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the rest had finished, he would be to wait for.
That papa was gone on a journey was very new news
to all of them ; for Mr. AYynyard's travels had of
late years never extended beyond the county town.
But not one was tempted to inquire whither he



46 MR. WYNYARD'S WARD.

had gone after they had heard mamma promise to
tell Francis by-and-hy. Tea and talk over, they all
gathered round the fire for a few minutes' longer
realization of real home ; then said good-night,
Lois adding, with wistful entreaty, that she wanted
to kiss papa.

" Kiss mamma for both, and I'll give you a ride
upstairs pickaback," suggested Francis, and the
little whimperer went off, exalted and exultant,
her brief trouble forgotten in her big brother's
wonderful condescension. Geoffrey and Maurice
decamped also, but Pennie and Anna lingered,
doubtful whether to go or stay. When Francis
returned, shaking his locks into order after Lois's
merciless tugging, Anna rose from the rug at her
mother's feet, and decided to go. Pennie went
■^dth her, their consideration silently but signifi-
cantly acknowledged.

Francis Wynyard had the privileges of an eldest
son at Eastwold already. A very strong bond of
affection and confidence subsisted between himself
and his inother. If his father had talked with him
less and less openly, it was from the natural



EASTWOLD HOUSE IX DECAY. 47

shrinking any man might feel at telling his heir
that his inheritance was dwindling down to nothing ;
that the name vrhich had descended to him, rich
in honour, would pass from him, if not tarnished,
at all events, lowered in the pride and pomp of
circumstance, denuded of all the outward and visible
appliances of rank. Francis understood the facts
by inference, and through his mother's often en-
couragement to vigour of purpose and active self-
reliance. That was why he had fixed his future
hopes on the life of a soldier, instead of on the
beatific visions of squiredom, which, under a con-
tinuance of the former order of things, would have
been his easy, uneventful destiny. And he had
just that amount of ardent, adventurous spirit which
enabled him to see beforehand how there would be
compensations in the change of estate.

" What has happened, mammy darling ? " was his
first address to his mother when they were left alone.

The answer was given with tears in her eyes
and in her voice : " What I have long dreaded,
Francis — your father has been obliged to go abroad.
When we may see him again, God only knows."



48 MR. WYN yard's WARD.

Francis was silent for a minute or two, staring
stoically into tlie -fire. " I wish I were a man,"
said he.

" Six years to wait, my hoy, but I can trust you
when the time comes."

"1 hope you can, mother. Eastwold may go,
but ' honour shall bide,' as our motto says."

There was another long pause. Then Mrs. Wyn-
yard — " Hargrove advised your father to go. He
started at less than an hour's warning. Hargrove
went with him."

" And you have been four days quite by yourself,
mamma ? "

"It is not known in the house yet that he
may not return. Nurse guesses, perhaps, but of
course " She ceased.

There is always a feeling of shame, pain, dis-
grace, humiliation, in flight. Francis thought for
a moment he would have rather stood the difficulty
out. But he did not comprehend the difficulty.
Nor could he tell by intuition what a tedious im-
prisonment within four walls is. Better any exile
than that.



EASTWOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 49

"xlnd you have not sent word to gi-andpapa or
Uncle Raymond, at Eskford ? " he asked.

" No, I have done nothing. They cannot help
us — nobody can help us but ourselves. I have
been trying to see how we may do it best. And I
think, if you agree with me, Francis, that the home-
farm shall be let at Lady-day, and the park and
gardens, and all the west-end of the house, as Har-
gTove proposed a year since. There would still be
room enough left for us, and Pennie's pony must
be kept."

" Then you do not think of our all going abroad
to poor papa?"

" No, nor does he wish it. He would not like
his boys or girls either to grow up half-vagabond
English. We shall stay at Eastwold to the end ;
but if any accommodation can be made for his
return before, Hargrove will not neglect it. I must
think of my children now." In the last sentence
there was a slight tone of resentment and injury
which Francis did not fail to detect. Mrs. Wynyard
had, in fact, been kept in the dark more than was
either wise or just. She believed that had she
VOL. I. 4



50 MR. wynyard's ^yARD.

been trusted she might have averted some of their
calamities, and it is very possible that she was right.

''No one can sj^eak ill of papa as if our mis-
fortunes were his fault, can they ? " asked her son.
She did not immediately reply. "No wrong has
been done? tell me, mamma?" added Francis,
more urgently and anxiously.

''It is hard to know beforehand what the world
will think, or whom the world will blame. Men to
whom large sums of money are owing will not be
lenient judges. Hargrove was so sanguine about the
yield of that new mine in Arkindale, that your
father was entirely guided by him, and went to vast
expense. There has been a fortune sunk in it, and
lost ; for the ore is inferior, and will never pay the
cost of working. So Dixon, the foreman, says, yet
Hargrove obstinately maintains his first opinictn,
and will not hear of shutting it up. The money
borrowed to set it going is the present difficulty.
The interest has not been regularly paid, and the
lender dropt some threat at Norminster market,
which came to Hargrove's ears. He drove over on
Tuesday afternoon, and he and your father went off



EAST WOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 51

to Kirkgate Station to catch the mail-train for
London."

'' You have a mighty strong faith in Hargrove,
mamma," said Francis, with an impulse of youthful
distrust.

" No, dear, less than you suppose. I did depend
on him, but I see now where he has misled your
father so often, that, though I hope and trust he
is honest, I have no reliance on his judgment."

*' ^\liy did not papa see more to his own busi-
ness ? He could have understood it if he had tried."

" I used to urge it, Francis, but he had not been
brought up to take trouble, and he avoided it. That
is how it was ; and Hargrove did as he liked. We
had a large nominal income when we married, and
I had a handsome settlement ; but my trustees
allowed the money to be put in the Arkindale work-
ing, when it looked a hopeful speculation, and it is
as good as gone with the rest. Oh ! my boy, that I
must make you share my anxieties."

Francis put out his hand to his mother, and his
eyes filled with tears. ''It seems the saddest for
poor papa. Do you know where he is ? "

4—2



52 MR. wynyard's ward.

She sliook her head. '' We shall not hear until
Hargrove comes home."

It was nine o'clock in the Eastwold drawing-
room, and it was nine o'clock in the dreary little
cabinet of the hotel at Dieppe, where Mr. Wjnyard
and Mr. Hargrove sat talking after a meagre dinner.
Mr. Wynyard was a man who unconsciously owed
much to his surroundings. In the faded elegance
of his own house he looked the indolent, refined,
anxious, helpless gentleman without any of the
degradation of the character. He had drifted out
of that atmosphere of repose now; he was in
very different quarters, and he looked a different
person. He felt it, and Hargrove felt it, and betrayed
it too, by being more at his ease, and less deferential
than was his wont towards Wynyard of Eastwold.

It snowed and it blew over the town in a whirlwind,
and every now and then the gusts came hurling and
skirlinfy down the narrow street, like a legion of
spirits driven from the sea by tormentors. There
was no heartiness of warmth in the tiny porcelain
stove, and Mr. Wynyard sat with a plaid about his
shoulders, a picture of misery and dejection : his



EAST WOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 53

cheeks blue, his nose red, his lips pinched and
parched. His sudden flight — never contemplated
before — had completely unnerved him. He knew it had
opened a gulf in his life which could never be closed.

'* I would rather have been carried to Eastwold
Church : I would rather a thousand times have been
carried to Eastwold Church," he had reiterated in
monotonous soliloquy every hour since he had
crossed the Channel. He was harping on the same
string to-night, and talking of his poor "^ife and
chikben as lost to him, until Hargrove, who had
no wife or children, was aweary of the theme.

The lawyer was a tall, burly man with a red face,
large features, and a big voice ; a man to overbear
opposition, and to get his own way in the world as
much as any. He was making the best of circum-
stances now with brandy-and-water — not that there
was anything oppressive in the circumstances to him.
Indeed they were acceptable to him, and he said
so. "It is a positive relief to me to know you are
safe out of the way, sir. Jacques was growing
troublesome : very troublesome indeed." Mr. Wyn-
yard groaned.



54 MR. WYNYARD'S WARD.

"There is only one consolation — Penelope Croft's
money is all safe," said he. Hargrove sipped his
brandy-and-water. " That is safe, and not a shilling
of it shall ever be risked. I wish she were of age,
and I w^ere quit of the burthen. It has been a care
and a temptation to me from the beginning ; but I
am thankful now I listened to Mary — w^hat tc'ill she
do, what will she do, poor Mary ! "

Two things Mr. Hargrove never did. He never
used conventional phrases of piety, and he never told
a lie to no j^urpose. Had he been inclined to put
a gloss on untoward events, he might have reminded
Mr. Wynyard how the wind is tempered to shorn
lambs ; but that was not his present object. He had
brought him abroad, and it was his business to
impress on him the necessity of staying there until
the inclement wind changed into a milder quarter.
Perhaps he had interests of his own to serve in that,
as well as interests of his employer's.

He recurred to the subject of Mr. "Wynyard' s
ward. "Jonathan Croft gave his daughter a long
day to wait for her coming-of-age — five-and-twenty."

" But she may marry before, and that would



EASTWOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 55

release me. At five-and-twenty, if she remain single,
she is her own mistress, to set up an independent
establishment, and to live where she likes. I hope
she will marry."

' " She is well weighted. I am not sure, though,
that some of her money is not worse invested than it
would be in Arkindale. Those West Lancashire
railway- shares, for instance ? "

" They are good shares enough. As for Arkin-
dale, I wish it were at the bottom of the sea. That
has been my misfortune. Arkindale will drag down
Eastwold."

" You are wrong, sir, you are wrong there. I'll
back Arkindale to do as well or better yet than ever
the old Crosfell pits did. And you are wrong, too,
in not employing your ward's money to better advan-
tage for her."

" Her money is where her father mshed it to be,
chiefly in the three per, cents., and there it shall
remain. Mind, Hargrove, I wdll not have it meddled
with, whatever might be rescued by it. My own and
my children's — that is wreck enough. If her fortune
were in it, too, that would be dishonour : that would



5Q ME. WYNYARD'S WARD.

be roguery." Mr. Wynyard spoke with excitement,
the laAvyer sipped his brandy-and-water ; the clock
ticked, the stove hummed ; the wind whistled and
rattled the casement. " Roguery, I say. If they must
weep, they need not blush. Poor souls, poor souls."

Mr. Hargrove left Mr. W^myard at Dieppe, and
returned to England by the Newhaven boat on the
morrow. He transacted some business in London,
and the same evening departed for Norminster ; slept
there, and reached the Kirkgate Station in the morn-
ing by eleven. Francis Wynyard, at his mother's
suggestion, had walked thither each day, to intercept
him, and ask him to take Eastwold in his way round
to his own house at Allan Bridge. As the lawyer got
out of the carriage, he saw Francis, and hailed him.
The lad came forward, and colouring as he shook
hands, said : " Your gig is waiting outside — will you
drive by Eastwold, and see my mother ? "

''To be sure — that was my intention. She is
anxious, of course. Jack, put my bag and this
hamper into the trap. She must not take it too
much to heart. You'll ride, Francis ? "



EAST WOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 57

" No, I will walk back across the fell as I came.
r shall be there almost as soon as you."

'* The roads are bad, I dare say. Got the mare
sharped. Jack ? All right — ^jump in. It's a biting
wind. Phew ! "

Francis was gone before Mr. Hargrove had settled
himself in his seat, and when the gig turned in at
the lodge-gates, there he was in the porch talking
with Crabtree, the tough old man who had been now
for several months past the only gardener, gi*oom,
gamekeeper, and general helper out of doors that
Eastwold retained. A shrewd and bitter character
he was, ^dth a snap and a snarl at the ser^dce of all
the world except his master, his master's wife, and
his master's children — amongst whom he reckoned
Penelope Croft. Mr. Wynyard's hasty and unex-
plained departure had annoyed him beyond measure
— it was not like the ways of the house to do any-
thing without a reason. Mr. Hargrove passed
through the gate, his loud gi-eeting acknowledged
only by a grunt, and as he drove slowly up the
avenue, with Francis walking alongside the gig,
Crabtree sohloquized after him : " ThoiCs at the



58 MR. wynyard's ward.

bottom o' all the trouble that's coming upon 'em.
Ay, my lad, if I only had thee where I could squeeze
a secret or too out o' thy lieing throat ! Boy and
man, I ha' been on the place a good forty year, an'
niver heerd tell o' any mystery about it before.
Speak truth, an' shame the divil— that's my motto.
Where there's a mystery there's mischief, an' I'll
rout it out, if I be smothered wi' t' smoak."

Francis sought his mother in the drawing-room :
" He is coming/' said he, and they entered the
library together at one door as Mr. Hargrove
presented himself at the other. He was prepared
to be sympathetic and cordial, but Mrs. Wynj^ard
was concisely calm, and gave him no opportunity.

" Take a chair near the fire, Mr. Hargrove, and
let me hear how and where you left my husband."

'' I left him at Dieppe, and well," was the
answer following her cue. "At the Hotel Sauvage."

" Mamma^ here's uncle John," suddenly cried
Francis, who commanded a window with a view of the
avenue* *' He has ridden Malek over, the beauty ! "

" Mr. John Hutton ? " asked the la^jer, with a
perceptible inflection of alarm in his voice.



EASTWOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 59

" Nothing could have haj)pened more oppor-
tunely," said Mrs. Wynyard. " Go, Francis, and
bring your uncle in."

Francis was already going, and in a minute or
two, the opportune visitor appeared.

" I am sorry to hear your news, Mary," said he,
kissing her; " and I am hound to tell you, Mr. Har-
grove, that you have ad\dsed Wynyard very ill. He
could not have taken a more unfortunate step than to
go abroad at this moment."

*' If you think so, he is not a prisoner ; he can
come back," replied the lawyer, promptly, at the same
time resolving that it should be his first business to
make such a coming back impossible, except under
risks that he knew Mr. Wynyard would not encounter.
In that brief passage of arms the men had measured
each other's strength, and Mr. John Hutton retreated
a little.

*' You ought to know best how the land lies ; but
if he had come to Brackenfield for ad^dce, he would
not have found one of us to bid him leave home,
much less leave it secretly."

'' He had not the chance of consulting am^body.



60 MR. wynyard's wakd.

I gave him certain information, and lie acted on it as
we both judged best in the emergency. The other
side of the water is better than the inside of Nor-
minster jail." The last sentence was uttered roughly
and sullenly. The la^vyer had determined on his
line. Mr. John Hutton had not received any invita-
tion to interfere in the affairs of his brother-in-law,
and he would not encourage him to interfere by using
a humble propitiatory tone.

A bell rang in the hall. Mrs. Wynj-ard rose,
saying it was for the children's dinner ; would they
go into the room, and have some luncheon. Mr.
Hargrove excused himself; he was within a couple
of miles of home, and would drive on, he thanked
her.

" Surly dog, that Hargrove," said Mr. John
Hutton, as he accompanied his sister to the dining-
room.

" I would rather not have him offended," was
Mrs. Wynyard's reply. ** You do not know how
much he has in his power — I do not know myself,
but I fear."

At present he had it in his povrer to disseminate



EASTWOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 61

the news of Mr. Wynyard's journey to France, and
to colour it with that tint of nefarious evasion which
is most damaging to a man's good name. As he
mounted into his gig, he only shook his head as
if involuntarily, hut Jack saw and understood,
talked, and exaggerated, when he went to the
" Wynyard Ai-ms " at night for his pipe and pot
of beer. The next morning a neighbour dropped
into his office early, and after a few inconsequential
remarks, came to the point.

" So Mr. Wynyard has gone on a trip to France,
I hear? Bad time of year for a jaunt, eh,
Hargi'ove?"

" That depends on what you go for. Some
business won't wait. When did you see Jacques
last ? "

"At Norminster market on Saturday."
The neighbour put the lawyer's words, tone, and
look together ; deduced therefi-om that Mr. Wynyard
had found it advisable to go out of the way for a time,
and circulated his intelhgence in that form. Before
noon, it came round again to Eastwold still further
simplified.



62 UR. wynyard's ward.

" So t' Squire's rinned away fra' his debts," said
a lurching fellow, the poacher and pest of the dale, to
old Crabtree, whom he met on the road to Allan
Bridge.

" Yo' tak' thot," retorted Crabtree, and straight-
way knocked him down, and marched on.

It was soon no secret anywhere, or in any com-
pany, that Squire Wynyard had gone to France, and
that no definite time was fixed for his return. Mr.
Hargrove had to hear fifty hard and sharp inquiries
during the ensuing fortnight, and to answer them or
evade them as he could. Jacques was more trouble-
some than ever.

" Look you here, Hargrove, didn't you swear
when I give notice, that my brass was as safe as
if it ha' been in the Bank of England. Mind you,
I mun have it as t' first of last November six months.
Them was the terms — six per cent, and six months'
notice to pay."

"You can have it, but I ad\dse you to leave it
where it is," was the lawyer's cool rejoinder.

" I don't heed what you advise — you'd advise a
fellow to put his cargo aboord a leaky ship if t' was



EASTWOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 63

your own. If Mr. Wynyard means fair, what has
he taken himself off to France for ? Who was going
to touch him ? "

" Come, Jacques, you're a man of business, you
are, and should know better than to ask questions of
that sort."

" You won't bamboozle 7ne. I ask questions
because I heerd at Norminster market o' Thursday
that Z'fZ threatened to put the screw on Mr. Wynyard.
I never threatened nothing o' t' sort. I couldn't put
t' screw on him until notice is up. There is agents
shifty enough to befool both lenders an' borrerers.
There is one in this parish who'd make a rogue
the less if he was out of it. I've said my say,
Mr. Hargrove, an' if you like, you can charge it
as a consultation in the bill."

Thus far Jacques in a cold fury, and then forth
he lurched, the stumpy grazier, out of the office into
the town-street of Allan Bridge. A hundred yards
or so from Hargrove's door, he met Morris, landlord
of the " Wynyard Arms."

" Can you tell a fellow what the damage 'ud be to
kick a 'torney ? " chuckled he, indicating with his



64 MR. WYNYARD'S WARD.

thumb pointed over his shoulder what Homey he
meant.

" Maybe thirty shilhngs," grinned Morris.

" And very cheap at the money."

" The North Riding man had however too shrewd
an eye to the main chance to waste cash on the
indulgence of a whim, and having relieved his
feelings by mentioning it, he began to talk of fat
cattle at the London Christmas Show, and the land-
lord being interested to hear, they adjourned to the
bar-parlour to have a comfortable glass and pipe with
their gossip.

At Eastwold Rectory, between Doctor and Mrs.
BroTVTi, in half the drawing-rooms of Craven, in
every hunting-field, Mr. Wynyard's travels and their
motive were a nine days' talk and wonder. His
half-brothers, Mr. Raymond, of Eskford, and Dr.
Raymond, \icar of St. Jude's, and master of
Chassell's School at Norminster, came over to
Eastwold in consternation, and found Mrs. Wynyard
and the children almost as much resigned to their
abandonment as if they were widowed and fatherless.
"It is done," said the mother; "and for the



EAST WOLD HOUSE IN DECAY. 65

present it must remain. It does not appear tliat it
would be safe for liim to retui-n."

''Perhaps not, just when people are alarmed,
but why did he ever go?" said Mr. Raymond. '* I
shall start for Dieppe myself and see Robert. I have
had an intemew with Hargrove, but he is so close
there is no getting an accm-ate notion of anything
from him. I -^-ish Robert would consent to a
thorough overhauling of Hargi'ove's books. He was
always muddle-headed about business himself, and
has been quite at his agent's mercy all along."

Mrs. Wynyard shook her head: '"I do not
think you will prevail on him to do anything that
might vex Hargi'ove. He has the most bigoted
confidence in him." She was right. Mr. Raymond
took his journey, but it was to no pm-pose.

" Hargi'ove is the only man who understands
the mining property thoroughly," the expatriated
gentleman declared. "He has been engaged in it
since my father's time. He has sunk money of his
own in Arkindale, and if anything can be made out
of it, he is the person to make it. He has his ot\ii
way of going on, and I cannot at this moment see

vol. I. 5



66 MR. WYNYARD'S WARD.

how any of you can do more than be civil to him,
and let him try his best. There is a great deal
owing, and I feel as if he were the only bar that
stands between us and ruin — ruin complete and
irrevocable." Thus Mr. \Yynyard sj^oke to his
brother, thus he ^^Tote to his wife, to the old Squire
at Brackenfield, to every one who had a right to
address him on the subject of his embarrassments.

On his return from Dieppe, Mr. Kaymond went
over again to Eastwold, and told Mrs. Wynyard
what he had seen and heard. *' There is nothing
for it but patience and submission, Mary. You and
the children must live quietly on here, and Robert will
stay about in Normandy until a way is opened for his
return, or until Francis is of age, and can join him
in breaking the entail, and selling the property. I
am truly glad to know, for everybody's sake, that not
a sixpence of your little ward's fortune has been
risked in Robert's affairs. He has proved a wiser trus-
tee for her than John Hutton and I for your marriage-
settlement. If that money be finally lost, we shall
make it up to you amongst us." And there, for the
present, was a pause in the Eastwold family affairs.



( 67 )



III.

PENELOPE AT MAYPIELD.

Mr. Wynyard stayed about in Normandy, and by-
and-by bis bousebold settled into its new routine.
The Christmas holidays came to an end. Francis,
Geoffrey, and Maurice went back to school — the
Grammar School at Allan Bridge, where they
boarded wdth the head-master, Dr. Tasker. Miss
Eosslyn, the girls' governess, did not return, Mrs.
Wynyard having decided that she must teach Anna
and Lois herself henceforward. As for Penelope
Croft, her elementary education might be considered
as finished, and any learning she wanted further it
w^as in her owd. power to acquire from books, of
which there was no lack in her guardian's house.

Pennie had none of the polite accomplishments.
She played on the piano with a wooden finger, her

5—2



68 MR. WYNYARD'S WARD.

voice was untuneable, she had no eye for perspective
on paper, and her dancing was as queer as her coun-
tenance. Miss Rosslyn had laboured at her in vain.

" She is a good girl, and a clever girl in her wa}",
hut she knows nothing beyond the three R's —
reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic," said the painstaking,
disappointed woman, feebly joking.

" Say the four IVs, and add riding — I can do


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