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his supper," protested Boadicea.

" Oh, he would not have gone so soon, I feel sure,
if your behaviour had not rendered his stay uncom-
fortable."

" He certainly seemed in a great hurry to depart,"
commented Aunt Caroline.

Whereupon Boadicea ran to her sister in an agony
of repentance. She fell on her knees, and, in her ha-
bitual impulsive way, put her arms around Olive's
shoulders.

" I did not think that I had done any wrong! " she
cried tearfully. " Oh, Olive dear, I wish you could
teach me to be more like you ! "

"There, there, child!" said Olive, somewhat molli-
fied, though still rather acid and impatient. " For
gracious sake, don't cry! Your nose is inclined to be
red at all times; it will look swollen if you cry after
a meal. They'll teach you manners at boarding
school, and after that you must exercise proper self-
restraint."

" Yes, Olive," murmured the girl meekly.

" It is not a bit of good showing a man that you
like him. The more you try to run after him, the
quicker he will evade you," continued Lady Jeffreys
sententiously.

" I am sure," protested Boadicea, " that I neither
like Lieutenant Carrington, nor did I have any desire
to run after him, as you put it."



112 MEADOWSWEET

^ " Well, cliild, you acted as if you did ! But there,
in heaven's name, don't start whimpering again, and
don't hang round me Hke this ! You would ruin any-
one's clothes ! "

" Go back to your spinet, child ! " concluded Aunt
Caroline. *' Olive and I have many things to talk
over, and your uncle gets fidgetty at this hour if you
stop singing."

Boadicea rose obediently and went back to the
spinet. Tears still hovered on her lashes, for she was
finding life more bewildering than she had anticipated.
It did not seem quite so easy as she had thought to
step from out the guise of a savage into that of a
young lady. A silk frock and mincing ways were not
sufficient, it appears. With humiliating self-depreca-
tion Boadicea reviewed her own conduct most unfa-
vourably, and, though she was quite sure that she did
not care the least little bit what Lieutenant Carring-
ton thought of her or her behaviour, she was equally
convinced that she cared a great deal for Olive's opin-
ion of her.

Her fingers now wandered idly over the yellow
keys. She had not the heart to sing a lively song, and
the only song for which she seemed to have a fancy
just now was " On the Banks of Allan Water," and
her voice lingered lovingly over the last line : " There
a corpse lay she."

Tears came to her eyes whilst she sang; for some
reason, which she could not have explained, she felt
inexpressibly sad. The delight of seeing Olive had
been marred in some way which she did not altogether
understand. Her own behaviour, shq thought, must



A FULL-BLOWN YOUNG WOMAN 113

have had something to do with it, for the young girl
was far too loyal to admit even to herself that there
was any coldness or ill-temper in the sister whom she
idolised.

For awhile the low hum of conversation between
Aunt Caroline and Olive reached her ears, even
through the melancholy music of " The Banks of
Allan Water." Then after awhile there was silence in
that part of the room; Aunt Caroline was busy with
her knitting and OHve was wrapped in meditations of
a pleasant nature, no doubt, for her ill-temper seemed
to have vanished and there was a satisfied smile
around her lips.

In the meanwhile Cousin Barnaby was making his
presence felt in the house; in fact, he never allowed
anyone to forget his existence for long. Now he was,
as usual, calling for Aunt Caroline in a loud and un-
mannerly voice right across the hall.

"Cousin Caroline! Where the deuce are you?"

Uncle Jasper clutched his book. Cousin Barnaby
had always the power to rouse him from his medita-
tions, and now he half rose from his chair, obviously
prepared to beat a precipitate retreat. But Aunt Car-
oline guessed his purpose, and before he could move
out of his chair she had pinned him down again into
it by vigorously pressing on his shoulder with a de-
termined hand.

" No, no, Jasper ! " she said resolutely, " you shan't
go and perch upon that ladder of yours just now. I
want you here. Now is the time."

" Tempus edax verum," murmured Uncle Jasper
with a melancholy sigh.



1 14 MEADOWSWEET

" I said," rejoined Aunt Caroline sternly, " that now
is the time to put your foot down, instead of quoting
Latin to your lawful wife! "

In the meanwhile Cousin Barnaby had waddled
across the hall, still calling loudly :

"Caroline, where the devil are you?" which, of
course, was excessively ill-mannered and impolite of
him, considering that he was a most unwelcome guest
in Uncle Jasper's house. He now entered the parlour,
looking for all the world like an over-fed drake; his
napkin was still tied around his neck and hung down
his chest like a bib. He had certainly overeaten him-
self, for his face was very red and his fishy eyes
looked bleary.

" Strange," he said as he entered the room, " that
women are never to be found when they are most
wanted, and always about the place when you least de-
sire their presence."

Uncle Jasper, egged on by Aunt Caroline, appeared
to be making a gigantic effort to put his foot down;
but the effort only resulted in the meek remark :

" Exceptio probat regulam ! " which brought forth
an irritable " Don't do that, Jasper ! " from Cousin
Barnaby.

At this point Sir Baldwin entered the room. He
had given orders that his horse be brought round, for
now he had no longer any excuse for lingering at Old
Manor Farm, and he really did want to reach Ash ford
well before midnight.

As his wife made no motion to go up and speak to
him, he made his way to the spinet, where Boadicea
etill sat idly fingering the keys.



CHAPTER XI

A MUCH-WRONGED WOMAN

Cousin Barnaby had not yet completed his list of
grievances ere he retired for the night.

" And I have an idea, Caroline, that Susan has again
forgotten to put a hot bottle in my bed."

" But I thought — " she protested.

" Then you shouldn't think ! " he interposed rudely.
" I hate women to think of anything — except of mak-
ing people comfortable! And I still think that when
I go upstairs I may find that there's no hot bottle in
my bed."

" I'll see to it, Barnaby," said Aunt Caroline meekly.

" And put Jasper to bed. If I hear any more of
his abominable Latin I shan't sleep a wink all night ! "

" Yes, Barnaby."

All her determination seemed to have vanished, and
she was no more likely to put her foot down than poor
Uncle Jasper himself. Cousin Barnaby 's tyranny
over her good nature and her weak will had, in spite
of all resolutions to the contrary, not received the
slightest check throughout the day; in fact, it had as-
serted itself more overpoweringly than ever, and to
such an extent that now, when he calmly ordered his
hostess to take his host up to bed, neither of them even
thought of disobeying.

Come along, Jasper," said she, taking Uncle Jas-

115



((



ii6 MEADOWSWEET

per's arm ; " your bedtime has come and gone by long
ago. Come to bed now! Sir Baldwin will excuse
you."

Thus appealed to, Sir Baldwin Jeffreys came for-
ward and put out his hand with cordial farewell.

" I'll say good-night and farewell," he said pleas-
antly, " and thank 'ee again, Mr. Hemingford, for all
your kindness."

" Good-night, good-night ! " murmured Uncle Jas-
per absently. " It is very early yet to say good-
night ! "

" The hour is getting late," he said kindly. " Mrs.
Hemingford, will you forgive me if I now take my
leave?"

"Must you really be going, Sir Baldwin?" she
asked.

" By your leave, Mrs. Hemingford."

" Your horse is saddled," she said, " and Topcoat
has brought him round; but won't you change your
mind again and wait until the morning? "

" Not this time, thank you, Mrs. Hemingford. I
must indeed be going. If I do not reach Ash ford to-
night I cannot start for London early to-morrow, and
my business is pressing."

" You must have something hot to drink before you
start."

"No, no; I thank you!" he said, laughing; "your
kind hospitality has dealt over generously with me
already. I'll just say good-night to Mr. Hemingford
and then make an immediate start. Please don't trou-
ble further about me. I hate to give you all this
trouble just when you are all going to bed! "



A MUCH-WRONGED WOMAN 117

" It would have been better to make an earlier
Start," said Cousin Barnaby blandly.

" Not at all ! ■ — not at all ! " rejoined Aunt Caroline.
" We have been delighted to have Sir Baldwin's com-
pany ! If you will excuse me, sir, I'll just see my hus-
band up to his room, else he would be giving me the
slip, and I would find him an hour hence perching on
the top of a ladder and quoting Latin at a pack of
stuffed lizards. Jasper," she added, " Sir Baldwin
Jeffreys is bidding you farewell ! "

" Ah ! " said Uncle Jasper kindly, " I am sorry you
must go, Sir Baldwin! You must come over some
day when you have more leisure, and go through my
collection of British beetles. It is the finest in Eng-
land ! "

"Thanks, Mr. Hemingford; I shall be delighted!"

*' Come along to bed now, Jasper ! " said Aunt Car-
oline.

" But my foot, Caroline ! " he protested meekly ;
**my foot — 'cr — you said I was to put my foot
down."

" Oh, go to bed ! " muttered Cousin Barnaby irrita-
bly.

"Yes, Barnaby. Good -night — good -night all!
Nunquam non paratus — ever ready — ever ready ! "

Boadicea ran up to him and kissed him tenderly, for
she and Uncle Jasper were the best of friends. Olive
yawned as she kissed him good-night, and as Aunt
Caroline led him away he murmured pleasantly :

" Cedant arma togae ■ — we yield to authority — to
authority ! "



ii8 MEADOWSWEET

At the doof Aunt Caroline turned back once more
to Sir Baldwin.

" I'll not say good-night yet, Sir Baldwin/' she said.
" I'll be back to see you start."

Then the door finally closed on them, and Cousin
Barnaby gave a final grunt :

" What a deal of fuss there is," he said, " when a
married man goes to bed ! "

" The only thing," interposed Lady Jeffreys, with a
yawn, " worth doing in the country is to go to bed.
Good-night, child I " she added, turning to her sister,
" I'll to my room."

" May I come with you, Olive? " pleaded the young
girl softly. " I would love to help you undress.
May I?"

"If you like," replied the other carelessly.

" I'll run and see that your room is in order, then."

And away she ran, grateful even for this careless
^vord of approval, happy to be of service and to bask
in the presence of the sister whom she loved. Here
was the nature that was always prepared to give of
the fulness of love, and content to take the crumbs
of affection which fell from a careless and a barren
heart. From childhood upwards she had been taught
to worship and admire the beautiful elder sister, and
it had never even entered her young mind to expect
anything from Olive in return, save perhaps occasional
approval and a tacit acceptance of her whole-hearted
devotion.

She was a woman born to love, rather, perhaps,
than to be loved. Her heart wa^ too generous to ac-
cept ; it was forever giving.



A MUCH-WRONGED WOMAN 119

Sir Baldwin's glance followed her somewhat wist-
fully. He could not help at this moment contrasting
the two sisters in his mind. And yet — how strange
and perverse is human nature ! — whilst giving un-
grudging admiration to little Boadicea's splendid
qualities, his heart found a hundred excuses for Olive's
selfishness and egoism. His love for her had never
cooled, in spite of the hard trials to which she put his
devotion, and at any moment, even now that she had
so wilfully deceived and angered him, he was only too
ready to own himself in the wrong and to sue for par-
don, there where forgiveness should really have come
from him.

He had stepped out into the hall to see the last of
little Boadicea, for she had already taken more formal
leave of him, and he was standing there, still and with
sorrow and doubt in his heart, when Lady Jeffreys
casually brushed past him.

" Farewell, Sir Baldwin, since you must go," she
said lightly, and, smothering a yawn, " I wish you a
pleasant journey and a more comfortable sojourn in
town now that you are so happily rid of me."

" Surely, Olive," he retorted earnestly, even whilst
he stretched out to her a kindly, generous hand, into
which she, after a moment's hesitation, carelessly
placed her own, " surely you'll take kinder leave of me
than this?"

She shrugged her shoulders with bored indifference.

" What would you like me to say ? " she asked
coldly.

" Anything that your heart might dictate."
My heart is too sore," she said, " and too deeply



<c



120 MEADOWSWEET

wounded to dictate anything more to me than an in-
different farewell."

" Wounded ? " he retorted. " Great God ! you can
talk of a wounded heart when for months now you
have done nothing but trample on my devotion,
sneered at my love, and made of me the most wretched
of men? "

" And what have you done, pray, for the past two
years but angered me till I could bear it no longer?
What have you done recently but flout me and insult
me at every turn until I have become the laughing-
stock of society and an object of pity to my friends?
Truly," she added, whilst wrathful tears rose to her
eyes, " if marriages are made in Heaven, some of
them at any rate are finished up in hell ! "

Her voice, always somewhat high-pitched, had risen
in her anger until it echoed right round the oak-pan-
elled hall. Sir Baldwin cast a quick, apprehensive
glance round him, and, seeing that the door into the
parlour was open, he said hastily :

"Olive, I pray you — be careful in what you say!
Someone may hear you."

" Please don't mind me ! " came in placid accents
from Cousin Barnaby in the parlour ; " there's nothing
I enjoy more than overhearing a matrimonial squab-
ble. It causes me to appreciate more keenly the fact
that I am a bachelor."

" And I do not care who hears me ! " retorted Olive
defiantly. " I have no cause to hide my misery from
anyone's eyes. You make it patent enough to every-
body!"

" I? " he ejaculated in surprise.



A MUCH-WRONGED WOMAN 121



tc



Yes, you ! " she said in tearful anger, whilst sobs
seemed to be choking her throat. " Why am I here
now, I ask you, to the derision of half London and
the pity and contempt of all my friends? You
dragged me away from town in the height of the sea-
son, whether I wished to come away or not, just like
a child who has been naughty and is being sent back
to school ! And all because of your senseless, insane
jealousy ! I cannot look at a man or speak to anyone
in a friendly manner without your suspicions of my
honesty being immediately aroused. You do not seem
to realise that such suspicious jealousy is offensive and
insulting in the extreme, and that no woman with the
least sense of pride and dignity would fail bitterly to
resent it. Look at your conduct to-night ! " she
added, lashing herself more and more into emotional
fury, and becoming more and more unguarded in her
language ; *' because Lieutenant Carrington — quite
unknown to me, on my honour ! — happens to be on
matters of duty in this neighbourhood, and to be in
this house to-night, your conduct becomes so offensive
to me and to him that he is obliged to leave directly
after supper, and all the servants' tongues now are
wagging at my expense ! "

This last attack was so unexpected that It left Sir
Baldwin wholly unprepared and very much bewil-
dered. He thought that he had done his best to hide
the mortification which he had felt when first he heard
that Lieutenant Carrington was in the immediate
neighbourhood of Old Manor Farm. He had even
prided himself on how well he had succeeded in this,
and succeeded in persuading his over indulgent heart



122 MEADOWSWEET

that Olive's desire to spend some weeks at her aunt's
house was a pure matter of coincidence, and that she
had known nothing of Lieutenant Carrington's pres-
ence in Thanet when she made the arrangement.

He had also been so much amused by Boadicea's
suddenly altered demeanour that he had really paid
but little heed to Lieutenant Carrington. His wife's
accusations, therefore, took him wholly by surprise.
He thought that indeed he must have shown remark-
able ill-temper quite unbeknown to himself.

" Surely," he stammered, feeling profoundly apolo-
getic, "your ladyship is pleased to exaggerate? Be-
lieve me, I — "

*' No, no ! " she broke in vehemently, " I'll take no
excuse! My heart, as I remarked before, is too
deeply grieved for words. Your horse is saddled,"
she continued a little more calmly, " and it is best
that you should go now — your absence may ease the
burden of my sorrow and heal the wounds which your
cruel jealousy has dealt me. I'll try and forget! "

Here she almost broke down. The tears were
trickling down her cheeks and emotion had gripped
her by the throat. She paused a moment, making
noble efforts to control herself, and her face now
looked singularly pathetic in its grief.

" But please go now," she whispered with sorrow-
ful gentleness. " It is best, I think, that we should
be parted for a little while, and I am afraid that I
might break down under the strain of so much trouble.
No, no ; please do not approach me ! " for he had in-
stinctively drawn near to her as she spoke. " I could
not bear it ! — not now. ,Good-night ! Good-bye ! "



A MUCH-WRONGED WOMAN 123

Pressing her handkerchief to her eyes, for she was
crying bitterly, she turned away from him and slowly
walked upstairs. Sir Baldwin himself felt overcome
by emotion. Her pathetic appeal had gone to his
heart; he felt himself to be a brute and a tyrant, who
had wholly misunderstood the simple and childlike
nature of an innocent young girl, who knew nothing
of the world, and whom it was his duty to protect and
not to render miserable.

He watched his wife's retreating figure with an ever-
increasing feeling of remorse and of tenderness, chid-
ing himself for an ill-mannered lout and a cruel task-
master. He made resolve better to understand her in
future, to be more forbearing and more trustful. It
was terrible to hear her sobs dying away in the dis-
tance as she mounted the stairs.

"Is she often taken like that?" queried a bland
voice close at his elbow.



CHAPTER XII

A JEALOUS MAN

Cousin Barnaby had come out of the parlour, and
was standing beside Sir Baldwin. He, too, seemed
to have been watching Lady Jeffreys's retreating figure
as she went upstairs.

"Is she often taken like that?" he reiterated, nod-
ding in the direction of the door through which Olive
had disappeared.

" No, no ! " replied Sir Baldwin, who seemed some-
what absent, and like a man talking to himself rather
than to an indifferent listener. " No, I have never
seen her like this before — so emotional — so appeal-
ing and gentle — as if she really cared ! It is a new
phase in her complex character which I had not ob-
served before."

" A new fiddlesticks ! " rejoined Cousin Barnaby
calmly. "As for me, sir, when a woman begins to
cry, I immediately begin to suspect ! "

" To suspect what? " queried Sir Baldwin abruptly.

"Mischief!" replied Mr. Crabtree curtly.

"Mischief?"

".Yes, sir — mischief! Women live in mischief
as a bird does in feathers. If you suspect them, you
deceive yourself; if you don't, they deceive you! "

Now, we all know that there is nothing on earth so
eas;^ to arouse as dormant jealousy. If it is there,

124



A JEALOUS MAN 125

iand it sleeps, the merest whisper will awaken it. In
a moment the remorse and good resolutions of a while
ago fled to the four winds. The poisoned sting of a
venomous wasp had wrought its evil already.

" But surely you don't think — " murmured Sir
Baldwin.

Then he paused, for he was ashamed to display his
jealous suspicions before this vulgar, obese creature,
who seemed to wallow in mischief -making as a fly
does in honey.

"Oh!" said Mr. Crabtree blandly, "I don't think
anything! I came here for peace, and the very
thought of clandestine meetings and lovers' intrigues
is abhorrent to me. The worst of it is, sir, that there
are too many women about the place. Women and
sailors, as I have remarked to you before, are the most
peace-disturbing elements in the world ! That fool
Jasper shouldn't live so near the sea. Inland you get
the women, but not the sailors. I had a bilious attack
once, but no headache. It was quite tolerable."

But he might have gone on rambling along in his
talk like this for hours. Sir Baldwin was paying no
attention to him; he was nursing the aching sting
which the poisonous wasp had left in his heart.

" Tears," he murmured, " tears ! "

Then, with sudden fury, he muttered through
clenched teeth:

"Oh, if I thought that!"

All his wrath had returned, and his jealous suspi-
cions were fully aroused. It was strange that for the
second time to-day these strong suspicions should
have come to him just when his horse had been



126 MEADOWSWEET

brought rouncl, iand he had been ready to start. It
almost seemed as if Fate was giving him a warning,
telHng him not to go.

But now surely he could frame no excuse for delay-
ing his departure. He would become the laughing-
stock of the household by remaining here another
twenty- four hours. He could not stay at Old Manor
Farm, guarding his wife until the Dolphin had raised
anchor, and in the meanwhile he would be incurring
still further the hatred and contempt of Olive.

Aunt Caroline was even now coming down the
stairs with Sir Baldwin's mantle on her arm and his
hat in her hand.

*' I hope I haven't kept you waiting? " she said as
she descended ; " your mantle and hat were so covered
in dust I had to give them a brushing."

" Oh, thank you so much, Mrs. Hemingford ! " said
Sir Baldwin, rousing himself from his unpleasant
meditations ; *' indeed, I seem to have been giving you
a great deal of trouble to-day! '*

" No, no ; it was no trouble 1 " she said in her usual
fussy way. " Do come into the dining-room now. A
hot stirrup-cup awaits you there."

" No, no ! A thousand thanks, dear Mrs. Heming-
ford, I really could not take it ! "

" But you don't look well, Sir Baldwin ! Really you
should just take something- — you have looked upset
all the day."

" Yes, yes ; just a little upset, dear Mrs. Heming-
ford ! I — I haven't felt quite myself all to-day. The
heat, I think. It's nothing, I assure you, and please
don't think any more about it."



A JEALOUS MAN 127

" A little dandelion root," she suggested, " with a
dash of sweet oil ? "

" Yes, that is it ! " he said more cheerily ; " a good
household remedy is all I want. And now it is fully
time that I went. A thousand pardons, dear Mrs.
Hemingford! I ought not to have kept you up so
late!"

She helped him on with his mantle and he took his
hat from her.

" I ought to have gone half an hour ago ! " he added,
cordially shaking hands with Aunt Caroline first and
then with Mr. Crabtree, who responded very coolly.
" Good-night again, and good-bye, dear Mrs. Heming-
ford! And — and — "

He drew nearer to her, and at the same time cast a
quick glance at Barnaby Crabtree, to see if he were
out of earshot.

" Yes, Sir Baldwin? " said Aunt Caroline, who felt
still a little anxious about him, owing to his agitated
manner.

" You will look after Olive, won't you? " he whis-
pered.

" Of course we will! "

" You don't think — you don't really think that she
would — "

"That she would what?"

" Nothing, nothing ! " he concluded hastily, once
more shaking her by the hand. " Good-night, Mrs.
Hemingford ! "

She felt a little puzzled, and gravely shook her head
as she went to open the front door for him.



128 MEADOWSWEET

He raised his hat and made her a final bow, and at
last went out into the night.

The full moon lit up the narrow white lane as it
went winding upwards in ribbonlike curves towards
the main Ramsgate road. Every tree and every leaf
upon the trees stood clear and distinct against the in-
tense blue of the sky. From afar came the soft, in-
cessant murmur of the sea, dashing her breakers
against the white cliffs far away. Intense peace
reigned all round; only the south wind, which came
breathing gently from the coast, stirred the delicate
leaves of the poplars, till they glittered like silver in
the moonlight.

When Sir Baldwin Jeffreys had given Topcoat half
a sovereign, and was mounted ready to start, he caught


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