Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A rose of a hundred leaves; a love story online

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One frosty day, near Christmas, as Brune
was returning from Dalton, he heard him
self called in a loud, cheerful voice. He
was passing Seat-Ketel, and he soon saw
Harry Ketel coming quickly toward him.
Harry wore a splendid scarlet uniform; and
the white snow beneath his feet, and the
dark green pines between which he walked,
made it all the more splendid by their

But they were Young. 175

contrast. Brune had not seen Harry for
five years ; but they had been companions
through their boyhood, and their memo
ries were stored with the pleasant hours
they had spent together.

Brune passed that night, and many sub
sequent ones, with his old friend ; and when
Harry went back to his regiment he took
with him a certainty that Brune would
soon follow. In fact, Harry had found his
old companion in that mood which is
ready to accept the first opening as the
gift of fate. Brune found there was a
commission to be bought in the House
hold Foot-Guards, and he was well able to
pay for it. Indeed, Brune was by no
means a poor man; his father had left
him seven thousand pounds, and his share
of the farm's proceeds had been constantly
added to it.

Aspatria was delighted. She might now
go to London in Bruno's care. They dis
cussed the matter constantly, and began
to make the preparations necessary for the
change. But affairs were not then ar-

176 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

ranged by steam and electricity, and the
letters relating to the purchase and trans
fer of Brune's commission occupied some
months in their transit to and fro ; although
Brune did not rely upon the postman's
idea of the practicability of the roads.

Aspatria's correspondence was also un
certain and unsatisfactory for some time.
She had at first no guide to a school but
the advertisements in the London papers
which Harry sent to his friend. But one
night Brune, without any special intention,
named the matter to Mrs. Ketel ; and that
lady was able to direct Aspatria to an
excellent school in Richmond, near Lon
don. And as she was much more favour
ably situated for a quick settlement of
the affair, she undertook the necessary

Will was not ignorant of these move
ments, but Alice induced him to be passive
in them. " No one can then blame us,
Will, whatever happens." And as Will
and Alice were extremely sensitive to
public opinion, this was a good consid-

But they were Young. 177

eration. Besides Alice, not unnaturally,
wished to have the Seat to herself; so
that Aspatria's and Brune's wishes fitted
admirably into her own desires, and it
gave her a kind of selfish pleasure to
forward them.

The ninth of March was Aspatria's
twenty-first birthday ; and it was to her a
very important anniversary, for she re
ceived as its gift her freedom and her for
tune. There was no hitch or trouble in
its transfer from Will to herself. Honour
and integrity were in the life-blood of
William Anneys, honesty and justice the
very breath of his nostrils. Aspatria's
fortune had been guarded with a super-
sensitive care ; and when years gave her its
management, Will surrendered it cheer
fully to her control.

Fortunately, the school selected by
Mrs. Ketel satisfied Will thoroughly; and
Brune's commission in the Foot- Guards
was in honourable accord with the highest
traditions and spirit of the dales. For the
gigantic and physically handsome men of

1 78 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

these mountain valleys have been for cen
turies considered the finest material for
those regiments whose duty it is to guard


and the
homes of
royalty. Brune
had only followed
steps of a great num-

In the beginning of
patria left Seat-Ambar for London, left
forever all the pettiness of her house life,
chairs and tables, sewing and meals, and
the useless daily labour that has to be con
tinually done over again. And at the last
Will was very tender with her, and even
Alice did her best to make the parting

in the
ber of his

April, As-

But they were Young. 179

days full of hope and kindness. As for
the journey, there was no anxiety ; Brune
was to travel with his sister, and see her
safely within her new home.

Yet neither of them left the old home
without some tears. Would they ever see
again those great, steadfast hills, that
purify those who walk upon them ; ever
dwell again within the dear old house, that
had not been builded, but had grown with
the family it had sheltered, through a
thousand years? They hardly spoke to
each other, as they drove through the
sweet valleys, where the sunshine laid a
gold on the green, and the warm south-
wind gently rocked the daisies, and the
lark's song was like a silvery water-fall up
in the sky.

But they were young; and, oh, the rich
significance of the word " young " when the
heart is young as well as the body, when
the thoughts are not doubts, and when the
eyes look not backward, but only forward,
into a bright future !



DURING thirty years of the first half of
this century Mrs. St. Alban's finishing
school for young gentlewomen was a
famous institution of its kind. For she
had been born to the manner of courts
and of people of high degree ; and when
evil fortune met her, she very wisely
turned her inherited social advantages into
a means of honest livelihood. Aspatria
was much impressed by her noble bearing
and fine manners, and by the elaborate
state in which the twelve pupils, of whom
she was one, lived.

Each had her own suite of apartments ;
each was expected to keep a maid, and to
dress with the utmost care and propriety.
There were fine horses in the stables for
their equestrian exercise, there were grooms

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side" 1 8 1

to attend them during it, and there were
regular reception-days, which afforded
tyros in social accomplishments practical
opportunities for cultivating the graceful
and gracious urbanity which evidences
really fine breeding.

Many of Aspatria's companions were of
high rank, Lady Julias and Lady Augus
tas, who were destined to wear ducal
coronets and to stand around the throne
of their young queen. But they were
always charmingly pleasant and polite,
and Aspatria soon acquired their outward
form of calm deliberation and their mode
of low, soft speech. For the rest, she
decided, with singular prudence, to culti
vate only those talents which nature had
obviously granted her.

A few efforts proved that she had no
taste for art. Indeed, the attempt to por
tray the majesty of the mountains or the
immensity of the ocean seemed to her
childishly petty and futile. She had dwelt
among the high places and been familiar
with the great sea, and to make images of

1 82 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

them appeared a kind of sacrilege. But
she liked the study of languages, and she
had a rich contralto voice capable of ex
pressing all the emotions of the heart At
the piano she hesitated ; its music, under
her unskilled fingers, sounded mechanical ;
she doubted her ability to put a soul into
that instrument. But the harp was differ
ent ; its strings held sympathetic tones she
felt competent to master. To these studies
she added a course of English literature
and dancing. She was already a fine
rider, and her information obtained from
the vicar's library and the Encyclopaedia
covered an enormous variety of subjects,
though it was desultory, and in many
respects imperfect.

Her new life was delightful to her. She
had an innate love for study, for quiet, and
for elegant surroundings. These tastes
were fully gratified. The large house stood
in a fair garden, surrounded by very high
walls, with entrance-gates of handsomely
wrought iron. Perfect quiet reigned within
this flowery enclosure. She could study

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side'' 183

without the constant interruptions which
had annoyed her at home ; and she was
wisely aided in her studies by masters

whose low
voices and glid
ing steps seemed
only to accentuate the
peace of the wide school
room, with its perfect appoint
ments and its placid group of
beautiful students.

On Saturdays Brune gen
erally spent several hours
with her ; and if the weather
were fine, they rode or walked in the Park.
Brune was a constant wonder to Aspatria.
Certainly his handsome uniform had done
much for him, but there was a greater

184 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

change than could be effected by mere
clothes. Without losing that freshness and
singleness of mind he owed to his country
training, he had become a man of fashion,
a little of a dandy, a very innocent sort of
a lady-killer. His arrival caused always a
faint flutter in Mrs. St. Alban's dove-cot,
and the noble damosels found many little
womanly devices to excuse their passing
through the parlour while Brune was pres
ent. They liked to see him bend his
beautiful head to them ; and Lady Mary
Boleyn, who was Aspatria's friend and
companion, was mildly envied the privi
leges this relation gave her.

During the vacations Aspatria was al
ways the guest of one or other of her
mates, though generally she spent them
at the splendid seat of the Boleyns in
Hampshire, and the unconscious education
thus received was of the greatest value to
her. It gave the ease of nature to ac
quired accomplishments, and, above all,
that air which we call distinction, which is
rarely natural, and is attained only by

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side" 1 85

frequent association with those who dwell
on the highest social peaks.

Much might be said of this phase of
Aspatria's life which may be left to the
reader's imagination. For three years it
saw only such changes as advancing intel
ligence and growing friendships made.
The real change was in Aspatria person
ally. No one could have traced without
constant doubt the slim, virginal, unfin
ished-looking girl that left Seat-Ambar,
in the womanly perfection of Aspatria
aged twenty-four years. She had grown
several inches taller ; her angles had all dis
appeared ; every joint was softly rounded.
Her hands and arms were exquisite; her
throat and the poise of her head like those
of a Greek goddess. Her hair was darker
and more abundant, and her eyes retained
all their old charm, with some rarer and
nobler addition.

To be sure, she had not the perfect reg
ularity of feature that distinguished some
of her associates, that exact beauty which
Titian's Venus possesses, and which makes

1 86 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

no man's heart beat a throb the faster.
Her face had rather the mobile irregularity
of Leonardo's Mona Lisa, the charming
face that men love passionately, the face
that men can die for.

At the close of the third year she re
fused all invitations for the summer holi
days, and went back to Seat-Ambar.
There had not been much communication
between Will and herself. He was occu
pied with his land and his sheep, his wife
and his two babies. People then took
each other's affection as a matter of course,
without the daily assurance of it. About
twice a year Will had sent her a few
strong words of love, and a bare descrip
tion of any change about the home, or
else Alice had covered a sheet with pretty
nothings, written in the small, pointed,
flowing characters then fashionable.

But the love of Aspatria for her home
depended on no such trivial, accidental
tokens. It was in her blood ; her person
ality was knotted to Seat-Ambar by cen
turies of inherited affection ; she could test

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side," 187

it by the fact that it would have killed her
to see it pass into a stranger's hands. When
once she had turned her face northward,
it seemed impossible to travel quickly
enough. Hundreds of miles away she

felt the cool wind blowing through the
garden, and the scent of the damask rose
was on it. She heard the gurgling of
the becks and the wayside streams, and the
whistling of the boys in the barn, and the
tinkling of the sheep-bells on the highest
fells. The raspberries were ripe in their
sunny corner; she tasted them afar off.

1 88 A Rose of a Htmdred Leaves.

The dark oak rooms, their perfume of
ancient things, their air of homelike com
fort, it was all so vivid, so present to her
memory, that her heart beat and thrilled,
as the breast of a nursing mother thrills
and beats for her longing babe.

She had told no one she was coming;
for, the determination made, she knew
that she would reach home before the
Dalton postman got the letter to Seat-
Ambar. The gig she had hired she left
at the lower garden gate; and then she
walked quickly through the rose-alley up
to the front door. It stood open, and
she heard a baby crying. How strange
the wailing notes sounded ! She went
forward, and opened the parlour door ;
Alice was washing the child, and she
turned with an annoyed look to see the

Of course the expression changed, but
not quickly enough to prevent Aspatria
seeing that her visit was inopportune.
Alice said afterward that she did not recog
nize her sister-in-law, and, as Will met her

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy- Side" 189

precisely as he would have met an entire
stranger, Alice's excuse was doubtless a
valid one. There were abundant exclama
tions and rejoicings when her identity was
established, but Will could do nothing all
the evening but wonder over the changes
that had taken place in his sister.

However, when the first joy of reunion
is over, it is a prudent thing not to try too
far the welcome that is given to the home-
comer who has once left home. Will and
Alice had grown to the idea that Aspa-
tria would never return to claim the room
in Seat-Ambar which was hers legally so
long as she lived. It had been refurnished
and was used as a guest-room. Aspatria
looked with dismay on the changes made.
Her very sampler had been sent away,
the bit of canvas made sacred by her
mother's fingers holding her own over it.
She could remember the instances con
nected with the formation of almost every
letter of its simple prayer,

Jesus, permit thy gracious name to stand
As the first effort of my infant hand ;

190 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

And, as my fingers on the sampler move,
Engage my tender heart to seek thy love.
With thy dear children may I have a part,
And write thy Name, thyself, upon my heart.

And it was gone ! She went into the
lumber-room, and picked it out from under
a pile of old prints and shabbily framed
certificates for prize cattle.

With a sad heart Aspatria regarded the
other changes. Her little tent-bed, with
its white dimity curtains, had been given
to baby's nurse. The vase her father had
bought her at Kendal fair was broken.
Her small mirror and dressing-table had
been removed for a fine Psyche in a
gilded frame. Nothing, nothing was un
touched, but the big dower-chest into
which she had flung her wretched wedding-
clothes. She stood silently before it,
reflecting, with excusable ill-nature, that
neither Will nor Alice knew the secret of
its spring. Her mother had taught it to
her, and that bit of knowledge she deter
mined to keep to herself.

After some hesitation she tried the

Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side!' 191

spring: it answered her pressure at once;
the lid flew back, and there lay the un
happy white satin dress, the wreath, and

veil, and slippers, just as she had tumbled
them in. The bitter hour came sharply
back to her; she thought and gazed, and
thought and gazed, until she felt herself
to be weeping. Then she softly closed

192 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves,

the lid, and, as she did so, a smile parted
her lips, a smile that denied all that her
tears said ; a smile of hope, of good pres
age, of coming happiness.

She stayed only a week at Seat-Ambar,
though she had originally intended to
remain until the harvest was over. The
time was spent in public festivity; every
one in Allerdale was invited to give her a
fitting welcome. But the very formality
of all this entertainment pained her. It
was, after all, only a cruel evidence that
Will and Alice did not care to take her into
their real home-life. She would rather
have sat alone with them, and talked of
their hopes and plans, and been permitted
to make friends of the babies.

So far away, so far away as she had
drifted in three years from the absent liv
ing ! Would the dead be kinder? She
went to Aspatria Church and sat down in
her mother's seat, and let the strange spir
itual atmosphere which hovers in old
churches fill her heart with its supernatural
influence. All around her were the graves

' ' Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side" 193

of her
strong elemen
tal men, simple
God-loving women.
Did they know her?
Did they care for her? '
Her soul looked with
piteous entreaty into the void behind it,
but there was no answer; only that dread
ful silence of the dead, which presses upon
the drum of the ear like thunder.

She went into the quiet yard around the

194 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

church. The ancient, ancient sun shone
on the young grass. Over her mother's
grave the sweet thyme had grown luxuri
antly. She rubbed her hands in it, and
spread them toward heaven with a prayer.
Then peace came into her heart, and she
felt as if eyes, unseen heavenly eyes,
rained happy influence upon c her. Thus
it is that death imparts to life its most
intense interest; for, kneeling in his very
presence, Aspatria forgot the mortality of
her parents, and did reverence to that
within them which was eternal.

She returned to London, and was a little
disappointed there also. Mrs. St. Alban
had promised herself an absolute release
from any outside element. She felt As
patria a trifle in the way, and, though far
too. polite to show her annoyance, Aspa
tria by some similar instinct divined it.
That is the way always. When we plan
for ourselves, all our plans fail. Happy
are they who learn early to let fate alone,
and never interfere with the Powers who
hold the thread of their destiny!

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side." 195

It was not until she had reached this
mood, a kind of content indifference, that
her good genius could work for her. She
then sent Brune as her messenger, and
Brune took his sister to meet her on Rich
mond Hill. On their way thither they
talked about Seat-Ambar, and Will and
Alice, until Aspatria suddenly noticed that
Brune was not listening to her. His eyes
were fixed upon a lovely woman approach
ing them. It was Sarah Sandys. Brune
stood bareheaded to receive her salutation.
" I never should have known you, Lieu
tenant Anneys," she said, extending her
hand, and beaming like sunshine on the
handsome officer, " had not your colonel
Jardine been in Richmond to-day. He is
very proud of you, sir, and said so many
fine things of you that I am ambitious to
show him that we are old acquaintances.
May I know, through you, Mrs. Anneys

" This is my sister, Mrs. Sandys, my
sister Brune hesitated a moment, and
then said firmly, " Miss Anneys."

196 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

Then Sarah insisted on taking them to
her house to lunch; and there she soon
had them under her influence. She waited
on them with ravishing smiles and all sorts
of pretty offices. She took them in her
handsome carriage to drive, she insisted
on their remaining to dinner. And before
the drive was over, she had induced Aspa-
tria to extend her visit until the opening
of Mrs. St. Alban's school.

" We three are from the north country,"
she said, with an air of relationship ; " and
how absurd for Miss Anneys to be alone at
Mrs. St. Alban's, where she is not wanted,
and for me to be alone here, when I desire
her society so much ! "

Aspatria was much pleased to receive
such a delightful invitation, and a messen
ger was sent at once for her maid. Mrs.
St. Alban was quite ready to resign Aspa
tria, and the maid was as glad as her mis
tress to leave the lonely mansion. In an
hour or two she had removed Aspatria's
wardrobe, and was arranging the pleasant
rooms Mrs. Sandys had placed at her
guest's disposal.

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side." 197

Sarah was evidently bent on conquest.
Her toilet was a marvellous combination
of some shining blue and white texture,
mingled with pink roses and gold orna
ments. Her soft fair
hair was loosened
and curled, and she
had a childlike man
ner of being care
lessly happy. Brune
sat at her right hand ;
she talked to him in
smiles and glances,
and gave her words
to Aspatria. She
was determined to
please both sister
and brother, and she
succeeded. Aspatria
thought she had

never in all her life seen a woman so lova
ble, so amusing, so individual.

Brune was naturally shy and silent
among women. Sarah made him elo
quent, because she had the tact to dis-

198 A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

cover the subject on which he could talk,
his regiment, and its sayings and doings.
So Brune was delighted with himself; he
had never before suspected how clever he
was. Stimulated by Sarah's and Aspa-
tria's laughter and curiosity, he found it
easy to retail funny little bits of palace and
mess gossip, and to describe the queer
men and the vain men and the fine fel
lows that were his familiars.

" And pray how do you amuse yourself,
Lieutenant? Do you drink wine, and
gamble, and go to the races, and bet your
purse empty? "

" I was never brought up in such ways,"
Brune answered, " and, I can tell you, I
would n't make believe to like them.
There are a good many dalesmen in my
company, and none of us enjoy anything
more than a fair throw or an in-lock."

" A throw or an in-lock ! What do you
mean, Lieutenant ? You must explain
yourself to Miss Anneys and myself."

" Aspatria knows well enough. Did
you ever see north-country lads wrestling,

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy- Side'' 199

madam? No? Then you have as fine a
thing in keeping for your eyes as human
creatures can show you. I '11 warrant that!
VVhy-a ! wrestling brings all men to their
level. When Colonel Jardine is ugly-tem
pered, and top-heavy with his authority, a
few sound throws over Timothy Sutcliffe's
head does bring him to level very well. I
had a little in-play with him yesterday;
for in the wrestling-ring we be all equals,
though out of it he is my colonel."

" Now for the in-play. Tell me about
it, for I see Miss Anneys is not at all

" Colonel Jardine is a fine wrestler; a
fair match he would be even for brother
Will. Yesterday he said he could throw
me ; and I took the challenge willingly.
So we shook hands, and went squarely for
the throw. I was in good luck, and soon
got my head under his right arm, and his
head close down to my left side. Then it
was only to get my right arm up to his
shoulder, and lift him as high as my head,
and, when so, lean backward and throw

2OO A Rose of a Hundred Leaves.

him over my head : we call it the Flying

" Oh, I can see it very well. No wonder
Rosalind fell in love with Orlando when
he threw the wrestler Charles."

" Were they north-country or Cornish
men? "

She was far too kindly and polite to
smile ; indeed, she gave Aspatria a pretty,
imperative glance, and answered, in the
most natural manner, " I think they were

" Oh ! " said Brune, with some contempt.
" Chaff on their ways ! The Devonshire
wrestlers are brutal ; the Cornish are too
slow; but the Cumberland men wrestle
like gentlemen. They meet square and
level in the ring, and the one who could
carry ill-will for a fair throw would very
soon find himself out of all rings and all
good fellowship."

"You said 'even brother Will.' Is your
brother a better wrestler than you ? "

"My song! he is that! Will has his
match, though. We had a ploughman

" Love shall be Lord of Sandy-Side" 201

once, Aspatria remembers him, Robert
Steadman, an upright, muscular young
fellow, civil and respectful as could be in
everything about his work and place ; but
on wet days when we were all, masters and
servants, in the barn together, it was a
sight to see Robert wrestling with Will for
the mastery, and Will never so ready to
say, ' Well done ! ' nor the rest of us so
happy, as when we saw Will's two brawny
legs going handsomely over Robert's

" If I were a man, I should try to be a
fine wrestler."

" It is a great comfort," said Brune.
" If you have a quarrel of any kind, it is a
deal more satisfactory to meet your man,
and throw him a few times over your head,
than to go to law with him. It puts a
stop to unpleasantness very quickly and

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA rose of a hundred leaves; a love story → online text (page 7 of 9)