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MRS. DENYS OF COTE.



VOL. III.



BALLANTYNE, HANSON AND CO.
EDINBURGH AND LONDON



9



MRS. DENYS



OF COTE.



HOLME LEE,




AUTHOR OF " SYLVAN HOLt's DAUGHTER," "STRAIGHTFORWARD," ETC.



" Have we not all, amid life's petty strife,
Some pure ideal of a noble life

That once seemed possible — and just within oiir reach
We lost it. . . .

But still our place is kept, and it will wait
Ready for us to fill it, soon or late."

Adelaide Proctor.



IN THREE VOLUMES.



VOL. III.



LONDON:
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE.

1879.

^All rights reserved !\






CONTENTS.



33oofe tfje g)ijctl?*



UNDER THE NEW ORDER.



CHAP,




PAGE


XXXVII.


WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY .


I


XXXVIII.


DAMOCLES' SWORD


32


XXXIX.


A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE


53


XL.


HUSBANDS AND WIVES .


. 67


XLI.


YOUNG PEOPLE ....


. 89


XLTI.


SOME LAST WORDS


. 107


XLIII.


ONE DAY IN COTE


. 143


XLIV.


''HERE WE PART COMPANY" .


. 175


XLV.


THE CURSE ENDED


. 190



VI



CONTENTS.



WITH THE YOUNG GENERATION.



CHAP.


PAGE


XLVI. WIDOWED ....


20I


XLVII. WITH MEMORY


. 217


XLVIII. SEEKING SYMPATHY


. 233


XLIX. A DECISION


. 248


L. GRIEVING DOWN .


. 258


LI. CONSOLED ....


. 278



BOOK THE SIXTH.



UNDER THE NEW ORDER.




MRS. DENYS OF COTE.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY.

"They who provide much wealth for their children, but neglect to
improve them in virtue, do hke those who feed their horses high, but
never train them to the manage." — Socrates,

The prosperity of Cote did not ebb for any
long period. When the rector came back
from his twelvemonth's tour abroad, the tide
of fortune had returned, and was flowing-
hieher than ever. The ofraves of Richard
Blythe's household were green in the church-
yard, and there was moss on the headstone
that Mrs. Denys had raised to their memory.

The Orchard had changed hands, and was
VOL. in. A



MRS. DENYS OF COTE.



Spreading itself out into beautiful gardens, and
the old thatched cottage was improved into
the lodge of a fine modern mansion, whose
occupants became neighbourly by and by to
Cousin Elizabeth Paul. The next years were
full and busy, which made them seem the
longer, but one after another they came to an
end, every one leaving some piece of good
work, begun or finished, towards the making
of Cote. All sorts of men had fair times ; for
the buildinor never ceased, unless for the
weather, from the day the foundation-stone
was laid of the new church, and the first sod
turned of the Green Square.

At the Manor House life went on very
much as aforetime, with the regular migra-
tions to London, to Scotland, to Auldcaster,
Navestock and Acklam, to Paris or Rome ;
the most-felt loss or difference being in the
interrupted intercourse with Mr. and Mrs.



WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY. ' 3

Essex-Brough during the long winters which
they now spent chiefly in some warm resort
of invahds. Mr. Essex- Brou^h had been
compelled by the progress of his malady to
drop his active occupations, and when they
were at the Glen House he was almost always
a prisoner in-doors, which kept his wife a
prisoner too. Their visits were a rarity, and
it could hardly be said that Mrs. Denys re-
orretted them, but her husband had that con-
stancy of temper that made him never grow
accustomed to missing the society that was a
habit with him.

The years since the redemption of Nave-
stock had been well spent too. Nature forgives
her injuries and repairs her neglects gratefull}^
The land laughed now with bountiful harvests,
and flocks and herds multiplied upon the hills.
Under the new order had beofun a relra of
moderate prosperity, and a certain equality of



4 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

comfort and well-being prevailed amongst all
conditions of men. There was no farm unlet,
nor any farmstead otherwise than whole and
sound. Gates and fences had everywhere got
themselves mended or renee
same bourne. She was alone in the parlour,
lying on a couch by the open window,
wrapped in a soft white gown, to which she



WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY. 1 5

referred with thanks as a gift that Mrs. Denys
had sent her. This was the first word she
spoke : " Tell the lady I wear it every day,
and it will not be worn out when I have
done with it."

** I will tell her," Mr. Denys promised, and
sat down in the shade at a distance, regard-
inor her with sad concern.

Hugh Oliver took his place close by the
couch — previous years' acquaintance with the
gooseberry bushes had made them friends.
The girl rested her fever-bright eyes on him,
and held one of his brown fists in her burn-
in e hands.

" How do you do, Hugh Oliver Denys,
true son and heir of your father ? You
are come to see me before I die ? " she
asked.

" Yes," said the boy, struck with pity and
confusion.



1 6 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

She lauo^hed : '' Hear to him ! He makes
no account of dying — none at all. He thinks
nothing of the deep disgrace of death. But
mind — it is not my shame ; it is my inherit-
ance."

" I had a brother once, and he is dead,"
Hugh OHver whispered by way of apology
and consolation.

*' I had a sister once, and she is dead — we
are equal there. Now^, / am going into dark-
ness, but yoii — you will live long, and see
good days. If any one tells you that you
were born under the curse, don't believe it.
JVe w^ere."

Her mother came in. " I do not know
where Ralph is, sir. He is out somewhere
with his gun," she said to Mr. Denys. " He
always carries his gun for company — Sundays
and workdays alike."

Mr. Denys Inquired with solicitude about



WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY. 1 7

her husband's health, saying that he regretted
to have heard unfavourable reports.

'* They're partly true and partly false, no
doubt," replied the wife. *' He Is more and
more restless of nights and wild in his talk.
All day he Is afoot, yet he sleeps hardly ever :
up and down, crying that the house is afire,
or thieves breaking In, like a man out of his
mind. I am used to It now, but he has
frightened me terribly sometimes."

The open window commanded a long view
of the rough cart-road to the house, and Hugh
Oliver from his place espied a tall figure ad-
vancing towards It with many a tired halt and
gaze across the blinding expanse of sunny
heath.

" There Is Cousin Ralph Denys, papa — he

Is coming," he said softly, as If he might be

heard.

Mr. Denys rose and looked out, watching
VOL. in. B



1 8 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

his movements for some minutes, but retiring
to his seat before he appeared.

His wife met him in the entrance, and
warned him of their visitors : " Ralph, my
dear, Mr. Denys is come."

'' I've been seekincr him," was his answer,
so quick that she had not time to mention the
boy, and he stood in the door -way. His
countenance was dreadful — black with rage
and spite, malice and cruelty. They saw it,
all of them.

He advanced into the room, and set his gun
in one corner, then thrust his hand on Mr.
Denys with the discordant remark : " They
shake hands with the hanorman, Cousin Hucrh.
I've seen them do it."

" Your mind runs on dismal events, Cousin
Ralph," Mr. Denys said coolly, and stood up
confronting him with stern, controlling air
and attitude, as a bold, strone man stands



WHEN THE HEIR WAS^ A BOY. I9

when he is menaced by another who Is not,
perhaps, master of himself.

" Poor father, sit down by me — come,"
said the sick girl in a tone of persuasion.
^' Comer

Hugh OHver had retreated to the window,
and left his chair empty. Ralph Denys cast
himself into it, and then stared about, heaving
great sighs. *' Do you miss nothing, Cousin
Hugh ? " he said in a quieter manner, looking
at him.

^^ Yes, I miss poor, pretty Angel."

" We buried her when the corn was sowing,
and here's DIavola spreading her wings to
fly before It's cut. Then we shall be alone,
my wife and I, and there'll be the blessing
on Sunday after sermon — ' And this I pro-
nounce for doom — the sins of the fathers upon
the children until they be all dead, dead, dead.'
Is that boy yours. Cousin Hugh } "



20 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

"Why, you know he is. You have seen
him many times."

'' Indeed ? I remember none. It was the
day before yesterday that never comes, per-
haps. And by God's grace, you hope to
rear him ? "

" By God's grace, I hope to see him grow
to man's estate, and to leave him my shoes."

" That's good. I'll say a prayer for him.
The world's turned upside down since we
were young, and not mended. I rode on

horseback then Why do you pluck at my

sleeve, Diavola ? "

" You are half asleep, father — wake up.
You talk so strangely."

'' Never let them persttade yon I am mad.
I know what I do as well as any man breath-
ing. It was hot in the sun round New Place,
and Cousin Hugh had taken sanctuary in
church. / sJiall meet him another day. The



whp:n the heir was a boy. 21

lane's lone that has never a turnine. If
dinner's ready, let us go to dinner."

Mr. Denys exchanged a glance of dismal
intelligence with his Cousin Ralph's wife as
they went to the room where the meal was
spread. It was a poor meal, and interrupted
by more brief disjointed sentences which might
have conveyed to Mr. Denys grave v/arning
of some danger to himself beinof schemed in
his Cousin Ralph's disordered wits. But he
manifested no sort of apprehension. Only on
their road back to the Inn he took his son
into his confidence on another matter.

''It would make your mother uneasy to
no purpose if she were told the chief part of
what passed at the Warren House to-day.
We must keep it to ourselves, Hughie," he
said. •

*' Yes, papa," the boy answered, and looked
up in his father's face with pale resolution.



2 2 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

He knew very well what they were to
keep.

There w^as silence between them for a few
minutes, and then Mr. Denys continued :
*' You will soon be eoinof to school, Hu^hie
— we have always been friends ? We have
never fallen out ? "

'' Never, papa," and he slipped his hand
affectionately within his father's arm.

" I overheard poor Diavola speaking to you
of beinof born under the curse — a curse of dis-
eased blood hers, poor child. But there is
an old story for you to know concerning this
estate of Navestock — if you have not learnt
it by some side-wind ? "

Hugh Oliver had learnt it in various ver-
sions, out of which he had constructed a theory
which left his father not much to communicate.
The boy blushed in making the acknowledg-
ment. His Uncle Cricket had given him his



WHEN THE HEIR WAS A EOY. 23

first information, and then he had inquired of
Mr. Orme. Old • Crump had let In a little
light, and the patriarchal Todd had let in
more. Mr. Denys made no comment on his
son's reserve, but only invited him to say
what was the moral that he deduced from
the ancient tradition, and Its modern sequel
added by himself.

The boy feared that his father was dis-
pleased. " You are not angry with me, papa ?
I was Interested and listened. Everybody
knows at home. Phoebe knows," he said with
eager self-exculpation.

" I am not angry with you, Hughie. Our
servants are witnesses against us, and our
children sit In judgment on us," Mr. Denys
replied. '' You know the old story — that is
enough. And you know what your mother
and I have done and foregone to lift the load
of Navestock from your shoulders. We trust



24 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

you may outlive us. You can undo our work
when the time comes, if so be that you are
minded to undo it."

*' Papa dear, I shall never be minded to
undo it — I shall never undo it," Hugh Oliver
said urgently. " Mother has talked to me."

" If your mother has talked to you, I take
your word. And now I want 3^ou to appre-
hend clearly my motives in doing it, that you
may not fall into the mistake of some of our
neighbours. You are not to ascribe it to any
superstitious dread of Divine visitation, nor to
any sentimental view of retrospective justice.
You are to ascribe it only to this — that more
land fell to me by inheritance than I was
able to do my duty by. And land is like
nothing else : it pays a hundredfold for love
and labour, but when men hold more than
they can use and care for, it goes barren.
Navestock had crone barren over half its



WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY. 25

acreage when our old kinsman came forward
for its redemption. Now it is cultivated like
a garden, and scores of thrifty people divide
its profit where once all was not enough to
feed the wants of a single prodigal."

" I will try to follow in your steps, papa,
and be a iSfood man. "

" Good, my son ? There is no man that
liveth and sinneth not."

When Mr. Denys and Hugh Oliver reached
the inn on their return from the Warren
House, the judge and his son were still there.
Mr. Denys met them with a civility quite
unlike his customary coldness, and seemed
even gratified to find them waiting his arrival,
which Mr. Daventry was determined to do.
He saw little enough of his son-in-law, but he
never avoided him. To Delia the difference
in her husband's manner was stranq-e, and



26 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

SO marked that she asked him what had
happened.

'' Nothing has happened," he said. '' We
have been up to the Warren House, Hughie
and I. Diavola sends you thanks again for
your white gown. Cousin Ralph is as bad as
they say. It would be desirable if his wife
could prevail on him to go to the sea for a
long change. I conjecture that he has pretty
well emptied her purse, Delia ; and you had
better give her money into her own hand,
and suororest it."

It was no secret that Ralph Denys, or
Wayland, was a pensioner of Mr. Denys of
Cote.

When he had answered Delia, Mr. Denys
turned to the judge, and without preface in-
quired what he thought of the restored church.
Sir John Daventry said that he thought it
very well done.



WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY. 27

'' Have you been over to New Place ? "
was the next question.

Delia and her father had been, but not
the judge — he feared the heat of the day.
Mr. Daventry gave his opinion of New Place,
that it was delightful, and the site finer
than that of the old house which had been
removed.

*' It is certainly healthier," Mr. Denys
said. *' There has been neither death nor
sickness there yet, and it has been ten years
inhabited."

" Do you mean never to make it your own
residence ? " Sir John Daventry asked.

*' I have another purpose for it," Mr. Denys
answered. " Speaking of that brings me to
something else that I want to say. Hughie
has given me his word to let all we have
done here stand. That is eood news for his"
mother. Hughie will keep his word."



28 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

'' Does he know what he promises ? " said
the judge, regarding the lad.

Hugh Oliver was lounging in the deep
window-seat a little jaded with his long walk,
but at a biddine elance from his mother he

o o

stood up and answered for himself. " I
believe that I know," he said. " Cote is to
be enou<?-h for me, and Navestock New Place
and the land traced in red on the survey are
to belong to Guy Francis Meade. It is he
— the hero — who is to restore the ancient
family. All the Navestock farms are secured
to the tenants in possession by long leases,
and any of them can be made freehold. The
small plots that gentlemen have built on the
same. The cottagers' leases will 2^0, some to
the squire at New Place, and some to the
rector, to improve the benefice, and provide
a curate and lay-reader in the parish. And the
advowson is to be given up to the bishop."



WflEN THE HEIR Wi\S A BOY. 29

** Why SO ? " asked the judge, who was
rather in favour of limiting public authorities
than of enlaro^ino^ them.

'' Because Guy Francis Meade, the squire
that is to be, belongs to the Roman Catholic
communion," Mr. Denys replied coolly.

" And Denys of Cote will be for ever quit
of Navestock," remarked Mr. Daventry. ''But
how comes it that Captain Meade is a
Papist ? "

" His mother belongs to the Roman
Catholic Church," Mr. Denys said, and offered
no further explanation.

Sir John Daventry was reflecting on what
he had heard, and considering Hugh Oliver's
countenance with quiet approval. He was
disposed to believe that Mr. Denys had done
wisely in preparing his son's release from the
burden of a second great estate in land, and
HuQ^h Oliver's recital of his lesson raised no



30 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

demurs. The distribution seemed the best
possible, made with foresight and a sentiment
of natural justice that the judge had not sus-
pected as existing in Mr. Denys' mind. It
was an infused sentiment probably ; Delia had
it, and in these years her husband and she
lived In close counsel together.

When Sir John Daventry was about to
order his carriage to return to Beauminster,
he asked If Hugh Oliver could go there with
him for a few days. Mr. Denys referred the
question to his wife. Delia was glad of the
opportunity. Her boy was being gradually
equipped for independence and school, and
it was eood that he should walk about In other
company, and feel his feet, before his leading-
strings were quite severed. Hugh Oliver also
was pleased to go, but the prosaic circum-
stance of being badly in need of his dinner
deferred their departure until after that meal



I



WHEN THE HEIR WAS A BOY. 3 1

had been eaten — and eaten by all of them at
one table. Which was the end of a rash vow
Mr. Denys had made, never to break bread
with any of his wife's house. And virtually
it was the end of the alienation that had been
the abidine erief of her life.



o



2 )



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

DAMOCLES' SWORD.
" In the midst of life we are in death."

When the redemption of Navestock was first
begun, Sir John Herrick had made the remark
that Mr. Denys was putting his house in order
as if he were eoinp- to die. He mio^ht have
repeated the remark had he been witness to
his proceedings during the few days that
Hugh OHver was away at Beauminster with
his orrandfather and the judore. Mr. Ouorn
came down from London, sent for express, and
Deha supposed that the affairs to be arranged
were of moment and of present consequence
from her husband's close appHcation to them,



DAMOCLES SWORD. 33

and his willingness to dispense with her
society, on which he was accustomed to make
larofe claims.

At his instance she drove over to Auld-
caster early one morning to spend a long day
wdth her mother, and also at his instance she
brought back her brother Cricket to occupy
Hucrhie's room in his absence.

Cricket was a young man now, and had
so far got the better of his infirmities that
he could move about with a crutch. His
character had developed on the lines that were
its marked traits when he was a boy. fie
Still loved his sister next to his mother, and
said biting things to her with the same cer-
tainty that she would bear them quietly, and
be good to him none the less.

Delia drove him about the country in an
easy, low pony-carriage, and showed him the
view from the Three Beephes, and the site of

VOL. IIL c



34 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

old Navestock one afternoon ; and the next
she drove him to New Place, and let him hop
up and down, and in and out, and all round
about until he was tired. He had been very
curious to see New Place.

" Cote must be a delightful house if it
beats this," he said when his inspection was
finished.

*' I don't care for New Place at all," Delia
responded.

Cricket eyed her with malicious scrutiny :
'^ You have been well tamed, Sister Dil," he
muttered.

She turned to him with a wistful depre-
cation, and just said : " Yes, Cricket, Love
and Death are wonderful tamers. Pride and
ambition cannot stand aoralnst them." Cricket
was silent, and perhaps ashamed. Presently
Delia went on : " You think my life has
disappointed me, dear, but that is not so.



DAMOCLES' SWORD. 35

If it has not given me what I expected, it
has given me things much better worth having.
I can speak to you here — I never could speak
to you at home. I should like you to see
Cote, and then you would understand. Nave-
stock was redeemed by Sir Oliver Denys not
for us, but to be given back to the Meades.
But Cote is ours, and we have watched it
grow and thrive almost as we have watched
our boy. We are not so rich in money as
some imagine, for we spend as we get, but
we are far richer in peace and happiness.
I would not change my lot for any woman's
I know. And if you talk of ambition, is it
not a fair ambition to build a town ? Cote
covers more crround than Auldcaster now. It
is full of groves and gardens, and the last three
or four years some most beautiful houses have
been built on the slopes of the down. The
Green Square is nearly completed, and de-



36 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

serves a journey only to see it. When the
new church is consecrated, you must come to
the Manor House, and I think you will say
that if my marriage vexed you in the begin-
ning, it has been so blessed in its continuance
that I do well to thank God for it. I do thank
God for it every day I live ! "

'' How about Damocles' sword, Delia ? "
Cricket asked with cruel emphasis — and re-
pented the moment the words were out.

" You mean the curse that I did not believe
in once ? It is nearly five years since my little
Willie died — I have not thought much of the
curse since. But I hope in God, Cricket, and
fear nothins^ for the son I have left." Delia
walked gently on to close the conversation,
looking upwards with sweet, clear eyes, hope-
ful and trustful too.

Cricket perceived that his sister had suffered
a change beyond her taming, and that he must



I



DAMOCLES SWORD. 37

learn her anew. He had some opportunities.
He saw her under various aspects — gracious
and good when he went with her to fulfil the
commission that Mr. Denys had given her to
his Cousin Ralph's wife ; glad and good when
he went with her to bring Marie- Irene away
from her convent for the summer holiday ;
lovlnof and tender and crood when Huehie
came back from Beauminster, feeling himself
so much taller by as many days as he had been
gone from her control, and showing it by
strange acts of independence.

" Hughie is a dear boy, Uncle Cricket — say
you think so," his mother whispered, wanting a
comfortable word of kindness from him.

" Oh, yes, he Is a dear boy. I know him.
He will have his own way," his Uncle Cricket
answered.

'' Like his own father," Delia said, and was
perfectly satisfied.



38 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

There was something very touching, even to
her sarcastic, crippled little brother, In Delia's
reasonable affection for her boy — not over-care-
ful, nor over-anxious, but never weary, and
never falllncf. If Hucfhle seemed rather to en-
croach and be exacting with his mother, that
was, as she pleaded, because he had no play-
fellow at home besides her. His father was
certainly no playfellow at this moment, but
Huorhle waited on him, and watched for him,
with a devotion not common amongst boys of
his age. Cricket thought it quite remarkable,
and noticed that Mr. Denys was both sensible
of It, and glad of It. The father and son were,
as they had said, good friends. In affairs the
boy could be of no use, but every hour that his
father was at liberty he called Hughle to him,
to ride, to walk, to come and talk, and rest.
" It is their manner," Delia said. And it
seemed Impossible that confidence could go



DAMOCLES SWORD. 39

further unless they had stood as equals and
friends on one level.

When they returned to Cote, the squire was
observed to be more than usually busy in the
place. He was often In consultation with Old
Crump, and took many circuitous walks, of
which the object was first reported to Mrs.
Denys for her opinion, and then submitted to
Mr. Quorn and Mr. Clarges, and to others who
mlo^ht be more or less concerned. Delia had
been anticipating an interval of repose from
business about this period, and she asked her
husband if there was not time enough yet for
some of these arrangements, and if such and
such decisions could not wait. Mr. Denys
never pressed her on any matter at the
moment when she objected, but left It till a
convenient season when she would, perhaps,


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