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work in her room once more. Now and
then her brothers heard her singing the
old song she had sung so constantly with
Ulfar, -

" A shepherd in a shade his plaining made,

Of love, and lovers' wrong,
Unto the fairest lass that trod on grass,

And thus began his song :
' Restore, restore my heart again,
Which thy sweet looks have slain,
Lest that, enforced by your disdain, I sing,
Fye ! fye on love ! It is a foolish thing !

" ' Since love and fortune will, I honour still
Your dark and shining eye ;



64 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

What conquest will it be, sweet nymph, to thee,

If I for sorrow die ?
Restore, restore my heart again,
Which thy sweet looks have slain,
Lest that, enforced by your disdain, I sing,
Fye ! fye on love ! It is a foolish thing ! ' '

But the lifting of the sorrow was only
that it might press more heavily. No
more letters came ; no message of any
kind ; none of the pretty love-gages he
delighted in giving during the first months
of their acquaintance. A gloom more
wretched than that of death or sickness
settled in the old rooms of Seat-Ambar.
William and Brune carried its shadow on
their broad, rosy faces into the hay-fields
and the wheat-fields. It darkened all the
summer days, and dulled all the usual
mirth-making of the ingathering feasts.
William was cross and taciturn. He loved
his sister with all his heart, but he did not
know how to sympathize with her. Even
mother-love, when in great anxiety, some
times wraps itself in this unreasonable
irritability. Brune understood better. He
had suffered from a love-change himself;



Forgive me, Christ !



he knew its ache and longing, its black
despairs and still more cruel hopes. He
was always on the lookout for Aspatria;
and one day he heard news which he




thought would
interest her. Lady Red-
ware was at the Hall. William
had heard it a week before, but
he had not considered it prudent to
name the fact. Brune had a kinder
intelligence.

" Aspatria," he said, " Redware Hall is
open again. I saw Lady Redware in the
village."

" Brune ! Oh, Brune, is he there too?"-
5



66 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

" No, he is n't. . I made sure of that."

"Brune, I want to go to Redware.
Perhaps his sister may tell me the truth.
Go with me. Oh, Brune, go with me ! I
am dying of suspense and uncertainty."

" Ay, they 're fit to kill anybody, let
alone a little lass like you. It will put
William about, and it may make bad
bread between us ; but I '11 go with you,
even if we do have a falling out. I 'm not
flayed for William's rages."

The next market-day Brune kept his
word. As soon as Squire Anneys had
climbed the fell breast and passed over
the brow of the hill, Brune was at the door
with horses for Aspatria and himself. She
was a good rider, and they made the dis
tance, in spite of hills and hollows, in two
hours. Lady Redware was troubled at the
visit, but she came to the door to welcome
Aspatria, and she asked Brune with partic
ular warmth to come into the house with
his sister. Brune knew better; he was
sure in such a case that it would prove a
mere formal .call, and that Aspatria would



Forgive me, Christ ! 67

never have the courage to ask the ques
tions she wished to.

But Aspatria had come to that point of
mental suffering when she wanted to know
the truth, even though the truth was the
worst. Lady Redware saw the determina
tion on her face, and resolved to gratify it.
She was shocked at the change in Aspa-
tria's appearance. Her beauty was, in a
measure, gone. Her eyes were hollow,
and the lids dark and swollen with weep
ing. Her figure was more angular. The
dew of youth, the joy of youth, was over.
She drooped like a fading flower. If Ulfar
saw her in such condition he might pity,
but assuredly he would not admire her.

Lady Redware kissed the poor girl.
" Come in, my dear," she said kindly.
" How ill you look ! Here is wine : take
a drink."

" I am ill. I even hope I am dying.
Life is so hard to bear. Ulfar has forgot
ten me. I have vexed him, and cannot
find out in what way. If you would only
tell me!"



68 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

" You have not vexed him at all."

" What then?"

" He is tired, or he has seen a fresher
face. That is Ulfar's great fault. He
loves too well, because he does not love
very long. Can you not forget him? "

" No."

" You must have other lovers? "

" No. I never had a lover until Ulfar
wooed me. I will have none after him.
I shall love him until I die."

" What folly ! "

" Perhaps. I am only a foolish child.
If I had been wise and clever, he would
not have left me. It is my fault. Do you
believe he will ever come to Seat-Ambar
again? "

" I do not think he will. It is best to
tell you the truth. My dear, I am truly
sorry for you ! Indeed I am, Aspatria! "

The girl had covered her face with her
thin white hands. Her attitude was so
hopeless that it brought the tears to Lady
Redware's eyes. Hoping to divert her
attention, she said,



Forgive me, Christ! 69

" Who called you Aspatria?"

" It was my mother's name. She was
born in Aspatria, and she loved the place
very much."

"Where is it, child? I never heard of
it."

" Not far away, on the sea-coast, a
little town that brother Will says has been
asleep for centuries. Such a pretty place,
straggling up the hillside, and looking
over the sea. Mother was born there, and
she is buried there, in the churchyard.
It is such an old church, one thousand
years old ! Mother said it was built by
Saint Kentigern. I went there to pray
last week, by mother's grave. I thought
she might hear me, and help me to bear
the suffering."

" You poor child ! It is shameful of
Ulfar ! "

" He is not to blame. Will told me that
it was a poor woman who could n't keep
what she had won."

" It was very brutal in Will to say such
a thing."



70 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

" He did not mean it unkindly. We are
plain-spoken people, Lady Redware. Tell
me, as plainly as Will would tell me, if
there is any hope for me. Does Ulfar love
me at all now? "

" I fear not."

"Are you sure?"

" I am sure."

" Thank you. Now I will go." She
put out her hands before her, as if she was
blind and had to feel her way; and in
answer to all Lady Redware's entreaties to
remain, to rest, to eat something, she only
shook her head, and stumbled forward.
Brune saw her coming. He was standing
by the horses, but he left them, and went
to meet his sister. Her misery was so visi
ble that he put her in the saddle with fear.
But she gathered the reins silently, and
motioned him to proceed ; and Aspatria's
last sad smile haunted Lady Redware for
many a day. Long afterward she recalled
it with a sharp gasp of pity and annoyance.
It was such a proud, sorrowful farewell.

She reached home, but it took the last



Forgive me, Christ ! 71

remnant of her strength. She was carried
to her bed, and she remained there many
weeks. The hills were white with snow,
and the winter winds were sounding among
them like the chant of a high mass, when
she came down once more to the parlor.
Even then Will carried her like a baby in
his arms. He had carried her mother in
the same way, when she began to die ; and
his heart trembled and smote him. He
was very tender with his little sister, but
tempests of rage tossed him to and fro
when he thought of Ulfar Fenwick.

And he was compelled lately to think of
him very often. All over the fell-side, all
through Allerdale, it had begun to be
whispered, " Aspatria Anneys has been
deserted by her lover." How the fact had
become known it was difficult to discover :
it was as if it had flown from roof to roof
with the sparrows. Will could see it in the
faces of his neighbours, could hear it in
the tones of their speech, could feel it in
the clasp of their hands. And he thought
of these things, until he could not eat a



72 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

meal or sleep an hour in peace. His
heart was on fire with suppressed rage.
He told Brune that all he wanted was to
lay Fenwick across his knees and break
his neck. And then he spread out his
mighty hands, and clasped and unclasped
them with a silent force that had terrible
anticipation in it. And he noticed that
after her illness his sister no longer wore
the circlet of diamonds which had been
her betrothal-ring. She had evidently
lost all hope. Then it was time for him
to interfere.

Aspatria feared it when he came to her
room one morning and kissed her and
bade her good-by. He said he was going
a bit off, and might be a week away,
happen more. But she did not dare to
question him. Will at times had masterful
ways, which no one dared to question.

Brune knew where his brother was go
ing. The night before he had taken
Brune to the little room which was called
the Squire's room. In it there was a
large oak chest, black with age and heavy



Forgive me, Christ !



73



with iron bars. It contained the
title-deeds, and many other
valuable papers. Will ex
plained these
and the oth
er business
of the farm
to Brune ;
and Brune
did not need
to ask him
why. He was
well aware
what business
William Anneys
was bent on, be
fore Will said,
" I am going to Fen-
wick Castle, Brune. I am
going to make that measure
less villain marry Aspatria."
" Is it worth while, Will? "
"Jt is worth while. He shall keep his
promise. If he does not, I will kill him,
or he must kill me."





74 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves,

" If he kills you, Will, he must then
fight me." And Brune's face grew red and
hot, and his eyes flashed angry fire.

" That is as it should be ; only keep your
anger at interest until you have lads to
take your place. We must n't leave Am-
bar-Side without an Anneys to heir it. I
fancy your wrath won't get cold while it is
waiting."

" It will get hotter and hotter."

" And whatever happens, don't you be
saving of kind words to Aspatria. The
little lass has suffered more than a bit ;
and she is that like mother ! I could n't
bide, even if I was in my grave, to think
of her wanting kindness."

The next morning Will went away.
Brune would not talk to Aspatria about
the journey. This course was a mistake ;
it would have done her good to talk con
tinually of it. As it was, she was left to
chew over and over the cud of her mourn
ful anticipations. She had no womanly
friend near her. Mrs. Frostham had drawn
back a little when people began to talk of



Forgive me, Christ! 75

"poor Miss Anneys." She had daughters,
and she did not feel that her friendship for
the dead included the living, when the liv
ing were unfortunate and had questionable
things said about them.

And the last bitter drop in Aspatria's
cup full of sorrow was the hardness of her
heart toward Heaven. She could not
care about God ; she thought God did not
care for her. She had tried to make her
self pray, even by going to her mother's
grave, but she felt no spark of that hidden
fire which is the only acceptable prayer.
There was a Christ cut out of ivory, nailed
to a large ebony cross, in her room. It
had been taken from the grave of an old
abbot in Aspatria Church, and had been
in her mother's family three hundred years.
It was a Christ that had been in the grave
and had come back to earth. Her mother's
eyes had closed forever while fixed upon
it, and to Aspatria it had always been an
object of supreme reverence and love.
She was shocked to find herself unmoved
by its white pathos. Even at her best



76 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

hours she could only stand with clasped
hands and streaming eyes before it, and
with sad imploration cry,

" I cannot pray ! I cannot pray ! For
give me, Christ ! "




CHAPTER III.

ONLY BROTHER WILL.

IT was a dull raw day 1
in late autumn, especial- J
ly dull and raw near the 1
sea, where there was an
evil-looking sky to the
eastward. Ulfar
Fenwick stood at a
window in Castle Fen-
wick which commanded
the black, white-frilled
surges. He was watch
ing anxiously the point
at which the pale gray wall
of fog was thickest, a .
wall of inconceivable height,
resting on the sea, reaching to
the clouds, when suddenly there emerged
from it a beautifully built schooner-yacht.




78 A Rose of a Hwidred Leaves.

She cut her way through the mysterious
barrier as if she had been a knife, and came
forward with short, stubborn plunges.

All over the North Sea there are deso
late places full of the cries of parting souls,
but nowhere more desolate spaces than
around Fenwick Castle ; and as the winter
was approaching, Ulfar was anxious to
escape its loneliness. His yacht had been
taking in supplies; she was making for
the pier at the foot of Fenwick Cliff, and
he was dressed for the voyage and about
to start upon it. He was going to the
Mediterranean, to Civita Vecchia, and his
purpose was the filial one of bringing
home the remains of the late baronet. He
had promised faithfully to see them laid
with those of his fore-elders on the windy
Northumberland coast; and he felt that
this duty must be done, ere he could com
fortably travel the westward route he had
so long desired.

He was slowly buttoning his pilot-coat,
when he heard a heavy step upon the
flagged passage. Many such steps had



Only Brother Will. 79

been up and down it that hour, but none
with the same fateful sound. He turned
his face anxiously to the door, and as he
did so, it was flung open, as if by an angry
man, and William Anneys walked in,
frowning and handling his big walking-
stick with a subdued passion that filled
the room as if it had been suddenly
charged with electricity. The two men
looked steadily at each other, neither of
them flinching, neither of them betraying
by the movement of an eyelash the emotion
that sent the blood to their faces and the
wrath to their eyes.

" William Anneys ! What do you
want? "

" I want you to set your wedding-day.
It must not be later than the fifteenth of
this month."

"Suppose I refuse to do so? I am go
ing to Italy for my father's body."

"You shall not leave England until you
marry my sister."

" Suppose I refuse to do so? "

" Then you will have to take your



8o A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

chances of life or death. You will give
me satisfaction first; and if you escape the
fate you well deserve, Brune may have
better fortune."

" Duelling is now murder, sir, unless \ve
pass over to France."

" I will not go to France. Wrestling is
not murder, and we both know there is a
' throw ' to kill ; and I will ' throw ' until I
do kill, or am killed. There 's Brune
after me."

" I have ceased to love your sister. I
dare say she has forgotten me. Why do
you insist on our marriage? Is it that she
may be Lady Fenwick? "

" Look you, sir ! I care nothing for
lordships or ladyships ; such things are
matterless to me. But your desertion has
set wicked suspicions loose about Miss
Anneys ; and the woman they dare to
think her, you shall make your wife. By
God in heaven, I swear it ! "

" They have said wrong of Miss Anneys !
Impossible ! "

" No, sir ! they have not said wrong.



Only Brother Will. 81

If any man in Allerdale had dared to say
wrong, I had torn his tongue from his
mouth before I came here ; and as for the
women, they know well I would hold their
husbands or brothers or sons responsible
for every ill word they spoke. But they
think wrong, and they make me feel it
everywhere. They look it, they shy off
from Aspatria, oh, you know well enough
the kind of thing going on."

" A wrong thought of Miss Anneys is
atrocious. The angels are not more pure."
He said the words softly, as if to himself;
and William Anneys stood watching him
with an impatience that in a moment or
two found vent in an emphatic stamp with
his foot.

" I have no time to waste, sir. Are
you afraid to sup the ill broth you have
brewed? "

" Afraid ! "

" I see you have no mind to marry.
Well, then, we will fight! I like that
better."

" I will fight both you and your brother,
6



82 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

make any engagement you wish ; but if the
fair name of Miss Anneys is in danger, I
have a prior engagement to marry her. I
will keep it first. Afterward I am at your
service, Squire, yours and your brother's;
for I tell you plainly that I shall leave my
wife at the church door and never see her
again."

" I care not how soon you leave her ; the
sooner the better. Will the eleventh of
this month suit you? "

" Make it the fifteenth. To what church
will you bring my fair bride? "

"Keep your scoffing for a fitter time.
If you look in that way again, I will strike
the smile off your lips with a hand that
will leave you little smiling in the future."
And he passed his walking-stick to his left,
and doubled his large right hand with an
ominous readiness.

" We may even quarrel like gentlemen,
Mr. Anneys."

" Then don't you laugh like a black
guard, that's all."

" Answer me civilly. At what church



Only Brother Will. 83

shall I meet Miss Anneys, and at what
hour on the fifteenth?"

" At Aspatria Church, at eleven o'clock."

" Aspatria?"

" Ay, to be sure ! There will be wit
nesses there, I can tell you, generations
of them, centuries of generations. They
will see that you do the right thing, or
they will dog your steps till you have paid
the uttermost farthing of the wrong. Mind
what you do, then ! "

" The dead frighten me no more than
the living do."

" You will find out, maybe, what the
vengeance of the dead is. I would be
willing to leave you to it, if you shab off,
and I am not sure but you will."

"William Anneys, you are sure I will
not. You are saying such things to pro
voke me to a fight."

"What reason have I to be sure? All
the vows you made to Aspatria you have
counted as a fool's babble."

" I give you my word of honour. Be
tween gentlemen that is enough."



84 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

" To be sure, to be sure ! Gentlemen
can make it enough. But a poor little lass,
what can she do but pine herself into a
grave ? "

"I will listen to you no longer, Squire
Anneys. If your sister's good name is at
stake, it is my first duty to shield it with
my own name. If that does not satisfy
your sense of honour, I will give you and
your brother whatever satisfaction you
desire. On the fifteenth of this month, at
eleven o'clock, I will meet you at Aspatria
Church. Where shall I find the place? "

" It is not far from Gosforth and Dalton,
on the coast. You cannot miss it, unless
you never look for it."

"Sir!"

" Unless you never look for it. I do not
feel to trust you. But this is a promise
made to a man, made to William Anneys ;
and he will see that you keep it, or else
that you pay for the breaking of it."

" Good-morning, Squire. There is no
necessity to prolong such an unpleasant
visit."



Only Brother Will. 85

"Nay, I will not 'good-morning' with
you. I have not a good wish of any kind
for you."

With these defiant words he left the
castle, and Fenwick threw off his pilot-
coat and sat
down to con
sider. First
thoughts gen
erally come
from the sel-
fish, and there
fore the worst, side
of any nature ; and
Fenwick's first thoughts
were that his yacht was ready to sail,
and that he could go away, and stay away
until Aspatria married, or some other
favourable change took place. He cared
little for England. With good manage
ment he could bring home and bury his
father's dust without the knowledge of
William Anneys. Then there was the
west ! America was before him, north and
south. He had always promised himself




86 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

to see the whole western continent ere he
settled for life in England.

Such thoughts were naturally foremost,
but he did not encourage them. He felt
no lingering sentiment of pity or love for
Aspatria, but he realized very clearly what
suspicion, what the slant eye, the whis
pered word, the scornful glance, the doubt
ful shrug, meant in those primitive valleys.
And he had loved the girl dearly ; he had
promised to marry her. If she wished him
to keep his promise, if it was a necessity to
her honour, then he would redeem with his
own honour his foolish words. He told
himself constantly that he had not a particle
of fear, that he despised Will and Brune
Anneys and their brutal vows of ven
geance; but but perhaps they did un
consciously influence him. Life was sweet
to Ulfar Fenwick, full of. new dreams and
hopes set in all kinds of new surroundings.
For Aspatria Anneys why should he die?
It was better to marry her. The girl had
been sweet to him, very sweet! After all,
he was not sure but he preferred that she



Only Brother Will. 87

should be so bound to him as to prevent
her marrying any other man. He still
liked her well enough to feel pleasure in
the thought that he had put her out of the
reach of any future lover she might have.

Squire Anneys rode home in what
Brune called " a pretty temper for any
man." His horse was at the last point of
endurance when he reached Seat-Ambar,
he himself wet and muddy, " cross and
unreasonable beyond everything." Aspa-
tria feared the very sound of his voice.
She fled to her room and bolted the door.
At that hour she felt as if death would be
the best thing for her; she had brought
only sorrow and trouble and apprehended
disgrace to all who loved her.

" I think God has forgotten me too ! "
she cried, glancing with eyes full of an
guish to the pale Crucified One hanging
alone and forsaken in the darkest corner
of the room. Only the white figure was
visible; the cross had become a part of
the shadows. She remembered the joy
ous, innocent prayers that had been wont



88 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

to make peace in her heart and music on
her lips; and she looked with a sorrow
that was almost reproach at her Book of
Common Prayer, lying dusty and ne
glected on its velvet cushion. In her rebel
lious, hopeless grief, she had missed all its
wells of comfort. Oh, if an angel would
only open her eyes ! One had come to
Hagar in the desert : Aspatria was almost
in equal despair.

Yet when she heard her brother Will's
voice she knew not of any other sanctuary
than the little table which held her Bible
and Prayer Book, and upon which the wan,
sad ivory Christ looked down. In speech
less misery, with clasped hands and low-
bowed head, she knelt there. Will's voice,
strenuous and stern, reached her at inter
vals. She knew from the silence in the
kitchen and farm-offices, and the hasty
movements of the servants, that Will was
cross ; and she greatly feared her eldest
brother when he was in what Brune called
one of his rages.

A long lull was followed by a sharp call.



Only Brother Will.



89




It was Will calling her name. She felt it
impossible to answer, impossible to move;
and as he ascended the stairs and came



9O A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

grumbling along the corridor, she crouched
lower and lower. He was at her door,
his hand on the latch ; then a few piteous
words broke from her lips : " Help, Christ,
Saviour of the world ! "

Instantly, like a flash of lightning, came
the answer, " It is I. Be not afraid." She
said the words herself, gave to her heart
the promise and the comfort of it, and, so
saying them, she drew back the bolt and
stood facing her brother. He had a can
dle in his hand, and it showed her his red,
angry face, and showed him the pale, reso
lute countenance of a woman who had
prayed and been comforted.

He walked into the room and put the
candle down on a small table in its centre.
They both stood a moment by it; then
Aspatria lifted her face to her brother and
kissed him. He was taken aback and
softened, and troubled at his heart. Her
suffering was so evident; she was such a
gray shadow of her former self.

"Aspatria! Aspatria! my little lass!"
Then he stopped and looked at her again.



Only Brother Will. 91

"What is it, Will? Dear Will, what is
it?"

" You must be married on the fifteenth.
Get something ready. I will see Mrs.
Frostham and ask her to help you a bit."

" Whom am I to marry, Will? On the
fifteenth? It is impossible! See how ill
I am ! "

"You are to marry Ulfar Fenwick. 111?
Of course you are ill ; but you must go to
Aspatria Church on the fifteenth. Ulfar
Fenwick will meet you there. He will
make you his wife."

" You have forced him to marry me. I
will not go, I will not go. I will not
marry Ulfar Fenwick."

" You shall go, if I carry you in my
arms ! You shall marry him, or I will
-kill you!"

" Then kill me ! Death does not terrify
me. Nothing can be more cruel hard than
the life I have lived for a long time."


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