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the army. That will be an eclipse for his
poor mother, who blushed when she took my
hand. I know what that meant, and if I had
let my heart go, it would have been piteous."

To Mrs. Denys' perception it was piteous
even now, without the sacrifice of a lost heart.
It had never occurred to her before that
Marie- Irene would take account of her birth


as a barrier aeainst this marriao^e that her
father had desired. But she did, and sym-
pathised evidently with the view of it adverse
to herself.

Mrs. Denys ventured to speak again : *' If
you loved Captain Meade warmly and truly,
his mother would forget all else," she said.

Marie-Irene answered: ''No. Her son is
like a kinor to her. I think he is like a kinor
to me too — and it is not to a king you bring
a mean gift. Though I loved him with all my
heart and soul, it would be better that I should
go away weeping than that he should lead
me amonest honourable women as his wife,
ashamed of what I am. I could not bear
that, and keep goody

Mrs. Denys understood her, and was silent.
To be humble, and take the lower place, was
easy to this nature rich in talents, relying on
the perpetual springs of joy within itself She


looked behind her at what her own Hfe had
been — how estabHshed in pride, how besieged
with humiliations — and consented that Marie-
Irene had decided well, though her decision
was the heaviest reproach of all to her father s


( 258 )



" Shall there be rest from toil, be truce from sorrow,
Be living green upon the sward ? "

Christina Rossetti.

Mrs. Denys' grief sank into a more natural
key after the day of the consecration of the
new church. The wounds of her pride slowly
healed, and the numerous occupations that she
gave herself preserved her from further un-
wholesome brooding over the past, the lost,
and the irretrievable. Her youthfulness, her
energy remained, her enjoyment of society re-
vived. The minor vexations of life resumed
their power to vex her again, which was a
healthy sign to her friends.


It had been decided between the late squire
and the rector that when the new church was
opened for Divine service the old church should
be disused, unless on summer Sundays in the
season when Cote was full of visitors and the
other overcrowded ; and this was carried out.
It had also been pretty generally understood
that when the rector got that canonry at Beau-
minster which was expected to be vacant soon,
he would resign the living of Cote in favour of
Mr. Orme. But before the canonry was vacant,
Mr. Clarges had re-considered his position, and
when he was promoted to his new dignity he
did not find that the retention of his bene-
fice was incompatible with it. Cote was a very
pleasant place to live in, combining many ad-
vantages, and the pastoral work was easy.
Also Mrs. Clarges was fond of her pretty old
house and garden, and did not wish to leave
the neighbourhood of her own family at Marsh-


leas. The rector stayed therefore, and Mr.
Orme stayed too, and everybody was well
pleased to keep them both, though it was fore-
seen that the arrangement miQ^ht not last
long which curtailed the independence of the
popular curate, who had been looking forward
to have the benefice for his own.

And it did not last long. Amongst the
Whitsuntide -holiday visitors to Cote was a
stranger who had much to do with honours
and benefices, and who, as he left the new
church on the Sunday evening, when Mr.
Orme had preached the sermon, said to a
friend, with a backward sign of the hand to-
wards the pulpit : " Front bench form that."
No doubt he made himself better acquainted
with the antecedents and characteristics of the
clergyman, the simplicity and vigour of whose
address had fired his admiration ; for within
a few months a London parish was given to


Mr. Orme, from which his predecessor had
been translated to a bishopric.

Mrs. Denys felt the removal of her own
friend and her son's friend as a personal loss
and trial, and, giving way to a momentary
petulance, hoped that Mr. Clarges would not
turn his church into a convalescent hospital
again, for his sick and weary brethren, to the
detriment of Cote — a form of charity at the
expense of his congregation, to which once he
had been prone. Cote was very sensible of
what it was losing, but it was firmly established
in reputation now, and did not visibly suffer
in the ensuing season, though the new curate
fell far short of the gentleman he followed.
And in London Mrs. Denys could enjoy, if
she pleased, the ministrations that were the
most useful to her ; for her house there,
which she had no intention of giving up, was
in Mr. Orme's parish.


This event was probably the beginning of
Mrs. Denys' living more in London and less
at Cote than formerly. Cote ran its course of
development rapidly after the beautiful new
church was finished. It elected a Local Board —
taken collectively, the nine men of most weight
and substance in the place ; and it elected a
School Board who firmly declined the succour
of ladies, whether in their counsels or their
schools, unless for the superintendence of
needle-work — a orrievance from which Miss


Nancy Clarges never rallied, but to which
Mrs. Denys resigned herself as to one of
those inevitable things that she knew must
come. She was not above accepting the
humble duty that was left them, and went
pretty regularly once a week to the girls'
school of an afternoon, administering encour-
agement and rebuke as they seemed to be
needed. Also (but under correction) she gave


assistance — turned down hems and tacked

" We don't call It seaming now, ma'am ; we
say sewing^' an intelligent little body kindly
informed her.

'' Oh, sewing'' Mrs. Denys whispered with
her sweet smile.

" We don't put in the sleeve like that, ma'am ;
we do it this way',' the same child instructed
her again in the most friendly manner.

Miss Nancy Clarges, missing her occupation,
took a lesson from the younger lady, and con-
descended to the lowest place — the infant
school — all that remained for her. It went to
her heart not to have leave to tell the little
children Bible-stories and teach them hymns,
but it could not be allowed. A one-handed
man on the board objected that it would be
the small end of the wedge. Miss Nancy re-
ferred to him afterwards as the one-eyed man


— but that made no difference. She had the
knitting assigned to her when that useful art
was introduced by and by, but reHgious or
other lessons never any.

"It is what we call p7^ogress, Nancy, and
whether you like it or not, I am powerless to
hinder it. We must obey the law," said her
brother, and Miss Nancy was finally answered ;
but the ^ oxdi pi'ogress had for her subsequently
as bad a meaning as it had for Richard Blythe
on a memorable sad occasion which the rector
did not fororet.

Prizes were abolished when the old-fashioned
committee was exchanged for the newfangled
board, and bobs and curtseys to your betters
went next. The shopkeepers raised their hats
now instead of touching the brim, and retired
tradesmen dubbed themselves eentlemen. The
ancients, Tories to the backbone, were dying
off, with other obsolete civilities ; and the


moderns, with laudable liberal enterprise,
founded gas-works — that beautiful invention
that was to put gas out hanging fire up in
London yet. The new church adopted the
gas at once, and the Local Board decreed by a
triumphant majority that the district should
be lighted in the more populous parts — the
lamps to be extinguished at ten o'clock. From
this it was but one step more to a water-cart
and a dust-cart. On the day that the water-
cart traversed the Green Square for the first
time Miss Nancy Clarges met it full in face, and
read painted distinctly thereon, Town Cart.

" The villacfe is Q^one ! the dear old village
Is gone ! " she murmured aloud, standing still
on the edge of the pavement, and looking after
the cart with eyes dimmer than it was their
nature to be.

A numerous cortege of little active boys
followed in the wake of the cart, taking the


Utmost pains to get their feet wetted with the
novel rainfall. '' Of course, the boys will turn
it to mischief if they can," Miss Nancy testily
remarked ; but she did not dream of calling
them to order as it would have been once
her duty and delight to do.

'' A fire-engine, and we're complete," an
affable voice observed, and drew up to the
lady. It was the prosperous purveyor of the
staff of life to the million, who had issued from
his shop, in front of which she stood. '' You
are admiring the water-cart, ma'am — in my
humble opinion, if I may mention it, the water-
cart is an institootion that Cote has been lonof
enough without in warm and dusty weather.
The Local Board has done their dooty in this
respect at last, and we must do ottr dooty, and
keep 'em up to the mark, until they purvide
the town with a sootable engine in case of


** You do make a terrible smoke to be sure,
but I hope we shall have no fire breaking out,
Mr. Mealy," Miss Nancy replied with consi-
derable tartness. '' To have fire breaking out
would be the last straw added to our burdens ;
and if I were the Local Board, my next act
should be the precaution of making you burn
your own smoke."

Mr. Mealy retired into his shop.

Progressing at this pace, Cote made great
advances during another year, and no one
person or family seemed any longer indis-
pensable to its comfort, its well-doing, or its
popularity. Mrs, Denys stayed away the next
season, and she was not seriously missed, unless
by her circle of private friends. She would
not have held her receptions in the Dutch
garden had she remained at the Manor House,
beino^ still in mourninor ; and after a few weeks


at the beginning of Hughie's holidays, to give
him the benefit of the sea-air, she took Phoebe
and went abroad with him, travelling through
France to Switzerland, which was to be the
play-ground of several of their connections
and family friends that autumn.

Mr. Orme had accepted holiday duty for
a month at a beautiful spot in the mountains
beyond Lucerne, to which resorted chiefly
English visitors who loved seclusion, and to
keep out of the main tide of tourists. Mrs.
Denys and Hughie directed their course
thither, and finding it charming and not ill
placed for excursions, remained there as long
as Mr. Orme remained — it had been so
arranged, indeed, before they went. Young
Denys had a very cordial affection for his
early instructor, and permitted him to exercise
a tutorial influence and authority over him
still. He was fifteen now, a oreat fellow,


growing more like his father every year,
and needing often a strong hand to curb
him, and guide him straight ; for he had the
same inborn notion that he was to rule and
not obey, to love and be submitted to, that
were such leading traits in Mr. Denys, and
his mother began to find him occasionally
difficult of control.

No one who knew Mrs. Denys intimately
but expected that collisions would occur be-
tween them as Hugh Oliver grew up and
left boyhood behind him. She loved her son
with devotion, but was scarcely tolerant
enough of his independent humours. Huo-hie
loved his mother very fondly in return, but
he loved his own way a good deal too, and
was hard to convince that she mio-ht know
best when it was necessary that one or the
other should yield. Since the main responsi-
bility of his training had devolved upon her,


Mrs. Denys had shown a vein of the Spartan
mother, and would rather have seen him lying
dead before her than that he should have
outraged her code of honour. She wanted
him to be perfect with a perfectness far above
out of his reach, and used occasionally a
tone of severity or contempt when he made
light of his own fallings short, which was
a pity, for it rather overstept the mark of

The people at Cote had begun to call the
young squire a regular chip of the old block.
He w^as true to his word, good or bad, stub-
born in prejudice, and frank in defiance, as
ever the old squire had been. His blue eyes
learned the same thunderous look in anger,
and his lips the same taciturn habit where
he had feelings to hold in reserve for another
day. Mr. Clarges was afraid that he would
or'iYQ his widowed mother trouble, but Mr.


Orme quelled her anxieties with the hopeful
assurance that strong characters, firmly and
kindly exercised in youth, though wilful and
turbulent and hard to manage, were yet found
to anneal well, and to bear the roueh usaee
of the world more bravely than characters
of softer fibre. Mrs. Denys attached weight
to all Mr. Orme said, and sought her direction
and support from his lips often. He was
an excellent friend for her son, and for her-
self an invaluable adviser.

Up here too. amongst the mountains he was
a good comrade for the boy, whose fine spirit
was also a refreshment to himself. Huehie was
over bold and venturesome, and thoroughly
appreciated an expedition spiced with just so
much of risk and difficulty as compelled him
to put forth all his strength and endurance in
surmounting them ; and the knowledge that he
was in Mr. Orme's company saved his mother


from those wearinor distresses in his absence
that would otherwise have afflicted her. Mr.
Walter Daventry, who passed by this way on
his wedding-tour, found the arrangement ad-
mirable, and so reported of it at Auldcaster on
his return to En^-land — addino^ an intimation
that he foresaw a probability of it becoming a
permanent arrangement. Walter's bride was
Juliet, Mr. Orme's, youngest sister. Their
courtship had brought the two families into a
close and intimate friendship, and their mar-
riao-e was regarded with favour on all sides.

Looking backward from the high levels of
middle life, the past falls into perspectives that
were never thought of while the ground was
beino" travelled over. Lookinor onward, there
seems still a long way to go. Mrs. Denys had
come to these high levels. The road behind
her was checkered, and more with shade than
sunshine, but the neutral haze of distance was


fast toning down both, and the joy and the
sorrow of it, the pity and the anger, were being
softened and fused together in emotionless
memory, as the flowery fields, the bare steeps,
the waving woods of the early hours are
blended in the purple dimness of the after-day.
The road in front was straight and even, but
lonely. And it need not be lonely. There was
a blessing in her face for some good man yet,
and there was one who ardently aspired to
possess It. No one had perhaps ever so thor-
oughly learned, and appreciated Mrs. Denys*
distinction of character as Mr. Orme had done
during the seven years of his curacy at Cote.
Yet half her nature had never had its
development. On the side of patience, forti-
tude, forbearance, tenderness, she was wxll-
nlgh perfect, but her proud, fond devotion, her
high hopes, her enthusiasms, had gone unfed.
She practised no deceptions on herself here.



She felt the same desire to be and to do as
she had felt in her girlish day-dreams, but
the desire was purified of vain ambition, and
opportunity would never be wanting if she
were pleased to take this new departure in life
with Mr. Orme. She had a struo:o:le with her-
self, but the moment she hesitated the result
was not doubtful. " For Huofhie's sake," she
said. But it was for her own sake too, or
Mr. Orme could hardly have been satisfied.
Perhaps she wanted some plea in excuse of
the new spring of love in her heart.

Mr. Orme bore a strono^ likeness to Sir
Oliver Denys. He was as tall and spare as
the old merchant, and his countenance was
as fine both in feature and expression. He
had a likeness in disposition also — the same
Christian simplicity, and the same generous
breadth of view, with those points of diifer-
ence that would naturally arise from their


difference of training and vocation. He
possessed great powers of work, and that
organising faculty by which a busy man keeps
his work well in hand, and his mind free
from overmuch anxiety for its success. Both
before and since his removal to London he
had found in Mrs. Denys his most sympathis-
ing and effectual helper, and during the last
year, through their constant association in
labours of love and charity, they had seemed
to grow almost necessary to each other. He
knew and was sure that she would be a suffi-
cient helpmeet for him, and she was not able
finally to refuse him her loving service.
When she returned to Cote in September, she
summoned the heads of her family to the
Manor House. The three years of her mourn-
ing were ended, and the announcement that
she had to make to them was neither un-
expected nor unwelcome.


Mr. Orme was staying at the rectory, and
he dined at the Manor House on the eveninor
of Mr. and Mrs. Daventry's arrival. After-
wards, when the elder people rested in Delia's
window, somewhat weary with their journey,
but enjoying the beautiful, serene prospect,
the others went down into the Dutch garden.
Years were beginning to tell on Mrs. Daventry,
and she presently closed her eyes. She was
roused by her husband saying in his dry
tone : '' Remarkable people women are." She
looked out, and saw coming up" the long turfed
walk in the midst of the Qrarden Delia leanine
on the arm of Mr. Orme. Hughie held her
fast by the other hand.

" What does it mean ? " she said — but, of
course, the picture told its own story.

It meant that a few weeks later Mrs. Denys
of Cote ceased to be, and was changed by the
ofivine and receivinsf of another marriaee-rine


into the wife of the Reverend Basil Orme,
rector of St. Mary-in-Bush, that great metro-
politan parish to which he had gone from the
little iron church at Cote.

( ^1^ )



" Spring sang of heaven ; the summer flowers
Bade me gaze on, and did not fade ;
Even suns o'er autumn bowers
Heard my strong wish, and stayed."

J. H. Newman.

Since the last summer Cote Church rejoices in
a fine peal of bells. There are no such silvery,
sweet-toned bells in the peninsula as the bells
of Cote. Mr. Denys had left it in his will
that a certain sum of money should be laid by
every 3^ear until his son's coming of age, when
the bells were to be cast, and hunof in the
tower. Beyond that his written instructions


did not go ; but Hugh Oliver had kept In
mind his father's promise that they should be
had In time to ring at his wedding, and not
before, and he contrived so that they were
rung first on that auspicious day.

The young squire married Kitty Consett.
It was a very early marriage on both sides.
They had just nine-and-thirty years between
them — seventeen of the years being Kitty's.
Some people called it foolishly premature, but
Hughie, borrowing a judicious phrase from
the old rector to pacify his mother with, said,
" Each case must be taken on Its own merits ;"
and as he had nobody's consent to sue for
but Kitty's, the wedding was celebrated when,
where, and how he determined.

Kitty had grown up tall and straight as
a wand, and with a very winning, pleasant
countenance. She had not the imposing


beauty of Hughie's mother, but she had a
o^racious lovehness, a bright wit, a sineine
voice, and plenty of pluck on horseback — gifts
that her lover helped to cultivate for the lively
admiration he had of her and of them lone
before they were of age to marry. Kitty
had, moreover, an intelligent submissiveness
of temper very desirable in the wife of a
of peremptory, affectionate disposition, and
his mother gave him up to her with quiet

Hughie had spent three years at Cambridge
after leaving Rugby, and in the long vacations
had taken hard runs in the way of travel as
a preparation for the soberer paces of life at
the Manor House. For it was there the
young squire set up his household gods, in
the midst of the people amongst whom he
was born, and who paid him a natural defer-


ence, though Cote had long out -grown the
simple loyalty that governs the minds and
manners of a purely agricultural population.
He did somethinof to deserve their reeard.
He took heed that through no ne^lieence or
narrowness of his was the town which had
begun so well overweighted with rates and
taxes in the later phases of its development.
By his father's timely concessions it had been
kept out of debt, and at the same time power
had been kept in the right hands. The Nczus-
boy died of inanition after eighteen months'
pining, and Canon Clarges was elected chair-
man of the School Board — quite the proper
person, though rather perverse and dilatory
in business. However, he was dextrously
managed by seeming to give way to him.
Of course, difficulties and differences of
' opinion crop up now and then. When the


lease dropped of that triangular price of ground
where Crispin's shop stood at the entering
into the town from Marshleas, the young
squire proposed that his father's plan of a
workman's club should be carried out, and was
met with a discourao^inof lukewarmness. When
a deputation waited upon him to state their
views, he heard them with courtesy and con-
sideration, and then answered that there the
land was, and the stone and the timber were
at their call whenever they could agree to
raise the building ; but as for a subsidy in
support of it, they must look for none from
him — they must cultivate independence, and
rely on their own efforts. They went away
grumbling, but the young squire did not know
that, and would not have been moved by
it had he known. Probably from the care
given to their housing in Cote, no urgent


need of the club is felt, for It is not founded
yet — clubs are for people with abundance of
leisure, and working people in Cote have not
that inconvenience. A drinking-fountain and
trough for cattle have been placed on the spot ;
the decayed structures have been cleared off
the ground, and trees planted, under the
shadow of which the old men smoke their
summer evening pipes. Mr. Midas tells his
young friend Denys that it is monstrous waste
of a splendid site, and his co-partners, the
ereat brewers at Rowborouo^h, have ao:ain
and again offered a tempting price for it, but
young Mr. Denys calmly says them nay, and
renders no reason. Once a cry was raised
against him as overbearing and harsh in re-
fusing to let a public-house be established in
that part of the town where the labouring
people chiefly lived ; and to quell it he built,


close on the outskirts, a plain stone house, with
a cricket-ground, bowling-green, and alley for
quoits attached. He furnished a large upper
room where newspapers could be seen, took out
a six-days' license in his own name, and put
in a manager, who being made aware of the
gentry with a weakness for strong drink, was
given to understand that they must be allowed
to keep sober for him, else he would not be
fit for his place. If anybody wants to get
drunk at Cote, it has been so contrived that
he shall do it under difficulties, or not at all.

This has cut off at their source other bes^in-
nings of crime. Petty peculation has almost
ceased since the temptation to get money to
drink anyhow has been taken away. The
old beer-shop asked no questions where the
garden-stuff was grown, where the eggs were
laid, where the chickens were hatched that


were brought to market at its bar. Lady
householders congratulate themselves now
that expensive seed potatoes come up accord-
ing to sample, and that giant marrow-pease
are no longer miraculously thinned out by the
birds. They are suffered to gather their own
fruit, and the very pigeons have lost the
migratory character for which once they were
notorious. The policeman gets no more
anonymous petitions to keep an eye on such
and such orardens and hen-roosts between
Saturday night and Sunday morning, with

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Online LibraryHolme LeeMrs. Denys of Cote : in three volumes (Volume 3) → online text (page 9 of 10)