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recur to it herself. It dawned upon her pre-



40 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

sently, that there were things he wanted to
have finished, or finally determined on, to do
or not to do them.

One day he told her that he had done all
that he had promised for the new church — he
had given the land, the stone squared, and the
timber — and the subscriptions made in and out
of the parish must provide all else. That the
new church would have many splendid gifts
was sure ; for it was a beautiful building that
devout souls might have a joy in adorning.

It was on this occasion that he said further :
" Not to hamper Cote with a heavy debt in the
beeinnine, I have had marked out a site for the
schools which the Education Bill will soon com-
pel us to provide. The old buildings are over-
crowded now. It is my intention to give the
stone and the timber — the same as the church.
And we must have a Board. Clarges prefers
the voluntary system, and the chief authority in



DAMOCLES SWORD. 4 1

his own hands ; but we must look forward.
We must have a Board, and a rate which will
touch everybody. It is no easy matter to col-
lect the subscriptions now — half the people
have an excuse, o^ood to themselves, for not



givmg.



Mrs. Denys, like the rector, would have pre-
ferred the action of private munificence, but
private munificence, he told her, signified re-
served private rights, inimical often to the
public good, and he declined to let any be
created for the future embarrassment of the
community. Mr. Orme was with Mr. Denys.
He was not afraid of the electors, and did not
doubt that the School Board of Cote would
comprise amongst its first members the gentle-
men who formed the existing committee, in
which confidence he was subsequently justified
by the event.

A third thing there was that Mr. Denys



42 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

begged his wife specially to note. " I have
pledged to Orme that triangular bit of land in
the lower village where Crispin's shop stands,"
he said. '* It is one of the last of the old
leases, and Orme wants it for a workman's
club. There have been applicants for It, will-
ing to give a very heavy ground-rent, because
of its three frontas^es ; but it lies in the midst
of the workmen's houses, and a public build-
ing there will be a more attractive feature at
comine into the town from Marshleas than
a tavern, or a group of shops that are not
needed."

Mrs. Denys was not likely to forget this
behest. It was almost too much her inclina-
tion to exercise a maternal despotism over the
labouring folk In Cote — to be very good to
them accordinor to her own notions of Q-ood-
ness, but to govern them a little too much, as
if, because they were busy with their hands



DAMOCLES SWORD, 43

all day, their heads had not time to grow to
years of discretion.

" And will you give the stone and the tim-
ber for this building also, Hugh ? " she asked.

Mr. Denys paused on the question, and
finally replied that If he lived he would. He
wished her to bear in mind that it was not a
charitable institution he proposed, but a club
managed by the most capable amongst the
men themselves — such as had a stake In Cote,
had houses of their own, and were settled to
spend their lives there. And he m.entloned
several by name who, he said, possessed every
qualification necessary for the purpose.

With these deferred arrangements it was
Mr. Denys' pleasure that Hugh Oliver should
be made acquainted. The idea was promul-
gated suddenly. ''It is time you saw a little
of what business is, Hughle," he said one
morning at breakfast. " When you go to



44 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

school I shall lose you for the best part of
the year ; and after Christmas you must go."

Hughie looked serious, but not unwilling.
The process of seeing what business was
turned out occasionally tiresome, but he gave
diligent attention to what was shown him.

" You will remember this," was the frequent
form of his father's appeal, and the lad's
response was always : " Yes, papa, I shall
remember."

During the five years that had elapsed since
the first sod was turned of the Green Square
the progress of Cote had sustained no check.
The square itself was a nearly-finished place,
of which every house and shop and stall had
its qualified occupant. The new church bulked
against the sky, walls and roof and tower up,
invested with intricate scaffolding yet, but
advancing towards completion. The worth
of large ideas was proving itself. Cambourne



DAMOCLES SWORD. 45

had gone faster than Cote, but It had not gone
so well. Mr. Midas had made more money
than Mr. Denys, but he had not invested it so
securely. Whatever had been done in Cote
remained a satisfaction to the eye ; and though
Cambourne had the pull over it for natural
beauty, Cote, by careful self-adornment, had
earned the better measure of success. The
ancient rivalry was extinct in the bosoms of
Cote. They had run a race for the leadership
in popularity, and Cote had won by a long
stride.

That Mr. Denys should rest and be thank-
ful, was the common sentiment of his neigh-
bours just when he seemed less inclined to rest
than he had ever been since he beo^an first to
work at the development of his property.

*' There will be time enough for resting by
and by," he said to Delia when she hinted a re-
monstrance. He appeared to her to be taking



'4



46 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

some premature steps, aspiring, perhaps, to
ofovern his share in the world when it should
be no longer his, and acquiring certainly a new
reticent habit. It was by a mere chance that
she learned he had given to Mr. Ouorn instruc-
tions for a will — having made a will, of which
the provisions were known to her, some years
ago.

" If you did not look so well, I should think
you had a presentiment of evil," she said on
this discovery. " Tell me, Hugh, if there is
any trouble coming that you foresee."

Mr. Denys shook his head with a decided
negative, and professed himself surprised by
her adjuration. " There is nothing," he said,
'' nothinor — unless it be the shadow at the Glen

o

House. That is a cloud, and a heavy cloud.
Essex- Brouorh has asked me to see to the dis-
posal of his horses before we go to Scotland.
He will never ride to the meet any more, but



DAMOCLES SWORD. 47

there may be a long lingering before him. I
would rather encounter sudden death."

This explanation seemed adequate to Delia.
'' You must o^ive Huofhie a stronof little horse,
and let him ride with you once a week when
the hunting begins," she said.

" So I will. He can spare a day from his
lessons, and it will help to make a man of
him."

''And ask John to come down."

" John has his own affairs, and his family.
It is not so easy for him to leave London. I
have thought lately, Delia, that I should like
to make over Acklam to John — we rarely stay
there ourselves."

" Indeed, dear, I have not a word to say
against that. John is your eldest son."

Mrs. Denys never had a word to say
against anything that her husband wished to
do for John, or George, or Marie-Irene. It



48 MRS. DENYS OF COTE,

was her sole desire concernino: them that thev
should be brothers and sister to her boy —
a position that was becoming more difficult
than when they were younger, as it was
sure to do, with the best ^vill in the world
to be quiet and content in it. The result was
that George, since he went last to Italy, had
never come home at all, and that John came
rarely. It was the natural evolution of the cir-
cumstances, and had to be endured in silence.

Hugh Oliver knew his place as his father's
heir, and took it as his right. Whether he
liked his introduction to business or not, in
Scotland that August he was proud to carry
his gun ; and in October, when the hunting in
the peninsula began, he rode in the field with
the pluck of a lad to the manner born, and
emulous of a great example. Mr. Orme gave
in to his enthusiasm after a sincrle movement
of reluctance and apprehension. Hunting



DAMOCLES SWORD. 49

days stole many hours from the working
week, and Hugh OHver, though he had a
fine capacity, and did not sleep over his books,
was not a first-class scholar of his a^e. He
had had altogether a great deal of play, but
his father pronounced that he would do better
at Rugby for possessing physical prowess and
moderate lore ; and the tutor, who had not
Rugby experience to speak from, did not
gainsay the squire's judgment further.

Though Mr. Denys had denied to his wife

that there was any occult reason for his late

access of activity, and was even able partially

to dissemble with himself, in an interview that

he had with Mr. Ouorn soon after the truth

came to the surface, and, translated into plain

speech, was sufficiently starding. He confessed

tl"^t he never went to Navestock now but he

went, as he believed, in peril of his life.
VOL. in. D



50 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

" My poor cousin, Ralph Denys, is as mad
as any lunatic in Bedlam," he said. " He has
threatened me once or twice, and will have
me some day, I know, for he's a dead shot.
But I shrink from proposing to put him under
restraint. And his wife would not consent to
it either."

Mr. Ouorn argued strongly for prompt pre-
cautionary measures.

" None would avail but shutting him up,
which is sooner said than done," Mr. Denys
replied. '' Once let him suspect any design
on his liberty, and he would be only the more
of a danger to me. I have ordered his gun to
be taken away, but I am not obeyed."

When Mr. Denys had said thus much, per-
haps he regretted that he had said anything.
Mr. Ouorn knew his Cousin Ralph by his bad
reputation, but not personally, and could have
no judgment of his own on his condition, and



DAMOCLES SWORD. 5 1

Mr. Denys did not care to be regarded as
going in fear. The lawyer, however, took what
he had heard for indirect orders to inform
himself further, and did so with the result
of arrivincr at the same conclusion at his
employer. The man was mad, no doubt, but
with so much method in his madness as to
be quiet under the investigation of strangers,
and with his wife to protect him against the
separation she dreaded, he was more than a
match for his cousin, who would thankfully
have been delivered from the terror of him.

When Mr. Denys found that the hazard was
not to be removed, he requested Mr. Ouorn to
say no word of what had been attempted to
ward it off; and for any sign that he betrayed
afterwards he might have been quit of the
recollection of having ever admitted such
hazard at all. Naturally he was a man of high
courage, on whom impressions of the sort were



52 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

not liable to linger with any dejecting effect,
and their sharp recurrence at intervals only
quickened his sympathies for those belonging
to him, and set him more eagerly to finish his
work that he did not want to leave undone,
and a burden to them, if he were suddenly
taken away.



:)o



CHAPTER XXXIX.

A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE.

" L'homme propose — Dieu dispose."

When Hugh Oliver went to Rugby after
Christmas, Mr. and Mrs. Denys re-visited
Rome, where George, the artist, seemed in-
dined permanently to set up his easel. This
time Marie- Irene was of their company — a
most lovely girl.

For a year or two past Marie-Irene had
left her convent during longer intervals, which
were spent chiefly in London, at her fathers
house, and under Mrs. Denys charge, for
the sake of lessons in music, which was her
passion. She had great gifts, and it was



54 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

desired that she should be highly cultivated.
Before Easter they were joined in Rome by
Captain Meade. It was an arrangement, of
course. He had come from India by way of
Trieste, and proceeded to Rome for the ex-
press purpose of meeting Marie- Irene, who
was understood to be in a perfectly blank and
unconscious state with reofard to these ulterior
views of her father in which she was inter-
ested. It is likely that she was so, and so
remained for a considerable while, being a
sweet, modest, light-hearted young lady, not
tuned to sentimental airs, but enjoying the
sunshine and bright present day with singing
and dancing, and all simple pleasures that go
to make young life mirthful and happy.

Captain Meade was satisfied with her beauty
and her good-humour, with her goodness too,
which was of a genuine sort. But he did not
fall into sudden captivity. Marie- Irene seemed



A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 55

too much of a child yet, and too Httle of a
woman. He felt as old as the world beside
her. Since he was in E no-land last he had

o

been in love — in earnest, passionately — and
mammon, with some magical letters to its
name, had w^orsted him. He had done vali-
antly, and more successfully in war ; for he
had won the Victoria Cross. He had been
wounded twice, and one of his wounds marred
(if a girl chose to think so) the splendour of
his countenance. Marie-Irene did not think
so ; for she had a natural turn towards hero-
worship, but she agreed with him in feeling
that he was a person of great age and experi-
ence, whose opinion might be taken on ques-
tions of casuistry, but who was not to be
pelted with confetti, or otherwise evened with
George's comrades of the studio whom he was
permitted to introduce to his sister.

Marie-Irene had made the acquaintance of



56 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

one of these more than willingly. Tom Rose
lived' and worked under the same roof as
George Denys, and had watched over him
in an attack of fever the previous summer.
He was as poor as a church mouse, but full
of genius, and thrifty. When he was under
the divine afflatus he went into retreat and
barred his door, and a sweet, interrupted
whistle was all the sound of him that his
neighbours heard until his task was accom-
plished or his inspiration spent, when he
would emerge, and go out to hear the sea-
winds in the pines at Castel Fusano, or to
enjoy a frolic at Frascati, being, when he
recovered his speech and his spirits, of all
comrades at play the merriest and the best.
Marie-Irene called him " Tom Rose," with
occasional notes of admiration appended ; and
Captain Meade, on rather inadequate evi-
dence, assumed that she had a tender parti allt



A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 57

for the artist-student which became her better
than gentle deference to himself. In fact,
Captain Meade was in a low key, in no
humour for courtino-. His heart was sore
from his recent disaster, and he would have
taken more enthusiastically to the young lady
had he not been expected to marry her. He
made Mrs. Denys his confessor, and men-
tioned an imaginary necessity he was under
of appearing at the first levee after Easter,
and the real impatience of his mother to see
him at Updeane. Mr. Denys tacitly acqui-
esced in his departure, and said only that he
must call on Mr. Ouorn before he left London.

'' Are you going home ? I thought we were
to travel to the Lakes and throuoh Switzer-
land together," Marie- Irene said without any
shyness or after-thought at all when his de-
parture was announced.

" I may return," Captain Meade said quickly.



58 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

" My mother at Updeane is waiting to see
me."

''Ate revoir, then," rejoined the young lady ;
and It was not observed that her natural flow
of spirits was abated by his absence, though,
indeed, he had been very useful as an escort
while he was there.

When Captain Meade had paid his homage
to the Queen he went down into the country,
to Updeane. Updeane was an old house, a
garden, an orchard, two or three fields, and a
little farm-steading, remote from any consider-
able town, and not touched at by either main
road or line of railway. It was here the
Meades had kept their footing in the county
since the time when Navestock was taken
from them. Out of this old stone house,
quarried In the hill where it stood, and set on
an eminence with its face to the sun, had gone
forth those men of distinction whom Mr.



A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 59

Denys spoke of to Sir Oliver ; and hither, if
they missed the rewards of honour, had they
come back to rest and lay their bones. How
many of them had died at home the church
reeister attested.

Money had never run in that family, but
the want of it had not been severely felt until
the present generation, when the eldest son
wandered off to Australia, and w^as glad to
turn farmer when he wandered back ; and Guy
Francis, the youngest, yielding to stern neces-
sity, had consented to think of a desk in a
merchant's office, but, scared by one glimpse
of the dreary inaction of that life, had preferred
to take the Queen's shilling, and climb the
steep path of glory from the ranks. He had
done it in a long stride or two, and old soldiers
talked of him as only a boy yet. When he
presented himself at Updeane, the wearer of
the bronze Cross of Valour, his mother kissed



6o MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

him, and wept over him, crying : " Rather
that, my dear son, than ten thousand times
its weight in eold ! "

Mrs. Meade was a gentle lady, good, not
austere, true to noble traditions. Guy Francis
was her favourite son. He seemed more
especially to belong to her because he had
been brought up in her religion. She was a
daughter of an ancient Catholic family, very
poor, and had married his father with the
customary proviso that the boys born of their
marriage should be trained as Protestants, and
the crirh crlven over to her. But she never
had a girl, and when Guy Francis began to
learn she had the first teachlnor of him. The
results w^ere not hard to foresee. When he
was of an asfe to choose, he was received into
the Romish Church, and though he was not a
rigid pietist, he continued faithful to his creed
and obedient to her rules. It was this that



A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 6 1

had guided Mr. Denys in his selection of the
youngest son rather than the eldest, to carry
out Sir Oliver's scheme for the restoration of
Navestock, and on this he grounded his hopes
of a happy marriage for Marie-Irene.

Mrs. Meade lived alone at Updeane, and
kept the place in order, supervised by her
eldest son, always patiently looking forward to
the perfect days when Guy Francis would
return from India on a lonQ^ furlough. She
had not anticipated his return with a name
that would be echoed beyond their own
county, but she quickly heard that it was a
famous name, welcome In orreat houses of ereat
people up In London. Captain Meade had
duties and friends many elsewhere, and went
and came on frequent short visits, but he sat
down for the most part contentedly by his
mother, relating to her his adventures and
misadventures with the cfusto of a hero and



62 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

a traveller who feels that his tales never tire
the ears they are poured Into. He recalled
to her in many a story the boy who got a
perilous joy out of an old punt on the river,
and hunting out of the rough, half-broken colts
that went to market as soon as they were fit
to be sold. They were wonderfully happy
together. With his mother he was full, even
florid, in his details, just because she loved
them, and none could be too much.

Of course, it happened one day in the
plenitude of confidence that he told her of
his abortive passion — how it began, and how
it had ended : " Be very sure, my dear, that
she was unworthy of you," was the lady's un-
hesitating verdict.

Perhaps Captain Meade was tending towards
a similar conclusion. At all events, he ceased
to feel like a man who has lost a treasure, and
was able to take an interest in life that had



A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 63

been absent from it In Rome. He paid a
visit to his brothers at Navestock, and from
that date he appeared to forget a great deal,
and to look forward more. Mrs. Meade had
heard nothing yet of New Place and Marie-
Irene, but her son judged that now was come
the time to speak, and he spoke so as to
necessitate few questions to make the case
clearer. His mother listened in silence. It
was not easy to set it in an entirely flattering
light, and her feeHng was distinctly one of
regret that her son should stand in such a
position. She hoped that the young lady
knew nothinor of it.

" I am not aware that she knows anything
of it. I should certainly believe that she does
not," Captain Meade replied.

A description of her was asked for. The
description was as complete as the previ
story. i^y^-







64 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

'' She has been admirably brought up ; she
is beautiful and orood, and has a sincere devo-
tion. I am told that she is the very copy of
her mother, pretty foreign graces and all. At
Rome she seemed to care more for the joyous
artist tribe her brother George lives with
than for staider company ; but Arthur and
his wife tell me that she takes the colour of
her surroundings, and at Cote is a very charm-
ing specimen of the English country girl."

" They approve her then, Arthur and his
wife ? Your heart becrins to incline towards
her also, I think ? I will not attempt to advise
you, dear. The decision does not rest solely
with you. One circumstance is painful to me
— you know what I mean. If you loved one

another " Mrs. Meade was on the point

of saying, '' that might be a solvent," but she
stopped short. In her secret mind she would
have preferred that this son of hers, of whom



A PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 65

she was most proudly tender, should have no
fortune but Updeane, and no wife but his
sword, rather than he should be rich and
blessed in the fortune and the wife that the
hereditary enemy of their house proposed to
give him.

Mrs. Meade called Mr. Denys on this occa-
sion the hereditary enemy of their house. Her
son reminded her that old enmities had been
cancelled by his brothers' acceptance of Mr.
Denys' benefits, and that in the present gene-
ration the two houses had exchanged none but
friendly acts. She made him no reply ; she
said no word more, neither then nor ever had
they any argument ; but her prejudice was evi-
dent and not unreasonable, and her influence
was felt. She avoided any further manifesta-
tion of curiosity to hear more whether of New
Place or of the young lady, and when her son
spoke of either afterwards, she just responded,

VOL. III. E



66 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

and passed on to another topic. Captain
Meade could not complain. His brothers were
advocates for Mr. Denys' projects, but his own
views and sentiments varied from day to day,
and nothing would fix them but the rise of a
mutual attachment, which seemed doubtful yet.
If his mother had spoken out, she w^ould have
said, that when he could tell her that the girl
had won his affections she would open her
heart to her, but until then she would live in
hope that some way of release might be found
for them both from a situation the pains and
penalties of which neither he nor Mr. Denys
seemed to have taken into account.



( 67 )



CHAPTER XL.



HUSBANDS AND WIVES.



" Some wives by patience have reduced
111 husbands to live vi^ell."

W, Warner.

Marie- Irene was not disappointed of her tour
to the Itahan lakes and through Switzerland
though Captain Meade had gone to England,
and did not return, as he had intimated that
possibly he might. To please her the time
was even extended through May and half of
June, which shortened the season in London
to a sinorle month. That was lona enouo^h for
Mr. Denys now, and twice in the course of it
he was up and down at Navestock, on business
of which he did not say much to Delia. His



68 MRS. DENYS OF COTE.

mind seemed pre-occupled with grave, not to
say anxious, thoughts, and his interviews with
Mr. Quorn were frequent. There was trouble
at the Warren House because of his poor
cousin, Ralph Denys, which ended in his con-
signment to a keeper ; but he was not put
under any stronger guard than could be kept
over him at home, living under the same roof
as his wife.

Captain Meade was still staying down in the
country, and Mrs. Denys made some inquiry
about his proceedings after her husbands
second visit to Navestock.

*' Meade is all right," Mr. Denys said. " He
Is recoverinof health and tone too^ether. And
New Place is re-let for a year."

Marie-Irene was not to return to her con-
vent any more as a school-girl after the journey
at Rome, but to take the place of a daughter
that was eiven her in her father s house. It is



HUSBANDS AND WIVES. 69

not to be imagined that this passed quite free
of criticism. Mrs. Moth had something to say
of the unlikeHhood that any gentleman would
marry her — a girl born out of wedlock, and a


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