Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The winning of Lucia : a love story online

. (page 13 of 19)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe winning of Lucia : a love story → online text (page 13 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

"Quite right, Doctor 1 Quite right 1 Lucia must
have her lesson. It seems hard, but it is only the
hard lessons that do us any good. We misread the
easy ones — or forget them."

"But *when sorrows are passed, in the end is
showed the treasures of immortality,' " answered Dr.

"I am afraid he is a weak man every way."

"Do you mean Lord Arthur Fenwick, Colonel?"

"I do. Doctor."

"Well, I will admit that it is easier to pardon his
faults, than to defend or explain them. But he is
really too ill to travel. I am sure of that."

"What is the matter with him?"

"He swooned at the funeral and has not been al-
lowed to take any exercise since."

"It would do him good to be up and about his
business. , For instance, he ought to be here."

"He knows and feels it," replied Dr. Studley. "I


Digitized by



suppose Lucia still carries her disappointment

"She has borne it wonderfully."

"Lucia is but a child, but she has that sometning
in her which rings well to the smiter and brings the
best out of the worst, and bears with what's past
cure and puts a good face on it. I feel sure, how-
ever, that Fenwick will be here at the end of the

"We will say next Monday night. Doctor."

"Yes, next Monday night - or before. Colonel."

"Oh, I say. Doctor, will you see Lucia, and tell
her Lord Fenwick is sick again. Upon my honor,
I cannot face her with the story. I think she is in
the library writing to him."

Lucia was in the library but she was not writing.
She sat before the fire, looking intently into its glow-
ing depths. She turned her head as the Doctor
entered and said with a smile :

"I am trying to read my fortune in the fire. Doc-
tor. Did you ever try it? Tonight there is one
little dark spot that spoils all my pictures. Have
you any news from Fenwick Castle, Doctor? I
think Arthur has surely forgotten me."

"He has not forgotten you. He loves you most
tenderly but he is very sick, too sick to travel."

"Sick I What is the matter? Not fever again, I


Digitized by



"No, indeed, the sickness was a simple thing in
itself, but roused complications only waiting for such
an opportunity. It seems that as he stood at his
mother's open grave, the sexton threw upon the
coffin the customary spadeful of earth to illustrate
— as is the custom — ^the priest's declaration that the
commitment of the body to the grave was only earth
to earth and ashes to ashes. And Lord Fenwick
was so powerfully affected by the simple rite that he
fell down in a swoon and remained unconscious for
a serious length of time. I fear there was a slight
complication of heart trouble, for he has hardly
been allowed to move since. Fenwick loved his
mother with a great affection. It is his nature to
love with all his heart those whom he loves at all."

"I cannot help thinking there must have been some
qualities in Lady Fenwick worthy of such devotion."

"Undoubtedly. Also, it was the end of all, and it
is finalities that are the tragic element of life — the
end of alir

"Now, I will write him a long, loving letter. I
was feeling a little hurt at his silence and absence*
But you see. Doctor, that was my fault. Love
ought never to doubt. I wonder if it had been my
funeral, if he would have swooned?"

"He would have died. Indeed I believe he would
have died."

"How soon will he be able to come here?"

Digitized by



**By the end of the week."

"I will write him a long letter. Dear Arthur, it
is not his fault. If you will sit with father while
I write, you can take the letter with you and mail it
many hours before there would be any opportunity
to do so from here."

"1 will wait for your letter, and see it is in the
mail in time for the first train in the morning. And
remember, there is nothing seriously wrong. I be-
lieve Lord Fenwick will be here on Saturday next."

Digitized by




A soul fit for the sunshine, so it followed her;
a happy tempered bringer of the best out of the
worst, who bears with what is past care, and puts
a good face on it.

WE thrive by casualties because life is full
of issues and the brave and trusting as
soon as one hope goes to ground straight-
way shape them a new one to the selfsame mark. So
before Lord Fenwick was able to reach Abbot's Rest,
Lucia had reconsidered and rearranged the marriage
that was to take place when the year's mourning was

"I will not be married in England," she said to
Ann, "and I will not make a feast of it in any shape
or way."

"Power of Godl But you are right, dearie. I
never knew a wedding that set itself to eating and
drinking, dancing and folly, that ended well. Mar-
riage is a holy sacrament if you take it as God meant


Digitized by



it. Anyway it is a human sacrifice, as far as the
bride is concerned, and custom may well dress her
out in flowers and lace and ribbons. I have read
how they dressed the young heifers for the altar in
the same way, in pagan days.''

"Now, Ann, some marriages are happy. I know
that Arthur and I will be happy when we are mar-

"Are you always happy now? I have seen you
from strike of day till the darkening out with each
other; and unless you get the overhand with Arthur
Fenwick, there will be many a long hour you will be
hard and sharp set to bear him patiently. I know,
for men are much of a muchness, and their tempers
do try a woman past bearing sometimes. Where
are you thinking of being married next year?"

"Perhaps in Rome."

"Never I Never, Lucia Ragnorl In Rome? In
a popish church?"

"No, no, Ann 1 There are Protestant churches in

"Well, I would not trust any of them, big or little.
What are they doing in Rome? And what are you
going to wear?"

"Only a plain suit of silver-gray cloth and a hat
of the same color. It will be my traveling dress,
and we will start at once for Fenwick Castle. I
rather dread the place — she may be there."


Digitized by



"Aye, she may, for many a long year. Her wraith
would be able to hold its own for a few centuries, I
should say."

"Ann, that is impossible."

"Not so. There are many Fenwick wraiths in
the Castle yet. When I was there, they were expect-
ing the visit of Lord Bertram Fenwick, who died
seven hundred years ago. He was a sinner above
many, but he was given a thousand years to undo his
crimes, and every century he is summoned and re-

"Did you see him?"

"No, but seven of the Fenwick people did. Lord
Arthur was among the number. He was only ten
years old, but he described the ghost so exactly to
his mother, that she knew whom he had seen and
she asked if he was spoken to. And Lord Arthur
said, *He did not speak, but he lifted his hat to me,
as he crossed the courtyard, and I bowed to him.*
And Foster, the gamekeeper, told it in the servants'
hall, that Lord Arthur said he was just like his
father, the late lord. But all the Fenwicks are much
the same, except Lord Arthur, who is but a shadow
of them — ^he is so much slighter and paler."

"What made you tell me this story, Ann? You
never, never named it before."

"I often wanted to tell you, but could not. It
was not its hour before."


Digitized by



"Do you believe the story? I mean about Lord
Bertram Fenwick."

"I'll uphold it's true as the Gospels. It gave me
such a feel when I first heard it that I was fit to drop.
The Fenwicks are a very old family and their knights
led the bowmen of Rydal and Grassmere at the fields
of Crecy and Agincourt. I have been told that all
my life, I think.'*

"Such men in old times were under great tempta-
tions to do wrong. We can't judge them, Ann."

"They were bad ones, sure, but no doubt they are
sorry enough now for all they did then. Poor wae-
some ghosts 1"

"How long is it since you lived at Fenwick?"

"Twenty years and more, but twenty years is noth-
ing to ghosts. I'll warrant there are some of the
first generation of Fenwicks in Fenwick's rooms yet.
And I dare say they know each other— dead or alive.
Just think of Lord Bertram knowing Lord Arthur
was the head of the house, and lifting his hat to him.
If he hasn't changed all through, he wouldn't have
lifted his hat to any other face of clay. But you
need not quail yourself. Nothing will hurt you,
flesh or spirit."

"Were you not afraid?"

"No, at first they would start back when I went
into a room where they happened to be, but I always
said, *You needn't shy off, you don't startle me, poor


Digitized by



ghostSy and there's room enough in this old house
for both of us/ They got used to me, and I got
used to them."

"Would you go back to Fenwick?"

"Yes, if you go. If not, I would rather stop at
Abbot's Rest. The old monks walking about with
their bent heads are praying, I think, and I'll be
bound they have lots of prayers to say yet. I
wouldn't hinder them, not 1 1"

"You are joking with me— or trying to frighten
me, Ann. I do not like joking about the dead and
you can't frighten me."

"Nay, miss, what I have said is as true as any-
body rightly knows. Ask Lord Arthur, and he will
tell you far more than I can do. When is he coming
again ?"

"He has been very ill, but he is coming in a few

"And then ? Shall we stay at Abbot's Rest or go

"Go wandering, I think. You will go wandering
with us. I dare say you will like it, Ann."

"I know better, missee. But the Colonel and you
would be two babes in the wood without me.'*

So the days went by and one day was very like
the other, but Lucia hardly noticed their monotony.
Her mind and hope were fixed on Saturday evening.
She trusted Lord Fenwick would be with her by that


Digitized by



time, and she set her life to that hope. Nothing else
mattered On Friday evening just as they were leav-
ing the dinner table the door was gently opened and
Lord Fenwick entered. The Colonel leaped to his
feet with an exclamation of welcome, and Lucia took
instant comfort in the arms open to receive her.
Then there was an impromptu dinner to arrange,
and the younger man flushed and beamed in the lov-
ing welcome of his reception. That he had been ill
and that he had suffered much was evident without
any explanation. His air of lofty lineage, his pale
and subtle smile, his words of satisfied happiness did
not hide that graving of physical pain which peer
and peasant must alike submit to. But whatever his
experience had been, it had worked worthily, for it
had imparted to the pale features an air of patient
serenity that no one had ever before seen on them.
To Lucia he appeared handsomer than ever; to the
Colonel he was a changed man — more gracious and
more lovable.

"I heard he wasn't himself for two days. Neither
Jiere nor there^ you know," said Ann to Lucia in a
confidential talk that night, *'but wherever he was,
Someone greater than himself talked with him, and
he came back to life with the lesson well learned —
even Dick Idle says that."

"Dick Idle, who is he?"

"I think you have guessed, missee. Dick is my


Digitized by



husband I have hardly spoken to hun for more
than twenty years, but he said last night I was his
first and only love! Men are that hard to get rid
of, and I can't turn him out, as is my usual way, for
he is the only man Lord Fenwick will have near him
and the only one that understands what Lord Fen-
wick wants and must have.'*

"What are you going to do, Ann?"

"Bear with him for everybody's sake. He sa3rs
they will not be long here."

"Why not?"

"Because them that's dead and gone have got
everything that was right wrong, and everything that
was straight crooked. Dick says the steward is in
jail and the lawyer under heavy bonds. Didc thinks
Lord Fenwick will be a poor man for a long

"How do you feel, Ann, about being in the same
house with Dick?"

"Well, miss, it isn't my wishing or seeking and I
must put up with it."

"If Lord Fenwick travels with us, I hope Dick
will not be with the party. I do not like Didc"

"It isn't likely Fenwick will travel with us long
or far. He has too much trouble in hand to be away
from his home where the main trouble lies, and poor
Dick isn't so bad now. He has got a change, too.
He has been going to the Methodists lately and he


Digitized by



says they are helping him to be good. I don't like
to discourage him. It wouldn't be right now, would

"I suppose it would not — ^but ^^

"Well, miss, we must all do the duty laid on us — r
pleasant and unpleasant, and duties are mostly un*
pleasant. IVe noticed that all my life."

Lord Fenwick remained nearly three weeks at
Abbot's Rest, and during that time really rejuvenated
himself under the Colonel's and Dr. Studley's care.
He walked over the fells with them breathing air
that was brimful of life. He went riding with the
Colonel, he went driving with Studley. He spent
delightful evenings at Abbot's Rest, where a few
gentlemen gathered to dine with him and he heard
all their political views with the greatest interest,
for politics was the most fascinating of all subjects
to him, and he had promised his party several thinga
which he knew he must get at the heart of the people
to be instructed in. So politics was the theme of
every night's discussion and the men were hot and
eager till near midnight over them. Sometimes
Lucia sat with a piece of sewing or a book in her
hand listening, but before nine o'clock the gentle-
men were left to that absolute freedom of speech
which politics seems to require.

Ann grumbled about the wastrie of fire and light,
and the weariness of watching midnight, but "What


Digitized by



can be done?*' she asked hopelessly. *^By die time
they have given the Queen and Prince Albert, the
Privy Council and the two Houses of Parliament all
they deserve, there is not a man in the parlor fit to
draw the bolts on the doors or cover the baddogs on
the hearth safely."

*^0 Ann, do you mean they have been drinking
too much wine?"

^'Well, miss, when men are argufjring and even
quarreling — ^politely — and good wine is standing
within hand's reach, what can you expect? They
may not get what is called *the worse of liquor,' but
111 swear after four hours' talking and drinking they
are not the better of it."

"I never knew father to ^"

*'Oh, the Colonel is different! He got his train-
ing in India — a little goes a long way with Colonel
Ragnor. Squire Loder will drink a bottle to the
Colonel's glass."

*^How can men do such things?"

*'If men are talking politics, they can do and say

"Lord Fcnwick says very little."

"That's right. His trade is to say little, or if he
does say anything, not to mean it or to make it un-
derstandable. At least Dixon sajrs he is a diplomat,
and that is how he described their business to me.
He goes to France and Russia and all other coun-


Digitized by



tries and talks for England, but he does not let any-
one of them know what England means.'*

"It takes a clever man to do that, Ann. I am
very proud of Arthur talking for England."

"It's nearly as good as fighting for England, miss,
I suppose. But it wouldn't do when Frenchmen or
Russians or anybody else gets unreasonable and won't
do as they are politely requested. Where is your
diplomat then? A few regiments with good colonels
at the head of them is the only conversation that is
of any use at all."

So they talked in the dining-room and so they
talked in Miss Lucia's room and in the kitchen they
sifted both sides and were as far from knowledge
as the rest of the disputants. But after all there is
something fatiguing In a life making constant de«
mands on the mind or the body. The Colonel began
to complain to his daughter of weariness; there was
less company in the evenings during the third week
of this life of excitement, and Lord Fenwick began
to talk uneasily of the suits which he ought to be
preparing to prosecute. Moore says, "Love fell
asleep in a sameness of splendor," in fact love is apt
to grow at least bored or indifferent in any kind of
monotony, and perhaps a monotony of pleasure-
seeking is more fatal to love than the sameness of
daily life and occupation. For it is rarely indeed
that pleasure-seekers are pleasure^finders.


Digitized by



It was even In the beginning of the third week
that Lucia said to Ann, ^'I have had a pleasanter
evening than usual, Ann, and I do not feel cross and
tired tonight. Yet we were talking of various plans
for the winter, any of which would cause much sepa-
ration between Arthur and myself. And I thought
three weeks ago that I never, never could get enough
of Arthur's company. What is the meaning of this
change of feeling, Ann?*'

"You have had enough of each other for the pres-
ent time, that is what It means. When you have had
enough of Ice cream, you don't want any more. You
wouldn't care if no one ever said ice cream to you
again; the thought of it bores you; you are glad to
be out of the sight of it. Love isn't much different.
Kisses get cold and cloying, sweet words silly and
Irritating. When Dick was courting me, he used to
call me 'Darling,' *Honey,' and all kinds of loving
names, and I got so sick of them I relished the first
cross word he gave me. I could give him that kind
back, easy tit-for-tat."

"Do you think then Lord Arthur Is tired of me?"

"I wouldn't wonder if he was."

"O Ann, what makes you think so?"

"Well, you know yourself he hates the cold

weather, but he goes out walking and riding when

he could sit by the warm hearthstone, and have you

cuddle up to him and to whisper to him. Love Is


Digitized by



everything in the world to a woman ; it is an accident
or an incident at best to a man. Why-a I Any of
them will put a game of whist or a quarrel about
politics before a bit of courting. I don't blame them
— I would myself/*

^Tou see Arthur is so anxious to build up his
health. Dr. Studley is always talking to him about
it, always urging him into the fine air on the fells.
I do not like this in the Doctor. He is selfish, and
wants to have Arthur's company. That is how Ar-
thur is so much out of my company."

^^I dare say that is as good a reason as any. When
is he going back to Fenwick?"

"Next Friday. He has to press his suits. I told
you about them."

"Yes, you told me."

"Wasn't it a shame for his steward and game-
keeper to rob the estate so much and for so long?
Arthur says the stealing has been going on for eight
years and will amount to many thousands of pounds.
But Arthur will put a stop to it."

"If he can — maybe."

"The law will help him."

"To get his money back?"

"No, I suppose that is gone. No trace can be
found of it."

Ann laughed softly and answered, "It is in the
main Lord Fenwick's own fault. Anybody could see


Digitized by



*thief* written all over Sam Laycock's face. Why,
nature has set his eyes crooked as if to warn men
and women that he couldn't see what was his own
and what belonged to other folk. As for Jack
Lander, he had too much money to handle. That
smart little body that brought you Lady Fenwick's
letter told me the game that went up to Covent
Garden was amazing and that Jack collected all the

^^And now Jack knows nothing about the pro-

**ril be boimd he knows nothing about them."

"Oh, but Lord Fenwick says Jack knows very well
where the money is — but he won't tell."

**Of course he won't tell. He will never telL
Jack is a Border man. He knows better than to
give himself away."

"Is that better, Ann?"

"Yes — for Jack, it is a good deal better."

"How you love a Borderer, Ann !"

"Why not? Fm a Border lass myself. If they
have a fault, it is lifting money or sheep or any little
thing that comes their way. But they are not to
blame for that, for the government laughed at them
and even praised them for it, and poets made songs
about the Armstrongs and Netherbys and wrote
stories about the liftings and how the young men
liked well to ride on a moonlight night. Even when


Digitized by



I was a girl the old men would say sadly, *The night
is the night If the lads were the lads/ The Border
men are honest and true, save a little lifting and
shifting for their living, God help them, and Jack
has five hundred years of Border blood How can
the lad always keep his fingers in his own pocket?
You could remind Lord Fenwick of this fact, for the
Landers rode with the Fenwicks, and the money
might help poor liT Jack."

"*Ii*r— do you mean that he is a very small

**I mean he is liU-hearted, true and tender, gentle
and good. Jack little/ He is the biggest, hand-
somest, gayest lad in Northumberland; the cleanest
shot, the best fiddler on this side of Tweed, and as
for singing, they say he can wile a bird off the tree
with his own voice. I have heard anyway that he is
dearly loved by gentry and simple, and Lord Fen-
wick will not be thanked by the country if he is hard
with Jack Lander."

"Lord Fenwick will do what is right, Ann. It is
right to stand by the law, and if the man has broken
the law, he ought to suffer."

"Oh, but youth is a hard and bitter judge. Old
England in her merciful heart considers that and
only appoints graybeards as judges. She knows well
that youth would hang every offender. I will re-
member In saying my prayers this night to be spe-


Digitized by



cially thankful that the Judge of my life and my soul
is 'The Ancient of Days.' "

"Now you are cross, Ann, because I will not prom-
ise to speak for Jack Lander."

"You need not speak. All the men of Humber
Land will speak for him ; and Lord Fenwick wants
their votes some day and your lord is too wise a man
to forget that. Good night, missed**

"Are you offended, Ann?"

"No, missee. Whatever will be, will be. And
you could neither hinder nor help it."

So the last few days went swiftly away, and on
Saturday night Abbot's Rest had a dark and desolate
look. All but Ann and Dixon had gone away to
their several homes, and Ann would follow the Colo-
nel and Lucia to London within a week or two. Both
the Colonel and Lucia were glad of the change.
The Colonel was weary of his position as host. He
had felt its restraints and promised himself satisfac-
tion when Lothian and Pearson and others were not
his guests. While they were his guests he was under
the law of bread and salt and did not feel that as a
gentleman he could say all that he wished to say.

Lucia, too, had been under a constant and present
restraint. The wedding-ring had passed between
them and Lord Fenwick was delighted to hear that
Dr. Studley had placed It on her finger. In a way
he felt the proud, shy little maiden to be all his own.


Digitized by



He noticed that she was as dignified with all her old
admirers as if she was in reality his wife; and invol-
untarily and unconsciously to himself he assumed
something of the indifferent air of a married man.
Everyone noticed it; Lucia could not fail to do so,
and his small presumptions and inattentions angered
her, especially if anyone was present, which was usu-
ally the case. To her own heart she had raged a
little about it; to Ann she had said with an air of
mortification :

'^He thinks he is sure of me and is as rude as if
I was really his wife. Let him look out. *There is
many a slip between the cup and the lip.' "

"Well, missee," was the answer, "before you
really run in double harness, look well to the other
horse. There is no need for you to be in a hurry;
you have nearly a year to consider your ways and be
wise — "

"It is said, Ann, that by marriage two are made
one. There are many little things in which I could
not be one with Arthur.**

"It is a loose-at-ends saying, to assert that by mar-
riage two people are made one; the great point is
which one. Will Lord Fenwick become you, or will
you be merged in Lord Fenwick?"

"I shall always remain myself. I will be merged
in no one, and I will allow no one to be merged in

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe winning of Lucia : a love story → online text (page 13 of 19)