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ward should have a season in town.

VOL. I. 20




The Goodwins had a house in Harley Street which
they always occupied during the session of Parhament,
and there one dark, thorough wet London night they
arrived from Dover, and found their httle daughter
and her nurse had come up from Brackenfiekl the day
before with the Squire and the dame, in whose charge
the child had been left while her parents were making
their successful restorative trip. Sir Andrew and
Sir Andrew's doctor declared it had probably saved
his life.

Pennie had a spacious, comfortable room assigned
to her looking out on a grimy garden. It was suffi-
ciently quiet, and her heart warmed to the domestic,
homely English air of it. For her own sake, and
also that she might leave her friends to an unre-


strained family talk, she beat an early retreat to bed,
and enjoyed an hour's undisturbed meditation by the
pleasant sea-coal fire preparatory to closing her sleepy

Four months she had been away from England ;
four months unbroken by a single striking episode
that she could recall ; four months of level, easy-
flowing, innocent amusement, diversified by frequent
change of scene, and passed in kind and cultivated
society. She smiled as she thought to herself how
little had come of her seeing the world wiiich her
well-wishers had hoped to see come of it. Nowhere
had she met Mr. Tindal's equal. To her mind he
was still be^^ond all comparison the most excellent,
the most interesting, the most lovable of human
creatures. She had enjoyed her travels very much,
but she felt, nevertheless, that after a few weeks in
London there would be a pleasure in going back to
Eskdale. Though he was not there, it would seem
to bring her nearer to him, if she had now and then
a glimpse of his house in her rides. She had heard
nothing of him for a long while ; nothing at all since
they parted, beyond that vague scrap of information,



gleaned from her mother, that he was gone to the

To the East was now turning all the world's
anxiety. Every arsenal echoed with the clang of
armaments, and the nation was rousing up, fierce as
an old lion, from the long torpor of a forty years'
peace. George Goodwin came to luncheon the day
after his brother's arrival in Harley Street. He was
very happy to see Pennie again, but a blushing
embarrassment mingled with his delight, and he
appeared to his sister-in-law to have some difficulty
in remembering the precise terms on which they
had said good-by at Rome. She thought what a
mercy it was Sir Andrew had discouraged him from
making a declaration ! Some rival mistress had
evidently seized possession of his fickle soul. He
was, in fact, prime full of the war, and visions of
glory had almost outblazed his little passion for
Pennie. George had never smelt powder yet except
on a field-day. He had never been at the killing
of anything bigger than moor-game. He lived in
dreamland where there was no '' day after the battle"
— nothing but trumpets sounding, banners waving.


cavalry thundering over the plain, and men shouting
" Victory ! " with their blood at boiling point.

'' Next month," said he in an exultant voice,
" we shall be all on the move. Eastward Ho ! "

Pennie raised her eyes softly to his eager boyish
face, and asked if he should be proud to go. He
replied with enthusiasm, taking the wistful, pathetic
interest of the inquiry all to himself, and feeling
entranced again. Lady Goodwin misinterpreted it
too. If Pennie had conceived an affection for him,
after all ! He was invited to stay to dinner, but duty
prevented that ; he promised, however, to come the
next day. And early the next day he came. As
luck would have it, Sir Andrew and the Squire had
gone out, and the dame was inclined for a chat
alone with her daughter. It was a beautiful sunny
day, and Lady Goodwin asked Pennie if she would
not like a ride in the park. Pennie said she should
like it above all things — she was quite impatient to
try the horse that had been bespoken for her. George
had ridden from the Tower, where his regiment was
stationed, so that there was no difficulty in setting
the pair off together; and when she had done it,

310 MR. wynyard's ward.

Lady Goodwin felt satisfied that she had done a
kind and virtuous deed.

Hyde Park even in its winter dress was beautiful
to Pennie. Her horse proved just agreeably spirited,
and the air was not too sharp for comfort. George
gave her a forecast of what she would see there in the
spring, when the gay world came to town, and as
she encouraged him to go on, he gave her further
some society sketches, which she found amusing.
She wished frankly that he were not going away,
alleging that it would be dull to visit about where
she never saw any one she knew, and opining that
people did not make friends in London. George said
something rather eloquent about marching where duty
and honour called, and hoped that she would vouch-
safe him a thought now and then when he was far
away. Pennie warmly promised that indeed, indeed
she would.

What he might have answered remains a mystery ;
for just at that moment came in view, walking and
talking under the trees. Sir Andrew and the Squire.
Pennie espied them first, and said she was glad,
because she could tell Sir Andrew she approved his


choice of a horse for her riding ; but George felt
rather guilty towards his brother, recollecting the
conversation they had had together at Rome.

Sir Andi-ew's displeasure fell not on him, how-
ever, but on his vdfe, who was undoubtedly more to
blame. He told her he did not understand how she
could be so foolish. George, she knew% was unstable
as the winds, was always under the influence of the
last face that pleased his fickle fancy. It would be
a real calamity if Pennie set her heart on him,
with whom to be out of sight was as certainly to be
out of mind. Lady Goodwin said it would be
different, she thought, if they were positively en-
gaged. At that suggestion Sir Andrew grew down-
right angry. Engaged ! he would hear of no such
thing as an engagement. If his wife did not give
him her word to refrain from encouraging George's
nonsense, he would either send Pennie home, or else
forbid his brother the house, — which he should be
very unwilling to do when the lad was leaving him
so soon, whether ever to return God only knew.
There was no alternative then but for Lady
Goodwin to yield ; her husband was a man of his


word, and not accustomed to threaten except in

George continued to come to Harley Street, but
lie never again had the opportunity of private speech
with Pennie. She did not observe any restraint ;
and if he felt any, he dissembled it with admirable
success. He was soon very busily emplo^-ed in
sterner matters than love-making, and he seemed
quite happy and at ease in his mind when he dropped
in for a talk over what was at hand. Pennie listened
to him with kind, visible interest ; and spoke of him
occasionally to Lady Goodwin when he was not
there. At these times Lady Goodwin thought with
regret what a hopeful little attachment Sir Andrew
was nipping in the bud ! She told the dame, and
the dame was sympathetic too. But still she agreed
with her son-in-law that on the verge of war, of long
absence, and of possible final separation, it was wisest
not to form any engagement. Lady Goodwin could
not see it in that light. She thought it, indeed,
the very hour of all others when true lovers should
plight their troth. The dame again demurred, —
she did not quite believe that George and Pennie


were lovers in that sense ; both were too cheerful,
too open, too easy and friendly before all the world,
to in\'ite that suspicion. She was sure they would
not break their hearts at parting, either of them ;
though if time and opportunity had favoured them,
she did not consider it improbable but that they
might have grown into a sensible and permanent
affection. Lady Goodwin liked to indulge a more
romantic view of her young friends, and this view
of the dame's did not satisfy her as being just. She
assured her mother that Pennie, though she was
plain, was far from commonplace ; and that George
was full of spirit, enthusiasm, and ardour. The
dear old dame laughed : she could not for the life of
her make a hero and heroine of a pair so oddly
contrasted and so deficient in beauty.

" My dear," said she, " I think you are the
only person who wishes them to marry. The notion
has not entered Pennie's head, and if it has entered
George's, it is only in a vagrant sort of way, and will
be better gone again."

" We shall see," replied Lady Goodwin, and with
that safe prediction dropped the subject.

314 MR. wynyard's ward.

The Queen's speecli at the opening of Parliament
prepared the nation for active hostiHties, and though
the ministry still talked of preserving peace, February,
as George had said, saw the Guards all on the move,
and London all astir in sympathy with them. It was
in the thick dark of a very winterly morning that
George himself marched away — one of a thousand
Grenadiers, few of whom returned to be greeted again
by the enthusiastic London mob that gathered to see
them off. The Squire and Sir Andrew trudged
alongside the lad down the Strand and over Water-
loo-bridge to the station. They journeyed to South-
ampton with him, and only shook hands at last when
he was embarked with his company on board the
Bipon. They watched the ships steam down South-
ampton Water, and then carried home the news that
the Guard's were fairly under weigh for the East.
Lady Goodwin heard the announcement with tears.
Pennie's eyes glittered too, but her heart bounded.
" I wish, I wish, I wish, he were one of them ! " was
her vehement, silent cry. She was thinking of Mr.
Tindal, but both Sir Andrew and his wife fancied she
was sending a prayer after George.


The next event that happened in Harley Street
was the arriyal from the north of Captain and Mrs.
Blake. Captain Blake had been appointed to a ship
in the fleet that was to sail to the Baltic, and he
stayed a few days there with his wife on his road to
joia at Portsmouth. Everybody did his and her best
to be cheerful, but Pennie discerned now, what she
had not discerned in George's case, that war meant
something else besides honour and glory. Mrs. Blake
had two little children, and expected a third in the
summer. She was dispirited and anxious, delicate
moreover, and a cause of anxiety to all who loved her.
The dame would fain have had her go back to
Brackenfield to be taken care of in her husband's
absence, but she would hear of nothing but going into
lodgings at Southsea, and there awaiting his return.
She was suffered to have her own way, and the Squire
and the dame accompanied her, to stay with her over
the parting.

On the 28th of March came the formal Declaration
of War with Russia in the London Gazette ; then on
the 26th of April a National Fast-Day, and after that
many another day of national humiliation and sorrow.


Pennie became a zealous reader of TJie Times. She
had her own copy ; for Sir Andrew's reading of it
interfered with hers, and she had not patience to
wait until it came to her hands after he had done
with it. Lady Goodwin speculated often whether it
was interest in George held her so long every morning
over the broadsheet, but she did not ask ; only when-
ever news of him came in a letter, she took the first
quiet opportunity of telling her. And Pennie always
received the intelligence with rapt attention. In fact,
she lent patient ears to anybody w^ho would talk about
the war ; hoping against hope that some day, by
chance, she should hear tidings of Mr. Tindal.
There was a systematic avoidance of his name in all
the letters she received at this period from her mother
and Mrs. Wynyard. No question she asked was
answered ; no wish she expressed was responded to.
But this very carefulness defeated its own end by
filling her with vague alarms, and making her anxiety
to learn something of his whereabouts more restless
and distressing.

April and May passed with alternate dull days
and days when she was forced to exert herself in


society. The rumours of neglect, mismanagement,
and misery that began to agitate the public soon after
the landing of the expeditionary army at Gallipoli
took their effect upon her mind. Lady Goodwin, ob-
serving her one morning much out of spirits, used a sly
little moral probe, and said : " No doubt, George, poor
fellow ! was as well off as anybody." Pennie gave her
no answer. She was not thinking of George, but she
could hardly say so without telhng of whom she was
thinking, and Lady Goodwin had never encouraged
her to speak of Mr. Tindal. She therefore nursed her
fears in silence. There was no loud talk of glory yet
to inspire her with lofty visions. Mr. Tindal had
probably been enduring for months the mean priva-
tions there was so much fuss about — getting wet,
sleeping ■vsithout shelter, and not having enough to
eat, or nice things ; that was all, of course, and might
do him no harm. But perhaps he had run greater
dangers ; perhaps he had rushed into the thick of the
campaign on the Danube ! Perhaps he had even
fallen, an unkno^^Tl volunteer in the army of Omar
Pasha ! Nothing was too extreme for her imagining
when once her fancv had taken wings. Perhaps he


was dead, and they were afraid to tell her ! The day
that gloomy possibility effected a lodgment in her
brain, she aggrieved Lady Goodwin by declining to
go to a garden fete at Richmond.

The next morning she bethought her of writing to
Dr. Grey — he would not deceive her, she was sure.
After nearly a week's delay, the answer came in an
unfamiliar hand, and proved to be from Mr. Buck-
hurst. Of Mr. Tindal he said he could hear nothing
but that he was still in the East — alive and well for
anything they knew to the contrary at the Abbey.
Of her guardian, however, he gave her* the sad, unex-
pected news, that the good old doctor had only a few
days before suffered a paralytic seizure, and that it
was much to be feared he would never resume the
exercise of his profession. Pennie formed a prompt
resolve to return to Eastwold, and without loss of
time announced it to Lady Goodwin.

*' But, my dear Pennie, jon were to be presented
at the drawing-room," remonstrated her amazed
chaperone. " You have not seen the pictures at
the Royal Academy. The season is hardly begun,
and you have been nowhere. Can it be possible


that you do not care for the pleasures jou might

" I could care for them heartily enough if I had
a mind at ease," replied Pennie. "As it is, I think
I shall be happier at Eastwold."

Lady Goodwin knew then that all her dreams and
schemes for George and Pennie had been labour in
vain. She wrote to that effect to her sister. *' You
will find your headstrong w^ard still clinging with all
her heart to Mr. Tindal." Mrs. Wynyard sighed
over the abortive result of Pennie's glimpse of the
world, and wrote her a few lines by return of post to
bid her w^elcome to Eastwold whenever she vras
pleased to come.

The next day Mr. Wynyard's ward set out on her
return to Eskdale.






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Online LibraryHolme LeeMr. Wynyard's ward (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 14)