Ellen Pickering.

Who shall be heir? (Volume 1) online

. (page 8 of 12)
Online LibraryEllen PickeringWho shall be heir? (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 189

'^ You judge me harshly, cousin ; you think
1 ought to have corrected this fault ; and so I
ought/^ he added looking down for an instant.
" I could have bitten oflf my tongue with vexa-
tion the other evening, w-hen Mrs. Denham
came up so inopportunely, for I saw that she
was vexed.'^

*^ That was not the only occasion, where your
tongue has done me harm with her and others ;
but I have no wish to enumerate instances.
Your own observation should convince you that
I am not likely to cross your views ; and there-
fore it is but waste of time and talent to make
my visit here unpleasant by persuading my
cousins young and old that I am any thing
, but the merry, heedless girl you know me to be.
No denials — nor pretty speeches — no flowery
sentiments —are we to be friends ? Give me a
simple answer — yes — or no.'^

" Yes, most assuredly ! I would say more
than friends, but that I fear your wilful
humour might take offence. You have con-



190 WHO SHALL BE HEIR.''

demned me on suspicion — my future conduct
shall prove those suspicions to have been un-
founded.^'
" I hope so."

*' You may be certain that it shall be so,"
he replied, gazing with admiration on her
beauty, heightened by the excitement of her
late conversation ; and the air of graceful,
womanly command which so well became
her.

"Suppose we return to the house, or join
Mrs. Bailey and her daughters, who are stroll-
ing to the right," observed Rosalind abruptly
as if to avoid the possibility of further discourse
on a subject pleasing to neither.

"'^ Nay, grant me a few minutes tete a tete ;
we shall have the Baileys the whole evening.
How will you endure their folly, and the
insipidity of Maria Weston for two months ?"

" I do not know,^' answered RosaUnd in a
doleful tone, for she was already heartily
wearv of her cousins. " But Michael will be



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 191

here in a week, and in the mean time you
must be very amusing.^^

'^ I will do my best ; and you must fill up
the intervals by quarrelling with Wyvill, in
which I will second you."

'^ Two to one ! no that would not be generous.
You shall make love to Maria ; I should like to
ascertain what changes feeling could effect in
the expression of those perfect features."

" I would as soon make love to an iceberg."

" Nay, she is not cold, only cool ; — not
freezing, only inaminate; moreover she is
gentle and good tempered, and far happier I
doubt not than if she had quicker feelings.^'

'^Very philosophically argued. Does Rosa-
lind Trevor wish to resemble her ?^'

" No, she would rather be that bird flitting
so lightly through the air. It must be very
delightful to fly."

" You have flights of fancy already in which
I would fain be your companion. But here
come the Baileys; so adieu to poetry and



192 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

common sense. We have been waiting for
you. Miss Bailey; here is plenty of room on
this bench for all."

" Oh, dear no, Mr. Cottrell ; I would not
disturb a ttle a tete on any account.'^

" Perhaps you prefer enjoying one," he
replied glancing at Richard Weston, who was
by her side, initiating her into the mysteries
of slang. ^^ You will take a seat, Mrs. Bailey,
I am sure; for you look tired. Do stop a
minute to admire the swans, as Miss Trevor
has been doing.''

" Not now, thank you ; it is getting late."

It was getting late, and the whole party
returned to the house falling in with most of
the other guests on their way back.

" How well the old house looks at the ter-
mination of this vista,'' remarked Rupert
Wyvill.

^^ Yes ; I wonder how it would look worked
in German wool," replied Maria Weston.

" Admirable ! persuade Mr. Wyvill to draw



WaO SHALL BE HEIR? 193

the pattern/' said Rosalind^ trying to look
grave, whilst Edred laughed outright.

'' Will you work it if I do V

'^ No ; but Miss Weston will ; and she
can put you and herself in the foreground
sorting the wools."

"A capital idea! And we will have an
engraving of the piece," cried Edred.

*^ I will turn it over to you who are such a
famous hand at forming designs, and putting
them into practice/' said Wyvill.

" I have a design at present on the tea and
bread and butter, if that is what you mean,
and challenge you to outdo me.^'

^^ I have no hope of outdoing you in any
design,^* answered Rupert pointedly,

^^ I admire your humility," observed Edred,
walking away ; but returning again in a few
minutes bringing a nosegay '^ Accept of this
as a gage d^amitie,^' he said presenting it to
Rosalind, who smiled her assent.

Edred Cottrell kept his word. He rattled

VOL. I. K



194 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

on as before — he got Wyvill and others into
scrapes by his wild talk, but never once was
Rosalind compromised by word or look : — on
the contrary, he did all he could to raise her
in Mrs. Denham's estimation, pointing out her
talents, graces and virtues to that lady, not in
his former extravagant style^ but in the man-
ner most likely to create a favorable impression
on his hearer, whilst Rosalind on her part
smiled at his salUes, and allowed him to engross
the greater part of her conversation ; so much
so indeed that those who piqued themselves
on their penetration began to hint at a wedding.
Mrs. Denham we have already said was a dull
hostess : — ^she neither talked herself nor set
others talking ; and but for Edred and Rosa-
lind this family party would have been even
more stupid than family parties generally are.

To sit all day at tentstitch was beyond Rosa-
lind's patience, but she usually spent some part
of the morning in the same room with the other
guests, filling up some sketches made of



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 195

Denham Park ; and Edred was often at her
side^, laughing, praising, or criticising as the
humour chanced.

Rosahnd sang and played good naturedly
when ever asked; but Mrs. Denham appeared
to notice neither her gaiety, nor her gravity —
her singing nor her drawing — generally absent-
ing herself, according to custom, from break-
fast till luncheon, and often till dinner.

All things went on in their usual routine.
Mrs. Weston brought forward her eldest
daughter's superior beauty and elegance when-
ever she could — Mrs. Bailey praised wdth her
usual liberality—Mrs. Sewell found singular
coincidences in the commonest every day occur-
rences — Rupert Wyvill, still languid from his
late illness, read and thought more than he
talked— Terry Weston arranged his stock,
whiskers and curls more carefully than ever,
some thought with the view of exciting Rosa-
lind's admiration — whilst his younger brother,
in spite of his mother's lectures, instructed all
K 3



196 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

who chose to listen in the dehcacies of slang
and stable language.

As the young people were all cousins in a
sort of a way (we are not going to make out
whether fourth, fifth, or sixth — there were none
nearer than second once removed) the freedom
of relationship soon grew up among them, and
the formal Mr. and Miss were discarded, save
with regard to Rosalind and Rupert, who never
addressed each other by their christian names,
indeed rarely spoke but to engage in a sharp
encounter of wits, in which sometimes one had
the advantage, sometimes the other. Rosalind
and Edred were the life of the house, and all
being satisfied from her conduct towards Mrs.
Denham that the former had no idea of propi-
tiating their hostess, in the hope of becoming
her heiress, intead of being regarded with envy
or aversion, as at first, she stood some chance
of finally becoming, what she had protested
against, a general favorite. Not that Rosalind
sought popularity ; but being very lively and



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 197

always willing to oblige^ she could not fail to
please when seen with unprejudiced eyes.

" I am going to C. this morning to make
some purchases ; and as you only stayed there
about ten minutes in your way hither, perhaps,
Miss Trevor^ you would like to accompany me,
and see something of the town," said Mrs.
Denham one morning at breakfast — she never
called her Rosalind.

" It is very kind of you to remember my taste
for seeing every thing ; but you will not I hope
think me ungrateful if I decline availing my-
self of your offer," answered Rosalind after a
moment's silence, caused by surprise. " 1 ex-
pect my brother at twelve, and as I have not
seen dear Michael for nearly a year, I should
not like to delay our meeting even one single
instant."

" That is nonsense, Rose ; it cannot matter
your seeing him an hour or two later,^' said
Mrs. Sewell, fussing, fidgeting, and making



193 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

signs to her favorite that she ought to go,
which provoked Rosalind, and did not escape
the observation of Mrs. Denham.

'' A delay of two or three hours in meeting
an only brother after so long a parting not
matter, Mrs. Sewell ! How can you say so ?"
exclaimed RosaUnd warmly, heedless of the
frowns and signs of her old friend. ^' Why
1 think every minute an age till I see him >
and he might feel my absence an unkind-
ness.''

" I fear we brothers are not quite as roman-
tic in our regard as you may imagine; but
then few have such a sister/' observed Edred
gazing wdth admiration on the animated
speaker, every feature lit with the glow of
affection.

" This is so girlish : you will grow wiser as
you grow older," remarked Mrs. Sewell
pettishly.

" If you mean^ my dear Mrs. Sewell that I



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 199

shall grow cold in my age, and cease to love
those I love now, I hope I shall never grow
old; — I would rather die young.'*

"You are a very affectionate sister,"
observed Mrs. Bailey,

" I wish mine were as affectionate ; they
would not care if they never saw me again^
or weep if I went to the dogs," grumbled
Richard Weston.

'^ I am sure you have no right to say so ;
Maria has a most affectionate heart, but
brothers always think it fashionable to abuse
their sisters," said his mother. " My eldest
daughter, my dear Mrs. Denham, will be de-
lighted to accompany you ; she was talking
this morning of one or two purchases she wish-
ed to make.^^

" Then she had better put on her bonnet at
once, for I expect the carriage round imme-
diately," replied Mrs. Denham, not the ex-
pression of a feature, not the variation of a



200 WHO SHALL BE HEIR ?

tone, showing whether she was pleased or
displeased at this change of companion.

Rupert Wyvill had said nothing, but his eye
had been fixed on Rosalind's face as she spoke,
though she had not observed it.

" My dear Rosalind, how could you refuse
to accompany Mrs. Denham to C. ?" said Mrs.
Sewell reproachfully, following her favorite
from the room.

^^ My dear Mrs. Sewell, how could you
think of frowning and making signs ? — it is so
vulgar," replied Rosalind laughing.

" My dear Rose, will you never consider ?
Denham Park is a fine place."

" Yes that it is ; I am beginning to feel an
affection for it."

"Well then do endeavour to please my
old friend, and be as agreeable to her as you
are to others."

*' There is no well then in the case, dear
Minny ; and depend upon it, 1 should not



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 201

laugh and jest so lightly if I entertained the
deep design of becoming an heiress ; and so
every one else perceives but you, and hence
their politeness. If I started for the prize, I
should reawaken all the envy, hatred, and
malice, that greeted me on my first arrival ;
and perhaps awaken them in myself too. No,
no ; I will keep a light heart, unwrung by the
torment of legacy hunting. It i& of no use to
shake your head and prepare notes for a lecture,
I won't be scolded this morning. I am expect-
ing Mike— dear Mike ! — and will keep my mood
all sunshine to welcome him as he should be
welcomed."

" You are so wild, Rosalind,'^ said Mrs.
Sewxll, cheated out of half her vexation by her
favorite's smiles.

" Yes, yes, dear Minny ; not tamed down
by love yet — and not likely to be,^^ cried the
merry girl giving her old friend a kiss.

" Whither are you going in such haste, you
madcap ?"

K 5



202 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

'' To find out from which window I can see
farthest up the road, and there to station my-
self/^ answered Rosalind, springing up the old
oak staircase all the quicker, and with a more
glowing cheek, from discovering that Rupert
Wyvill was observing her, and might have
been so doing for some moments.

The window of Mrs. Weston^s room chanced
to command the most extended view, so there
did Rosalind take her station a full three
quarters of an hour before the appointed time,
refusing to let Mrs. Sewell share her watch, on
the plea that she was too restless and impatient
to prove an agreeable companion. To read
was impossible— so she employed herself in
making a wool housewife, as she called it, for
Anne, who slighted and snubbed by her
family from being sickly, shy, and awkward,
was most grateful for the considerate kindness
shown her by Rosalind. But even this was
laid aside when the deep toned clock above
the entrance chimed the third quarter after



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 203

eleven ; and her eyes became more constantly
fixed on the road that led up to the house ;
yet not so constantly but that she observed
the movemeats of a horseman, standing on an
eminence on the other side of the park.

" No, he is not coming yet/^ she murmured,
after looking steadfastly for some minutes
towards the lodge ; then turning her attention
to that solitary horseman her speculations took
for a time another direction.

" Surely that is Mr. Wyvill/' she thought,
shading her eyes with her hand, that she
might see the more distinctly. ^^ What can he
be doing? And he has been there these ten
minutes or more — yet he scarcely stirs. He
cannot be taking a sketch on horseback. And
now he comes towards the house at full speed,
leaping flakes, and ha ha — everything that
comes in his way. Has there been any acci-
dent?" was her last thought, as, without slacken-
ing his speed, he made directly for the window
from which she was now leaning anxiously out*



204 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

" Your brother is coming — I see his stanhope
on the hill above the park," cried Rupert
Wyvill, reining up his horse immediately
beneath.

" And you have been watching for me ?
How kind, how very kind \" said Rosalind w ith
a look of gratitude that would have repaid a
watch and gallop of double length. " How far
off is he ? How soon will he be here ?" she
questioned eagerly.

" He will be here in about ten minutes I
judge, from his present rate of speed."

" I think I see him there, through the trees,"
said Rosalind leaning forth from the casement
towards the lodge.

But not towards the lodge was Rupert's look
directed — his gaze was fixed on a white rose
that loosened from her belt by her sudden
movement fell on his upturned brow.

"May I keep this as my guerdon ?" he
questioned.



WHO SHALL BE HEIII? 205

^^ Oh ! that is faded : — you shall have a
fresher and prettier one — one of those that I
picked for Michael/' she replied^ flinging down
a beautiful bud but half unfolded.

He caught it as it fell — pressed it to his lips
with an animation he rarely exhibited ; and
then placed it in his bosom. Rosalind blushed;
but the stanhope was now clearly in si-^ht, and
she was too eager to meet her brother to com-
ment on this gallantry. She lingered at the
casement till Michael was near enough to
recognise and return the waving of her hand,
then, bounding down the stairs she stood in the
hall ready to receive him, too intent on her
purpose to note that Edred Cottrell and Rupert
Wyvill were already there.

The door stood open ; and before the portly
butler could reach it to receive the visitor, he
had sprung from the stanhope, and catching
Rosalind in his arms given her more than one
brotherly kiss. The old man looked a little
amazed at such an unceremonious greeting in



206 woo SHALL BE HEIR?

his sober misstress's hall — such a scene not
having been enacted before in his memory, and
then applied himself to the performance of his
duties, declaring afterward in the house-keeper^s
room that it was one of the prettiest sights he
had ever seen.

" Are you quite well, dear Michael ? But I
need not ask with that bright colour. And
you are so handsome \" said Rosalind, gazing
with mingled love and pride on the young
officer.

" Am I to say the sam.e to you, dear Rose ?
You certainly are looking very lovely just at
present."

" Oh ! never mind how I look ; as long as
you are well, and happy, and as affectionate
as ever, I shall be happy too.'^

"Did you fancy that I should be less
affectionate then ?"

" No, I did not fancy it, but some people
have been talking nonsense about the change
wrought by the world in young men, particu-



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 207

larly young men in the army, where brothers
are laughed out of their affection for their
sisters/'

" And did you beheve this. Rose ?^'

" No : not a word, dear Mike. You did not
think I should?^

" I trust not indeed, dear Rose ; I should be
a brute not to love you very dearly ; — you who
would, I know, make any sacrifice to ensure
my happiness."

" That I would Mike ; and count it no sacri-
fice at all."

" How are you, Trevor ? I am very glad to
see you/' said Edred advancing to shake hands
with his newly arrived cousin.

" Ah, Cottrell ! how are you ? But where is
Mrs. Denham ? I suppose I should go to her
at once.^'

" She is at C. now and will not return till
dinner time.'

" Have all the rest of our cousins accom-



208 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

panied her, leaving you and Cottrell to keep
house ?"

" Oh ! no^ here is another cousin — Mr.
Wyvill — whom you must help me thank.
He gave me the first notice of your being
in sight/' said Rosalind^ presenting her brother
with all a sister's pride and affection.

" The rest of the family party are in the
drawing room, at least the greater portion of
them. Shall 1 marshal the way, and play
master of the ceremonies/' said Edred
Cottrell.

" Yes do. Is it a dull family party ?" asked
young Trevor.

" It would be but for your sister and myself;
we do all we can to enliven it."

" I have no doubt you do, and Rose could
make a prison cheerful : I never have the blues
when she is present."

" You would deserve to be marched through
Coventrv with Falstalf 's rajrsed reo-iment at



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 209

your heels if you did. But come along, and
I will introduce you.'*

The new comer was too handsome, gentle-
manly, and good tempered, to be received un-
courteously, though as a fresh candidate for
the heirship he might otherwise have been
frowned on ; whilst Mrs. Sewell declared her-
self delighted at his arrival, wondering over
and over again at the singular coincidence of
their being together at Denham.

If Rosalind had looked proud of her brother
whilst presenting him to Wyvill, she did not
look less so whilst presenting him to Mrs.
Denham, whose manner of receiving him was
considered unusually gracious. His appeai'ance
was exceedingly prepossessing ; and if he was
deficient, as some said, in firmness and moral
energy, it required a very acute observer to
discover it on his first introduction ; for there
was no dulness in his speech, no languor in his
movements.



210 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

Maria Weston seemed particularly struck
with him, (more so than her mother desired, he
having nothing but his pay) and gave herself a
great deal of trouble in teaching him to sing
duets with her, as he occasionally did with his
sister.

" You are the very picture of happiness this
evening, Miss Trevor ; absolutely radiant with
delight,^' said Mr. Adnam, approaching Rosa-
lind as she was watching Michael take his first
singing lesson from Maria.

" I cannot look more happy than I feel,"
answered Rosalind, who was a great favorite of
that gentleman's,

" Ah ! well ; I like affection, and affection
shown too. They are polishing, and polishing
away in the present day till there is no nature
left ; or people are ashamed of showing it."

'^ Oh, fie ! Mr. Adnam. If you praise me
and abuse polish in the same breath, I must
suppose that you think me an uncouth savage ;
and if you talk of the wonderful superiority of



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 211

former days, 1 must set you down as an old
man. People never grumble as long as they
are young and can enjoy ; but when the power
of enjoyment is dulled they take to abusing
the present which no longer delights, and prais-
ing the superiority of the past when the sense
of pleasure was more acute. For me, I intend
to be young all my days, and declare that the
world is fairer, wiser, better than in my child-
hood.'^

" How very good tempered happiness makes
us,'' said Mr. Adnam smiling. " I was going
to ask you to quarrel with Wyvill, for you
alone can rouse him from the indolence that is
creeping over him. There has he been with
that book in his hand for the last half hour,
speaking to no one ; — but he is sauntering
towards us now. You are come in right time,
Wyvill ; I have been persuading Miss Trevor
to quarrel with you just to rouse you — indolent
creature that you are V



212 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

" And has Miss Trevor consented ?" asked
Rupert, turning an eagle glance upon her.

'- No/' said Rosalind, blushing at his eager
manner. '^ 1 will not quarrel with you for
three whole days. It was so very kind of you
to watch for Michael."

" Hey day ! What is this ? Do you two
mean to be particular friends ? Because if so
Wyvill will become as dreamy and inert as a
dormouse."

" Oh, no ! not particular friends — that can
never be ; Mr. Wyvill does not like a romp,
and I do not like a smile and tone that say — I
know my power; — but we will proclaim a truce
for three days."

^^ No longer ?'' asked Rupert earnestly.
" That depends," repUed Rosalind looking
down.

" How smart you are with that rose in your
button hole ; I have not seen you so dandified
since your arrival," remarked Mr. Ad nam
before Rupert could answer.



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 213

Rosalind raised her eyes. There was the
rose which she had bestowed in the morning.

" Wyvill playing the puppy with bouquets,
and what not V exclaimed Edred, joining the
group. " You will be sporting favoris and
moustache next. Take my advice, and let
them alone; Miss High worth admires your
dignified bearing and republican manner, so
give up all idea of enacting the courtier."

'^ Miss Highworth does me much honor,"
said Rupert with one of those smiles against
which Rosalind had just protested ; but whether
the smile was intended for the lady or Cottrell
she could not determine.

^^ Is that all you say to a lady's approba-
tion ?" exclaimed Mr. Adnam. '' Go and make
love to her, man,'' he added, glancing at Miss
Highworth, who was talking with Miss Bailey.
'^ She has forty thousand pounds at her own
disposal ; and really is not ill looking. There
go now — go."

" It is too much trouble ; and I am so very



224 WHO SHALL BE HEIR?

happy where I am/' replied Rupert, taking a
seat by Rosalind.

*' You will think it too much trouble to eat
soon, I do believe/* observed Mr. Adnam
pettishly. " You used to be a fine, active
youth.''

" Ay, in days gone by ; but I am growing
old now."

^^ Just four and twenty ! Quite a grey beard
certainly ! Do read him a homily against
indolence, Miss Trevor."

" You forget our truce, Mr. Adnam ; and
would never again say a word of his indolence
had you seen how he galloped across the park
this morning, leaping all impediments, to tell
me that Michael was in sight."

" Is this true ?" asked Mr. Adnam in sur-
prise, whilst Edred Cottrell looked his amaze-
ment.

" The Cid and I were in a frisky mood, so
indulged ourselves in a gallop," replied Rupert
colouring slightly.



WHO SHALL BE HEIR? 215

" I wish you were oftener in a frisky-
mood."

" Mrs. Denhara will not echo that wish
having been the sufferer from my friskiness,
when, taking a leap without having previously
acquainted myself with the locale, I plumped
through a glass frame into a flower pit, un-
happily crushing some favorite plants in my
descent.'^

^' And receiving some cuts in the adventure ;
I think you had the worst of the accident/*
remarked Mrs. Denham.

^^ Capital ! oh, that I had been there to
see 1" cried Edred, laughing at the bare idea.
*^ The dignified — the republican Rupert WyVill,
as Miss Highworth calls you, taking a fancy
leap into a flower frame ! What could induce


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12

Online LibraryEllen PickeringWho shall be heir? (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 12)