruit was gathered, and flowers, and
all the pleasant country details that please visitors
from a town. And when it was time to go, everybody
knew how many minutes were necessary for the walk
to the station, and the Cottage people escorted their
visitors, and waved their hands to them as the train
started. Such had been the usual routine of a visit to
Kirtell. But matters were changed now. After that
uneasy rustle and flutter, a silence equally uneasy fell
upon the assembly. The new Captain's wife, who had
never been there before, could not make it out. Mrs.
Percival sat silent, the centre of the group, and nobody
addressed a word to her; and Aunt Agatha leaned back
in her chair and never opened her lips; and even
Mary gave the coldest, briefest answers to the talk
Avhich everybody poured upon her at once. It Avas all
qiiite mysterious and unexplainable to the Captain's
"I am afraid we must not stay," Mrs. Kirkman
said at last, who was the superior officer. "I hope we
have not been too much for you, my dear Mary. I
want so much to have a long talk with you about the
parish and the work that is to be done in it. If I
could only see you take it up! But I see you are not
able for it now."
M'Ulonwt Mir,]. II. 7
9S MADONNA MARY.
"I am not the clergyman," said Mary, whose
temper was slightly touched. "You know that never
was my ro^c."
"Ah, my dear friend!" said Mrs. Kirkman, and she
])ent her head forward pathetically to Mrs. Ochterlony's,