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of serious flirtation with the Church ; something that
is to touch my affections, and yet not wound my
principles ; something that will surround me with all
the fervour of the faith, and yet not ask me to sign
the ordinances. I hope I can do this. I eagerly
hope it, for it will supply a void in my heart which
certainly neither the money article, nor the share



LADY AUGUSTA'S LETTER. 21

list, nor even the details of a county contest, have
sufficed to fill. Where is poor little Santa Eosa and
his guitar? I want them, Dolly — I want them both.
His little tinkling barcaroles were as pleasant as the
drip of a fountain on a sultry night ; and am I not a
highly imaginative creature, who can write of a sultry
night in this land of fog, east wind, gust, and gas-
light. How my heart bounds to think how soon I
^hall leave it. How I could travesty the refrain, and
cry, ' Kendez moi mon passeport, ou laissez moi
mourir.' And now, Dolly, darling, I have done.
Secure me the villa, engage my people. Tanti saluti
to the dear cardinal, — as many loves to all who are
kind enough to remember me. Send me a lascia-
passare for my luggage — it is voluminous — to the
care of the consul at Civita Vecchia, and tell him to
look out for me by the arrival of the French boat,
somewhere about the 20th or 21st ; he can be useful
with the custom-house creatures, and obtain me a
carriage all to myself in the train.

" It is always more ' carino' to talk of a husband
at the last line of a letter, and so I say, give dear
Tino all my loves, quite apart and distinct from my
other Iciracies of the like nature. Tell him, I am



22 THE BEAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

more tolerant than I used to be — he will know my
meaning — that I make paper cigarettes just as well,
and occasionally, when in high good-humour, even
condescend to smoke one too. Say also, that I have
a little chestnut cob, quiet enough for his riding,
which shall be always at his orders ; that he may
dine with me every Sunday, and have one dish — I
know well what it will be, I smell the garlic of it
even now — of his own dictating ; and if these be not
enough, add that he may make love to me during the
whole of Lent ; and with this, believe me

''Your own doating sister,

" Augusta Bramleigh."

" After much thought and many misgivings I
deemed it advisable to offer to take one of the girls
with me, leaving it open, to mark my indifference as
to which it should be. They both, however, refused,
and to my intense relief, declared that they did not
care to come abroad ; Augustus also protesting that
it was a plan he could not approve of. The diplo-
matist alone opined that the project had anything to
recommend it ; but as his authority, like my own, in
the family, carries little weight, we were happily



LADY AUGUSTA'S LETTER. 23

ontvoted. I have, therefore, the supreme satisfaction
— and is it not such ? — of knowing that I have done
the right thing, and it has cost me nothing; like
those excellent people who throw very devout looks
towards heaven, without the remotest desire to be
there."



24: THE bka:\!leigiis of bishop's folly



CHAPTER III.

''THE EVENING AFTER A HARD KUN."

It was between eight and nine o'clock of a wintry
evening near Christmas ; a cold drizzle of rain was
falling, which on the mountains might have been
snow, as Mr. Drayton, the butler at the Great House,
as Castello was called in the village, stood austerely
with his back to the fire in the dining-room, and as
he surveyed the table, wondered within himself what
could possibly have detained the young gentlemen so
late. The hounds had met that day about eight
miles off, and Colonel Bramleigh had actually put off
dinner half-an-hour for them, but to no avail ; and
now Mr. Drayton, whose whole personal arrange-
ments for the evening had been so thoughtlessly
interfered with, stood there musing over the wayward
nature of youth, and inwardly longing for the time
wdien, retiring from active service, he should enjoy



" THE EVENING AFTER A HARD liUN." 25

the ease and indulgence liis long life of fatigue and
hardship had earned.

" They're coming now, Mr. Drayton," said
a livery- servant, entering hastily. " George saw
the light of their cigars as they came up the
avenue."

"Bring in the soup, then, at once, and send
George here with another log for the fire. There'll
be no dressing for dinner to-day, I'll be bound ; " and
imparting a sort of sarcastic bitterness to his speech,
he filled himself a glass of sherry at the sideboard
and tossed it off — only just in time, for the door
opened, and a very noisy, merry party of four entered
the room, and made for the fire.

" As soon as you like, Drayton," said Augustus,
the eldest Bramleigh, a tall, good-looking, but some-
what stern-featured man of about eight-and-twenty.
The second. Temple Bramleigh, was middle-sized,
with a handsome but somewhat over-delicate-looking
face, to which a simpering affectation of imperturbable
self-conceit gave a sort of puppyism ; while the
youngest. Jack, was a bronzed, bright-eyed, fine-
looking fellow, manly, energetic, and determined, but
with a sweetness when he smiled and showed his



26 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

good teeth that implied a soft and very impression-
able nature. They were all in scarlet coats, and
presented a group strikingly good-looking and manly.
The fourth of the party was, however, so eminently
handsome, and so superior in expression as well as
lineament, that the others seemed almost vulgar
beside him. He was in black coat and cords, a
checked cravat seeming to indicate that he was
verging, so far as he might, on the limits of hunting
costume ; for George L 'Estrange was in orders, and
the curate of the parish in which Castello stood. It
is not necessary to detain the reader by any lengthened
narrative of the handsome young parson. Enough
to say, that it was not all from choice he had entered
the Church, — narrow fortune, and the hope of a small
family living, deciding him to adopt a career which
to one who had a passion for field-sports seemed the
very last to gratify his tastes. As a horseman he was
confessedly the first in the country round ; although
his one horse — he was unable to keep a second —
condemned him to rare appearance at the meets.
The sight of the parson and his black mare, Nora
Creina, in the field, were treated with a cheer, for he
was a universal favourite, and if a general suffrage



''THE EVENING AFTER A HARD RUN." 27

coald have conferred the episcopate, George would
have had his mitre many a day ago.

So sm-e a seat and so perfect a hand needed never
to have wanted a mount. There was not a man with
a stable who would not have been well pleased to see
his horse ridden by such a rider; but L'E strange
declined all such offers — a sensitive fear of being
called a hunting parson deterred him ; indeed it was
easy to see by the rarity with which he permitted
himself the loved indulgence, what a struggle he
maintained between will and temptation, and how
keenly he felt the sacrifice he imposed upon himself.

Such, in brief, was the party who were now
seated at table, well pleased to find themselves in
presence of an admirable dinner, in a room replete
with every comfort. The day's run, of course, formed
the one topic of their talk, and a great deal of merri-
ment went on about the sailor-like performances of
Jack, who had been thrown twice, but on the whole
acquitted himself creditably, and had taken one high
bank so splendidly as to win a cheer from all who
saw him.

" I wish you had not asked that poor Frenchman
to follow you, Jack," said Augustus; " he was really



28 TJIE CRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

riding very nicely till lie came to that unlucky
fence."

" I only cried out, ' Yenez done, monsieur,' and
when I turned my head, after clearing the bank,
I saw his horse with his legs in the air and monsieur
underneath."

*' When I picked him ujo," broke in L'Estrange,
'' he said, ' Merci mille fois, monsieur,' and then
fainted off, the poor fellow's face actually wearing the
smile of courtesy he had got up to thank me."

" Why will Frenchmen try things that are quite
out of their beat ? " said Jack,

^' That's a most absurd prejudice of yours, Master
Jack," cried the diplomatist. " Frenchmen ride
admirably, nowadays. I've seen a steeplechase in
Normandy, over as stiff a course, and as well ridden
as ever Leicestershire witnessed."

*' Yes, yes; I've heard all that," said the sailor,
'' just as I've heard that their iron fleet is as good, if
not better than our own."

'' I think our own newspapers rather hint that,"
said L'Estrange.

'' They do more," said Temple ; " they prove it.
They show a numerical superiority in ships, and they



'^THE EVENING AFTER A HARD RUN." 29

give an account of guns, and weight of metal dead
against us."

'' I'll not say anything of the French ; hut this
much I will say," cried the sailor ; '' the question
will have to he settled one of these days, and I'm
right glad to think that it cannot he done hy writers
in newspapers."

*' May I come in?" cried a soft voice; and a
very pretty head, with long fair ringlets, appeared at
the door.

" Yes. Come hy all means," said Jack; ^' per-
haps we shall he ahle, hy your help, to talk of
something hesides fighting Frenchmen."

While he spoke, L'Estrange had risen, and
approached to shake hands with her.

*' Sit down with us, Nelly," said Augustus, " or
George will get no dinner."

*' Give me a chair, Drayton," said she ; and,
turning to her hrother, added, " I only came in to
ask some tidings ahout an unlucky foreigner ; the
servants have it he was cruelly hurt, some think
hopelessly."

" There's the culprit who did the mischief," said
Temple, pointing to Jack ; "let him recount his feat."



30 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

'' I'm not to blame in tlie least, Nelly. I took a
smashing high bank, and the little Frenchman tried
to follow me and came to grief."

'^ Ay, but you challenged him to come on," said
Temple. '' Now, Master Jack, people don't do that
sort of thing in the hunting-field."

'' I said, * Come along, monsieur,' to give him
pluck. I never thought for a moment he was to
suffer for it."

" But is he seriously hurt ? " asked she.

" I think not," said L'E strange ; '' he seemed to
me more stunned than actually injured. Fortunately
for him they had not far to take him, for the disaster
occurred quite close to Duckett's Wood, where he is
stopping."

*' Is he at Longworth's ? " asked Augustus.

'' Yes. Longworth met him up the Nile, and
they travelled together for some months, and when
they parted, it was agreed they were to meet here at
Christmas ; and though Longworth had written to
apprise his people they were coming, he has not
appeared himself, and the Frenchman is waiting
patiently for his host's arrival."

'' And laming his best horse in the meanwhile.



"THE EVENING AFTER A HARD RUN." 31

That dark bay will never do another day with hounds,"
said Temple.

" She was shaky before, but she is certainly not
the better of this day's work. I'd blister her, and
turn her out for a full year," said Augustus.

" I suppose that's another of those things in
which the French are our superiors," muttered Jack,
" but I suspect, I'd think twice about it before I'd
install myself in a man's house, and ride his horses in
his absence."

" It was the host's duty to be there to receive
him," said Temple, who was always on the watch to
make the sailor feel how little he knew of society and
its ways.

** I hope when you've finished your wine," said
Ellen, " you'll not steal off to bed, as you did the
other night, without ever appearing in the drawing-
room."

" L 'Estrange shall go, at all events," cried
Augustus. *' The church shall represent the
laity."

" I'm not in trim to enter a drawing-room. Miss
Bramleigh," said the curate, blushing. " I wouldn't
dare to present myself in such a costume."



32 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

" I declare," said Jack, " I think it becomes you
better than your Sunday rig ; don't you, Nelly ? "

" Papa will be greatly disappointed, Mr.
L'Estrange, if he should not see you," said she,
rising to leave the room ; ''he wants to hear all
about your day's sport, and especially about that
poor Frenchman. Do 3'ou know his name?"

" Yes, here's his card ; — Anatole de Pracontal."

" A good name," said Temple, '' but the fellow
himself looks a snob."

" I call that very hard," said Jack, " to say what
any fellow looks like when he is covered with slush
and dirt, his hat smashed, and his mouth full of
mud."

"Don't forget that we expect to see you," said
Ellen, with a nod and a smile, to the curate, and left
the room.

*'And who or what is Mr. Longworth?" said
Temple.

'' I never met him. All I know is, that he owns
that very ugly red-brick house, with the three gables
in front, on the hiil-side as you go towards Newry,"
said Augustus.

"I tliiuk I can tell 3^ou something about him,"



'said the parson; ''his father was my grandfather's
agent. I believe he began as his steward, when we
had property in this county ; he must have been a
shrewd sort of man, for he raised himself from a very
humble origin to become a small estated proprietor
and justice of the peace ; and when he died, about
four years ago, he left Philip Longworth something
like a thousand a year in landed property, and some
ready money besides."

" And this Longworth, as you call him, — what is
he like?"

" A good sort of fellow, who would be better if he
was not possessed by a craving ambition to know
fine people, and move in their society. Not being-
able to attain the place he aspires to in his own
county, he has gone abroad, and affects to have a
horror of English life and ways, the real grievance
being his own personal inability to meet acceptance
in a certain set. This is what I hear of him ; my
own knowledge is very slight. I have ever found him
well-mannered and polite, and except a slight sign
of condescension, I should say pleasant."

"I take it," said the sailor, "he must be an
arrant snob."

VOL. I. 3



31 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S EOLLY.

"Not necessarily, Jack," said TeDiple. ''There
is nothing ignoble in a man's desire to live with the
best people, if he do nothing mean to reach that
goal,"

''Whom do you call the best people, Temple ?'*
asked the other.

"By the best people, I mean the first in rank
and station. I am not speaking of their moral
excellence, but of their social superiority, and of that
pre-eminence which comes of an indisputable position,
high name, fortune, and the world's regards. These
I call the best people to live with."

"And I do not," said Jack, rising, and throwing
his napkin on the table, "not at least for men like
myself. I want to associate with my equals. I
w^ant to mix wdth men who cannot overbear me by
any accident of their wealth or title."

"Jack should never have gone into the nav}^
that's clear," said Augustus, laughing; "but let us
draw round the fire and have a cigar."

" You'll have to pay your visit to the drawing-
room, L'E strange," said Jack, " before we begin to
smoke, for the governor hates tobacco, and detects it
in an instant."



'' THE EVENING AFTER A HAED RUN." 35

'' I declare," said the parson, as he looked at his
splashed cords and dirty boots, " I have no courage to
present myself in such a trim as this."

" Keport yourself and come back at once," cried
Jack.

^Td say, don't go in at all," said Temple.

" That's what I should do, certainly," said
Augustus. " Sit down here. What are you drinking ?
This is Pomare, and better than claret of a cold
evening."

And the curate yielded to the soft persuasion, and
seated around the fire, the young men talked horses,
dogs, and field-sports, till the butler came to say
that tea v/as served in the drawing-room, when,
rising, they declared themselves too tired to stay up
longer, and wishing each other good-night they
sauntered up to their rooms to bed.



36 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S EOLLY.



CHAPTER IV.

ON THE CROQUET LAWN.

The day after a hard run, like tlie day after a
battle, is often spent in endeavours to repair the
disasters of the struggle. So was it here. The
young men passed the morning in the stables, or
going back and forward with bandages and liniments.
There was a tendon to be cared for, a sore back to be
attended to. Benbo, too, wouldn't feed ; the groom
said he had got a surfeit ; which malady, in stable
parlance, applies to excess of work, as well as excess
of diet.

Augustus Bramleigh was, as becomes an eldest
son, grandly imperious and dictatorial, and looked at
his poor discomfited beast, as he stood with hanging
head and heaving flanks,, as though to say it was a
disgraceful thing for an animal that had the honour
to carry him to look so craven and disheartened.



ON THE CROQUET LAWN. 37

Temple, with tlie instincts of liis craft and calling,
cared little for the past, and took but small interest
in the horse that was not likel}^ to be soon of use to
him ; while Jack, with all a sailor's energy, worked
away manfully, and assisted the grooms in every
way he could. It was at the end of a. very active
morning, that Jack was returning to the house, when
he saw L'Estrange's pony-chaise at the door, with
black Nora in the shafts, as fresh and hearty to all
seeming as though she had not carried her heavy
owner through one of tlie stiffest runs of the season
only the day before.

"Is your master here. Bill?" asked Jack of the
small urchin, who barely reached the bar of the bit.

'' No, sir ; it's Miss Julia has druv over. Master's
fishing this morning."

Now Julia L 'Estrange was a very pretty girl, and
with a captivation of manner which to the young-
sailor was irresistible. She had been brought up in
France, and imbibed that peculiar quiet coquetry
which, in its quaint demureness, suggests just
enough doubt of its sincerit}- to be provocative. She
was dark enough to be a Spaniard from the south
of Spain, and her long bLick eyelashes were darker



38 THE BliAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

even than her eyes. In her walk and her gesture
there was that also which reminded one of Spain :
the same blended litheness and dignity; and there
was a firmness in her tread which took nothing from
its elasticity.

When Jack heard that she was in the house,
instead of hurrying in to meet her he sat moodily
down on the steps of the door and lighted his cigar.
"What's the use?" muttered he, and the same
depressing sentence recurred to him again and again.
They are very dark moments in life in which we have
to confess to ourselves that, fight how we may, fate
must beat us ; that the very utmost we can do is to
maintain a fierce struggle with destiny, but that in
the end we must succumb. The more frequently
poor Jack saw her, the more hopelessly he felt his
lot. Wliat was he, — what could he ever be, to aspire
to such a girl as Julia ? Was not the very presump-
tion a thing to laugh at ? He thought of how his
elder brother would entertain such a notion ; the
cold solemnity with which he would ridicule his pre-
tensions ; and then Temple would treat him to some
profound reflections on the misery of poor marriages ;
Vv'hile Marion would chime in with some cuttinir



ON THE CROQUET LAWN. 39

reproaches on the selfishness with which, to gratify a
caprice — she would call it a caprice — he ignored the
just pretensions of his family, and the imperative
necessity that pressed them to secure their position
in the world by great alliances. This was Marion's
code : it took three generations to make a family ;
the first must be wealthy ; the second, by the united
force of money and ability, secure a certain station of
power and social influence ; the third must fortify
these by marriages — marriages of distinction ; after
which mere time would do the rest.

She had hoped much from her father's second
marriage, and was grievously disappointed on finding
how her stepmother's family aflected displeasure at
the match as a reason for a coldness towards them ;
while Lady Augusta herself has openly showed that
she had stooped to the union merely to secure herself
against the accidents of life, and raise her above the
misery of living on a very small income.

Jack was thinking moodily over all these things
as he sat there, and with such depression of spirit
that he half resolved, instead of staying out his full
leave, to return to his ship at Portsmouth, and so
forget shore life and all its fascinations. He heard



40 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S EOLLYn

the sound of a piano, and shortly after the rich
dehcious tones of JuHa's voice. It was that mellow
quality of sound musicians call mezzo soprano, whose
gift it is to steal softly over the senses and steep
them in a sweet rapture of peaceful delight. As the
strains floated out, he felt as though the measure of
incantation was running over for him, and he arose
with a bound and hurried off into the wood. '' I'll
start to-morrow\ I'll not let this folly master me,"
muttered he. *' A fellow who can't stand up against
his own fancies is not worth his salt. I'll go on
board again and think of my duty," and he tried to
assure himself that of all living men a sailor had
least excuse for such weaknesses as these.

He had not much sympathy with the family ambi-
tions. He thought that as they had wealth enough
to live well and handsomely, a good station in the
world, and not any one detracting element from their
good-luck, either as regarded character or health,
it was downright ingratitude to go in search of
disappointments and defeats. It was, to his thinking,
like a ship with plenty of sea-room rushing madly on
to her ruin amongst the breakers. " I think Nelly is
of my own mind," said he, "but who can say how



ON THE CKOQUET LAWN. 41

long she will continue to be so ? these stupid notions
of being great folk will get hold of her at last. The
high-minded Marion and that great genius Temple
are certain to prevail in the end, and I shall always
be a splendid example to point at and show the
melancholy consequences of degenerate tastes and
ignoble ambitions."

The sharp trot of a horse on the gravel road
beside him startled him in his musings, and the
pony-carriage whisked rapidly by ; Augustu s driving
and Julia at his side. She was laughing. Her
merry laugh rang out above the brisk jingle of horse
and harness, and to the poor sailor it sounded like
the knell of all his hopes. " What a confounded fool
I was not to remember I had an elder brother," said
he, bitterly. That he added something inaudible
about the perfidious nature of girls is possibly true,
but not being in evidence it is not necessary to
record it.

Let us turn from the disconsolate youth to what
is certes a prettier picture — the croquet lawn behind
the house, where the two sisters, with the accom-
plished Temple, were engaged at a game.

" I hope, girls," said he, in one of his very finest



42 THE BRAMLEIGHS OF BISHOP'S FOLLY.

drawls, 'Hlie future head of house and hopes is not
going to make a precious fool of himself."

"You mean with the curate's sister," said
Marion, with a saucy toss of her head. " I scarcely
think he could he so absurd."

'' I can't see the absurdity," broke in Ellen.
"I think a duke might make her a duchess, and no
great condescension in the act."

''Quite true, Nelly," said Temple; ''that's
exactly what a duke might do ; but Mr. Bramleigh
cannot. When you are at the top of the ladder,
there's nothing left for you but to come down
again; but the man at the bottom has to try to
go up."

"But why must there be a ladder at all,
Temple?" asked she eagerly.

" Isn't that speech Nelly all over ?" cried Marion
haughtily.

" I hope it is," said Ellen, " if it serves to convey
what I faithfully believe, — that we are great fools in
not enjoying a very pleasant lot in life instead of
addressing ourselves to ambitions far and away
beyond us."

" And which be they?" asked Temple, crossing



ON THE CKOQUET LAWN. 43

liis arms over liis mallet, and standing like a soldier
on guard.

''To be higii and titled, or if not titled, to be
accej)ted amongst that class, and treated as their
equals in rank and condition."

''And why not, Nelly? What is this wonderful
ten thousand that we all worship'? Whence is it
recruited, and how? These double wallflowers are
not of Nature's making ; they all come of culture, of
fine mould, careful watering, and good gardening.


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