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I L161— O-1096



ME. WYNYARD'S WARD



HOLME LEE,

AUTHOR OF '' SYLVAN HOLT's DAUGHTER," '' ANNTS

warleigh's fortunes," etc. etc.



L\ TWO VOLUMES.



VOL. I.



LONDON:

TD C

1867.



SMITH, ELDER AND CO., C5, CORNPIILL,



[ The Biyht of Tranalation is reserved.']



8£3



CONTENTS OF VOL, I.



p A ir r I .

CHAP. PAGE

I. Mistletoe and Holly-berries 3

n. Eastwold House in Decay * 35

III. Fenelope at Mayfield 67

IV. A Party at Rood Grange 97

V. An Uninvited Guest 118

VI. A Thorn and Flower Piece 130

VII. Round about Rood Abbey 157

VIII. Disappointment 185

IX. About Rings 202

X. Dr. Grey begins to see his Duty 217

XI. A Visitor at Rood 225

XII. A Farewell 246



PART II.

I. Pennie has a Glijipse of the World 267

II. Eastward Ho I 306



Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



http://www.archive.org/details/mrwynyardsward01leeh



MR. Wl-XYAED'S WAED.



PART I.



VOL. I.



MK. WYNYARD'S AVARD.



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES.

Whenever the Wynyards indulged in a sentimental
retrospect during the period of their adversity, they
always dated the beginning of the end from that
merry Christmas which they spent at Brackenfield
just before their Aunt Millicent was married. Life
at Eastwold was narrow and monotonous ; but they
were young then, and the advancing shadow had not
yet grown palpable enough to eclipse their natural
sunshine. " Let all the children come," wrote dear
old grandmamma Hutton ; and they all went —
Francis, Anna, Geoffrey, Maurice, Lois, and Penelope
Croft, their father's ward.

1—2



4 MK. WYNYARD'S WARD.

Tliey often thouglit afterwards how selfish they
had been, how craving of a httle pleasure. The
question of expense, debated with grave animation
upstairs and down, and other questions, less prosaic
but not more serious, touched them scarcely at all.
Some experience and a vast deal of imagination had
exalted grandpapa's house into a place of paradisaical
delights, in contrast with which home appeared a
dreary, desolate waste where dulness brooded in
season and out of season. " Let us go, do let us
go !" was their cry, morning, noon, and night, and
they heard nothing pathetic in nurse's ironical
rejoinder : " Ay, go, go ; leave us. Leave father
and mother to keep Christmas alone. Go your
ways, an' be happy. You're like young bears — you've
got all your troubles before you."

On the day of their departure, Eastwold was
awake and up early, and the noise of children's feet
and voices, to and fro the house in ecstasy, never
ceased until they were warmly packed into the old
yellow chariot, and ready for a start. Papa and
mamma waited on the steps to see them off, and as
the lank posters trotted down the avenue, the sun



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES. 5

S'lione upon a bunch of rosy faces pressed to tlie
window, wagging and shouting joyous good-byes
until they were out of sight. No sense of uneasiness
smote any of them, even at that last moment, except
Penelope, who had chosen to ensconce herself all
alone in the rumble. She was a queer little sensitive
creature, pathetically ugly, and older by a year or two
than any of her guardian's family. Her short nose
reddened, and a few tears winked furtively in her large
brown eyes, but before they had gone a mile on the
road, the impression of pain she had caught from
those figures standing on the threshold forsaken,
yielded to the consolation of leafless branches, clear
traced against the pale blue sky, and to the tenderness
of frostwork on reed and fern under the glittering
hedges. It recurred now and then throughout the
journey, like the sad refrain of an old ballad, but the
story-part between the echoes was romantic and
fanciful, and that mysterious undertone haunted her
to no ill-purpose.

Over hill and dale, over moor and windy scaur for
two and twenty miles rattled the happy children,
laughing, chattering, quarrelling like a nest of pies ;



6 MK. WYNYARD'S WARD.

and when the sun began to sink behind the sombre
Brackenwood, they caught a glimpse of grandpapa's
chimneys amongst the cedars. Ten minutes after,
they were all being kissed and cuddled and danced
up and down in the great hall, with no flaw" in their
welcome, save a low- spoken regret from grand-
mamma that they had not brought her *' Mary " wdth
them, and " poor papa."

They talked about that visit to Brackenfield for
long and long after — it was a bit of such genuine
good cheer. A sketch that Francis made from the
garden, went with them in all their subsequent
wanderings. It was the merest scratch, but they
knew it. Some of the windows were indicated only
by a single stroke, others were omitted altogether,
none made any effectual pretence at seeming what
they really w^ere — heavily mullioned, and with little
leaded hexagonal panes, emblazoned in the topmost
compartments with the armorial bearings of all the
family connexions for a score of generations back. It
was an ancient house, but there were not the gaps in
the waUs that occurred in Francis's handiwork ; neither



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES. 7

were the trees that overgrew it, such flourishes of
exotic foliage, hut massive firs and cedars, and dark
ranks of yews, old almost as the hills for which one
sinuous line in the background had to stand. An
out-of-the-world place it was, and, in time of snow,
cut ofl' inexorably from neighbours ; but, filled mth
those who were kind as well as kin, it was as cheerful
a house as heart could desire to spend a Christmas
season in.

First, there was Squire Hutton himself — gouty,
good-humoured, and generous ; then there was the
dame, comely and mirthful at sixty as at sixteen ;
there was the eldest son John, with his wife Theodora,
and their leash of riotous boys ; there was Ellen and
Grace, -uith their rival girl-babies and respective
husbands, Captain Blake and Sir Andrew Goodwin ;
there was old Uncle Christopher who had seen the
world, and lived now at free-quarters, a pensioner in
the house where he was born ; there was Tom Mar-
tineau, a sort of cousin, who had travelled east and
travelled west from youth to grey hairs, and alw^ays
stayed his weary feet at Brackenfield between his
wandering journeys ; and lastly there was Millicent,



8 MR. WYNYARD'S WAED.

the youngest daiigiiter, very fair in her unwedcled
summer beauty, ^^dth a love-story to point a moral for
the behoof of any fantastical maiden tempted to throw
happiness away in a fit of caprice or pride, as she had
done.

At eighteen, Millicent had been a lovely, spoilt
girl, but rich in the charm that wins love. And
many loved her — most of all Michael Forester, the
3'ounger son of Sir Gilbert Forester, her father's best
.friend and nearest neighbour, and after a breezy
wooing they became engaged. Michael was frank,
free and easy ; it was a triumph for him to have won
her, but having won her, he rested and was thankful.
Perhaps he trusted her too well, who was by nature
exacting ; for his cheerful assurance she construed,
first, into indifterence, and then into neglect. Pride
sealed her lips, but every change it made her heart
ice to think of she assumed as come. When the
time drew near for the fulfilment of her promise, she
broke it. Michael was mortified beyond expression,
and all the world of their acquaintance declared that
Millicent Hutton had behaved extremely ill. Her
punishment was not light. Stings of love, shame,



y/ MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES. 9

pride, regret, each in turn pierced her to the quick.
Michael acquiesced in her decision, and went his way ;
north, south — what was it to her ? Yet wherever he
went, he carried her heart with him, and that perhaps
everybody knew but himself.

The lapse of time had brought many clmnges in
and about Brackenfield since then. Mary, the eldest
daughter, married eight years before to Mr. Wynyard
of Eastwold, had entered on a course of suffering
such as was but very imperfectly understood in her
father's house. John had married, not ambitiously,
but much to his liking ; and the only other son had
laid down his life in India. Helen and Grace had
gone to homes of their own, and Millicent alone was
left of all their children with the Squire and the
dame. At the Grange old Sir Gilbert Forester had
died, and another Sir Gilbert reigned in his stead, but
Michael never came back. Tom Martineau met him
once in a remote callage of Algeria, where they joined
in a hon hunt with a vagrant Scotch laird, and after-
wards parted and went their several ways, but other
tidings Millicent had none.

As her fitful pride wore down, her character



10 MR. WYNYARD'S WARD,

ripened to a rich maturity. To have taken her from
Brackenfield now, would have been to take away its
sunshine, and the Squire looked with discouragement
on any amorous swain who was tempted to cast a hope
towards her. Uncle Christopher quizzed her as a
paradox •of constancy, and said often that she was
saving up for Michael Forester yet ; but, ah, well-a-
day, just three years after she had sent him from
her, his letters home ceased. From that time till
now — an interval of seven years — rumour had brought
no news of him. Sir Gilbert Forester had entered
into possession of his brother's lands, and had put up
in the chancel of Brackenfield Church, a marble shield
inscribed to his memory. He was counted amongst
the dead, but all else was mystery ; and her friends
spoke low before Millicent, when they speculated
on how he had probably perished in some far-away
torrid wild — unwept, unpitied, by strangers tended
and buried.

It was not so in reality, and as his return home
took place during the memorable visit of the East-
wold children to grandpapa's house, and made a
permanently happy and hopeful impression on Mr.



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES. 11

Wynyard's ward, the joyous s-tory shall be set forth
as a prelude to her own longer and more varied
chronicle.

When the children and gi*andchildren were at
Brackenfield for Christmas, the great hall was the
favourite gathering-place of the family, and the
fittest place, with its portraits in every panel, and its
fires of Yule-logs blazing at either end. On Christmas
Eve, in the afternoon, they were all there, — Francis,
Geofi'rey and Maurice, Philip, Jimmy and Jack, Anna
and Lois, tiny Poppie and toddling Nell — six boys
under fifteen, and four girls under twelve. Oh,
Babel ! oh, glorious confusion ! and their elders all
enjoying it. In the midst of the floor was a heap
of green boughs, amongst which the merry little
folks were culling the richest in scarlet berries, and
handing them up to Robin, the gardener, who was
decking the walls. The work went on until twilight,
when it was nearly done, and there arose a question
about hanging up the mistletoe ; but behold, when
the young ones looked out for the mistletoe, there
was none to be found. No mistletoe ? Christmas



12 MR. WYNYARD'S WARD.

Eve, and no mistletoe ! By all means, let Robin
go and cut some before tlie dark falls !

Eobin protested that be had put more than ^
enough into the cart, and unless the kitchen wenches
had stolen it, there it must be still ; so the big boys
rushed away through intricate passages to the back-
door, Aunt Millicent and Penelope Croft following
with Lois, a little grace of a girl who was in im-
mense excitement about the absent mistletoe. There
they found the cart waiting, with a smoky lantern
dangling at the shaft, and a stiff- set lad, at the
horse's head, thrashing himself with long, dail-like
arms to keep up his vital heat. There was a mndy
gloom on that north quarter of the house, and the girls
stayed within the porch while gardener's Jack threw out
to the boys the last green branches of yew and holly.

''Here it is, here's mistletoe!" cried Francis,
and dashed off with all the other youngsters pur-
suing. But Millicent and Penelope stood transfixed
at the apparition of a frozen white face which peered
up at them from the darkness beyond the cart —
such a face as Pennie had never seen either in the
body or out of the body in her short life before.



MISTLETOE AXD HOLLY-BERRIES. 13

It seemed to gaze at them with unseeing, stony
eyes, and then to turn and turn away, and recede
into the purple gloom, but -^ith never a sound of
footstep or rustle of raiment, and so was lost in the
blackness of the thick-clipt yews by the wall. Milli-
cent's hand closed on Pennie's with a clutch that
almost made her cry out for pain, and drawing her
breath with a sob she whispered : ''It was Michael
Forester's face ! " Pennie did not exactly believe in
ghosts, but she was mortally afraid of them, and
her heart beat loud and thick as they hurried through
the dark passages back to the ruddy fire-shine of
the hall. Their rushing entrance was greeted by a
general outcry.

" ^Tiat's amiss? You look as if you had seen
a ghost," said Captain Blake, Helen's sailor-spouse.
'•'If vou have a varn to tell us, now's the witchinor
time o' night. Come, Quixote, let us hear it."

" ^Ve have no yarn," said Pennie, answering
^"ith teeth a-chatter to one of the many names her
grotesque Httle phiz had earned her. '' But it is
a night bitter enough to bleach the red out of even
your face, sir."



14 MR. WYNYARD'S ward.

'' That's right, Pennie, give it him. He grows
more Hke beet-root every day," cried the Squire, and
made room for her in the midst of the circle. Robin the
gardener observed that there would be a fall of snow
before morning. Everybody echoed his prediction,
and said it was lucky it had held off over Christmas
Eve, or else Brackenfield must have lacked many
guests, now doubtless set off upon their dark and
T\indy way to join in the revels with which Squire
Hutton always kept that festival.

At half-past five rang the dressing-bell, and away
trooped young and old to make themselves gay for
the dance that was to follow the dinner. Penelope
was one of Millicent's most enthusiastic admirers,
and her adoration pleased even while it amused the
woman of sorrowful experiences. They had agreed
to occupy one room, and this arrangement was now
felt to be very consolatoiy. Millicent looked little in
the mood for Christmas fun, and Pennie, to cheer her,
vented a few orthodox reflections on the tricks of fancy.

"Ever since Michael Forester ceased to wiite
home, I have believed him dead," was Millicent's
reply. " I have felt, too, that if he came to me.



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES. 15

I should not fear him." Not fear him! Yet she
clung close to Pennie as they went downstairs to the
guests who were already assembling.

Throughout the dinner the dismal shadow haunted
Pennie's mind. Mirth, laughter, turkey, plum pud-
ding, were all thro^Ti away upon her. Uncle Chris-
topher rallied her in vain. Was she in love ? Was
she in debt, or any other difficulty? She had not
a single retort left in her quiver, and Millicent was
in the same silent case. It was easier in the hall
afterwards. There, there were so many, the children
were so tumultuous, that a seceder or two from
the universal din was not missed. When the first
country-dance was set with thirty couples, they were
left out, and ensconced themselves in one of the
deep window secesses. It was an old custom at
Brackenfield, when any merrymaking was going on,
to leave the curtains undrawn, that the village-folk
might look in at the dancing. They had availed them-
selves of the chilly privilege on this occasion, and
when the two girls entered the recess, several rustic
visages drew back, and retreated to another window,
where there were no sitters-out to intercept their \dew.



16

For ever so long Millicent and Pennie watched
tlie brisk evolutions of the maze ; admiring how the
Squire went down the figure, as actively as if he
were twenty, with sweet little granddaughter Lois,
and how his dear dame threaded the needle with
frisky Phil, her eldest son's eldest hope. This was
the children's dance — rare fun, too ; and when it
was done, they all kissed their partners under the
mistletoe, and were then hustled off to supper of
custard and cake, and so to bed; while the an-
cients, having gallantly accomplished an annual
duty, were permitted to retire to whist, and the
multitude, who were children grown-up, kept the
night alive with reels, cotillons, and more formal
quadrilles.

What a pretty, happy picture it was ! The
panelled walls blazing with light ; the solemn
ancestry looking down from their garlanded frames,
dignified, demure, and prim — as if there were no
country-dances in their day, no Hunt the Slipper,
or Ladies' Toilet, or Kiss-in-the-ring, or cakes and
ale at Christmas-time, when they were lads and
lasses. Ah, the old generation shows wonderfully



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BEREIES. 17

wise when it lives only in effigy ! Those airy figures
that flitted in gossamer to and fro in the shining
hall are sober enough now, and their agile partners
are considerably heavier on the wing. But they
were merry under the mistletoe that Christmas
night, and if they have given way to another gene-
ration, turn-about is but fair play — us to-day, you
to-morrow, all of us very soon yesterday !

Millicent and Penelope bore their part in the
dance again and again ; but just before supper they
found themselves once more in the window^ recess.
They talked a little, and then looked out into the
night, to see if it had kept its promise of snow,
when again that spectral visage met them, eyes to
eyes. For an instant only— they saw it, and it
was gone ! They both started away to the hearth,
which Pennie left no more until she went in to supper.
Her escort was Tom Martineau, who said, inquisi-
tively, " There is something up between you and
Milly— what is it ? "

Pennie answered : " Nothing."

" Greeting over spilt milk — ^just like women,"

rejoined he. ^

VOL. I. ^ ^ 2



18 MR. WYN yard's WARD.

Millicent sat oi^posite to tliem, her face as white
as her white dress, hut talking nervously fast, and
laughing far more than was her wont, under the
surprised observation of others besides Tom Mar-
tineau.

It seemed as if the great Christmas pasty and
the boar's head never would be cut up and eaten ;
as if the toasts and speeches never would be done.
But there is an end to everything under the moon
as well as under the sun, and that famous supper
came to a close at last, and with it the night's
chequered festivities.

Millicent and Pennie were amongst the earliest
to beat a retreat to their room. For an hour they sat
talking by the fire ; but as soon as they got into bed
Pennie fell into the sleep of healthful weariness.
She had not slept long, however, before she was re-
awakened by the sound of voices on the terrace under
the window, and then the stilly darkness of the
Christmas morning was broken by a loud- sung carol.
Both she and Millicent rose to peep out at the waits,
who stood in a ring on the lawn. Snow was falling,
and the stable lantern they carried gave a light so



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES. 19

dim, that to Pennie not a face was discernible. But
when they had watched about a minute, Millicent
dropped the curtain with a shuddering cry that
Michael Forester was amongst the singers.

The night got over somehow — Pennie even slept
— but when they made their appearance at breakfast,
and everybody was \\dshing everybody else a happy
Christmas, Millicent's pale cheek and nervous eye
could not escape anxious remark from the Dame ;
but as she persisted that nothing ailed her, save the
drowsy consequences of a disturbed night, she was
let alone. Only Uncle Christopher quizzed her a
little, and prophesied that Bracken field would hear of
something to astonish it by-and-by, — a new lover
perhape — who could tell? During the prayers in
church, he regarded her too with a mischievous
intelligence. Pennie walked home with him after
service, in stern, silent displeasure, and- was not
propitiated when he bade her smoothe down her
prickles for a little fretful porcupine. She would
have liked to consult him about the ghost, but there
was no encouragement in his rallying tone to enter
on so serious a theme.

2-2



20 MR. WYNYARD'S ward.

Round the blazing Yule-logs, after dinner, some-
body proposed stories ; and nerve-thrilling legends,
new and old, were recounted until Pennie's turn
came, and found her dumb. Tom Martineau asked
if she had no spiritual reminiscences to narrate,
when Uncle Christopher answered for her : " Not
she, the little infidel, she believes in nothing ! " on
which she looked guilty, and quavered out. No, she
did not — expecting the phantom-face to confront her
v»-ith the wicked equivocation on her lips. She
wished bed-time were twenty years ofi", yet when it
came to good-night, Uncle Christopher, as if he
uncannily divined her thoughts, whispered: *' Don't
be afraid, Pennie, the ghost is shut up in the
kitchen-clock, and won't molest you if j'ou say your
prayers." He had some equally irreverent speech to
make to Millicent, who had a sad sleepless night of
it. Pennie dropped her head on the pillow, and
knew nothing more till morning, when she woke so
hale and sprightly that she was half in a mind to
deride the \-ision, while Millicent's wearied nerves
were more than ever sensitive to impressions of pain
and terror.



MISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BERRIES. 21

There was a beautiful walk in summer down one
of the rides through the wood which skirted the
Forester estates, but in winter, it was commonly
avoided as damp and dismal. After luncheon,
however, when Millicent invited Pennie to turn
out with her, she proposed going in that direction.
Pennie consented, but not cheerfully. The open
expanse of the park would have been pleasanter, —
looking forward to the haunted hours that would soon
be upon them in the short December day. Under
the firs, ladened with their frozen white Christmas
fruitage, the gi'ound was clear, but the wind whistled
with a shrill music such as it is far more agreeable to
hear, sitting in a cosy chimney-corner, than when it
meets you in the teeth. AVith their cloaks drawn
close, and their heads bent down, they battled
against it to the end of the ride, and across a
meadow dotted with fine park timber. Park in a
fashion it was still, being only divided by a sunk
fence, from the neglected gardens of the Lodge — the
place that would have been Millicent Hutton's home
had she married Michael Forester. It was un-
inhabited now, and had been so ever since he left



22 IMR. WYNYARD'S WAKD.

England, except by the bailiif and Lis wife. Sir
Gilbert, it was reported, meant now to destroy the
pretty pleasure-grounds, and to turn the place into a
farmstead. The change had been spoken of at
dinner the night before, as likely to be taken in hand
when the frost broke up, and Millicent wished to see
the gardens again before the desecration began.
They entered by a rustic gate and bridge across the
sunk-fence, and coming round from the back of the
house, strayed along a broad walk below the windows
of the principal rooms, now all silent, shuttered and
dark.

"What a melancholy place is a deserted house !
The dead leaves had apparently been allowed to
gather the autumn through, and the snow now covered
them where they lay in drifts along the foot of the
wall. The wind had torn away the ivy from the
south-west corner of the house, where it had been left
hanging and flapping in the wild gusts like a flag of
distress. It was not until they turned round by the
east end that they came on any cheerful signs of
habitation. Then from a wide, unscreened window,
belonging to what was Michael - Forester's study in



]\IISTLETOE AND HOLLY-BEKRIES. 23

his early days of possession, they saw a ruddy glow
streaming abroad into the winter's cold. Pennie
would have avoided the room, supposing it to be
occupied by some of the bailijff's family, but Millicent
wanted to see his wife, and passing close by the
window, they involuntarily glanced in— glanced in to
see the tall figure of a man reading by the fire, and
to see that awful grey face, more like death than


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