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LI B RARY

OF THE

UNIVERSITY

or ILLINOIS

W.3



Digitized by tlie Internet Archive
in 2009 with funding from
sity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



http://www.archive.org/details/thisworkadayworl03leeh



THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

VOL. III.



tRINTED EV BAILANTYNE AND COMPANY
EDIN&URGH AND LONDON



THIS WORK-A-DAY
WORLD.



HOLME LEE,

AUTHOR OF

SYLVAN holt's DAUGHTER," "BEAUTIFUL M SS HARRINGTON,

" VICISSITUDES OF BESSIE FAIRFAX," ETC.



VOL. III.



LONDON:

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

1875.



PKINTEU BV BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY
EniNBlTRGH AND LONDON



7^^

/.3



CONTENTS.



CHAP. PAGE

I. A PROBATIONARY TOUR .... I

II. A MEETING BY THE WAY .... 22

III. GEORGIE'S CONVERSION .... 37

IV. PLEASURES AND PAINS OF TRAVEL . . 55
V. THE LIFE OF EVERYDAY .... 79

VI. FEMALE INDEPENDENCE . . . . I03

VII. IN THE MILL . . . . . I29

VIII. BURRS AND THISTLES— GEORGIE MARRIED . 150

IX. IN THE COURSE OF EVENTS — DELPHINE MARRIED 1 72

X. A job's COMFORTER . . . . I92

XI. CONSOLATORY ..... 2o6

XIL A RECEPTION ON CASTLE GREEN . . . 2l6

XIII. LIFE IN THE BALANCE . . . .233

XIV. SUPERSEDED ..... 248
XV. GETTING READY TO GO . . . .266

XVI. THE END OF A LONG DREAM . . .282

XVII. NOT SO DULL AS IT SEEMS . . . 291



THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.



CHAPTER I.

A PROBATIONARY TOUR.

The reason of Miss Denham's coming abroad
was to give her mind perfect freedom in de-
ciding that momentous question, to marry or
not to marry. She was almost at the end of
those two years of reflection which she had
required, but scarcely nearer to a conclusion
than at the beginning. She felt that there
was still much to be said on both sides.

Not having communicated her secret to
WInny Hesketh before she did not com-
municate it now, and Winny was not a little
perplexed at the outstart by what might be
called the Irregular humours of her friend.
Georgie took charge of the common purse, to

VOL. III. A



2 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

manage all the business of the tour, with Tom
for aid ; Winny had only to be passive, and
enjoy all the pleasure she could ; but some-
times Georgie forgot quite essential matters,
and Tom protested that it was not for him to
interfere, and remind her. One evening Winny
quizzically suggested that she should take the
lead, being a really practical character, and not
subject to hours of absence ; but Georgie was
so scornfully irate at the proposition that she
never ventured to repeat it. Winny subsided
into a blissful state of quiescence, and remained
unmoved whatever happened — then Georgie
reproached her as so provokingly cool. By fits
and starts Georgie was good and indulgent as
ever, witty, amusing and delightful, and then,
all at once, came on a cloud of vapours, chilling
and uncomfortable to everybody within its
influence. Winny folded her cloak of suf-
ferance about her, and waited for its passing —
the sun would break out again by and by, and
geniality would be restored. Tom always
retired from society while the cold prevailed,
thanks to the natural liberty which is the pre-



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. 3

rogative of his sex, and sometimes Winny
envied him.

The week in Paris was not laborious.
Georgie ruled that Winny must not attempt to
do too much. She knew Paris well, and spent
her mornings writing immense letters. Winny
made excursions in little open carriages, alone
or attended by Tom, and contrived to become
mistress of the general plan and aspect of the
old quarters of the city which pleased her best.
The new were soon learnt, and here, as in
London, she thought that the streets were the
most interesting show. Churches, palaces,
galleries of pictures she did her duty to, but
both she and Tom seemed rather glad to have
done with duty when they issued forth into the
busy, bustling streets again, and mounted into
their little carriage to drive about. Of an
evening mostly they had open-air music.

It was decreed that the travellers should
enter Switzerland by the passes of the Jura,
that romantic region of pine -forests arid stony
hill pastures, of rich valleys and picturesque
villages. Towards evening, a beautiful rosy



4 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

evening, they approached Neufchatel through a
deep gorge ; on one side of the road rushed
and foamed a turbulent river, on the other rose
steep, broken diffs, tressed and shaded by over-
hanging trees and bushes. It was not unhke
parts of Derbyshire, Georgie said. And then
the lake stole into view, placid, steel-blue and
silver-grey ; and in the remote distance the
spectres of mountains that seemed to come and
go in the clouds of the sky. And this was their
first glimpse of the everlasting hills of ice and
snow.

They descended at an inn on the borders of
the lake, and Georgie was soon put in possession
of comfortable letters. Her mood became radi-
ant, and after dinner, Tom having a desire to
go out upon the lake, Georgie consented, and
they all walked to the place where boats lay
moored for hire. But the boatmen had gone
home. Tom, English-lad like, was for going
alone, Georgie too, but Winny said, no, she
thanked them, she had heard the lake was
treacherous at certain hours, and the absence of
the boatmen appeared to intimate that this hour



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. 5

of the evening might be the perilous time.
However, Georgie and Tom would go, and
left the prudent Winny — the little coward —
wrapt up warmly, and seated on the shelving
shore, to watch them rowinor and floatinor about.
They landed all safe again, but the proprietor
of the inn brought them to read a paragraph in
the last issue of a local newspaper from which
they learnt that they had acted with the same
foolhardiness of ignorance that had cost the
lives of two of their countrymen and two native
boatmen only the week before. This gave
them a caution, and made them more submis-
sive for the future to the traditions of experience
— a signal relief to Winny ; for Tom had been
prattling contemptuously of guides, and how he
would not be bothered with a fudge of a guide
if he went to take a walk up a mountain, and
having come away from Gotham a trio, she had
a natural desire to return a trio. She avowed a
candid reluctance to entrusting her personal
safety to confident young persons who would
undertake to drive, knowing nothing of horses,
and to sail a boat, knowing nothing of sailing.



6 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

Tom might call her timid if he pleased ; she
was not hurt thereby, nor was her actual cour-
age abated — let him wait and see ; perhaps an
opportunity might be given her before long of
proving that she had as good pluck and nerve
as need be expected in a woman — as good,
even, as his own. Tom looked mighty incredu-
lous, but said kindly that, of course, he did not
blame her for not being brave — intrepidity, and
that sort of thing, belonged to men.

Winny got that opportunity the very next
day. The three comrades crossed the lake in
the market-boat for Morat. Returning in the
evening, a breeze sprang up, and clouds ob-
scured the sky. With rumbling of thunder the
gloom increased. The black water, swollen
with the wind, clung heavily to the boat — a
broad-beamed, sound, good boat it had seemed
in the sunshine and smooth water, but now a
mere cranky old craft, fit for anything but rough
weather. But that was not the risk. The
stoutest would have been equally at the mercy
of one of those sudden, awful blasts, which are
the terror of the lake. In a moment, without



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. 7

warning, down they rush, quick as lightning,
invisible battering rams, and sink the bravest at
a blow. Winny Hesketh glanced in the faces of
the men ; their countenances were not alarmed,
but they were working their hearts out at the
oars. The market-folk sat square, stolid and
wary. Winny was silent and observant too.
Tom asked Georgle a question, was answered
with brevity, and a command to keep quiet.
To keep quiet was, in fact, the only courage for
the occasion — none other could have availed
anything — and a poor lady who had joined the
boat on its return, made herself the loud and
shrill exponent of the want of it. It was impos-
sible not to pity her inward commotion, but her
clamour was of the emotional sort that becomes
contagious. She was of British speech too,
which made her nervousness the more provok-
ing. Her voice never ceased : Was there

o

danger ? she was sure there was danger. If
there was danger, it would be safer to land ;
would the boatmen land their passengers any-
where ? The men wanted all their breath for
their rowing, and did not respond. An old



8 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

woman drew out her chaplet, and began to tell
her beads ; Georgie s eyes grew restless and
uneasy ; Tom, but for the shame of it, would
have cried. Nothing worse happened ; they
were quit with the fright. Winny Hesketh
admonished Tom not to brag over her again of
his bravery, and Tom magnanimously declared
that for coolness, the silent quality of courage,
she was the best-plucked one of them all. They
were the warmer friends for it. Fellow-travel-
lers, if they are to travel in peace and felicity,
must not lightly permit their clubbable pro-
perties and characteristics to be revoked in
doubt ; and the higher respect they can preserve
for one another the better will it be with them
in the end of their tour — and the pleasanter all
through it.

The order of the day for the next morning
was letter-writing and lounging. Georgie wrote
the letters : Tom and Winny visited the town
— made a tour of the museum, and each to the
other confessed amazement at the collection of
implements called of the Stone Age. They had
supposed that there were giants in those days.



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. 9

but these relics suggested pigmies rather. In
charge of the establishment was a young mat-
ron who deposited her baby on the floor over
against the glass-cases of fearsome birds — vul-
tures and the like — and left it there while she
conducted the strangers through the building.
The lawful guardian was absent, and had taken
away in his pocket the key of Rousseau's
library. From the museum Winny climbed up
to the castle by herself — it would have been
cruel to drag Tom there who wanted to be off
to the water. A complacent, well-to-do little
town is Neufchatel, and has seen and made some
history in Its time. You may observe the arms
of its counts and foreign governors painted in
panel round the grand hall, and the Prussian
eagle, its last alien protector, upon the door —
Prussia had not been put to the door then, when
our travellers were there. From the castle,
Winny passed to the church hard by — it is a
reformed church, and cold and drear on week-
days — and thence out on the sunny terrace,
planted with ancient trees, where she rested for
a sweet hour of reverie and remembrance, her



lO THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

contemplative gaze on the green hills which are
the lower outworks and buttresses of the great
range dominated by Mont Blanc. She enjoyed
many of such peaceful hours in the course of
the tour, and they were not its least happy
hours.

Winny returned to the Inn in time for the
table-d' hbte at one o'clock, where reappeared
the nervous poor lady of the market-boat
adventure. Her aspect was not such as to
invite recognition, but it proceeded from her.
Miss Denham, who was properly fastidious in
making acquaintances, telegraphed the strictest
reserve to Winny. Winny found this not so
easy. The lady was next to her, and willing
to talk. She mentioned yesterday's risk, and
asked If her neighbour was not in a * terrible
funk.' Tom stared and grinned with delight.
Winny was calmly deaf to the inquiry, on
which the stranger added : ' But I know you
were — and small blame to you ! — for you were
so awfully quiet'

Winny smiled and said : 'Is vociferation,
then, your infallible sign for courage ? '



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. 1 I

Georgle again telegraphed to her comrade
to hold her peace, and became intent upon her
dinner. It was, however, fated that this unde-
sirable acquaintance should be improved.

A drive to Chaumont to see the sunset
upon the mountains had been arranged for
the afternoon, and cosily in a carnage with a
pair of horses our friends set out. Tom elected
to sit with the driver, who was exhorted not to
press his cattle, but to give the travellers the
opportunity of admiring whatever was worthy
of admiration on the journey. It is all the way
uphill; the sun was hot and the road dusty.
They were not required to descend from the
carriage until they came to a pretty steep turn,
where the corn fields and rich pastures gave
place to woods of various foliage, at which
point stood poised amongst the trees a pro-
digious granite boulder, called the Pierre-a-bot.
Tom was very tiresome to know how it came
there — this specimen of a nine-pin coincided
with his views of a Stone Age much more nearly
than the little wee pins and knives of the
museum. As they emerged from the cool



I 2 THIS WORK- A- DAY WORLD.

covert after their inspection, they beheld twenty
paces off, toiHng up the hill with bag and
umbrella that poor lady. Tom sprang to his
place ; Winny more slowly and with hesitation
mounted to hers, and Georgie followed with
eyes averted from the pedestrian.

' She is walking to Chaumont — there is no
other place on this road to go to,' said Winny.
* It is inhuman to let her trudge in the dust and
the heat, when we have room to spare.'

* If you think so, invite her to take a seat in
the carriage — it is as much yours as mine,'
Georgie coldly replied.

Winny availed herself of the ungracious
permission, and as the stranger came along-
side, padding wearily, she said : ' We can give
you a lift if you like — we are going to Chau-
mont.'

* So am I — and thank you kindly,' was the
eager answer.

Georgie moved round to the back-seat,
opposite Winny. The stranger protested, but
took her vacated corner, and so the drive was
continued, with very intermittent conversation.



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. I 3

Georgle formally addressed her comrade as
* Miss Hesketh,' by way of warning her against
further indiscretions, and then shut her eyes,
and pretended to sleep. She lost nothing ; for
the prospect on either hand was of trees, and
soon only of fir-trees, erect, dark and mono-
tonous. The poor lady had the gift of curiosity.
Speaking with bated breath, she sifted Winny
more than Winny knew. Soon she was in
possession of the fact that the pale little person
was abroad for the recovery of her health after
illness ; that her fellow-travellers were brother
and sister, but not her brother and sister ; that
her vocation was that of a governess, and a
writer of stories besides— else where would be
her means of thus taking her ease ? She learnt
further that this expedition was but for the
evening ; that the friends would drink tea at
Chaumont, after sunset, and return to Neuf-
chatel by moonlight. It was the time of full
moon.

' You are lucky folks. I am trying to shoggle
down in the wilderness for the summer. H ealthy,
but slow, as you will allow when you have seen



,14 THIS WORK- A- DAY WORLD.

it,' was the stranger's communication respect-
ing herself.

A spasm of pain and disgust distorted
Georgie's features, and she opened her eyes
•full upon the familiar vagrant. She was silent,
and a dull red suffusion covered her face.
Poor soul, she was certainly not a companion
of choice, but Winny had conceived a pity for
her. If she had an air of swagger and a tone
of bravado, they could not altogether hide the
timorousness of a woman who has had her
troubles, and lives in dread and doubt of how
strangers may scan and reckon her up.
Georgie's experience had done this already
with very tolerable accuracy ; Winny, without
data to work from, discerned only a once-
gentlewoman, fallen on evil days, who had lost
heart, and let herself go to wreck as a firmer-
braced character never could have done.

Fortunately the carriage was now in sight of
the long, low house, which affords a cool summer
lodging to tourists and refugees from the hot
valley below. As it stopped at the verandah, a
girl of ten years old or thereabouts came hop-



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. I 5

ping out on the gravel In slippers down at heel
and a shabby frock that barely reached to her
knees — a neglected little creature, but merry
and careless as a grasshopper. She hailed the
poor lady as her mamma, and was bidden to
get away — a command of which she took no
notice. Miss Denham alighted the first, and
w^th severe politeness assisted the stranger to
descend, took her umbrella and bag, and handed
them to the child. In return she received a
card inscribed with the name of 'Mrs Ross
Browne,' which she acknowledged with the
stiffest of bows, and a change of colour, as if
greatly disturbed. Mrs Ross Browne retired,
and Georgie, having ordered tea, took Winny
under her arm, and walked her off to that point
of view beyond the house from which the most
extensive prospect is to be obtained. On the
road Winny received the lecture she had
earned.

' I would have gone fifty miles about to avoid
that woman, Winny,' Miss Denham said with
suppressed irritation. 'No, I never saw her
before, but I know her history — it Is not a



1 6 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

pretty history, nor is she a pretty acquaintance
to pick up by the way.'

Winny expressed her compunction, and hoped
they would be none the worse for it when they
left her behind at Chaumont an hour or two
hence.

* I am not sure that we shall be none the
worse for it — she may use our names,' Georgie
rejoined. ' The fact is, Winny, you do not
know the world as I know it, and I must beg
that you will not be so easy of address while
we are travelling with only Tom. We are
both independent women, and our own mis-
tresses in a fashion, but we are not old enough
to do just as we please, and we cannot be too
cautious of contracting undesirable intimacies.
They are always the most difficult to shake

off.'

Winny promised to be more discreet in future,

and wished to know something of the luckless

lady whose aspect of poverty had excited her

commiseration. Georgie said she might judge

of her by appearances — hers was not the decent

poverty of unmerited misfortune, but the



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. IJ

poverty of idleness, thriftlessness, and the
want of self-respect.

' She is legally separated from her husband
on the ground of incompatibility. He may
have been as much to blame as she was, but I
always pitied poor Ross- Browne. Give her
the opportunity, and she will tell you her life
and adventures — she is fond of doing that — and
will make out a good case for herself; but you
must take many grains of salt with her version.
I trust she will '' shoggle down in the wilder-
ness " and not descend upon our path again.
Prepare yourself to be publicly embraced
and effusively thanked for favours received
and favours to come whenever and wherever
she meets you next. And the world is very
small, Winny.*

* Don't tease, Georgie ! I shall keep her
at a distance. She has a crafty, faithless
eye, but she looks in such misery — almost
abject misery. And that little girl ! ' pleaded
Winny.

' If you will be hail-fellow with misery put
off your neat travelling costume, and put on

VOL. III. B



1 8 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

the dress of a sister of charity. Then you may
take guilt and sin by the hand, and walk blame-
less. But while you are of the world you will
be known by the company you keep — so let it
be good company.' Georgie was quite right ;
Winny was silently mortified. * And there is
another view of it,' Georgie went on rather
remorselessly : ' You told Mrs Ross- Browne
that you are a governess — a woman of her
coarse quality, even in her degradation, looks
down upon a respectable little governess as
an inferior person. Consider how you would
relish her patronage. You also told her that
you write stories — ever so small a notoriety will
serve her to boast of and climb by, and let me
tell you, Winny, that it will not be to your
literary advantage either that you should be
heard of as Mrs Ross- Browne's friend.'

' That is enough, Georgie. I won't be
scolded anymore! How you do talk!' cried
Winny in a decided pet.

Georgie smiled, and gave Winny's arm an
affectionate squeeze. * It Is all for your good—
you are so headlong and wilful,' said she.



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. 1 9

'And you cannot deny that you have made
mistakes in choosing whom you will love — one
sad, deplorable mistake, at any rate.'

WInny's eyes flashed with tearful indigna-
tion : ' Georgie, you think I'll bear anything ! '
cried she, facing round on the offender. ' You
are like one of those horrid doctors who enjoy
vivisection ! '

Georgie tittered, rather abashed — she had
a habit of treating Winny as very long-suffer-
ing, and there was a strain too much of the
curious inquirer in her. They walked on in
silence. Winny tried to withdraw her arm,
but Georgie did not let it go.

Chaumont was a complete solitude that
afternoon. No one crossed their path. No
one intruded on their rest at the end of the
walk. Tom was disporting himself in the
woods that fringed the fields before the house
in quest of anything wild. The sun was still
half an hour of setting, but the long shadows
of evening cast a glamour over the desolate,
vast tracts of marsh land which lie about the
lakes in the valley. Neufchatel spread out a



20 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

long wide silver sheet ; at its head the pros-
perous old town climbing up-hill, and a few
villages set along its shores. Bienne and
Morat gleamed further off, and far, far away,
beyond the low country rich in grass, and the
green hills clothed with wood, rose the great
mountains, — on the north the Jura, and the
Alpine ranges from Titlis to Mont Blanc,
peak and pinnacle, ice-white and clear against
a sky of palest primrose lustre. It was a
wonderful and glorious sight! A rosy flush
passed upon them that changed and fainted
imperceptibly to a ghastly, transparent pallor
as the sun went down. Then a veil, fair and
soft, was drawn over the vision of death, and a
chill wintry air seemed to breathe upon the
faces of the hushed and awed watchers.
Georgia stood up with a shudder, wrapt
Winny's shawl close about her, and carried her
off, both silent, to tea at the house.

Mrs Ross-Browne did not mar their amity
by a re-appearance (of which each had a secret
fear), and the atmosphere having recovered its



A PROBATIONARY TOUR. 21

summer balmlness after the dew had fallen, the
drive down to Neufchatel by the light of the
moon, and through the gorge of the Seyon,
was perfect — delightful.



CHAPTER II.

A MEETING BY THE WAY.

This tour to Switzerland was one of the great
events of WInny Hesketh's life. It was posi-
tively a very great event to her whose normal
state of being was the laborious, dull monotony
of schoolrooms. People who have the means
and opportunity of running abroad annually,
who have but to will and to do of their good
pleasure, cannot, perhaps, appreciate the sense
of exquisite, calm, full satisfaction of heart and
mind that went with her on this journey. She
was acquiring a possession that would last her
her life. At the moment of a grand spectacle
she seemed, perhaps, less enthusiastic than
others, but the picture that had once entered
at her eyes she could bring back in distinct
vision years and years after. Then she was
not plagued with the restless, infatuated desire



A MEETING BY THE WAV. 23

to see and do all that Is written in guide-
books. A little was better to her often than
much ; and Georgle who had a pre-occupation
which made her capricious and lazy in the
matter of expeditions, was relieved of an
anxiety when she found that her comrade was
equally pleased to sit in a garden and gaze at
the mountains, or to go a little of the way up
here and there one, as other persons felt dis-
posed. In fact, Winny was renewing her
health and strength, and that by itself is a
sweet sensation. To have been led within
sight of the dark swelHng of Jordan, and then
to stray back by sunny, quiet paths to life
again, is one of the highest of earthly joys, and
it was hers, — hers with a pure gratitude and
thankfulness.

Miss Denham asked her where she expected
to find letters. Geneva, Berne, and Lucerne
were the addresses she had left with her
mother. At Geneva, however, by the pretty
colour that came into her face, one of the two


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