by Charlotte Yonge
HENRIETTA'S WISH; OR, DOMINEERING. A Tale.
ON the afternoon of a warm day in the end of July,
an open carriage was waiting in front of the painted toy-looking
building which served as the railway station of Teignmouth. The fine
bay horses stood patiently enduring the attacks of hosts of winged
foes, too well-behaved to express their annoyance otherwise than by
twitchings of their sleek shining skins, but duly grateful to the
coachman, who roused himself now and then to whisk off some more
pertinacious tormentor with the end of his whip.
Less patient was the sole occupant of the carriage, a maiden of
about sixteen years of age, whose shady dark grey eyes, parted lips,
and flushed complexion, were all full of the utmost eagerness, as every
two or three minutes she looked up from the book which she held in her
hand to examine the clock over the station door, compare it with her
watch, and study the countenances of the by- standers to see whether
they expressed any anxiety respecting the non-arrival of the train.
All, however, seemed quite at their ease, and after a time the arrival
of the railway omnibus and two or three other carriages, convinced her
that the rest of the world only now began to consider it to be due. At
last the ringing of a bell quickened everybody into a sudden state of
activity, and assured her that the much-desired moment was come. The
cloud of smoke was seen, the panting of the engine was heard, the train
displayed its length before the station, men ran along tapping the
doors of the carriages, and shouting a word which bore some distant
resemblance to "Teignmouth," and at the same moment various travellers
emerged from the different vehicles.
Her eye eagerly sought out one of these arrivals, who on his side,
after a hasty greeting to the servant who met him on the platform,
hurried to the carriage, and sprang into it. The two faces, exactly
alike in form, complexion, and features, were for one moment pressed
together, then withdrawn, in the consciousness of the publicity of the
scene, but the hands remained locked together, and earnest was the tone
of the "Well, Fred!" "Well, Henrietta!" which formed the greeting of
the twin brother and sister.
"And was not mamma well enough to come?" asked Frederick, as the
carriage turned away from the station.
"She was afraid of the heat. She had some business letters to write
yesterday, which teased her, and she has not recovered from them yet;
but she has been very well, on the whole, this summer. But what of your
school affairs, Fred? How did the examination go off?"
"I am fourth, and Alex Langford fifth. Every one says the prize will
lie between us next year."
"Surely," said Henrietta, "you must be able to beat him
then, if you are before him now."
"Don't make too sure, Henrietta," said Frederick, shaking his head,
"Langford is a hard-working fellow, very exact and accurate; I should
not have been before him now if it had not been for my verses."
"I know Beatrice is very proud of Alexander," said Henrietta, "she
would make a great deal of his success."
"Why of his more than of that of any other cousin?" said Frederick
with some dissatisfaction.
"O you know he is the only one of the Knight Sutton cousins whom she
patronizes; all the others she calls cubs and bears and Osbaldistones.
And indeed, Uncle Geoffrey says he thinks it was in great part owing to
her that Alex is different from the rest. At least he began to think
him worth cultivating from the time he found him and Busy Bee perched
up together in an apple-tree, she telling him the story of Alexander
the Great. And how she always talks about Alex when she is here."
"Is she at Knight Sutton?"
"Yes, Aunt Geoffrey would not come here, because she did not wish to
be far from London, because old Lady Susan has not been well. And only
think, Fred, Queen Bee says there is a very nice house to be let close
to the village, and they went to look at it with grandpapa, and he kept
on saying how well it would do for us."
"O, if we could but get mamma there!" said Fred. "What does she
"She knows the house, and says it is a very pleasant one," said
Henrietta; "but that is not an inch—no, not the hundredth part of an
inch—towards going there!"
"It would surely be a good thing for her if she could but be
brought to believe so," said Frederick. "All her attachments are
there—her own home; my father's home."
"There is nothing but the sea to be attached to, here," said
Henrietta. "Nobody can take root without some local interest, and as to
acquaintance, the people are always changing."
"And there is nothing to do," added Fred; "nothing possible but
boating and riding, which are not worth the misery which they cause
her, as Uncle Geoffrey says. It is very, very—"
"Aggravating," said Henrietta, supplying one of the numerous stock
of family slang words.
"Yes, aggravating," said he with a smile, "to be placed under the
necessity of being absurd, or of annoying her!"
"Annoying! O, Fred, you do not know a quarter of what she goes
through when she thinks you are in any danger. It could not be worse if
you were on the field of battle! And it is very strange, for she is not
at all a timid person for herself. In the boat, that time when the wind
rose, I am sure Aunt Geoffrey was more afraid than she was, and I have
seen it again and again that she is not easily frightened."
"No: and I do not think she is afraid for you."
"Not as she is for you, Fred; but then boys are so much more
precious than girls, and besides they love to endanger themselves so
much, that I think that is reasonable."
"Uncle Geoffrey thinks there is something nervous and morbid in it,"
said Fred: "he thinks that it is the remains of the horror of the
"What? Our father's accident?" asked Henrietta. "I never knew
rightly about that. I only knew it was when we were but a week old."
"No one saw it happen," said Fred; "he went out riding, his horse
came home without him, and he was lying by the side of the road."
"Did they bring him home?" asked Henrietta, in the same low
thrilling tone in which her brother spoke.
"Yes, but he never recovered his senses: he just said 'Mary,' once
or twice, and only lived to the middle of the night!"
"Terrible!" said Henrietta, with a shudder. "O! how did mamma ever
recover it?—at least, I do not think she has recovered it now,—but I
meant live, or be even as well as she is."
"She was fearfully ill for long after," said Fred, "and Uncle
Geoffrey thinks that these anxieties for me are an effect of the shock.
He says they are not at all like her usual character. I am sure it is
not to be wondered at."
"O no, no," said Henrietta. "What a mystery it has always seemed to
us about papa! She sometimes mentioning him in talking about her
childish days and Knight Sutton, but if we tried to ask any more,
grandmamma stopping us directly, till we learned to believe we ought
never to utter his name. I do believe, though, that mamma herself would
have found it a comfort to talk to us about him, if poor dear
grandmamma had not always cut her short, for fear it should be too much
"But had you not always an impression of something dreadful about
"O yes, yes; I do not know how we acquired it, but that I am sure we
had, and it made us shrink from asking any questions, or even from
talking to each other about it. All I knew I heard from Beatrice. Did
Uncle Geoffrey tell you this?"
"Yes, he told me when he was here last Easter, and I was asking him
to speak to mamma about my fishing, and saying how horrid it was to be
kept back from everything. First he laughed, and said it was the
penalty of being an only son, and then he entered upon this history, to
show me how it is."
"But it is very odd that she should have let you learn to ride,
which one would have thought she would have dreaded most of all."
"That was because she thought it right, he says. Poor mamma, she
said to him, 'Geoffrey, if you think it right that Fred should begin to
ride, never mind my folly.' He says that he thinks it cost her as much
resolution to say that as it might to be martyred. And the same about
going to school."
"Yes, yes; exactly," said Henrietta, "if she thinks it is right,
bear it she will, cost her what it may! O there is nobody like mamma.
Busy Bee says so, and she knows, living in London and seeing so many
people as she does."
"I never saw anyone so like a queen," said Fred. "No, nor anyone so
beautiful, though she is so pale and thin. People say you are like her
in her young days, Henrietta; and to be sure, you have a decent face of
your own, but you will never be as beautiful as mamma, not if you live
to be a hundred."
"You are afraid to compliment my face because it is so like your
own, Master Fred," retorted his sister; "but one comfort is, that I
shall grow more like her by living to a hundred, whereas you will lose
all the little likeness you have, and grow a grim old Black-beard! But
I was going to say, Fred, that, though I think there is a great deal of
truth in what Uncle Geoffrey said, yet I do believe that poor
grandmamma made it worse. You know she had always been in India, and
knew less about boys than mamma, who had been brought up with papa and
my uncles, so she might really believe that everything was dangerous;
and I have often seen her quite as much alarmed, or more perhaps, about
you—her consolations just showing that she was in a dreadful fright,
and making mamma twice as bad."
"Well," said Fred, sighing, "that is all over now, and she thought
she was doing it all for the best."
"And," proceeded Henrietta, "I think, and Queen Bee thinks, that
this perpetual staying on at Rocksand was more owing to her than to
mamma. She imagined that mamma could not bear the sight of Knight
Sutton, and that it was a great kindness to keep her from thinking of
"Ay, and that nobody can doctor her but Mr. Clarke," added Fred.
"Till now, I really believe," said Henrietta, "that the possibility
of moving has entirely passed out of her mind, and she no more believes
that she can do it than that the house can."
"Yes," said Fred, "I do not think a journey occurs to her among
events possible, and yet without being very fond of this place."
"Fond! O no! it never was meant to be a home, and has nothing
homelike about it! All her affections are really at Knight Sutton, and
if she once went there, she would stay and be so much happier among her
own friends, instead of being isolated here with me. In grandmamma's
time it was not so bad for her, but now she has no companion at all but
me. Rocksand has all the loneliness of the country without its
"There is not much complaint as to happiness, after all," said Fred.
"No, O no! but then it is she who makes it delightful, and it cannot
be well for her to have no one to depend upon but me. Besides, how
useless one is here. No opportunity of doing anything for the poor
people, no clergyman who will put one into the way of being useful. O
how nice it would be at Knight Sutton!"
"And perhaps she would be cured of her fears," added Fred;
"she would find no one to share them, and be convinced by seeing that
the cousins there come to no harm. I wish Uncle Geoffrey would
"Well, we will see what we can do," said Henrietta. "I do think we
may persuade her, and I think we ought; it would be for her happiness
and for yours, and on all accounts I am convinced that it ought to be
And as Henrietta came to this serious conclusion, they entered the
steep straggling street of the little town of Rocksand, and presently
were within the gates of the sweep which led to the door of the
verandahed Gothic cottage, which looked very tempting for summer's
lodging, but was little fitted for a permanent abode.
In spite of all the longing wishes expressed during the drive, no
ancestral home, beloved by inheritance, could have been entered with
more affectionate rapture than that with which Frederick Langford
sprung from the carriage, and flew to the arms of his mother, receiving
and returning such a caress as could only be known by a boy conscious
that he had done nothing to forfeit home love and confidence.
Turning back the fair hair that hung over his forehead, Mrs.
Langford looked into his eyes, saying, half-interrogatively,
half-affirmatively, "All right, Fred? Nothing that we need be afraid to
tell Uncle Geoffrey? Well, Henrietta, he is grown, but he has not
passed you yet. And now, Freddy, tell us about your examination," added
she, as fondly leaning on his arm, she proceeded into the drawing-room,
and they sat down together on the sofa, talking eagerly and joyously.
Mrs. Frederick Henry Langford, to give her her proper style, was in
truth one whose peculiar love- liness of countenance well deserved the
admiration expressed by her son. It was indeed pale and thin, but the
features were beautifully formed, and had that expression of sweet
placid resignation which would have made a far plainer face beautiful.
The eyes were deep dark blue, and though sorrow and suffering had
dimmed their brightness, their softness was increased; the smile was
one of peace, of love, of serenity; of one who, though sorrow-stricken,
as it were, before her time, had lived on in meek patience and
submission, almost a child in her ways, as devoted to her mother, as
little with a will and way of her own, as free from the cares of this
work-a-day world. The long luxuriant dark brown hair, which once, as
now with Henrietta, had clustered in thick glossy ringlets over her
comb and round her face, was in thick braids beneath the delicate lace
cap which suited with her plain black silk dress. Her figure was
slender, so tall that neither her well-grown son nor daughter had yet
reached her height, and, as Frederick said, with something queenlike in
its unconscious grace and dignity.
As a girl she had been the merriest of the merry, and even now she
had great playfulness of manner, and threw herself into the occupation
of the moment with a life and animation that gave an uncommon charm to
her manners, so that how completely sorrow had depressed and broken her
spirit would scarcely have been guessed by one who had not known her in
Frederick's account of his journey and of his school news was heard
and commented on, a work of time extending far into the dinner; the
next matter in the regular course of conversation on the day of arrival
was to talk over Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey's proceedings, and the Knight
"So, Uncle Geoffrey has been in the North?" said Fred.
"Yes, on a special retainer," said Mrs. Langford, "and very much he
seems to have enjoyed his chance of seeing York Cathedral."
"He wrote to me in court," said Fred, "to tell me what books I had
better get up for this examination, and on a bit of paper scribbled all
over one side with notes of the evidence. He said the Cathedral was
beautiful beyond all he ever imagined."
"Had he never seen it before?" said Henrietta. "Lawyers seem made to
travel in their vacations."
"Uncle Geoffrey could not be spared," said her mamma; "I do not know
what Grandmamma Langford would do if he cheated her of anymore of his
holidays than he bestows upon us. He is far too valuable to be allowed
to take his own pleasure."
"Besides, his own pleasure is at Knight Sutton," said Henrietta.
"He goes home just as he used from school," said Mrs. Langford.
"Indeed, except a few grey hairs and 'crowsfeet,' he is not in the
least altered from those days; his work and play come in just the same
"And, as his daughter says, he is just as much the home pet," added
Henrietta, "only rivalled by Busy Bee herself."
"No," said Fred, "according to Aunt Geoffrey, there are two suns in
one sphere: Queen Bee is grandpapa's pet, Uncle Geoffrey grandmamma's.
It must be great fun to see them."
"Happy people!" said Mrs. Langford.
"Henrietta says," proceeded Fred, "that there is a house to be let
at Knight Sutton."
"The Pleasance; yes, I know it well," said his mother: "it is not
actually in the parish, but close to the borders, and a very pretty
"With a pretty little stream in the garden, Fred, "said
Henrietta, "and looking into that beautiful Sussex coom, that there is
a drawing of in mamma's room."
"What size is it?" added Fred.
"The comparative degree," said Mrs. Langford, "but my acquaintance
with it does not extend beyond the recollection of a pretty-looking
drawing-room with French windows, and a lawn where I used to be allowed
to run about when I went with Grandmamma Langford to call on the old
Miss Drakes. I wonder your Uncle Roger does not take it, for those boys
can scarcely, I should think, be wedged into Sutton Leigh when they are
all at home."
"I wish some one else would take it," said Fred.
"Some one," added Henrietta, "who would like it of all things, and
be quite at home there."
"A person," proceeded the boy, "who likes Knight Sutton and its
inhabitants better than anything else."
"Only think," joined in the young lady, "how delightful it would be.
I can just fancy you, mamma, sitting out on this lawn you talk of, on a
summer's day, and nursing your pinks and carnations, and listening to
the nightingales, and Grandpapa and Grandmamma Langford, and Uncle and
Aunt Roger, and the cousins coming walking in at any time without
ringing at the door! And how nice to have Queen Bee and Uncle and Aunt
Geoffrey all the vacation!"
"Without feeling as if we were robbing Knight Sutton," said Mrs.
Langford. "Why, we should have you a regular little country maid,
Henrietta, riding shaggy ponies, and scrambling over hedges, as your
mamma did before you."
"And being as happy as a queen," said Hen- rietta; "and the poor
people, you know them all, don't you, mamma?"
"I know their names, but my generation must have nearly passed away.
But I should like you to see old Daniels the carpenter, whom the boys
used to work with, and who was so fond of them. And the old
schoolmistress in her spectacles. How she must be scandalized by the
introduction of a noun and a verb!"
"Who has been so cruel?" asked Fred. "Busy Bee, I suppose."
"Yes," said Henrietta, "she teaches away with all her might; but she
says she is afraid they will forget it all while she is in London, for
there is no one to keep it up. Now, I could do that nicely. How I
should like to be Queen Bee's deputy."
"But," said Fred, "how does Beatrice manage to make grandmamma
endure such novelties? I should think she would disdain them more than
the old mistress herself."
"Queen Bee's is not merely a nominal sovereignty," said Mrs.
"Besides," said Henrietta, "the new Clergyman approves of all that
sort of thing; he likes her to teach, and puts her in the way of it."
FROM this time forward everything tended towards
Knight Sutton: castles in the air, persuasions, casual words which
showed the turn of thought of the brother and sister, met their mother
every hour. Nor was she, as Henrietta truly said, entirely averse to
the change; she loved to talk of what she still regarded as her home,
but the shrinking dread of the pang it must give to return to the scene
of her happiest days, to the burial-place of her husband, to the abode
of his parents, had been augmented by the tender over-anxious care of
her mother, Mrs. Vivian, who had strenuously endeavoured to prevent her
from ever taking such a proposal into consideration, and fairly led her
at length to believe it out of the question.
A removal would in fact have been impossible during the latter years
of Mrs. Vivian's life: but she had now been dead about eighteen months,
her daughter had recovered from the first grief of her loss, and there
was a general impression throughout the family that now was the time
for her to come amongst them again. For herself, the possibility was
but beginning to dawn upon her; just at first she joined in building
castles and imagining scenes at Knight Sutton, without thinking of
their being realized, or that it only depended upon her, to find
herself at home there; and when Frederick and Henrietta, encouraged by
this manner of talking, pressed it upon her, she would reply with some
vague intention of a return some time or other, but still thinking of
it as something far away, and rather to be dreaded than desired.
It was chiefly by dint of repetition that it fully entered her mind
that it was their real and earnest wish that she should engage to take
a lease of the Pleasance, and remove almost immediately from her
present abode; and from this time it might be perceived that she always
shrank from entering on the subject in a manner which gave them little
reason to hope.
"Yet, I think," said Henrietta to her brother one afternoon as they
were walking together on the sands; "I think if she once thought it was
right, if Uncle Geoffrey would tell her so, or if grandpapa would
really tell her that he wished it, I am quite sure that she would
resolve upon it."
"But why did he not do so long ago?" said Fred.
"O! because of grandmamma, I suppose," said Henrietta; "but he
really does wish it, and I should not at all wonder if the Busy Bee
could put it into his head to do it."
"Or if Uncle Geoffrey would advise her," said Fred; "but it never
answers to try to make him propose anything to her. He never will do
it; he always says he is not the Pope, or something to that effect."
"If I was not fully convinced that it was right, and the best for
all parties, I would not say so much about it," said Henrietta, in a
tone rather as if she was preparing for some great sacrifice, instead
of domineering over her mother.
To domineering, her temptation was certainly great. With all her
good sense and ability, Mrs. Langford had seldom been called upon to
decide for herself, but had always relied upon her mother for counsel;
and during her long and gradual decline had learnt to depend upon her
brother-in-law, Mr. Geoffrey Langford, for direction in great affairs,
and in lesser ones upon her children. Girls are generally older of
their age than boys, and Henrietta, a clever girl and her mother's
constant companion, occupied a position in the family which amounted to
something more than prime minister. Some one person must always be
leader, and thus she had gradually attained, or had greatness thrust
upon her; for justice requires it to be stated, that she more
frequently tried to know her mamma's mind for her, than to carry her
own point, though perhaps to do so always was more than could be
expected of human nature at sixteen. The habit of being called on to
settle whether they should use the britska or the pony carriage,
whether satin or silk was best, or this or that book should be ordered,
was, however, sufficient to make her very unwilling to be thwarted in
other matters of more importance, especially in one on which were fixed
the most ardent hopes of her brother, and the wishes of all the family.
Their present abode was, as she often said to herself, not the one
best calculated for the holiday sports of a boy of sixteen, yet
Frederick, having been used to nothing else, was very happy, and had
tastes formed on their way of life. The twins, as little children, had
always had the same occupations, Henrietta learning Latin, marbles, and
trap-ball, and Frederick playing with dolls and working cross-stitch;
and even now the custom was so far continued, that he gave lessons in
Homer and Euclid for those which he received in Italian and music. For
present amusement there was no reason to complain; the neighbourhood
supplied many beautiful walks, while longer expeditions were made with
Mrs. Langford in the pony carriage, and sketching, botanizing, and
scrambling, were the order of the day. Boating too was a great delight,
and had it not been for an occasional fretting recollection that he
could not go out sailing without his mamma, and that most of his school
fellows were spending their holidays in a very different manner, he
would have been perfectly happy. Fortunately he had not sufficient
acquaintance with the boys in the neighbourhood for the contrast to be
often brought before him.
Henrietta did not do much to reconcile him to the anxious care with
which he was guarded. She was proud of his talents, of his
accomplishments, of his handsome features, and she would willingly have
been proud of his excellence in manly sports, but in lieu of this she
was proud of the spirit which made him long for them, and encouraged it
by her full and entire sympathy. The belief that the present restraints
must be diminished at Knight Sutton, was a moving spring with her, as
much as her own wish for the scenes round which imagination had thrown
such a brilliant halo. Of society they had hitherto seen little or
nothing; Mrs. Langford's health and spirits had never been equal to
visiting, nor was there much to tempt her in the changing inhabitants
of a watering-place. Now and then, perhaps, an old acquaintance or
distant connexion of some part of the family came for a month or six
weeks, and a few calls were exchanged, and it was one of these visits
that led to the following conversation.
"By the by, mamma," said Fred, "I meant to ask you what that foolish
woman meant about the St. Legers, and their not having thoroughly
approved of Aunt Geoffrey's marriage."
"About the most ill-placed thing she could have said, Freddy,"
replied Mrs. Langford, "considering that I was always accused of having
made the match."
"Made the match! O tell us, mamma; tell us all about it. Did you
"Not consciously, Fred, and Frank St. Leger deserves as much of the
credit as I do."
"Who was he? a brother of Aunt Geoffrey's?"
"O yes, Fred," said Henrietta, "to be sure you knew that. You have
heard how mamma came home from India with General St. Leger and his
little boy and girl. But by the by, mamma, what became of their
"Lady Beatrice? She died in India just before we came home. Well, I
used to stay with them after we came back to England, and of course
talked to my friend—"
"Call her Beatrice, mamma, and make a story of it."
"I talked to her about my Knight Sutton home, and cousins, and on
the other hand, then, Frank was always telling her about his school
friend Geoffrey Langford. At last Frank brought him home from Oxford
one Easter vacation. It was when the general was in command at —, and
Beatrice was in the midst of all sorts of gaieties, the mistress of the
house, entertaining everybody, and all exactly what a novel would call
"Were you there, mamma?"
"Yes, Beatrice had made a point of our coming to stay with her, and
very droll it was to see how she and Geoffrey were surprised at each
other; she to find her brother's guide, philosopher, and friend, the
Langford who had gained every prize, a boyish-looking, boyish-mannered
youth, very shy at first, and afterwards, excellent at giggling and
making giggle; and he to find one with the exterior of a fine gay lady,
so really simple in tastes and habits."
"Was Aunt Geoffrey ever pretty?" asked Fred.
"She is just what she was then, a little brown thing with no actual
beauty but in her animation and in her expression. I never saw a really
handsome person who seemed to me nearly as charming. Then she had, and
indeed has now, so much air and grace, so much of what, for want of a
better word, I must call fashion in her appearance, that she was always
"Yes," said Henrietta, "I can quite see that; it is not
gracefulness, and it is not beauty, nor is it what she ever thinks of,
but there is something distinguished about her. I should look twice at
her if I met her in the street, and expect her to get into a carriage
with a coronet. And then and there they fell in love, did they?"
"In long morning expeditions with the ostensible purpose of
sketching, but in which I had all the drawing to myself, while the
others talked either wondrous wisely or wondrous drolly. However, you
must not suppose that anything of the novel kind was said then;
Geoffrey was only twenty, and Beatrice seemed as much out of his reach
as the king's daughter of Hongarie."
"O yes, of course," said Henrietta, "but that only makes it more
delightful! Only to think of Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey having a novel in
"That there are better novels in real life than in stories, is a
truth or a truism often repeated, Henrietta," said her mother with a
soft sigh, which she repressed in an instant, and proceeded: "Poor
Frank's illness and death at Oxford brought them together the next year
in a very different manner. Geoffrey was one of his chief nurses to the
last, and was a great comfort to them all; you may suppose how grateful
they were to him. Next time I saw him, he seemed quite to have buried
his youthful spirits in his studies: he was read- ing morning, noon,
and night, and looking ill and overworked."
"O, Uncle Geoffrey! dear good Uncle Geoffrey," cried Henrietta, in
an ecstasy; "you were as delightful as a knight of old, only as you
could not fight tournaments for her, you were obliged to read for her;
and pining away all the time and saying nothing about it."
"Nothing beyond a demure inquiry of me when we were alone together,
after the health of the General. Well, you know how well his reading
succeeded; he took a double first class, and very proud of him we
"And still he saw nothing of her," said Fred.
"Not till some time after he had been settled in his chambers at the
Temple. Now you must know that General St. Leger, though in most
matters a wise man, was not by any means so in money matters: and by
some unlucky speculation which was to have doubled his daughter's
fortune, managed to lose the whole of it, leaving little but his pay."
"Capital!" cried Frederick, "that brings her down to him."
"So it did," said his mother, smiling; "but the spectators did not
rejoice quite so heartily as you do. The general's health was failing,
and it was hard to think what would become of Beatrice; for Lord St.
Leger's family, though very kind, were not more congenial than they are
now. As soon as all this was pretty well known, Geoffrey spoke, and the
general, who was very fond of him, gave full consent. They meant to
wait until it was prudent, of course, and were well contented; but just
after it was all settled, the general had a sudden seizure, and died.
Geoffrey was with him, and he treated him like a son, saying it was his
great comfort to know that her happiness was in his hands. Poor
Beatrice, she went first to the St. Legers, stayed with them two or
three months, then I would have her to be my bridesmaid, though"—and
Mrs. Langford tried to smile, while again she strangled a sobbing
sigh—"she warned me that her mourning was a bad omen. Well, she stayed
with my mother while we went abroad, and on our return went with us to
be introduced at Knight Sutton. Everybody was charmed, Mrs. Langford
and Aunt Roger had expected a fine lady or a blue one, but they soon
learnt to believe all her gaiety and all her cleverness a mere calumny,
and grandpapa was delighted with her the first moment. How well I
remember Geoffrey's coming home and thanking us for having managed so
well as to make her like one of the family, while the truth was that
she had fitted herself in, and found her place from the first moment.
Now came a time of grave private conferences. A long engagement which
might have been very well if the general had lived, was a dreary
prospect now that Beatrice was without a home; but then your uncle was
but just called to the bar, and had next to nothing of his own, present
or to come. However, he had begun his literary works, and found them
answer so well, that he believed he could maintain himself till briefs
came in, and he had the sort of talent which gives confidence. He
thought, too, that even in the event of his death she would be better
off as one of us, than as a dependent on the St. Legers; and at last by
talking to us, he nearly persuaded himself to believe it would be a
very prudent thing to marry. It was a harder matter to persuade his
father, but persuade him he did, and the wedding was at Knight Sutton
that very summer."
"That's right," cried Fred, "excellent and glorious! A farthing for
all the St. Legers put together."
"Nevertheless, Fred, in spite of your disdain, we were all of
opinion that it was a matter of rejoicing that Lord St. Leger and Lady
Amelia were present, so that no one had any reason to say that they
disapproved. Moreover, lest you should learn imprudence from my story,
I would also suggest that if your uncle and aunt had not been a couple comme il-y-en a peu, it would neither have been excellent nor
"Why, they are very well off," said Fred; "he is quite at the head
of his profession. The first thing a fellow asks me when he hears my
name is, if I belong to Langford the barrister."
"Yes, but he never would have been eminent, scarcely have had daily
bread, if he had not worked fearfully hard, so hard that without the
buoyant school-boy spirit, which can turn from the hardest toil like a
child to its play, his health could never have stood it."
"But then it has been success and triumph," said Fred; "one could
work like a galley-slave with encouragement, and never feel it
"It was not all success at first," said his mother; "there was hard
work, and disappointment, and heavy sorrow too; but they knew how to
bear it, and to win through with it."
"And were they very poor?" asked Henrietta.
"Yes: but it was beautiful to see how she accommodated herself to
it. The house that once looked dingy and desolate, was very soon pretty
and cheerful, and the wirtschaft so well ordered and
economical, that Aunt Roger was struck dumb with admiration. I shall
not forget Lady Susan's visit the last morning we spent with her in
London, how amazed she was to find 'poor Beatrice' looking so bright
and like herself, and how little she guessed at her morning's work, the
study of shirt-making, and the copying out a review of her husband's,
full of Greek quotations."
"Well, the poverty is all over now," said Henrietta; "but
still they live in a very quiet way, considering Aunt Geoffrey's
connexions and the fortune he has made."
"Who put that notion into your head, my wise daughter?" said Mrs.
Henrietta blushed, laughed, and mentioned Lady Matilda St. Leger, a
cousin of her aunt Geoffrey's of whom she had seen something in the
"The truth is," said Mrs. Langford, "that your aunt had display and
luxury enough in her youth to value it as it deserves, and he could not
desire it except for her sake. They had rather give with a free hand,
beyond what any one knows or suspects."
"Ah! I know among other things that he sends Alexander to school,"
"Yes, and the improvements at Knight Sutton," said Henrietta, "the
school, and all that grandpapa wished but could never afford. Well,
mamma, if you made the match, you deserve to be congratulated on your
"There's nobody like Uncle Geoffrey, I have said, and shall always
maintain," said Fred.
His mother sighed, saying, "I don't know what we should have done
without him!" and became silent. Henrietta saw an expression on her
countenance which made her unwilling to disturb her, and nothing more
was said till it was discovered that it was bed time.
"WHERE is Madame?" asked Frederick of his sister,
as she entered the breakfast room alone the next morning with the key
of the tea-chest in her hand.
"A headache," answered Henrietta, "and a palpitation."
"A bad one?"
"Yes, very; and I am afraid it is our fault, Freddy; I am convinced
it will not do, and we must give it up."
"How do you mean? The going to Knight Sutton? What has that to do
with it? Is it the reviving old recollections that is too much for
"Just listen what an effect last evening's conversation had upon
her. Last night, after I had been asleep a long time, I woke up, and
there I saw her kneeling before the table with her hands over her face.
Just then it struck one, and soon after she got into bed. I did not let
her know I was awake, for speaking would only have made it worse, but I
am sure she did not sleep all night, and this morning she had one of
her most uncomfortable fits of palpitation. She had just fallen asleep,
when I looked in after dressing, but I do not think she will be fit to
come down to-day."
"And do you think it was talking of Uncle and Aunt
Geoffrey that brought it on?" said Fred, with much concern; "yet it did
not seem to have much to do with my father."
"O but it must," said Henrietta. "He must have been there all the
time mixed up in everything. Queen Bee has told me how they were always
together when they were children."
"Ah! perhaps; and I noticed how she spoke about her wedding," said
Fred. "Yes, and to compare how differently it has turned out with Aunt
Geoffrey and with her, after they had been young and happy together.
Yes, no doubt it was he who persuaded the people at Knight Sutton into
letting them marry!"
"And their sorrow that she spoke of must have been his death," said
Henrietta. "No doubt the going over those old times renewed all those
"And you think going to Knight Sutton might have the same effect.
Well, I suppose we must give it up," said Fred, with a sigh. "After
all, we can be very happy here!"
"O yes! that we can. It is more on your account than mine, that I
wished it," said the sister.
"And I should not have thought so much of it, if I had not thought
it would be pleasanter for you when I am away," said Fred.
"And so," said Henrietta, laughing yet sighing, "we agree to
persuade each other that we don't care about it."
Fred performed a grimace, and remarked that if Henrietta continued
to make her tea so scalding, there would soon be a verdict against her
of fratricide; but the observation, being intended to conceal certain
feelings of disappointment and heroism, only led to silence.
After sleeping for some hours, Mrs. Langford awoke
refreshed, and got up, but did not leave her room. Frederick and
Henrietta went to take a walk by her desire, as she declared that she
preferred being alone, and on their return they found her lying on the
"Mamma has been in mischief," said Fred. "She did not think herself
knocked up enough already, so she has been doing it more thoroughly."
"Oh, mamma!" was Henrietta's reproachful exclamation, as she looked
at her pale face and red swollen eyelids.
"Never mind, my dears," said she, trying to smile, "I shall be
better now this is done, and I have it off my mind." They looked at her
in anxious interrogation, and she smiled outright with lip and eye.
"You will seal that letter with a good will, Henrietta," she said. "It
is to ask Uncle Geoffrey to make inquiries about the Pleasance."
"Mamma!" and they stood transfixed at a decision beyond their hopes:
then Henrietta exclaimed—
"No, no, mamma, it will be too much for you; you must not think of
"Yes," said Fred; "indeed we agreed this morning that it would be
better not. Put it out of your head, mamma, and go on here in peace and
comfort. I am sure it suits you best."
"Thank you, thank you, my dear ones," said she, drawing them towards
her, and fondly kissing them, "but it is all settled, and I am sure it
is better for you. It is but a dull life for you here."
"O no, no, no, dearest mamma: nothing can be dull with you," cried
Henrietta, wishing most sincerely to undo her own work. "We are, indeed
we are, as happy as the day is long. Do not fancy we are discontented;
do not think we want a change."
Mrs. Langford replied by an arch though subdued smile.
"But we would not have you to do it on our account," said Fred.
"Pray put it out of your head, for we do very well here, and it was
only a passing fancy."
"You will not talk me out of it, my dears," said Mrs. Langford. "I
know it is right, and it shall be done. It is only the making up my
mind that was the struggle, and I shall look forward to it as much as
either of you, when I know it is to be done. Now walk off, my dears,
and do not let that letter be too late for the post."
"I do not half like it," said Fred, pausing at the door.
"I have not many fears on that score," said she, smiling. "No, do
not be uneasy about me, my dear Fred, it is my proper place, and I must
be happy there. I shall like to be near the Hall, and to see all the
dear old places again."
"O, mamma, you cannot talk about them without your voice quivering,"
said Henrietta. "You do not know how I wish you would give it up!"
"Give it up! I would not for millions," said Mrs. Langford. "Now go,
my dears, and perhaps I shall go to sleep again."
The spirits of the brother and sister did not just at first rise
enough for rejoicing over the decision. Henrietta would willingly have
kept back the letter, but this she could not do; and sealing it as if
she were doing wrong, she sat down to dinner, feeling subdued and
remorseful, something like a tyrant between the condemnation and
execution of his victim. But by the time the first course was over, and
she and Frederick had begun to recollect their long-cherished wishes,
they made up their minds to be happy, and fell into their usual strain
of admiration of the unknown haven of their hopes, and of expectations
that it would in the end benefit their mother.
The next morning she was quite in her usual spirits, and affairs
proceeded in the usual manner; Frederick's holidays came to an end, and
he returned to school with many a fond lamentation from the mother and
sister, but with cheerful auguries from both that the next meeting
might be at Knight Sutton.
"Here, Henrietta," said her mother, as they sat at breakfast
together a day or two after Frederick's departure, turning over to her
the letter of which she had first broken the seal, while she proceeded
to open some others. It was Uncle Geoffrey's writing, and Henrietta
"MY DEAR MARY,—I would not write till I could give you some
positive information about the Pleasance, and that could not be done
without a conference with Hardy, who was not at home. I am heartily
glad that you think of coming among us again, but still I should like
to feel certain that it is you that feel equal to it, and not the young
ones who are set upon the plan. I suppose you will indignantly refute
the charge, but you know I have never trusted you in that matter.
However, we are too much the gainers to investigate motives closely,
and I cannot but believe that the effort once over, you would find it a
great comfort to be among your own people, and in your own country. I
fully agree with you also in what you say of the advantage to Henrietta
and Fred. My father is going to write, and I must leave him to do
justice to his own cordiality, and proceed to business."
Then came the particulars of freehold and copyhold, purchase or
lease, repair or disrepair, of which Henrietta knew nothing, and cared
less; she knew that her mamma was considered a great heiress, and
trusted to her wealth for putting all she pleased in her power: but it
was rather alarming to recollect that Uncle Geoffrey would consider it
right to make the best terms he could, and that the house might be lost
to them while they were bargaining for it.
"O, mamma, never mind what he says about its being dear," said she,
"I dare say it will not ruin us."
"Not exactly," said Mrs. Langford, smiling, "but gentlemen consider
it a disgrace not to make a good bargain, and Uncle Geoffrey must be
allowed to have his own way."
"O but, mamma, suppose some one else should take it."
"A village house is not like these summer lodgings, which are
snapped up before you can look at them," said Mrs. Langford; "I have no
fears but that it is to be had." But Henrietta could not help fancying
that her mother would regard it somewhat as a reprieve, if the bargain
was to go off independently of any determination of hers.
Still she had made up her mind to look cheerfully at the scheme, and
often talked of it with pleasure, to which the cordial and affectionate
letters of her father-in-law and the rest of the family, conduced not a
little. She now fully perceived that it had only been from forbearance,
that they had not before urged her return, and as she saw how earnestly
it was desired by Mr. and Mrs. Langford, reproached herself as for a
weakness for not having sooner resolved upon her present step.
Henrietta's work was rather to keep up her spirits at the prospect,
than to prevent her from changing her purpose, which never altered,
respecting a return to the neighbourhood of Knight Sutton, though
whether to the house of the tempting name, was a question which
remained in agitation during the rest of the autumn, for as surely as
Rome was not built in a day, so surely cannot a house be bought or
sold in a day, especially when a clever and cautious lawyer acts for
Matters thus dragged on, till the space before the Christmas
holidays was reckoned by weeks, instead of months, and as Mrs.
Frederick Langford laughingly said, she should be fairly ashamed to
meet her boy again at their present home. She therefore easily allowed
herself to be persuaded to accept Mr. Langford's invitation to take up
her quarters at the Hall, and look about her a little before finally
deciding upon the Pleasance. Christmas at Knight Sutton Hall had the
greatest charms in the eyes of Henrietta and Frederick; for many a time
had they listened to the descriptions given con amore by
Beatrice Langford, to whom that place had ever been a home, perhaps the
more beloved, because the other half of her life was spent in London.
It was a great disappointment, however, to hear that Mrs. Geoffrey
Langford was likely to be detained in London by the state of health of
her aunt, Lady Susan St. Leger, whom she did not like to leave, while
no other of the family was at hand. This was a cruel stroke, but she
could not bear that her husband should miss his yearly holiday, her
daughter lose the pleasure of a fortnight with Henrietta, or Mr. and
Mrs. Langford be deprived of the visit of their favourite son: and she
therefore arranged to go and stay with Lady Susan, while Beatrice and
her father went as usual to Knight Sutton.
Mr. Geoffrey Langford offered to escort his sister-in-law from
Devonshire, but she did not like his holidays to be so wasted. She had
no merely personal apprehensions, and new as railroads were to her,
declared herself perfectly willing and able to manage with no
companions but her daughter and maid, with whom she was to travel to
his house in London, there to be met in a day or two by the two
school-boys, Frederick and his cousin Alexander, and then proceed all
together to Knight Sutton.
Henrietta could scarcely believe that the long-wished-for time was
really come, packing up actually commencing, and that her waking would
find her under a different roof from that which she had never left. She
did not know till now that she had any attachments to the place she had
hitherto believed utterly devoid of all interest; but she found she
could not bid it farewell without sorrow. There was the old boatman
with his rough kindly courtesy, and his droll ways of speaking; there
was the rocky beach where she and her brother had often played on the
verge of the ocean, watching with mysterious awe or sportive delight
the ripple of the advancing waves, the glorious sea itself, the walks,
the woods, streams, and rocks, which she now believed, as mamma and
Uncle Geoffrey had often told her, were more beautiful than anything
she was likely to find in Sussex. Other scenes there were, connected
with her grandmother, which she grieved much at parting with, but she
shunned talking over her regrets, lest she should agitate her mother,
whom she watched with great anxiety.
She was glad that so much business was on her hands, as to leave
little time for dwelling on her feelings, to which she attributed the
calm quietness with which she went through the few trying days that
immediately preceded their departure. Henrietta felt this constant
employment so great a relief to her own spirits, that she was sorry on
her own account, as well as her mother's, when every possible order had
been given, every box packed, and nothing was to be done, but to sit
opposite to each other, on each side of the fire, in the idleness
which precedes candle-light. Her mother leant back in silence, and she
watched her with an anxious gaze. She feared to say anything of
sympathy with what she supposed her feeling, lest she should make her
weep. An indifferent speech would be out of place even if Henrietta
herself could have made it, and yet to remain silent was to allow
melancholy thoughts to prey upon her. So thought the daughter, longing
at the same time that her persuasions were all unsaid.
"Come here, my dear child," said her mother presently, and Henrietta
almost started at the calmness of the voice, and the serenity of the
tranquil countenance. She crossed to her mother, and sat down on a low
footstool, leaning against her. "You are very much afraid for me,"
continued Mrs. Langford, as she remarked upon the anxious expression of
her face, far different from her own, "but you need not fear, it is all
well with me; it would be wrong not to be thankful for those who are
not really lost to me as well as for those who were given to me here."
All Henrietta's consideration for her mother could not prevent her
from bursting into tears. "O mamma, I did not know it would be so like
going away from dear grandmamma."
"Try to feel the truth, my dear, that our being near to her depends
on whether we are in our duty or not."
"Yes, yes, but this place is so full of her! I do so love it! I did
not know it till now!"
"Yes, we must always love it, my dear child; but we are going to our
home, Henrietta, to your father's home in life and death, and it must
be good for us to be there. With your grandfather, who has wished for
us. Knight Sutton is our true home, the one where it is right for us to
Henrietta still wept bitterly, and strange it was that it should be
she who stood in need of consolation, for the fulfilment of her own
most ardent wish, and from the very person to whom it was the greatest
trial. It was not, however, self-reproach that caused her tears, that
her mother's calmness prevented her from feeling, but only attachment
to the place she was about to leave, and the recollections, which she
accused herself of having slighted. Her mother, who had made up her
mind to do what was right, found strength and peace at the moment of
trial, when the wayward and untrained spirits of the daughter gave way.
Not that she blamed Henrietta, she was rather gratified to find that
she was so much attached to her home and her grandmother, and felt so
much with her; and after she had succeeded in some degree in restoring
her to composure, they talked long and earnestly over old times and
THE journey to London was prosperously performed,
and Mrs. Frederick Langford was not overfatigued when she arrived at
Uncle Geoffrey's house at Westminster. The cordiality of their greeting
may be imagined, as a visit from Henrietta had been one of the
favourite visions of her cousin Beatrice, through her whole life; and
the two girls were soon deep in the delights of a conversation in which
sense and nonsense had an equal share.
The next day was spent by the two Mrs. Langfords in quiet together,
while Henrietta was conducted through a rapid whirl of sight-seeing by
Beatrice and Uncle Geoffrey, the latter of whom, to his niece's great
amazement, professed to find almost as much novelty in the sights as
she did. A short December day, though not what they would have chosen,
had this advantage, that the victim could not be as completely fagged
and worn out as in a summer's day, and Henrietta was still fresh and in
high spirits when they drove home and found to their delight that the
two schoolboys had already arrived.
Beatrice met both alike as old friends and almost brothers, but
Alexander, though returning her greeting with equal cordiality, looked
shyly at the new aunt and cousin, and as Henrietta suspected, wished
them elsewhere. She had heard much of him from Beatrice, and knew that
her brother regarded him as a formidable rival; and she was therefore
surprised to see that his broad honest face expressed more good humour
than intellect, and his manners wanted polish. He was tolerably
well-featured, with light eyes and dark hair, and though half a year
older than his cousin, was much shorter, more perhaps in appearance
than reality, from the breadth and squareness of his shoulders, and
from not carrying himself well.
Alexander was, as ought previously to have been recorded, the third
son of Mr. Roger Langford, the heir of Knight Sutton, at present living
at Sutton Leigh, a small house on his father's estate, busied with
farming, sporting, and parish business; while his active wife contrived
to make a narrow income feed, clothe, and at least half educate their
endless tribe of boys. Roger, the eldest, was at sea; Frederick, the
second, in India; and Alexander owed his more learned education to
Uncle Geoffrey, who had been well recompensed by his industry and good
conduct. Indeed his attainments had always been so superior to those of
his brothers, that he might have been considered as a prodigy, had not
his cousin Frederick been always one step before him.
Fred had greater talent, and had been much better taught at home, so
that on first going to school, he took and kept the higher place; but
this was but a small advantage in his eyes, compared with what he had
to endure out of school during his first half-year. Unused to any
training or companionship save of womankind, he was disconsolate,
bewildered, derided in that new rude world; while Alex, accustomed to
fight his way among rude brothers, instantly found his level, and even
extended a protecting hand to his cousin, who requited it with little
gratitude. Soon overcoming his effeminate habits, he grew expert and
dexterous, and was equal to Alex in all but main bodily strength; but
the spirit of rivalry once excited, had never died away, and with a
real friendship and esteem for each other, their names or rather their
nicknames had almost become party words among their schoolfellows.
Nor was it probable that this competition would be forgotten on this
first occasion of spending their holidays together. Fred felt himself
open to that most galling accusation of want of manliness, on account
at once of his ignorance of country sports, and of his knowledge of
accomplishments; but he did not guess at the feeling which made
Alexander on his side regard those very accomplishments with a feeling
which, if it were not jealousy, was at least very nearly akin to it.
Beatrice Langford had not the slightest claim to beauty. She was
very little, and so thin that her papa did her no injustice when he
called her skin and bones; but her thin brown face, with the aid of a
pair of very large deep Italian-looking eyes, was so full of brilliant
expression, and showed such changes of feeling from sad to gay, from
sublime to ridiculous, that no one could have wished one feature
otherwise. And if instead of being "like the diamond bright," they had
been "dull as lead," it would have been little matter to Alex. Beatrice
had been, she was still, his friend, his own cousin, more than what he
could believe a sister to be if he had one,—in short his own little
Queen Bee. He had had a monopoly of her; she had trained him in all the
civilization which he possessed, and it was with considerable
mortification that he thought himself lowered in her eyes by comparison
with his old rival, as old a friend of hers, with the same claim to
cousinly affection; and instead of understanding only what she had
taught him, familiar with the tastes and pursuits on which she set
perhaps too great a value.
Fred did not care nearly as much for Beatrice's preference: it might
be that he took it as a matter of course, or perhaps that having a
sister of his own, he did not need her sympathy, but still it was a
point on which he was likely to be sensitive, and thus her favour was
likely to be secretly quite as much a matter of competition as their
school studies and pastimes.
For instance, dinner was over, and Henrietta was admiring some
choice books of prints, such luxuries as Uncle Geoffrey now afforded
himself, and which his wife and daughter greatly preferred to the more
costly style of living which some people thought befitted them. She
called to her brother who was standing by the fire, "Fred, do come and
look at this beautiful Albert Durer of Sintram."
He hesitated, doubting whether Alexander would scorn him for an
acquaintance with Albert Durer, but Beatrice added, "Yes, it was an old
promise that I would show it to you. There now, look, admire, or be
"A wonderful old fellow was that Albert," said Fred, looking, and
forgetting his foolish false shame in the pleasure of admiration. "Yes;
O how wondrously the expression on Death's face changes as it does in
the story! How easy it is to see how Fouqué must have built it up! Have
you seen it, mamma?"
His mother came to admire. Another print was produced, and another,
and Fred and Beatrice were eagerly studying the elaborate engravings of
the old German, when Alex, annoyed at finding her too much engrossed to
have a word for him, came to share their occupation, and took up one
of the prints with no practised hand. "Take care, Alex, take care,"
cried Beatrice, in a sort of excruciated tone; "don't you see what a
pinch you are giving it! Only the initiated ought to handle a print:
there is a pattern for you," pointing to Fred.
She cut right and left: both looked annoyed, and retreated from the
table. Fred thinking how Alex must look down on fingers which possessed
any tenderness; Alex provoked at once and pained. Queen Bee's black
eyes perceived their power, and gave a flash of laughing triumph.
But Beatrice was not quite in her usual high spirits, for she was
very sorry to leave her mother; and when they went up stairs for the
night, she stood long over the fire talking to her, and listening to
certain parting cautions.
"How I wish you could have come, mamma! I am so sure that grandmamma
in her kindness will tease Aunt Mary to death. You are the only person
who can guard her without affronting grandmamma. Now I—"
"Had better let it alone," rejoined Mrs. Geoffrey Langford. "You
will do more harm than by letting things take their course. Remember,
too, that Aunt Mary was at home there long before you or I knew the
"Oh, if that tiresome Aunt Amelia would but have had some
consideration! To go out of town and leave Aunt Susan on our hands just
when we always go home!"
"We have lamented that often enough," said her mother smiling. "It
is unlucky, but it cannot be too often repeated, that wills and wishes
must sometimes bend."
"You say that for me, mamma," said Beatrice. "You think grandmamma
and I have too much will for each other."
"If you are conscious of that, Bee, I hope that you will
bend that wilful will of yours."
"I hope I shall," said Beatrice, "but .... Well, I must go to bed.
Good night, mamma."
And Mrs. Geoffrey Langford looked after her daughter anxiously, but
she well knew that Beatrice knew her besetting fault, and she trusted
to the many fervent resolutions she had made against it.
The next morning the party bade adieu to Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, and
set out on their journey to Knight Sutton. They filled a whole railroad
carriage, and were a very cheerful party. Alexander and Beatrice sat
opposite to each other, talking over Knight Sutton delights with
animation, Beatrice ever and anon turning to her other cousins with
explanations, or referring to her papa, who was reading the newspaper
and talking with Mrs. Frederick Langford.
The day was not long enough for all the talk of the cousins, and the
early winter twilight came on before their conversation was exhausted,
or they had reached the Allonfield station.
"Here we are!" exclaimed Beatrice, as the train stopped, and at the
same moment a loud voice called out, "All right! where are you, Alex?"
upon which Alexander tumbled across Henrietta to feel for the handle of
the carriage-door, replying, "Here, old fellow, let us out. Have you
brought Dumpling?" And Uncle Geoffrey and Beatrice exclaimed, "How d'ye
When Alexander had succeeded in making his exit, Henrietta beheld
him shaking hands with a figure not quite his own height, and in its
rough great-coat not unlike a small species of bear. Uncle Geoffrey and
Fred handed out the ladies, and sought their appurtenances in the dark,
and Henrietta began to give Alex credit for a portion of that which
maketh man, when he shoved his brother, admonishing him that there was
Aunt Mary, upon which Carey advanced, much encumbered with sheepish
shyness, presented a great rough driving-glove, and shortly and bluntly
replied to the soft tones which kindly greeted him, and inquired for
all at home.
"Is the Hall carriage come?" asked Alex, and, receiving a gruff
affirmative, added, "then, Aunt Mary, you had better come to it while
Uncle Geoffrey looks after the luggage," offered his arm with tolerable
courtesy, and conducted her to the carriage. "There," said he, "Carey
has driven in our gig, and I suppose Fred and I had better go back with
"Is the horse steady?" asked his aunt, anxiously.
"Dumple? To be sure! Never does wrong! do you, old fellow?" said
Alex, patting his old friend.
"And no lamps?"
"O, we know the way blindfold, and you might cross Sutton Heath a
dozen times without meeting anything but a wheelbarrow-full of peat."
"And how is the road now? It used to be very bad in my time."
"Lots of ruts," muttered Carey to his brother, who interpreted it,
"A few ruts this winter, but Dumpling knows all the bad places."
By this time Uncle Geoffrey came up, and instantly perceiving the
state of things, said, "I say, Freddy, do you mind changing places with
me? I should like to have a peep at Uncle Roger before going up to the
house, and then Dumpling's feelings won't be hurt by passing the turn
to Sutton Leigh."
Fred could not object, and his mother rejoiced in the belief that
Uncle Geoffrey would take the reins, nor did Beatrice undeceive her,
though, as the vehicle rattled past the carriage at full speed, she saw
Alexander's own flourish of the whip, and knew that her papa was
letting the boys have their own way. She had been rather depressed in
the morning on leaving her mother, but as she came nearer home her
spirits mounted, and she was almost wild with glee. "Aunt Mary, do you
know where you are?"
"On Sutton Heath, I presume, from the absence of landmarks."
"Yes, that we are. You dear old place, how d'ye do? You beginning of
home! I don't know when it is best coming to you: on a summer's
evening, all glowing with purple heath, or a frosty star-light night
like this. There is the Sutton Leigh turn! Hurrah! only a mile further
to the gate."
"Where I used to go to meet the boys coming home from school," said
her aunt, in a low tone of deep feeling. But she would not sadden their
blithe young hearts, and added cheerfully, "Just the same as ever, I
see: how well I know the outline of the bank there!"
"Ay, it is your fatherland, too, Aunt Mary! Is there not something
inspiring in the very air? Come, Fred, can't you get up a little
"Oceans, without getting it up," replied Fred. "I never was more
rejoiced in my whole life," and he began to hum Domum.
"Sing it, sing it; let us join in chorus as homage to Knight
Sutton," cried Henrietta.
And the voices began, "Domum, Domum, dulce Domum;" even Aunt Mary
herself caught the feelings of her young companions, felt herself
coming to her own beloved home and parents, half forgot how changed was
her situation, and threw herself into the delight of returning.
"Now, Fred," said Henrietta, "let us try those verses that you
found a tune for, that begin 'What is home?'"
This also was sung, and by the time it was finished they had reached
a gate leading into a long drive through dark beech woods. "This is the
beautiful wood of which I have often told you, Henrietta," said Mrs.
"The wood with glades like cathedral aisles," said Henrietta. "O,
how delightful it will be to see it come out in leaf!"
"Which I have never seen," said Beatrice. "I tell papa he has made
his fortune, and ought to retire, and he says he is too young for it."
"In which I fully agree with him," said her aunt. "I should not like
to see him with nothing to do."
"O, mamma, Uncle Geoffrey would never be anywhere with nothing to
do," said Henrietta.
"No," said her mother, "but people are always happier with work made
for them, than with what they make for themselves. Besides, Uncle
Geoffrey has too much talent to be spared."
"Ay," said Fred, "I wondered to hear you so devoid of ambition,
little Busy Bee."
"It is only Knight Sutton and thinking of May flowers that makes me
so," said Beatrice. "I believe after all, I should break my heart if
papa did retire without—"
"Without what, Bee?"
"Being Lord Chancellor, I suppose," said Henrietta very seriously.
"I am sure I should."
"His being in Parliament will content me for the present," said
Beatrice, "for I have been told too often that high principles don't
rise in the world, to expect any more. We can be just as proud of him
as if he was."
"You are in a wondrously humble and philosophic mood, Queen Bee,"
said Henrietta; "but where are we now?" added she, as a gate swung
"Coming into the paddock," said Beatrice; "don't you see the lights
in the house? There, that is the drawing-room window to the right, and
that large one the great hall window. Then upstairs, don't you see that
red fire-light? That is the south room, which Aunt Mary will be sure to
Henrietta did not answer, for there was something that subdued her
in the nervous pressure of her mother's hand. The carriage stopped at
the door, whence streamed forth light, dazzling to eyes long accustomed
to darkness; but in the midst stood a figure which Henrietta could not
but have recognized in an instant, even had not old Mr. Langford paid
more than one visit to Rocksand. Tall, thin, unbent, with high bald
forehead, clear eye, and long snowy hair; there he was, lifting rather
than handing his daughter-in-law from the carriage, and fondly kissing
her brow; then he hastily greeted the other occupants of the carriage,
while she received the kiss of Mrs. Langford.
They were now in the hall, and turning again to his daughter-in-law,
he gave her his arm, and led her into the drawing-room, where he once
more embraced her, saying, "Bless you, my own dear Mary!" She clung to
him for a moment as if she longed to weep with him, but recovering
herself in an instant, she gave her attention to Mrs. Langford, who was
trying to administer to her comfort with a degree of bustle and
activity which suited well with the alertness of her small figure and
the vivacity of the black eyes which still preserved their brightness,
though her hair was perfectly white. "Well, Mary, my dear, I hope you
are not tired. You had better sit down and take off your furs, or will
you go to your room? But where is Geoffrey?"
"He went with Alex and Carey, round by Sutton Leigh," said
"Ha! ha! my little Queen, are you there?" said grandpapa, holding
out his arms to her. "And," added he, "is not this your first
introduction to the twins, grandmamma? Why you are grown as fine a pair
as I would wish to see on a summer's day. Last time I saw you I could
hardly tell you apart, when you both wore straw hats and white
trousers. No mistake now though. Well, I am right glad to have you
"Won't you take off some of your wraps, Mary?" proceeded Mrs.
Langford, and her daughter-in-law, with a soft "Thank you," passively
obeyed. "And you too, my dear," she added to Henrietta.
"Off with that bonnet, Miss Henrietta," proceeded grandpapa. "Let me
see whether you are as like your brother as ever. He has your own face,
"Do not you think his forehead like—" and she looked to the end of
the room where hung the portraits of two young children, the brothers
Geoffrey and Frederick. Henrietta had often longed to see it, but now
she could attend to nothing but her mamma.
"Like poor dear Frederick?" said grandmamma. "Well, I can't judge by
firelight, you know, my dear, but I should say they were both your very
"You can't be the image of any one I should like better," said Mr.
Langford, turning to them cheerfully, and taking Henrietta's hand. "I
wish nothing better than to find you the image of your mamma inside and
"Ah, there's Geoffrey!" cried Mrs. Langford, springing up and almost
running to meet him.
"Well, Geoffrey, how d'ye do?" added his father with an
indescribable tone and look of heartfelt delight. "Left all your cares
"Left my wife behind me," said Uncle Geoffrey, making a
"Ay, it is a sad business that poor Beatrice cannot come," said both
the old people, "but how is poor Lady Susan?"
"As usual, only too nervous to be left with none of the family at
hand. Well, Mary, you look tired."
Overcome, Uncle Geoffrey would have said, but he thought the other
accusation would answer the same purpose and attract less attention,
and it succeeded, for Mrs. Langford proposed to take her up stairs.
Henrietta thought that Beatrice would have offered to save her the
trouble, but this would not have been at all according to the habits of
grandmamma or granddaughter, and Mrs. Langford briskly led the way to a
large cheerful-looking room, talking all the time and saying she
supposed Henrietta would like to be with her mamma. She nodded to their
maid, who was waiting there, and gave her a kindly greeting, stirred
the already bright fire into a blaze, and returning to her
daughter-in-law who was standing like one in a dream, she gave her a
fond kiss, saying, "There, Mary, I thought you would like to be here."
"Thank you, thank you, you are always kind."
"There now, Mary, don't let yourself be overcome. You would not
bring him back again, I know. Come, lie down and rest. There—that is
right—and don't think of coming down stairs. You think your mamma had
better not, don't you?"
"Much better not, thank you, grandmamma," said Henrietta, as she
assisted in settling her mother on the sofa. "She is tired and overcome
now, but she will be herself after a rest."
"And ask for anything you like, my dear. A glass of wine or a cup of
coffee; Judith will get you one in a moment. Won't you have a cup of
coffee, Mary, my dear?"
"Thank you, no thank you," said Mrs. Frederick Langford,
raising herself. "Indeed I am sorry—it is very foolish." Here the
choking sob came again, and she was forced to lie down. Grandmamma
stood by, warming a shawl to throw over her, and pitying her in audible
whispers. "Poor thing, poor thing! it is very sad for her. There! a
pillow, my dear? I'll fetch one out of my room. No? Is her head high
enough? Some sal-volatile? Yes, Mary, would you not like some
And away she went in search of it, while Henrietta, excessively
distressed, knelt by her mother, who, throwing her arms round her neck,
wept freely for some moments, then laid her head on the cushions again,
saying, "I did not think I was so weak!"
"Dearest mamma," said Henrietta, kissing her and feeling very
"If I have not distressed grandmamma!" said her mother anxiously.
"No, never mind me, my dear, it was fatigue and—"
Still she could not finish, so painfully did the familiar voices,
the unchanged furniture, recall both her happy childhood and the bridal
days when she had last entered the house, that it seemed as it were a
new thing, a fresh shock to miss the tone that was never to be heard
there again. Why should all around be the same, when all within was
altered? But it had been only the first few moments that had
overwhelmed her, and the sound of Mrs. Langford's returning footsteps
recalled her habit of self-control; she thanked her, held out her
quivering hand, drank the sal-volatile, pronounced herself much better,
and asked pardon for having given so much trouble.
"Trouble? my dear child, no such thing! I only wish I could see you
better. No doubt it is too much for you, this coming home the first
time; but then you know poor Fred is gone to a better—Ah! well, I see
you can't bear to speak of him, and perhaps after all quiet is the best
thing. Don't let your mamma think of dressing and coming down, my
There was a little combat on this point, but it ended in Mrs.
Frederick Langford yielding, and agreeing to remain upstairs.
Grandmamma would have waited to propose to her each of the dishes that
were to appear at table, and hear which she thought would suit her
taste; but very fortunately, as Henrietta thought, a bell rang at that
moment, which she pronounced to be "the half-hour bell," and she
hastened away, telling her granddaughter that dinner would be ready at
half-past five, and calling the maid outside the door to giver her full
directions where to procure anything that her mistress might want.
"Dear grandmamma! just like herself!" said Mrs. Frederick Langford.
"But Henrietta, my dear," she added with some alarm, "make haste and
dress: you must never be too late in this house!"
Henrietta was not much accustomed to dress to a moment, and she was
too anxious about her mamma to make speed with her whole will, and her
hair was in no state of forwardness when the dinner-bell rang, causing
her mamma to start and hasten her with an eager, almost alarmed manner.
"You don't know how your grandmamma dislikes being kept waiting," said
At last she was ready, and running down, found all the rest
assembled, evidently waiting for her. Frederick, looking anxious, met
her at the door to receive her assurances that their mother was better;
the rest inquired, and her apologies were cut short by grandmamma
calling them to eat her turkey before it grew cold. The spirits of all
the party were perhaps damped by Mrs. Frederick Langford's absence and
its cause, for the dinner was not a very lively one, nor the
conversation very amusing to Henrietta and Frederick, as it was chiefly
on the news of the country neighborhood, in which Uncle Geoffrey showed
As soon as she was released from the dining-room, Henrietta ran up
to her mamma, whom she found refreshed and composed. "But, O mamma, is
this a good thing for you?" said Henrietta, looking at the red case
containing her father's miniature, which had evidently been only just
closed on her entrance.
"The very best thing for me, dearest," was the answer, now given in
her own calm tones. "It does truly make me happier than anything else.
No, don't look doubtful, my Henrietta; if it were repining it might
hurt me, but I trust it is not."
"And does this really comfort you, mamma?" said Henrietta, as she
pressed the spring, and gazed thoughtfully on the portrait. "O, I
cannot fancy that! the more I think, the more I try to realize what it
might have been, think what Uncle Geoffrey is to Beatrice, till
sometimes, O mamma, I feel quite rebellious!"
"You will be better disciplined in time, my poor child," said her
mother, sadly. "As your grandmamma said, who could be so selfish as to
wish him here?"
"And can you bear to say so, mamma?"
She clasped her hands and looked up, and Henrietta feared she had
gone too far. Both were silent for some little time, until at last the
daughter timidly asked, "And was this your old room, mamma?"
"Yes: look in that shelf in the corner; there are all our old
childish books. Bring that one," she added, as Henrietta took one out,
and opening it, she showed in the fly-leaf the well-written "F.H.
Langford," with the giver's name; and below in round hand, scrawled all
over the page, "Mary Vivian, the gift of her cousin Fred." "I believe
that you may find that in almost all of them," said she. "I am glad
they have been spared from the children at Sutton Leigh. Will you bring
me a few more to look over, before you go down again to grandmamma?"
Henrietta did not like to leave her, and lingered while she made a
selection for her among the books, and from that fell into another
talk, in which they were interrupted by a knock at the door, and the
entrance of Mrs. Langford herself. She sat a little time, and asked of
health, strength, and diet, until she bustled off again to see if there
was a good fire in Geoffrey's room, telling Henrietta that tea would
soon be ready.
Henrietta's ideas of grandmammas were formed on the placid Mrs.
Vivian, naturally rather indolent, and latterly very infirm, although
considerably younger than Mrs. Langford; and she stood looking after in
speechless amazement, her mamma laughing at her wonder. "But, my dear
child," she said, "I beg you will go down. It will never do to have you
staying up here all the evening."
Henrietta was really going this time, when as she opened the door,
she was stopped by a new visitor. This was an elderly
respectable-looking maid-servant, old Judith, whose name was well known
to her. She had been nursery-maid at Knight Sutton at the time "Miss
Mary" arrived from India, and was now, what in a more modernized family
would have been called ladies'-maid or housekeeper, but here was a
nondescript office, if anything, upper housemaid. How she was loved
and respected is known to all who are happy enough to possess a
"I beg your pardon, miss," said she, as Henrietta opened the door
just before her, and Mrs. Frederick Langford, on hearing her voice,
called out, "O Judith! is that you? I was in hopes you were coming to
She advanced with a courtesy, at the same time affectionately taking
the thin white hand stretched out to her. "I hope you are better,
ma'am. It is something like old times to have you here again."
"Indeed I am very glad to be here, Judith," was the answer, "and
very glad to see you looking like your own dear self."
"Ah! Miss Mary; I beg your pardon, ma'am; I wish I could see you
"I shall, I hope, to-morrow, thank you, Judith. But you have not
been introduced to Henrietta, there."
"But I have often heard of you, Judith," said Henrietta, cordially
holding out her hand. Judith took it, and looked at her with
affectionate earnestness. "Sure enough, miss," said she, "as Missus
says, you are the very picture of your mamma when she went away; but I
think I see a look of poor Master Frederick too."
"Have you seen my brother, Judith?" asked Henrietta, fearing a
second discussion on likenesses.
"Yes, Miss Henrietta; I was coming down from Missus's room, when Mr.
Geoffrey stopped me to ask how I did, and he said 'Here's a new
acquaintance for you, Judith,' and there was Master Frederick. I should
have known him anywhere, and he spoke so cheerful and pleasant. A fine
young gentleman he is, to be sure."
"Why, we must be like your grandchildren!" said Henrietta; "but O!
here comes Fred."
And Judith discreetly retreated as Fred entered bearing a
summons to his sister to come down to tea, saying that he could
scarcely prevail on grandmamma to let him take the message instead of
They found Queen Bee perched upon the arm of her grandpapa's chair,
with one hand holding by his collar. She had been coaxing him to say
Henrietta was the prettiest girl he ever saw, and he was teazing her by
declaring he should never see anything like Aunt Mary in her girlish
days. Then he called up Henrietta and Fred, and asked them about their
home doings, showing so distinct a knowledge of them, that they laughed
and stood amazed. "Ah," said grandpapa, "you forgot that I had a Queen
Bee to enlighten me. We have plenty to tell each other, when we go
buzzing over the ploughed fields together on a sunny morning, haven't
we, Busy, Busy Bee?"
Here grandmamma summoned them all to tea. She liked every one to sit
round the table, and put away work and book, as for a regular meal, and
it was rather a long one. Then, when all was over, grandpapa called
out, "Come, young ladies, I've been wearying for a tune these three
months. I hope you are not too tired to give us one."
"O no, no, grandpapa!" cried Beatrice, "but you must hear Henrietta.
It is a great shame of her to play so much better than I do, with all
my London masters too."
And in music the greater part of the evening was passed away.
Beatrice came to her aunt's room to wish her good-night, and to hear
Henrietta's opinions, which were of great delight, and still greater
wonder—grandmamma so excessively kind, and grandpapa, O, he was a
grandpapa to be proud of!
IT was an agreeable surprise to Henrietta that her
mother waked free from headache, very cheerful, and feeling quite able
to get up to breakfast. The room looked very bright and pleasant by the
first morning light that shone upon the intricate frost-work on the
window; and Henrietta, as usual, was too much lost in gazing at the
branches of the elms and the last year's rooks' nests, to make the most
of her time; so that the bell for prayers rang long before she was
ready. Her mamma would not leave her, and remained to help her. Just as
they were going down at last, they met Mrs. Langford on her way up with
inquiries for poor Mary. She would have almost been better pleased with
a slight indisposition than with dawdling; but she kindly accepted
Henrietta's apologies, and there was one exclamation of joy from all
the assembled party at Mrs. Frederick Langford's unhoped-for entrance.
"Geoffrey, my dear," began Mrs. Langford, as soon as the greetings
and congratulations were over, "will you see what is the matter with
the lock of this tea-chest?—it has been out of order these three
weeks, and I thought you could set it to rights."
While Uncle Geoffrey was pronouncing on its complaints, Atkins, the
old servant, put in his head.
"If you please, sir, Thomas Parker would be glad to speak
to Mr. Geoffrey about his son on the railway."
Away went Mr. Geoffrey to the lower regions, where Thomas Parker
awaited him, and as soon as he returned was addressed by his father:
"Geoffrey, I put those papers on the table in the study, if you will
look over them when you have time, and tell me what you think of the
A few moments after the door was thrown wide open, and in burst
three boys, shouting with one voice—"Uncle Geoffrey, Uncle Geoffrey,
you must come and see which of Vixen's puppies are to be saved!"
"Hush, hush, you rogues, hush!" was Uncle Geoffrey's answer; "don't
you know that you are come into civilized society? Aunt Mary never saw
such wild men of the woods."
"All crazy at the sight of Uncle Geoffrey," said grandmamma. "Ah, he
spoils you all! but, come here, Johnny, come and speak to your aunt.
There, this is Johnny, and here are Richard and Willie," she added, as
they came up and awkwardly gave their hands to their aunt and cousins.
Henrietta was almost bewildered by seeing so many likenesses of
Alexander. "How shall I ever know them apart?" said she to Beatrice.
"Like grandmamma's nest of teacups, all alike, only each one size
below another," said Beatrice. "However, I don't require you to learn
them all at once; only to know Alex and Willie from the rest. Here,
Willie, have you nothing to say to me? How are the rabbits?"
Willie, a nice-looking boy of nine or ten years old, of rather
slighter make than his brothers, and with darker eyes and hair, came to
Queen Bee's side, as if he was very glad to see her, and only slightly
discomposed by Henrietta's neighbourhood.
John gave the information that papa and Alex were only
just behind, and in another minute they made their appearance. "Good
morning sir; good morning, ma'am," were Uncle Roger's greetings, as he
came in. "Ah, Mary, how d'ye do? glad to see you here at last; hope you
are better.—Ah, good morning, good morning," as he quickly shook hands
with the younger ones. "Good morning, Geoffrey; I told Martin to take
the new drill into the outfield, for I want your opinion whether it is
And thereupon the three gentlemen began a learned discussion on
drills, during which Henrietta studied her uncle. She was at first
surprised to see him look so young—younger, she thought, than Uncle
Geoffrey; but in a moment or two she changed her mind, for though
mental labour had thinned and grizzled Uncle Geoffrey's hair, paled his
cheek, and traced lines of thought on his broad high brow, it had not
quenched the light that beamed in his eyes, nor subdued the joyous
merriment that often played over his countenance, according with the
slender active figure that might have belonged to a mere boy. Uncle
Roger was taller, and much more robust and broad; his hair still
untouched with grey, his face ruddy brown, and his features full of
good nature, but rather heavy. In his plaid shooting coat and high
gaiters, as he stood by the fire, he looked the model of a country
squire; but there was an indescribable family likeness, and something
of the same form about the nose and lip, which recalled to Henrietta
the face she loved so well in Uncle Geoffrey.
The drill discussion was not concluded when Mrs. Langford gave the
signal for the ladies to leave the breakfast table. Henrietta ran up
stairs for her mother's work, and came down again laughing. "I am sure,
Queenie," said she, "that your papa chose his trade rightly. He may
well be called a great counsel. Besides all the opinions asked of him
at breakfast, I have just come across a consultation on the stairs
between him and Judith about—what was it?—some money in a savings'
"Yes," said Beatrice, "Judith has saved a sum that is wondrous in
these degenerate days of maids in silk gowns, and she is wise enough to
give 'Master Geoffrey' all the management of it. But if you are
surprised now, what will you be by the end of the day? See if his
advice is not asked in at least fifty matters."
"I'll count," said Henrietta: "what have we had already?" and she
took out pencil and paper—"Number one, the tea-chest; then the poor
man, and the turnpike trust—"
"Vixen's puppies and the drill," suggested her mamma.
"And Judith's money," added Henrietta. "Six already—"
"To say nothing of all that will come by the post, and we shall not
hear of," said Beatrice; "and look here, what I am going to seal for
him, one, two, three—eight letters."
"Why! when could he possibly have written them?"
"Last night after we were gone to bed. It shows how much more
grandmamma will let him do than any one else, that she can allow him to
sit up with a candle after eleven o'clock. I really believe that there
is not another living creature in the world who could do it in this
house. There, you may add your own affairs to the list, Henrietta, for
he is going to the Pleasance to meet some man of brick and mortar."
"O, I wish we could walk there!"
"I dare say we can. I'll manage. Aunt Mary, should you not like
Henrietta to go and see the Pleasance?"
"Almost as much as Henrietta would like it herself, Busy Bee," said
Aunt Mary; "but I think she should walk to Sutton Leigh to-day."
"Walk to Sutton Leigh!" echoed old Mrs. Langford, entering at the
moment; "not you, surely, Mary?"
"O no, no, grandmamma," said Beatrice, laughing; "she was only
talking of Henrietta's doing it."
"Well, and so do, my dears; it will be a very nice thing, if you go
this morning before the frost goes off. Your Aunt Roger will like to
see you, and you may take the little pot of black currant jelly that I
wanted to send over for poor Tom's sore mouth."
Beatrice looked at Henrietta and made a face of disgust as she
asked, "Have they no currant jelly themselves?"
"O no, they never can keep anything in the garden. I don't mean that
the boys take the fruit; but between tarts and puddings and desserts,
poor Elizabeth can never make any preserves."
"But," objected Queen Bee, "if one of the children is ill, do you
think Aunt Roger will like to have us this morning? and the post girl
could take the jelly."
"O nonsense, Bee," said Mrs. Langford, somewhat angrily; "you don't
like to do it, I see plain enough. It is very hard you can't be as
good-natured to your own little cousin as to one of the children in the
"Indeed, grandmamma, I did not mean that."
"O no, no, grandmamma," joined in Henrietta, "we shall be very glad
to take it. Pray let us."
"Yes," added Beatrice, "if it is really to be of any use, no one can
be more willing."
"Of any use?" repeated Mrs. Langford. "No! never mind.
I'll send some one."
"No, pray do not, dear grandmamma," eagerly exclaimed Henrietta; "I
do beg you will let us take it. It will be making me at home directly
to let me be useful."
Grandmamma was pacified. "When will you set out?" she asked; "you
had better not lose this bright morning."
"We will go directly," said Queen Bee; "we will go by the west
turning, so that Henrietta may see the Pleasance."
"My dear! the west turning will be a swamp, and I won't have you
getting wet in your feet and catching cold."
"O, we have clogs; and besides, the road does not get so dirty since
it has been mended. I asked Johnny this morning."
"As if he knew, or cared anything about it!—and you will be late
for luncheon. Besides, grandpapa will drive your aunt there the first
day she feels equal to it, and Henrietta may see it then. But you will
always have your own way."
Henrietta had seldom been more uncomfortable than during this
altercation; and but for reluctance to appear more obliging than her
cousin, she would have begged to give up the scheme. Her mother would
have interfered in another moment, but the entrance of Uncle Geoffrey
gave a sudden turn to affairs.
"Who likes to go to the Pleasance?" said he, as he entered. "All
whose curiosity lies that way may prepare their seven-leagued boots."
"Here are the girls dying to go," said Mrs. Langford, as well
pleased as if she had not been objecting the minute before.
"Very well. We go by Sutton Leigh: so make haste, maidens." Then,
turning to his mother, "Didn't I hear you say you had something to
send to Elizabeth, ma'am?"
"Only some currant jelly for little Tom; but if—"
"O grandmamma, that is my charge; pray don't cheat me," exclaimed
Henrietta. "If you will lend me a basket, it will travel much better
with me than in Uncle Geoffrey's pocket."
"Ay, that will be the proper division of labour," said Uncle
Geoffrey, looking well pleased with his niece; "but I thought you were
off to get ready."
"Don't keep your uncle waiting, my dear," added her mamma; and
Henrietta departed, Beatrice following her to her room, and there
exclaiming, "If there is a thing I can't endure, it is going to Sutton
Leigh when one of the children is poorly! It is always bad enough—"
"Bad enough! O, Busy Bee!" cried Henrietta, quite unprepared to hear
of any flaw in her paradise.
"You will soon see what I mean. The host of boys in the way; the
wooden bricks and black horses spotted with white wafers that you break
your shins over, the marbles that roll away under your feet, the whips
that crack in your ears, the universal air of nursery that pervades the
house. It is worse in the morning, too; for one is always whining over sum, es, est, and another over his spelling. O, if I had eleven
brothers in a small house, I should soon turn misanthrope. But you are
laughing instead of getting ready."
"So are you."
"My things will be on in a quarter of the time you take. I'll tell
you what, Henrietta, the Queen Bee allows no drones, and I shall teach
you to 'improve each shining hour;' for nothing will get you into such
dire disgrace here as to be always behind time. Besides, it is a great
shame to waste papa's time. Now, here is your shawl ready folded, and
now I will trust you to put on your boots and bonnet by yourself."
In five minutes the Queen Bee flew back again, and found Henrietta
still measuring the length of her bonnet strings before the glass. She
hunted her down stairs at last, and found the two uncles and grandpapa
at the door, playing with the various dogs, small and great, that
usually waited there. Fred and the other boys had gone out together
some time since, and the party now set forth, the three gentlemen
walking together first. Henrietta turned as soon as she had gone a
sufficient distance that she might study the aspect of the house. It
did not quite fulfil her expectations; it was neither remarkable for
age nor beauty; the masonry was in a sort of chessboard pattern,
alternate squares of freestone and of flints, the windows were not
casements as she thought they ought to have been, and the long wing, or
rather excrescence, which contained the drawing-room, was by no means
ornamental. It was a respectable, comfortable mansion, and that was all
that was to be said in its praise, and Beatrice's affection had so
embellished it in description, that it was no wonder that Henrietta
felt slightly disappointed. She had had some expectation, too, of
seeing it in the midst of a park, instead of which the carriage-drive
along which they were walking, only skirted a rather large grass field,
full of elm trees, and known by the less dignified name of the paddock.
But she would not confess the failure of her expectations even to
herself, and as Beatrice was evidently looking for some expressions of
admiration, she said the road must be very pretty in summer.
"Especially when this bank is one forest of foxgloves," said Queen
Bee. "Only think! Uncle Roger and the farmer faction wanted grandpapa
to have this hedge row grubbed up, and turned into a plain dead fence;
but I carried the day, and I dare say Aunt Mary will be as much obliged
to me as the boys who would have lost their grand preserve of stoats
and rabbits. But here are the outfield and the drill."
And going through a small gate at the corner of the paddock, they
entered a large ploughed field, traversed by a footpath raised and
gravelled, so as to be high and dry, which was well for the two girls,
as the gentlemen left them to march up and down there by themselves,
whilst they were discussing the merits of the brilliant blue machine
which was travelling along the furrows. It was rather a trial of
patience, but Beatrice was used to it, and Henrietta was in a temper to
be pleased with anything.
At last the inspection was concluded, and Mr. Langford came to his
granddaughters, leaving his two sons to finish their last words with
"Well, young ladies," said he, "this is fine drilling, in patience
at least. I only wish my wheat may be as well drilled with Uncle
Roger's new-fangled machines."
"That is right, grandpapa," said Queen Bee; "you hate them as much
as I do, don't you now?"
"She is afraid they will make honey by steam," said grandpapa, "and
render bees a work of supererogation."
"They are doing what they can towards it," said Beatrice. "Why, when
Mr. Carey took us to see his hives, I declare I had quite a
fellow-feeling for my poor subjects, boxed up in glass, with all their
privacy destroyed. And they won't even let them swarm their own way—a
most unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject."
"Well done, Queenie," said Mr. Langford, laughing; "a capital
champion. And so you don't look forward to the time when we are to have
our hay made by one machine, our sheep washed by another, our turkeys
crammed by a third—ay, and even the trouble of bird-starving saved
"Bird-starving!" repeated Henrietta.
"Yes; or keeping a few birds, according to the mother's elegant
diminutive," said Beatrice, "serving as live scarecrows."
"I should have thought a scarecrow would have answered the purpose,"
"This is one that is full of gunpowder, and fires off every ten
minutes," said grandpapa; "but I told Uncle Roger we would have none of
them here unless he was prepared to see one of his boys blown up at
every third explosion."
"Is Uncle Roger so very fond of machines?" said Henrietta.
"He goes about to cattle shows and agricultural meetings, and comes
home with his pockets crammed with papers of new inventions, which I
leave him to try as long as he does not empty my pockets too fast."
"Don't they succeed, then?" said Henrietta.
"Why—ay—I must confess we get decent crops enough. And once we
achieved a prize ox,—such a disgusting overgrown beast, that I could
not bear the sight of it; and told Uncle Roger I would have no more
such waste of good victuals, puffing up the ox instead of the frog."
Henrietta was not quite certain whether all this was meant in jest
or earnest; and perhaps the truth was, that though grandpapa had little
liking for new plans, he was too wise not to adopt those which
possessed manifest advantage, and only indulged himself in a good deal
of playful grumbling, which greatly teased Uncle Roger.
"There is Sutton Leigh," said grandpapa, as they came in sight of a
low white house among farm buildings. "Well, Henrietta, are you pre-
pared for an introduction to an aunt and half-a-dozen cousins, and
Jessie Carey into the bargain?"
"Jessie Carey!" exclaimed Beatrice in a tone of dismay.
"Did you not know she was there? Why they always send Carey over for
her with the gig if there is but a tooth-ache the matter at Sutton
"Is she one of Aunt Roger's nieces?" asked Henrietta.
"Yes," said Beatrice. "And—O! grandpapa, don't look at me in that
way. Where is the use of being your pet, if I may not tell my mind?"
"I won't have Henrietta prejudiced," said Mr. Langford. "Don't
listen to her, my dear: and I'll tell you what Jessie Carey is. She is
an honest, good-natured girl as ever lived; always ready to help every
one, never thinking of trouble, without an atom of selfishness."
"Now for the
but, grandpapa," cried Beatrice. "I
allow all that, only grant me the but."
"But Queen Bee, chancing to be a conceited little Londoner, looks
down on us poor country folks as unfit for her most refined and
"O grandpapa, that is not fair! Indeed, you don't really believe
that. O, say you don't!" And Beatrice's black eyes were full of tears.
"If I do not believe the whole, you believe the half, Miss Bee," and
he added, half whispering, "take care some of us do not believe the
other half. But don't look dismal on the matter, only put it into one
of your waxen cells, and don't lose sight of it. And if it is any
comfort to you, I will allow that perhaps poor Jessie is not the most
entertaining companion for you. Her vanity maggots are not of the same
sort as yours."
They had by this time nearly reached Sutton Leigh, a building little
altered from the farm-house it had originally been, with a small garden
in front, and a narrow footpath up to the door. As soon as they came
in sight there was a general rush forward of little boys in brown
holland, all darting on Uncle Geoffrey, and holding him fast by legs
"Let me loose, you varlets," he cried, and disengaging one hand, in
another moment drew from his capacious pocket a beautiful red ball,
which he sent bounding over their heads, and dancing far away with all
the urchins in pursuit.
At the same moment the rosy, portly, good-humoured Mrs. Roger
Langford appeared at the door, welcoming them cordially, and, as usual,
accusing Uncle Geoffrey of spoiling her boys. Henrietta thought she had
never seen a happier face than hers in the midst of cares, and
children, and a drawing-room which, with its faded furniture strewn
with toys, had in fact, as Beatrice said, something of the appearance
of a nursery.
Little Tom, the youngest, was sitting on the lap of his cousin,
Jessie Carey, at whom Henrietta looked with some curiosity. She was a
pretty girl of twenty, with a brilliant gipsy complexion, fine black
hair, and a face which looked as good-natured as every other inhabitant
of Sutton Leigh.
But it would be tedious to describe a visit which was actually very
tedious to Beatrice, and would have been the same to Henrietta but for
its novelty. Aunt Roger asked all particulars about Mrs. Frederick
Langford, then of Aunt Geoffrey and Lady Susan St. Leger, and then gave
the history of the misfortunes of little Tom, who was by this time on
Uncle Geoffrey's knee looking at himself in the inside of the case of
his watch. Henrietta's list, too, was considerably lengthened; for
Uncle Geoffrey advised upon a smoky chimney, mended a cart of
Charlie's, and assisted Willie in a puzzling Latin exercise.
It was almost one o'clock, and as a certain sound of
clattering plates was heard in the next room, Aunt Roger begged her
guests to come in to luncheon. Uncle Geoffrey accepted for the girls,
who were to walk on with him; but Mr. Langford, no eater of luncheons,
returned to his own affairs at home. Henrietta found the meal was the
family dinner. She had hardly ever been seated at one so plain, or on
so long a table; and she was not only surprised, but tormented herself
by an uncomfortable and uncalled-for fancy, that her hosts must be
supposing her to be remarking on deficiencies. The younger children
were not so perfect in the management of knife, fork, and spoon, as to
be pleasant to watch; nor was the matter mended by the attempts at
correction made from time to time by their father and Jessie. But
Henrietta endured better than Beatrice, whose face ill concealed an
expression of disgust and weariness, and who maintained a silence very
unlike her usual habits.
At last Uncle Geoffrey, to the joy of both, proposed to pursue their
walk, and they took leave. Queen Bee rejoiced as soon as they had
quitted the house, that the boys were too well occupied with their
pudding to wish to accompany them, but she did not venture on any
further remarks before her papa. He gave a long whistle, and then
turned to point out all the interesting localities to Henrietta. There
was something to tell of every field, every tree, or every villager,
with whom he exchanged his hearty greeting. If it were only a name, it
recalled some story of mamma's, some tradition handed on by Beatrice.
Never was walk more delightful; and the girls were almost sorry to find
themselves at the green gate of the Pleasance, leading to a gravel
road, great part of which had been usurped by the long shoots of the
evergreens. Indeed, the place could hardly be said to correspond in
appearance to its name, in its chilly, deserted, unfurnished state;
but the girls were resolved to admire, and while Uncle Geoffrey was
deep in the subject of repairs and deficiencies, they flitted about
from garret to cellar, making plans, fixing on rooms, and seeing
possibilities, in complete enjoyment. But even this could not last for
ever; and rather tired, and very cold, they seated themselves on a step
of the stairs, and there built a marvellous castle of delight for next
summer; then talked over the Sutton Leigh household, discussed the last
books they had read, and had just begun to yawn, when Uncle Geoffrey,
being more merciful than most busy men, concluded his business, and
summoned them to return home. Their homeward walk was by a different
road, through the village of Knight Sutton itself, which Henrietta had
not yet seen. It was a long straggling street, the cottages for the
most part in gardens, and with a general look of comfort and neatness
that showed the care of the proprietor.
"O, here is the church," said Henrietta, in a subdued voice, as they
came to the low flint wall that fenced in the slightly rising ground
occupied by the churchyard, surrounded by a whole grove of noble elm
trees, amongst which could just be seen the small old church, with its
large deep porch and curious low tower.
"The door is open," said Beatrice; "I suppose they are bringing in
the holly for Christmas. Should you like to look in, Henrietta?"
"I do not know," said she, looking at her uncle. "Mamma—"
"I think it might be less trying if she has not to feel for you and
herself too," said Uncle Geoffrey.
"I am sure I should wish it very much," said Henrietta, and they
entered the low, dark, solemn-looking building, the massive stone
columns and low-browed arches of which had in them something
peculiarly awful and impressive to Henrietta's present state of mind.
Uncle Geoffrey led her on into the chancel, where, among numerous mural
tablets recording the names of different members of the Langford
family, was one chiefly noticeable for the superior taste of its Gothic
canopy, and which bore the name of Frederick Henry Langford, with the
date of his death, and his age, only twenty-six. One of the large flat
stones below also had the initials F.H.L., and the date of the year.
Henrietta stood and looked in deep silence, Beatrice watching her
earnestly and kindly, and her uncle's thoughts almost as much as hers,
on what might have been. Her father had been so near him in age, so
constantly his companion, so entirely one in mind and temper, that he
had been far more to him than his elder brother, and his death had been
the one great sorrow of Uncle Geoffrey's life.
The first sound which broke the stillness was the opening of the
door, as the old clerk's wife entered with a huge basket of holly, and
dragging a mighty branch behind her. Uncle Geoffrey nodded in reply to
her courtesy, and gave his daughter a glance which sent her to the
other end of the church to assist in the Christmas decorations.
Henrietta turned her liquid eyes upon her uncle. "This is coming
very near him!" said she in a low voice. "Uncle; I wish I might be
quite sure that he knows me."
"Do not wish too much for certainty which has not been granted to
us," said Uncle Geoffrey. "Think rather of 'I shall go to him, but he
shall not return to me.'"
"But, uncle, you would not have me not believe that he is near to me
and knows how—how I would have loved him, and how I do love him," she
added, while the tears rose to her eyes.
"It may be so, my dear, and it is a thought which is not
only most comforting, but good for us, as bringing us closer to the
unseen world: but it has not been positively revealed, and it seems to
me better to dwell on that time when the meeting with him is so far
certain that it depends but on ourselves."
To many persons, Uncle Geoffrey would scarce have spoken in this
way; but he was aware of a certain tendency in Henrietta's mind to
merge the reverence and respect she owed to her parents, in a dreamy
unpractical feeling for the father whom she had never known, whose
voice she had never heard, and from whom she had not one precept to
obey; while she lost sight of that honour and duty which was daily
called for towards her mother. It was in honour, not in love, that
Henrietta was wanting, and with how many daughters is it not the same?
It was therefore, that though even to himself it seemed harsh, and cost
him a pang, Mr. Geoffrey Langford resolved that his niece's first visit
to her father's grave should not be spent in fruitless dreams of him or
of his presence, alluring because involving neither self-reproach nor
resolution; but in thoughts which might lead to action, to humility,
and to the yielding up of self-will.
Henrietta looked very thoughtful. "That time is so far away!" said
"How do you know that?" said her uncle in the deep low tone that
brought the full perception that "it is nigh, even at the doors."
She gave a sort of shuddering sigh, the reality being doubly brought
home to her, by the remembrance of the suddenness of her father's
"It is awful," she said. "I cannot bear to think of it."
"Henrietta," said her uncle solemnly, "guard yourself from being so
satisfied with a dream of the present as to lose sight of the real,
most real future." He paused, and as she did not speak, went on: "The
present, which is the means of attaining to that future, is one not of
visions and thoughts, but of deeds."
Again Henrietta sighed, but presently she said, "But, uncle, that
would bring us back to the world of sense. Are we not to pray that we
may in heart and mind ascend?"
"Yes, but to dwell with Whom? Not to stop short with objects once of
"Then would you not have me think of him at all?" said she, almost
"I would have you take care, Henrietta, lest the thought should
absorb the love and trust due to your true and Heavenly FATHER
, and at the same time you forget what on earth is owed to your mother.
Do you think that is what your father would desire?"
"You mean," she said sadly, "that while I do not think enough of
GOD, and while I love my own way so well, I have no right to
dwell on the thought I love best, the thought that he is near."
"Take it rather as a caution than as blame," said Uncle Geoffrey. A
long silence ensued, during which Henrietta thought deeply on the new
idea opened to her. Her vision, for it could not be called her memory
of her father, had in fact been too highly enshrined in her mind, too
much worshipped, she had deemed this devotion a virtue, and fostered as
it was by the solitude of her life, and the temper of her mother's
mind, the truth was as Uncle Geoffrey had hinted, and she began to
perceive it, but still it was most unwillingly, for the thought was
cherished so as to be almost part of herself. Uncle Geoffrey's manner
was so kind that she could not be vexed with him, but she was
disappointed, for she had hoped for a narration of some part of her
father's history, and for the indulgence of that soft sorrow which has
in it little pain. Instead of this she was bidden to quit her beloved
world, to soar above it, or to seek for a duty which she had rather not
believe that she had neglected, though—no, she did not like to look
Mr. Geoffrey Langford gave her time for thought, though of what
nature it might be, he could not guess, and then said, "One thing more
before we leave this place. Whether Fred cheerfully obeys the fifth
commandment in its full extent, may often, as I believe, depend on your
influence. Will you try to exert it in the right way?"
"You mean when he wishes to do things like other boys of his age,"
"Yes. Think yourself, and lead him to think, that obedience is
better than what he fancies manliness. Teach him to give up pleasure
for the sake of obedience, and you will do your work as a sister and
While Uncle Geoffrey was speaking, Beatrice's operations with the
holly had brought her a good deal nearer to them, and at the same time
the church door opened, and a gentleman entered, whom the first glance
showed Henrietta to be Mr. Franklin, the clergyman of the parish, of
whom she had heard so much. He advanced on seeing Beatrice with the
holly in her hand. "Miss Langford! This is just what I was wishing."
"I was just helping old Martha," said Beatrice; "we came in to show
my cousin the church, and—"
By this time the others had advanced.
"How well the church looks this dark afternoon," said Uncle
Geoffrey, speaking in a low tone, "it is quite the moment to choose for
seeing it for the first time. But you are very early in beginning your
"I thought if I had the evergreens here in time, I might
see a little to the arrangement myself," said Mr. Franklin, "but I am
afraid I know very little about the matter. Miss Langford, I wish you
would assist us with your taste."
Beatrice and Henrietta looked at each other, and their eyes sparkled
with delight. "I should like it exceedingly," said the former; "I was
just thinking what capabilities there are. And Henrietta will do it
"Then will you really be kind enough to come to-morrow, and see what
can be done?"
"Yes, we will come as soon as ever breakfast is over, and work
hard," said Queen Bee. "And we will make Alex and Fred come too, to do
the places that are out of reach."
"Thank you, thank you," said Mr. Franklin, eagerly; "I assure you
the matter was quite upon my mind, for the old lady there, good as she
is, certainly has not the best taste in church dressing."
"And pray, Mrs. Franklin, let us have a step ladder, for I am sure
there ought to be festoons round those two columns of the chancel arch.
Look, papa, do you not think so?"
"You might put a twining wreath like the columns at Roslin chapel,"
said her papa, "and I should try how much I could cover the Dutch
cherubs at the head of the tables of commandments."
"O, and don't you see," said Henrietta, "there in front of the altar
is a space, where I really think we might make the cross and 'i
h s' in holly?"
"But could you, Henrietta?" asked Beatrice.
"O yes, I know I can; I made 'M.L.' in roses on mamma's last
birthday, and set it up over the chimney-piece in the drawing-room, and
I am sure we could contrive this. How appropriate it will look!"
"Ah!" said Mr. Franklin, "I have heard of such things, but I had
always considered them as quite above our powers."
"They would be, without Henrietta," said Queen Bee, "but she was
always excellent as wreath weaving, and all those things that belong to
choice taste and clever fingers. Only let us have plenty of the
wherewithal, and we will do our work so as to amaze the parish."
"And now," said Uncle Geoffrey, "we must be walking home, my young
ladies. It is getting quite dark."
It was indeed, for as they left the church the sunlight was fast
fading on the horizon, and Venus was already shining forth in pure
quiet beauty on the clear blue sky. Mr. Franklin walked a considerable
part of the way home with them, adding to Henrietta's list by asking
counsel about a damp spot in the wall of the church, and on the
measures to be adopted with a refractory farmer.
By the time they reached home, evening was fast closing in; and at
the sound of their entrance Mrs. Langford and Frederick both came to
meet them in the hall, the former asking anxiously whether they had not
been lingering in the cold and damp, inspecting the clogs to see that
they were dry, and feeling if the fingers were cold. She then ordered
the two girls up stairs to dress before going into the drawing-room
with their things on, and told Henrietta to remember that dinner would
be at half-past five.
"Is mamma gone up?" asked Henrietta.
"Yes, my dear, long ago; she has been out with your grandpapa, and
is gone to rest herself."
"And how long have you been at home, Fred?" said Queen Bee. "Why,
you have performed your toilette already! Why did you not come to meet
"I should have had a long spy-glass to see which way you were
gone," said Fred, in a tone which, to Henrietta's ears, implied that he
was not quite pleased, and then, following his sister up stairs, he
went on to her, "I wish I had never come in, but it was about three,
and Alex and Carey thought we might as well get a bit of something for
luncheon, and thereby they had the pleasure of seeing mamma send her
pretty dear up to change his shoes and stockings. So there was an end
of me for the day. I declare it is getting too absurd! Do persuade
mamma that I am not made of sugar candy."
With Uncle Geoffrey's admonitions fresh in her mind, these
complaints sounded painfully in Henrietta's ears, and she would gladly
have soothed away his irritation; but, however convenient Judith might
find the stairs for private conferences, they did not appear to her
equally appropriate, especially when at the very moment grandpapa was
coming down from above and grandmamma up from below. Both she and Fred
therefore retreated into their mamma's room, where they found her
sitting on a low stool by the fire, reading by its light one of the old
childish books, of which she seemed never to weary. Fred's petulance,
to do him justice, never could endure the charm of her presence, and
his brow was as bright and open as his sister's as he came forward,
hoping that she was not tired.
"Quite the contrary, thank you, my dear," said she, smiling; "I
enjoyed my walk exceedingly."
"A walk!" exclaimed Henrietta.
"A crawl, perhaps you would call it, but a delightful crawl it was
with grandpapa up and down what we used to call the sun walk, by the
kitchen garden wall. And now, Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where have you
"I've been to Sutton Leigh, with the good Queen," answered
Henrietta, gaily. "I have seen everything—Sutton Leigh, and the
Pleasance, and the church! And, mamma, Mr. Franklin has asked us to go
and dress the church for Christmas! Is not that what of all things is
delightful? Only think of church-decking! What I have read and heard
of, but I always thought it something too great and too happy for me
ever to do."
"I hope you will be able to succeed in it," said her mamma. "What a
treat it will be to see your work on Sunday."
"And you are to help, too, Fred; you and Alexander are to come and
reach the high places for us. But do tell us your adventures."
Fred had been all over the farm; had been introduced to the whole
live stock, including ferrets and the tame hedge-hog; visited the
plantations, and assisted at the killing of a stoat; cut his name out
on the bark of the old pollard; and, in short, had been supremely
happy. He "was just going to see Dumpling and Vixen's puppies at Sutton
"Wen I caught you, my poor boy," said his mamma; "and very cruel it
was, I allow, but I thought you might have gone out again."
"I had no other thick shoes upstairs; but really, mamma, no one
thinks of minding those things."
"You should have seen him, Henrietta," said his mother; "his shoes
looked as if he had been walking through a river."
"Well, but so were all the others," said Fred.
"Very likely, but they are more used to it; and, besides, they are
such sturdy fellows. I should as soon think of a deal board catching
cold. But you—if there is as much substance in you, it is all height;
and you know, Fred, you would find it considerably more tiresome to be
laid up with a bad cold."
"I never catch cold," said Fred.
"Boys always say so," said Mrs. Frederick Lang- ford; "it is
a—what shall I call it?—a puerile delusion, which their mammas can
always defeat when they choose by a formidable list of colds and
coughs; but I won't put you in mind of how often you have sat with your
feet on the fender croaking like an old raven, and solacing yourself
with stick-liquorice and Ivanhoe."
"You had better allow him to proceed in his pursuit of a cold,
mamma," said Henrietta, "just to see how grandmamma will nurse it."
A knock at the door here put an end to the conversation, by
announcing the arrival of Bennet, Mrs. Frederick Langford's maid; who
had come in such good time that Henrietta was, for once in her life,
full dressed a whole quarter of an hour before dinner time. Nor was her
involuntary punctuality without a reward, for the interval of waiting
for dinner, sitting round the fire, was particularly enjoyed by Mr. and
Mrs. Langford; and Uncle Geoffrey, therefore, always contrived to make
it a leisure time; and there was so much merriment in talking over the
walk, and discussing the plans for the Pleasance, that Henrietta
resolved never again to miss such a pleasant reunion by her own
Nor was the evening less agreeable. Henrietta pleased grandmamma by
getting her carpet-work out of some puzzle, and by flying across the
room to fetch the tea-chest: she delighted grandpapa by her singing,
and by finding his spectacles for him; she did quite a praiseworthy
piece of her own crochet purse, and laughed a great deal at the battle
that was going on between Queen Bee and Fred about the hero of some new
book. She kept her list of Uncle Geoffrey's manifold applicants on the
table before her, and had the pleasure of increasing it by two men,
business unknown, who sent to ask him to come and speak to them; by a
loud and eager appeal from Fred and Beatrice to decide their contest,
by a question of taste on the shades of grandmamma's carpet-work, and
by her own query how to translate a difficult German passage which had
baffled herself, mamma, and Fred.
However, Queen Bee's number, fifty, had not been attained, and her
majesty was obliged to declare that she meant in a week instead of a
day, for which reason the catalogue was written out fair, to be
Mrs. Frederick Langford thought herself well recompensed for the
pain her resolution had cost her, by the pleasure that Mr. and Mrs.
Langford evidently took in her son and daughter, by the brightness of
her two children's own faces, and especially when Henrietta murmured in
her sleep something about "delightful," "bright leaves and red
berries," and then, "and 'tis for my own dear papa."
And after all, in the attainment of their fondest wish, were
Henrietta and Frederick as serenely happy as she was?
CHRISTMAS Eve, which was also a Saturday, dawned
brightly on Henrietta, but even her eagerness for her new employment
could not so far overcome her habitual dilatoriness as not to annoy her
cousin, Busy Bee, even to a degree of very unnecessary fidgeting when
there was any work in hand. She sat on thorns all breakfast time,
devoured what her grandpapa called a sparrow's allowance, swallowed her
tea scalding, and thereby gained nothing but leisure to fret at the
deliberation with which Henrietta cut her bread into little square
dice, and spread her butter on them as if each piece was to serve as a
model for future generations.
The subject of conversation was not precisely calculated to soothe
her spirits. Grandmamma was talking of giving a young party—a
New-year's party on Monday week, the second of January. "It would be
pleasant for the young people," she thought, "if Mary did not think it
would be too much for her."
Beatrice looked despairingly at her aunt, well knowing what her
answer would be, that it would not be at all too much for her, that she
should be very glad to see her former neighbours, and that it would be
a great treat to Henrietta and Fred.
"We will have the carpet up in the dining-room," added Mrs.
Langford, "and Daniels, the carpenter, shall bring his violin, and we
can get up a nice little set for a dance."
"O thank you, grandmamma," cried Henrietta eagerly, as Mrs. Langford
looked at her.
"Poor innocent, you little know!" murmured Queen Bee to herself.
"That is right, Henrietta," said Mrs. Langford, "I like to see young
people like young people, not above a dance now and then,—all in
"Above dancing," said grandpapa, who, perhaps, took this as a
reflection on his pet, Queen Bee, "that is what you call being on the
high rope, isn't it?"
Beatrice, though feeling excessively savage, could not help
"Are you on the high rope, Queenie?" asked Fred, who sat next to
her: "do you despise the light fantastic—?"
"I don't know: I do not mind it
much," was all she
could bring herself to say, though she could not venture to be more
decidedly ungracious before her father. "Not much in itself," she
added, in a lower tone, as the conversation grew louder, "it is the
people, Philip Carey, and all,—but hush! listen."
He did so, and heard Careys, Dittons, Evanses, &c., enumerated, and
at each name Beatrice looked gloomier, but she was not observed, for
her Aunt Mary had much to hear about the present state of the families,
and the stream of conversation flowed away from the fête.
The meal was at last concluded, and Beatrice in great haste ordered
Frederick off to Sutton Leigh, with a message to Alex to meet them at
the Church, and bring as much holly as he could, and his great knife.
"Bring him safe," said she, "for if you fail, and prove a corbie
messenger, I promise you worse than the sharpest sting of the most
Away she ran to fetch her bonnet and shawl, while Henrietta walked
up after her, saying she would just fetch her mamma's writing-case down
for her, and then get ready directly. On coming down, she could not
help waiting a moment before advancing to the table, to hear what was
passing between her mother and uncle.
"Do you like for me to drive you down to the Church to-day?" he
"Thank you," she answered, raising her mild blue eyes, "I think
"Remember, it will be perfectly convenient, and do just what suits
you," said he in a voice of kind solicitude.
"Thank you very much, Geoffrey," she replied, in an earnest tone,
"but indeed I had better go for the first time to the service,
especially on such a day as to-morrow, when thoughts must
be in better order."
"I understand," said Uncle Geoffrey: and Henrietta, putting down the
writing-case, retreated with downcast eyes, with a moment's perception
of the higher tone of mind to which he had tried to raise her.
In the hall she found Mrs. Langford engaged in moving her precious
family of plants from their night quarters near the fire to the bright
sunshine near the window. Henrietta seeing her lifting heavy
flower-pots, instantly sprang forward with, "O grandmamma, let me
Little as Mrs. Langford was wont to allow herself to be assisted,
she was gratified with the obliging offer, and Henrietta had carried
the myrtle, the old-fashioned oak-leaved geranium, with its fragrant
deeply-indented leaves, a grim-looking cactus, and two or three more,
and was deep in the story of the orange-tree, the pip of which had
been planted by Uncle Geoffrey at five years old, but which never
seemed likely to grow beyond the size of a tolerable currant-bush, when
Beatrice came down and beheld her with consternation—"Henrietta!
Henrietta! what are you about?" cried she, breaking full into the
story. "Do make haste."
"I will come in a minute," said Henrietta, who was assisting in
adjusting the prop to which the old daphne was tied.
"Don't stop for me, my dear," said Mrs. Langford: "there, don't let
me be in your way."
"O, grandmamma, I like to do this very much."
"But, Henrietta," persisted the despotic Queen Bee, "we really ought
to be there."
"What is all this about?" said grandmamma, not particularly well
pleased. "There, go, go, my dear; I don't want any more, thank you:
what are you in such a fuss for now, going out all day again?"
"Yes, grandmamma," said Beatrice, "did you not hear that Mr.
Franklin asked us to dress the church for to-morrow? and we must not
waste time in these short days."
"Dress the church! Well, I suppose you must have your own way, but I
never heard of such things in my younger days. Young ladies are very
Beatrice drove Henrietta up-stairs with a renewed "Do make haste,"
and then replied in a tone of argument and irritation, "I do not see
why young ladies should not like dressing churches for festivals better
than arraying themselves for balls and dances!"
True as the speech was, how would Beatrice have liked to have seen
her father or mother stand before her at that moment?
"Ah, well! it is all very well," said grand- mamma, shaking her
head, as she always did when out-argued by Beatrice, "you girls think
yourselves so clever, there is no talking to you; but I think you had
much better let old Martha alone; she has done it well enough before
ever you were born, and such a litter as you will make the Church won't
be fit to be seen to-morrow! All day in that cold damp place too! I
wonder Mary could consent, Henrietta looks very delicate."
"O no, grandmamma, she is quite strong, very strong indeed."
"I am sure she is hoarse this morning," proceeded Mrs. Langford; "I
shall speak to her mamma."
"O don't, pray, grandmamma; she would be so disappointed. And what
would Mr. Franklin do?"
"O very well, I promise you, as he has done before," said Mrs.
Langford, hastening off to the drawing-room, while her granddaughter
darted upstairs to hurry Henrietta out of the house before a
prohibition could arrive. It was what Henrietta had too often assisted
Fred in doing to have many scruples, besides which she knew how grieved
her mamma would be to be obliged to stop her, and how glad to find her
safe out of reach; so she let her cousin heap on shawls, fur cuffs, and
boas in a far less leisurely and discriminating manner than was usual
"It would be absolute sneaking (to use an elegant word), I suppose,"
said Beatrice, "to go down the back stairs."
"True," said Henrietta, "we will even take the bull by the horns."
"And trust to our heels," said Beatrice, stealthily opening the
door; "the coast is clear, and I know both your mamma and my papa will
not stop us if they can help it. One, two, three, and away!"
Off they flew, down the stairs, across the hall, and up the long
green walk, before they ventured to stop for Henrietta to put on her
gloves, and take up the boa that was dragging behind her like a huge
serpent. And after all, there was no need for their flight; they might
have gone openly and with clear consciences, had they but properly and
submissively waited the decision of their elders. Mr. Geoffrey
Langford, who did not know how ill his daughter had been behaving,
would have been very sorry to interfere with the plan, and easily
reconciled his mother to it, in his own cheerful pleasant way. Indeed
her opposition had been entirely caused by Beatrice herself; she had
not once thought of objecting when it had been first mentioned the
evening before, and had not Beatrice not first fidgeted and then
argued, would only have regarded it as a pleasant way of occupying
"I could scold you, Miss Drone," said Beatrice when the two girls
had set themselves to rights, and recovered breath; "it was all the
fault of your dawdling."
"Well, perhaps it was," said Henrietta, "but you know I could not
see grandmamma lifting those flower-pots without offering to help her."
"How many more times shall I have to tell you that grandmamma hates
to be helped?"
"Then she was very kind to me," replied Henrietta.
"I see how it will be," said Beatrice, smiling, "you will be
grandmamma's pet, and it will be a just division. I never yet could get
her to let me help her in anything, she is so resolutely independent."
Queen Bee did not take into account how often her service was either
grudgingly offered, or else when she came with a good will, it was also
with a way, it might be better, it might be worse, but in which she
was determined to have the thing done, and against which her grandmamma
was of course equally resolute.
"She is an amazing person!" said Henrietta. "Is she eighty yet?"
"Seventy-nine," said Beatrice; "and grandpapa eighty-two. I always
say I think we should get the prize in a show of grandfathers and
grandmothers, if there was one like Uncle Roger's fat cattle shows. You
know she thinks nothing of walking twice to church on a Sunday, and all
over the village besides when there is anybody ill. But here is the
Sutton Leigh path. Let me see if those boys are to be trusted. Yes,
yes, that's right! Capital!" cried she in high glee; "here is Birnam
wood coming across the field." And springing on one of the bars of the
gate near the top, she flourished her handkerchief, chanting or
"Greet thee well, thou holly green,
Welcome, welcome, art thou seen,
With all thy glittering garlands bending,
As to greet my—quick descending:" she finished in an altered tone,
as she was obliged to spring precipitately down to avoid a fall. "It
made a capital conclusion, however, though not quite what I had
proposed. Well, gentlemen," as four or five of the boys came up, each
bearing a huge holly bush—"Well, gentlemen, you are a sight for sair
"With sair fingers, you mean," said Fred; "these bushes scratch like
half a dozen wild cats."
"It is in too good a cause for me to pity you," said Beatrice.
"Nor would I accept it if you would," said Fred.
His sister, however, seemed determined on bestowing it whether he
would or not,—"How your hands are bleeding! Have you any thorns in
them? Let me see, I have my penknife."
"Stuff!" was Fred's gracious reply, as he glanced at Alex and Carey.
"But why did you not put on your gloves?" proceeded Henrietta.
"Gloves, nonsense!" said Fred, who never went without them at
"He will take up the gauntlet presently," said Beatrice. "By the by,
Alex, how many pairs of gloves have you had or lost in your life?"
"O, I always keep a pair for Sundays and for Allonfield," said Alex.
"Jessie says she will never let me drive her again without them,"
said Carey, "but trust me for that: I hate them, they are such girl's
things; I tell her then she can't be driven."
Fred could not bear to hear of Carey's driving, a thing which he had
not yet been permitted to attempt, and he hastily broke in, "You have
not told the news yet."
"The Euphrosyne is coming home," cried the boys with one voice. "Had
we not told you? The Euphrosyne is coming home, and Roger may be here
"That is something like news," said Queen Bee; "I thought it would
only be that the puppies could see, or that Tom's tooth was through.
Grandpapa has not heard it?"
"Papa is going up to tell him," said John. "I was going too, only
Alex bagged me to carry his holly-bush."
"And so the great Rogero is coming home!" said Beatrice. "How you
will learn to talk sea slang! And how happy grandmamma will be,
especially if he comes in time for her great affair. Do you hear, Alex?
you must practise your steps, for grandmamma is going to give a grand
party, Careys and Evanses, and all, on purpose to gratify Fred's great
love of dancing."
"I love dancing?" exclaimed Fred, in a tone of astonishment and
"Why, did you not look quite enraptured at breakfast when it was
proposed? I expected you every moment to ask the honour of my hand for
the first quadrille, but I suppose you leave it for Philip Carey!"
"If it comes at all you must start me, Bee," said Alex, "for I am
sure I can't dance with any one but you."
"Let me request it now," said Fred, "though why you should think I
like dancing I cannot imagine! I am sure nothing but your Majesty can
make it endurable."
"There are compliments to your Majesty," cried Henrietta, laughing;
"one will not or cannot dance at all without her, the other cannot find
it endurable! I long to see which is to be gratified."
"Time will show," said Beatrice; "I shall ponder on their requests,
and decide maturely, Greek against Prussian, lover of the dance against
hater of the dance."
"I don't love it, I declare," exclaimed Fred.
"I don't mind it, if you dance with me," said Alex.
And Beatrice was in her glory, teasing them both, and feeling
herself the object of attention to both.
Flirtation is not a pleasant word, and it is one which we are apt to
think applies chiefly to the manners of girls, vain of their personal
appearance, and wanting in sense or education. Beatrice would have
thought herself infinitely above it; but what else was her love of
attention, her delight in playing off her two cousins against each
other? Beauty, or the consciousness of beauty, has little to do with
it. Henrietta, if ever the matter occurred to her, could not help
knowing that she was uncommonly pretty, yet no one could be more free
from any tendency to this habit. Beatrice knew equally well that she
was plain, but that did not make the least difference; if any, it was
rather on the side of vanity, in being able without a handsome face, so
to attract and engross her cousins. It was amusing, gratifying,
flattering, to feel her power to play them off, and irritate the little
feelings of jealousy which she had detected; and thoughtless as to the
right or wrong, she pursued her course.
On reaching the church they found that, as was usual with her, she
had brought them before any one was ready; the doors were locked, and
they had to wait while Carey and John went to old Martha's to fetch the
key. In a few minutes more Mr. Franklin arrived, well pleased to see
them ready to fulfil their promise; the west door was opened, and
disclosed a huge heap of holly laid up under the tower, ready for use.
The first thing the boys did was to go up into the belfry, and out
on the top of the tower, and Busy Bee had a great mind to follow them;
but she thought it would not be fair to Mr. Franklin, and the wide
field upon which she had to work began to alarm her imagination.
Before the boys came down again, she had settled the plan of
operations with Henrietta and Mr. Franklin, dragged her holly bushes
into the aisle, and brought out her knife and string. They came down
declaring that they could be of no use, and they should go away, and
Beatrice made no objection to the departure of Carey and Johnny, who,
as she justly observed, would be only in the way; but she insisted on
keeping Fred and Alex.
"Look at all those pillars! How are we ever to twine them
by ourselves? Look at all those great bushes! How are we to lift them?
No, no, indeed, we cannot spare you, Fred. We must have some stronger
hands to help us, and you have such a good eye for this sort of thing."
Had Alexander gone, Fred would have found some excuse for following
him, rather than he should leave him with young ladies, doing young
ladies' work; but, as Beatrice well knew, Alex would never withdraw his
assistance when she asked Fred's, and she felt secure of them both.
"There, Alex, settle that ladder by the screen, please. Now will you
see if there is anything to tie a piece of string to? for it is of no
use to make a festoon if we cannot fasten it."
"I can't see anything."
"Here, give me your hand, and I'll look." Up tripped the little Bee,
just holding by his hand. "Yes, to be sure there is! Here is a great
rough nail sticking out. Is it firm? Yes, capitally. Now, Alex, make a
sailor's knot round it. Help me down first though—thank you. Fred,
will you trim that branch into something like shape. You see how I
mean. We must have a long drooping wreath of holly and ivy, to blend
with the screen. How tough this ivy is! Thank you—that's it. Well, Mr.
Franklin, I hope we shall get on in time."
Mr. Franklin was sure of it; and seeing all actively employed, and
himself of little use, he took his leave for the present, hoping that
the Misses Langford would not tire themselves.
Angels' work is Church decoration—work fit for angels, that is to
say; but how pure should be the hands and hearts engaged in it! Its
greatness makes it solemn and awful. It is work immediately for the
glory of GOD; it is work like that of the children who
strewed the palm-branches before the steps of the Redeemer! Who can
frame in imagination a more favoured and delightful occupation, than
that of the four young creatures who were, in very deed, greeting the
coming of their LORD with those bright and glistening
wreaths with which they were adorning His sanctuary?
Angels' work! but the angels veil their faces and tremble; and we
upon earth have still greater cause to tremble and bow down in awful
reverence, when we are allowed to approach so near His shrine. And was
that spirit of holy fear—that sole desire for His glory—the chief
thought with these young people?
Not that there was what even a severe judge could call irreverence
in word or deed; there was no idle laughter, and the conversation was
in a tone and a style which showed that they were all well trained in
respect for the sanctity of the place. Even in all the helping up and
down ladders and steps, in the reaching over for branches, in all the
little mishaps and adventures that befell them, their behaviour was
outwardly perfectly what it ought to have been; and that is no small
praise for four young people, under seventeen, left in church alone
together for so many hours.
But still Beatrice's great aim was, unconsciously perhaps, to keep
the two boys entirely devoted to herself, and to exert her power.
Wonderful power it was in reality, which kept them interested in
employment so little accordant with their nature; kept them amused
without irreverence, and doing good service all the time. But it was a
power of which she greatly enjoyed the exercise, and which did nothing
to lessen the rivalry between them. As to Henrietta, she was sitting
apart on a hassock, very happy, and very busy in arranging the Monogram
and wreath which she had yesterday proposed. She was almost forgotten
by the other three—certainly neglected—but she did not feel it so;
she had rather be quiet, for she could not work and talk like Queen
Bee; and she liked to think over the numerous verses and hymns that her
employment brought to her mind. Uncle Geoffrey's conversation dwelt
upon her too; she began to realize his meaning, and she was especially
anxious to fulfil his desire, by entreating Fred to beware of
temptations to disobedience. Opportunities for private interviews were,
however, very rare at Knight Sutton, and she had been looking forward
to having him all to herself here, when he must wish to visit his
father's grave with her. She was vexed for a moment that his first
attention was not given to it; but she knew that his first thought was
there, and boys never showed what was uppermost in their minds to
anyone but their sisters. She should have him by and by, and the
present was full of tranquil enjoyment.
If Henrietta had been free from blame in coming to Knight Sutton at
all, or in her way of leaving the house this morning, there would have
been little or no drawback to our pleasure in contemplating her.
"Is it possible!" exclaimed Queen Bee, as the last reverberation of
the single stroke of the deep-toned clock fell quivering on her ear. "I
thought you would have given us at least eleven more."
"What a quantity remains to be done!" sighed Henrietta, laying down
the wreath which she had just completed. "Your work looks beautiful,
Queenie, but how shall we ever finish?"
"A short winter's day, too!" said Beatrice. "One thing is
certain—that we can't go home to luncheon."
"What will grandmamma think of that?" said Henrietta doubtfully.
"Will she like it?"
Beatrice could have answered, "Not at all;" but she said, "O never
mind, it can't be helped; we should be late even if we were to set off
now, and besides we might be caught and stopped."
"Oh, that would be worse than anything," said Henrietta, quite
"So you mean to starve," said Alex.
"See what slaves men are to creature comforts," said Beatrice; "what
do you say, Henrietta?"
"I had much rather stay here," said Henrietta; "I want nothing."
"Much better fun to go without," said Fred, who had not often enough
missed a regular meal not to think doing so an honour and a joke.
"I'll tell you what will do best of all!" cried Queen Bee. "You go
to Dame Reid's, and buy us sixpennyworth of the gingerbread papa calls
the extreme of luxury, and we will eat it on the old men's bench in the
"Oho! her Majesty is descending to creature comforts," said Alex. "I
thought she would soon come down to other mortals."
"Only to gratify her famishing subjects," said Beatrice, "you
disloyal vassal, you! Fred is worth a dozen of you. Come, make haste.
She is sure to have a fresh stock, for she always has a great baking
when Mr. Geoffrey is coming."
"For his private eating?" said Fred.
"He likes it pretty well, certainly; and he seldom goes through the
village without making considerable purchase for the benefit of the
children in his path, who take care to be not a few. I found little
Jenny Woods made small distinction between Mr. Geoffrey and Mr. Ginger.
But come, Alex, why are you not off?"
"Because I don't happen to have a sixpence," said Alex, with an
honest openness, overcoming his desire to add "in my pocket." It cost
him an effort; for at school, where each slight ad- vantage was noted,
and comparisons perpetually made, Fred's superior wealth and larger
allowance had secured him the adherence of some; and though he either
knew it not, or despised such mammon worship, his rival was
sufficiently awake to it to be uncomfortable in acknowledging his
"Every one is poor at the end of the half," said Fred, tossing up
his purse and catching it again, so as to demonstrate its lightness.
"Here is a sixpence, thought, at her Majesty's service."
"And do you think she would take your last sixpence, you honour to
loyalty?" said Beatrice, feeling in her pocket. "We are not fallen
quite so low. But alas! the royal exchequer is, as I now remember,
locked up in my desk at home."
"And my purse is in my workbox," said Henrietta.
"So, Fred, I must be beholden to you for the present," said
Beatrice, "if it won't quite break you down."
"There are more where that came from," said Fred, with a careless
air. "Come along, Alex."
Away they went. "That is unlucky," soliloquised Queen Bee: "if I
could have sent Alex alone, it would have been all right, and he would
have come back again; but now one will carry away the other, and we
shall see them no more."
"No, no, that would be rather too bad," said Henrietta. "I am sure
Fred will behave better."
"Mark what I say," said Beatrice. "I know how it will be; a dog or a
gun is what a boy cannot for a moment withstand, and if we see them
again 'twill be a nine days' wonder. But come, we must to the work; I
want to look at your wreath."
She did not, however, work quite as cheerily as before,
and lost much time in running backwards and forwards to peep out at the
door, and in protesting that she was neither surprised nor annoyed at
the faithlessness of her envoys. At last a droll little frightened
knock was heard at the door. Beatrice went to open it, and a
whitey-brown paper parcel was held out to her by a boy in a green
canvas round frock, and a pair of round, hard, red, solid-looking
cheeks; no other than Dame Reid's grandson.
"Thank you," said she. "Did Master Alexander give you this?"
"Thank you, that's right!" and away he went.
"You see," said Queen Bee, holding up the parcel to Henrietta, who
came out to the porch. "Let us look. O, they have vouchsafed a note!"
and she took out a crumpled envelope, directed in Aunt Mary's
handwriting to Fred, on the back of which Alex had written, "Dear B.,
we beg pardon, but Carey and Dick are going up to Andrews's about his
terrier.—A. L." "Very cool, certainly!" said Beatrice, laughing, but
still with a little pique. "What a life I will lead them!"
"Well, you were a true prophet," said Henrietta, "and after all it
does not much signify. They have done all the work that is out of
reach; but still I thought Fred would have behaved better."
"You have yet to learn the difference between Fred with you or with
me, and Fred with his own congeners," said Beatrice; "you don't know
half the phases of boy nature."
Henrietta sighed; for Fred had certainly not been quite what she
expected him to-day. Not because he had appeared to forget her, for
that was nothing—that was only appearance, and her love was too
healthy and true even to feel it neglect; but he had forgotten his
father's grave. He was now neglecting the church; and far from its
consoling her to hear that it was the way with all boys when they came
together, it gave her one moment's doubt whether they were not happier,
when they were all in all to each other at Rocksand.
It was but for one instant that she felt this impression; the next
it had passed away, and she was sharing the gingerbread with her
cousin, and smiling at the great admiration in which it seemed to be
held by the natives of Knight Sutton. They took a short walk up and
down the churchyard while eating it, and then returned to their
occupation, well pleased, on re-entering, to see how much show they had
made already. They worked together very happily; indeed, now that all
thought of her squires was quite out of her head, Beatrice worked much
more in earnest and in the right kind of frame; something more of the
true spirit of this service came over her, and she really possessed
some of that temper of devotion which she fancied had been with her the
It was a beautiful thing when Henrietta raised her face, as she was
kneeling by the font, and her clear sweet voice began at first in a
low, timid note, but gradually growing fuller and stronger—
"Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King,
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
GOD and sinners reconciled."
Beatrice took up the strain at the first line, and sweetly did their
tones echo through the building; while their hearts swelled with
delight and thankfulness for the "good tidings of great joy." Another
and another Christmas hymn was raised, and never were carols sung by
happier voices; and the decorations proceeded all the better and more
suitably beneath their influence. They scarcely knew how time passed
away, till Henrietta, turning round, was amazed to see Uncle Geoffrey
standing just within the door watching them.
"Beautiful!" said he, as she suddenly ceased, in some confusion;
"your work is beautiful! I came here prepared to scold you a little,
but I don't think I can. Who made that wreath and Monogram?"
"She did, of course, papa," said Beatrice, pointing to her cousin.
"Who else could?"
"It is a very successful arrangement," said Uncle Geoffrey, moving
about to find the spot for obtaining the best view. "It is an
arrangement to suggest so much."
Henrietta came to the place where he stood, and for the first time
perceived the full effect of her work. It was placed in front of the
altar, the dark crimson covering of which relieved the shining leaves
and scarlet berries of the holly. The three letters, i h s
, were in the centre, formed of small sprays fastened in the required
shape; and around them was a large circle of holly, plaited and twined
together, the many-pointed leaves standing out in every direction in
their peculiar stiff gracefulness.
"I see it now!" said she, in a low voice full of awe. "Uncle, I did
not mean to make it so!"
"How?" he asked.
"It is like Good Friday!" said she, as the resemblance to the crown
of thorns struck her more and more strongly.
"Well, why not, my dear?" said her uncle, as she shrunk closer to
him in a sort of alarm. "Would Christmas be worth observing if it were
not for Good Friday?"
"Yes, it is right uncle; but somehow it is melancholy."
"Where are those verses that say—let me see—
'And still Thy Church's faith
Shall link, in all her prayer and praise,
Thy glory with Thy death.' So you see, Henrietta, you have been
guided to do quite right."
Henrietta gave a little sigh, but did not answer: and Beatrice said,
"It is a very odd thing, whenever any work of art—or, what shall I
call it?—is well done, it is apt to have so much more in it than the
author intended. It is so in poetry, painting, and everything else."
"There is, perhaps, more meaning than we understand, when we talk of
the spirit in which a thing is done," said her father: "But have you
much more to do? Those columns look very well."
"O, are you come to help us, papa?"
"I came chiefly because grandmamma was a good deal concerned at your
not coming home to luncheon. You must not be out the whole morning
again just at present. I have some sandwiches in my pocket for you."
Beatrice explained how they had been fed, and her papa said, "Very
well, we will find some one who will be glad of them; but mind, do not
make her think you unsociable again. Do you hear and heed?"
It was the sort of tone which, while perfectly kind and gentle,
shows that it belongs to a man who will be obeyed, and ready compliance
was promised. He proceeded to give his very valuable aid at once in
taste and execution, the adornment prospered greatly, and when Mr.
Franklin came in, his surprise and delight were excited by the beauty
which had grown up in his absence. The long, drooping, massive wreaths
of evergreen at the east end, centring in the crown and letters; the
spiral festoons round the pillars; the sprays in every niche; the
tower of holly over the font—all were more beautiful, both together
and singly, than he had even imagined, and he was profuse in admiration
The work was done; and the two Misses Langford, after one
well-satisfied survey from the door, bent their steps homeward, looking
forward to the pleasure with which grandpapa and Aunt Mary would see it
to-morrow. as they went in the deepening twilight, the whole village
seemed vocal: children's voices, shrill and tuneless near, but softened
by distance, were ringing out here, there, and everywhere, with
"As shepherds watch'd their flocks by night." And again, as they
walked on, the sound from another band of little voices was brought on
the still frosty wind—
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind."
Imperfect rhymes, bad voices, no time observed; but how joyous,—how
really Christmas-like—how well it suited the soft half-light, the last
pale shine of sunset lingering in the south-west! the large solemn
stars that one by one appeared! How Uncle Geoffrey caught up the lines
and sang them over to himself! How light and free Beatrice walked!—and
how the quiet happy tears would rise in Henrietta's eyes!
The singing in the drawing-room that evening, far superior as it
was, with Henrietta, Beatrice, Frederick, and even Aunt Mary's
beautiful voice, was not equal in enjoyment to that. Was it because
Beatrice was teasing Fred all the time about his defection? The church
singers came up to the Hall, and the drawing-room door was set open
for the party to listen to them; grandpapa and Uncle Geoffrey went out
to have a talk with them, and so passed the space till tea-time; to say
nothing of the many little troops of young small voices outside the
windows, to whom Mrs. Langford's plum buns, and Mr. Geoffrey's
sixpences, were a very enjoyable part of the Christmas festivities.
THE double feast of Sunday and Christmas-day dawned
upon Henrietta with many anxieties for her mother, to whom the first
going to church must be so great a trial. Would that she could, as of
old, be at her side the whole day! but this privilege, unrecked of at
Rocksand, was no longer hers. She had to walk to church with grandmamma
and the rest of the party, while Mrs. Frederick Langford was driven in
the open carriage by old Mr. Langford, and she was obliged to comfort
herself with recollecting that no companion ever suited her better than
grandpapa. It was a sight to be remembered when she came into church,
leaning upon his arm, her sweet expression of peace and resignation,
making her even more lovely than when last she entered there—her face
in all its early bloom of youthful beauty, and radiant with innocent
But Henrietta knew not how to appreciate that "peace which passeth
all understanding;" and all that she saw was the glistening of tears in
her eyes, and the heaving of her bosom, as she knelt down in her place;
and she thought that if she had calculated all that she would have to
go through, and all her own anxieties for her, she should never have
urged their removal. She viewed it, however, as a matter of expediency
rather than of duty, and her feelings were not in the only right and
wholesome channel. As on the former occasion, Knight Sutton Church
seemed to her more full of her father's presence than of any other, so
now, throughout the service, she was chiefly occupied with watching her
mother; and entirely by the force of her own imagination, she contrived
to work herself into a state of nervous apprehension, only equalled by
her mamma's own anxieties for Fred.
Neither she nor any of her young cousins were yet confirmed, so they
all left the church together. What would she not have given to be able
to talk her fears over with either Frederick or Beatrice, and be
assured by them that her mamma had borne it very well, and would not
suffer from it. But though neither of them was indifferent or
unfeeling, there was not much likelihood of sympathy from them just at
present. Beatrice had always been sure that Aunt Mary would behave like
an angel; and when Fred saw that his mother looked tranquil, and showed
no symptoms of agitation, he dismissed anxiety from his mind, and never
even guessed at his sister's alarms.
Nor in reality had he many thoughts for his sister of any kind; for
he was, as usual, engrossed with Queen Bee, criticising the decorations
which had been completed in his absence, and, together with Alex,
replying to the scolding with which she visited their desertion.
Nothing could have been more eminently successful than the
decorations, which looked to still greater advantage in the brightness
of the morning sun than in the dimness of the evening twilight; and
many were the compliments which the two young ladies received upon
their handiwork. The old women had "never seen nothing like it," —the
school children whispered to each other, "How pretty!" Uncle Geoffrey
and Mr. Franklin admired even more than before; grandpapa and Aunt Mary
were delighted; grandmamma herself allowed it was much better than she
had expected; and Jessie Carey, by way of climax, said it "was like
It was a very different Sunday from those to which Henrietta had
been accustomed, in the complete quiet and retirement of Rocksand. The
Hall was so far from the church, that there was but just time to get
back in time for evening service. After which, according to a practice
of which she had often heard her mamma speak with many agreeable
reminiscences, the Langford family almost always went in a body on a
progress to the farmyard, to visit the fatting oxen and see the cows
Mrs. Roger Langford was at home with little Tom, and Mrs. Frederick
Langford was glad to seek the tranquillity and repose of her own
apartment; but all the rest went in procession, greatly to the
amusement of Fred and Henrietta, to the large barn-like building, where
a narrow path led them along the front of the stalls of the
gentle-looking sweet-breathed cows, and the huge white-horned oxen.
Uncle Roger, as always happened, monopolised his brother, and kept
him estimating the weight of the great Devon ox, which was next for
execution. Grandmamma was escorting Charlie and Arthur (whom their
grandfather was wont to call penultimus and antepenultimus), helping
them to feed the cows with turnips, and guarding them from going behind
their heels. Henrietta was extremely happy, for grandpapa himself was
doing the honours for her, and instructing her in the difference
between a Guernsey cow and a short-horn; and so was Alexander, for he
had Queen Bee all to himself in a remote corner of the cow-house,
rubbing old spotted Nancy's curly brow, catching at her polished
black-tipped horn, and listening to his hopes and fears for the next
half year. Not so Frederick, as he stood at the door with Jessie Carey,
who, having no love for the cow-house, especially when in her best
silk, thought always ready to take care of the children there, was very
glad to secure a companion outside, especially one so handsome, so much
more polished than any of her cousins, and so well able to reply to her
small talk. Little did she guess how far off he wished her, or how he
longed to be listening to his uncles, talking to Beatrice, sticking
holly into the cows' halters with John and Richard, scrambling into the
hay-loft with Carey and William—anywhere, rather than be liable to the
imputation of being too fine a gentleman to enter a cow-house.
This accusation never entered the head of any one but himself; but
still an attack was in store for him. After a few words to Martin the
cowman, and paying their respects to the pigs, the party left the
farm-yard, and the inhabitants of Sutton Leigh took the path to their
own abode, while Beatrice turned round to her cousin, saying, "Well,
Fred, I congratulate you on your politeness! How well you endured being
"I victimised! How do you know I was not enchanted?"
"Nay, you can't deceive me while you have a transparent face. Trust
me for finding out whether you are bored or not. Besides, I would not
pay so bad a compliment to your taste as to think otherwise."
"How do you know I was not exercising the taste of Rubens himself? I
was actually admiring you all, and thinking how like it all was to that
great print from one of his pictures; the building with its dark
gloomy roof, and open sides, the twilight, the solitary dispersed
snow-flakes, the haze of dust, the sleek cattle, and their long white
"Quite poetical," said Queen Bee, in a short, dry, satirical manner.
"How charmed Jessie must have been!"
"Why?" said Fred, rather provoked.
"Such masterly eyes are not common among our gentlemen. You will be
quite her phoenix; and how much 'Thomson's Seasons' you will have to
hear! I dare say you have had it already—
'Now, shepherds, to your helpless charge be kind!'"
"Well, very good advice, too," said Fred.
"I hate and detest Thomson," said Beatrice; "above all, for
travestying Ruth into 'the lovely young Lavinia;' so whenever Jessie
treated me to any of her quotations, I criticised him without mercy,
and at last I said, by great good luck, that the only use of him was to
serve as an imposition for young ladies at second-rate boarding
schools. It was a capital hit, for Alex found out that it was the way
she learnt so much of him, and since that time I have heard no more of
'Jemmy Thomson! Jemmy Thomson! O!'"
The laughter which followed this speech had a tone in it, which,
reaching Mr. Geoffrey Langford, who was walking a little in front with
his mother, made him suspect that the young people were getting into
such spirits as were not quite Sunday-like; and, turning round, he
asked them some trifling question, which made him a party to the
conversation, and brought it back to a quieter, though not less merry
Dinner was at five, and Henrietta was dressed so late that Queen Bee
had to come up to sum- mon her, and bring her down after every one was
in the dining-room—an entrée all the more formidable, because Mr.
Franklin was dining there, as well as Uncle Roger and Alexander.
Thanks in some degree to her own dawdling, she had been in a hurry
the whole day, and she longed for a quiet evening: but here it seemed
to her, as with the best intentions it usually is, in a large party,
that, but for the laying aside of needlework, of secular books and
secular music, it might as well have been any other day of the week.
Her mamma was very tired, and went to bed before tea, the gentlemen
had a long talk over the fire, the boys and Beatrice laughed and
talked, and she helped her grandmamma to hand about the tea, answering
her questions about her mother's health and habits, and heard a good
deal that interested her, but still she could not feel as if it were
Sunday. At Rocksand she used to sit for many a pleasant hour, either in
the darkening summer twilight, or the bright red light of the winter
fire, repeating or singing hymns, and enjoying the most delightful
talks that the whole week had to offer, and now she greatly missed the
conversation that would have "set this strange week to rights in her
head," as she said to herself.
She thought over it a good deal whilst Bennet was brushing her hair
at night, feeling as if it had been a week-day, and as if it would be
as difficult to begin a new fresh week on Monday morning, as it would a
new day after sitting up a whole night. How far this was occasioned by
Knight Sutton habits, and how far it was her own fault, was not what
she asked herself, though she sat up for a long time musing on the
change in her way of life, and scarcely able to believe that it was
only last Sunday that she had been sitting with her mother over their
fire at Rocksand. Enough had happened for a whole month. Her darling
project was fulfilled; the airy castle of former days had become a
substance, and she was inhabiting it: and was she really so very much
happier? There she went into a reverie—but musing is not meditating,
nor vague dreamings wholesome reflections; she went on sitting their,
chiefly for want of energy to move, till the fire burnt low, the clock
struck twelve, and Mrs. Frederick Langford exclaimed in a sleepy voice,
"My dear, are you going to sleep there?"
BREAKFAST was nearly over on Monday morning, when a
whole party of the Sutton Leigh boys entered with the intelligence that
the great pond in Knight's Portion was quite frozen over, and that
skating might begin without loss of time.
"You are coming, are you not, Bee?" said Alex, leaning over the back
of her chair.
"O yes," said she, nearly whispering "only take care. It is taboo
there,"—and she made a sign with her hand towards Mrs. Langford, "and
don't frighten Aunt Mary about Fred. O it is too late, Carey's doing
the deed as fast as he can."
Carey was asking Fred whether he had ever skated, or could skate,
and Fred was giving an account of his exploits in that line at school,
hoping it might prove to his mother that he might be trusted to take
care of himself since he had dared the danger before. In vain: the
alarmed expression had come over her face, as she asked Alexander
whether his father had looked at the ice.
"No," said Alex, "but it is perfectly safe. I tried it this morning,
and it is as firm as this marble chimney-piece."
"He is pretty well to be trusted," said his grandfather, "more
especially as it would be difficult to get drowned there."
"I would give a shilling to anyone who could drown himself
there," said Alex.
"The travelling man did," exclaimed at once Carey, John, and
"Don't they come in just like the Greek chorus?" said Beatrice, in a
whisper to Fred, who gave a little laugh, but was too anxious to attend
"I thought he was drowned in the river," said Alex.
"No, it was in the deep pool under the weeping willow, where the
duckweed grows so rank in summer," said Carey.
Uncle Geoffrey laughed. "I am sorry to interfere with your romantic
embellishments, Carey, or with the credit of your beloved pond, since
you are determined not to leave it behindhand with its neighbours."
"I always thought it was there," said the boy.
"And thought wrong; the poor man was found in the river two miles
"I always heard it was at Knight's Pool," repeated Carey.
"I do not know what you may have heard," said Uncle Geoffrey; "but
as it happened a good while before you were born, I think you had
better not argue the point."
"Grandpapa," persisted Carey, "was it not in Knight's Pool?"
"Certainly not," was the answer drily given.
"Well," continued Carey, "I am sure you might drown yourself there."
"Rather than own yourself mistaken," said Uncle Geoffrey.
"Carey, Carey, I hate contradiction," said grandmamma, rising and
rustling past where he stood with a most absurd, dogged, unconvinced
face. "Take your arm off the mantelpiece, let that china cup alone, and
stand like a gentleman. Do!"
"All in vain!" said Beatrice. "To the end of his life he
will maintain that Knight's Pool drowned the travelling man!"
"Well, never mind," said John, impatiently, "are we coming to skate
this morning or are we not?"
"I really wish," said Aunt Mary, as if she could not help it,
"without distrusting either old Knight's Pool or your judgment,
Alexander, that you would ask some one to look at it."
"I should like just to run down and see the fun," said Uncle
Geoffrey, thus setting all parties at rest for the moment. The two
girls ran joyfully up to put on their bonnets, as Henrietta wished to
see, Beatrice to join in, the sport. At that instant Mrs. Langford
asked her son Geoffrey to remove some obstacle which hindered the
comfortable shutting of the door, and though a servant might just as
well have done it, he readily complied, according to his constant habit
of making all else give way to her, replying to the discomfited looks
of the boys, "I shall be ready by the time the young ladies come down."
So he was, long before Henrietta was ready, and just as she and
Beatrice appeared on the stairs, Atkins was carrying across the hall
what the boys looked at with glances of dismay, namely, the post-bag.
Knight Sutton, being small and remote, did not possess a post-office,
but a messenger came from Allonfield for the letters on every day
except Sunday, and returned again in the space of an hour. A very
inconvenient arrangement, as everyone had said for the last twenty
years, and might probably say for twenty years more.
As usual, more than half the contents were for G. Langford, Esq.,
and Fred's face grew longer and longer as he saw the closely-written
"Fred, my poor fellow," said his uncle, looking up, "I am
sorry for you, but one or two must be answered by this day's post. I
will not be longer than I can help."
"Then do let us come on," exclaimed the chorus.
"Come, Queenie," added Alex.
She delayed, however, saying, "Can I do any good, papa?"
"Thank you, let me see. I do not like to stop you, but it would save
time if you could just copy a letter."
"O thank you, pray let me," said Beatrice, delighted. "Go on,
Henrietta, I shall soon come."
Henrietta would have waited, but she saw a chance of speaking to her
brother, which she did not like to lose.
Her mother had taken advantage of the various conversations going on
in the hall, to draw her son aside, saying, "Freddy, I believe you
think me very troublesome, but do let me entreat of you not to venture
on the ice till one of your uncles has said it is safe."
"Uncle Roger trusts Alex," said Fred.
"Yes, but he lets all those boys take their chance, and a number of
you together are likely to be careless, and I know there used to be
dangerous places in that pond. I will not detain you, my dear," added
she, as the others were preparing to start, "only I beg you will not
attempt to skate till your uncle comes."
"Very well," said Frederick, in a tone of as much annoyance as ever
he showed his mother, and with little suspicion how much it cost her
not to set her mind at rest by exacting a promise from him. This she
had resolutely forborne to do in cases like the present, from his
earliest days, and she had her reward in the implicit reliance she
could place on his word when once given. And now, sighing that it had
not been voluntarily offered, she went to her sofa, to struggle and
reason in vain with her fears, and start at each approaching step, lest
it should bring the tidings of some fatal accident, all the time
blaming herself for the entreaties which might, as she dreaded, place
him in peril of disobedience.
In a few moments Mr. Geoffrey Langford was sitting in the great red
leathern chair in the study, writing as fast as his fingers would move,
apparently without a moment for thought, though he might have said,
like the great painter, that what seemed the work of half an hour, was
in fact the labour of years. His daughter, her bonnet by her side, sat
opposite to him, writing with almost equal rapidity, and supremely
happy, for to the credit of our little Queen Bee let it be spoken, that
no talk with Henrietta, no walk with grandpapa, no new exciting tale,
no, not even a flirtation with Fred and Alex, one or both, was equal in
her estimation to the pleasure and honour of helping papa, even though
it was copying a dry legal opinion, instead of gliding about on the
smooth hard ice, in the bright winter morning's sunshine.
The two pens maintained a duet of diligent scratching for some
twenty or five and twenty minutes without intermission, but at last
Beatrice looked up, and without speaking, held up her sheet.
"Already? Thank you, my little clerk, I could think it was mamma.
Now then, off to the skating. My compliments to Fred, and tell him I
feel for him, and will not keep him waiting longer than I can avoid:"
and muttering a resumption of his last sentence, on went the lawyer's
indefatigable pen; and away flew the merry little Busy Bee, bounding
off with her droll, tripping, elastic, short-stepped run, which suited
so well with her little alert figure, and her dress, a small plain
black velvet bonnet, a tight black velvet "jacket," as she called it,
and a brown silk dress, with narrow yellow stripes (chosen chiefly in
joke, because it was the colour of a bee), not a bit of superfluous
shawl, boa, or ribbon about her, but all close and compact, fit for the
diversion which she was eager to enjoy. The only girl among so many
boys, she had learnt to share in many of their sports, and one of the
prime favourites was skating, a diversion which owes as much of its
charm to the caprices of its patron Jack Frost, as to the degree of
skill which it requires.
She arrived at the stile leading to "Knight's Portion," as it was
called, and a very barren portion must the poor Knight have possessed
if it was all his property. It was a sloping chalky field or rather
corner of a down, covered with very short grass and thistles, which
defied all the attacks of Uncle Roger and his sheep. On one side was a
sort of precipice, where the chalk had been dug away, and a rather
extensive old chalk pit formed a tolerable pond, by the assistance of
the ditch at the foot of a hedge. On the glassy surface already marked
by many a sharply traced circular line, the Sutton Leigh boys were
careering, the younger ones with those extraordinary bends, twists, and
contortions to which the unskilful are driven in order to preserve
their balance. Frederick and Henrietta stood on the brink, neither of
them looking particularly cheerful; but both turned gladly at the sight
of the Busy Bee, and came to meet her with eager inquiries for her
She was a very welcome sight to both, especially Henrietta, who had
from the first felt almost out of place alone with all those boys, and
who hoped that she would be some comfort to poor Fred, who had been
entertaining her with every variety of grumbling for the last
half-hour, and perversely refusing to walk out of sight of the
forbidden pleasure, or to talk of anything else. Such a conversation as
she was wishing for was impossible whilst he was constantly calling out
to the others, and exclaiming at their adventures, and in the intervals
lamenting his own hard fate, scolding her for her slowness in dressing,
which had occasioned the delay, and magnifying the loss of his
pleasure, perhaps in a sort of secret hope that the temptation would so
far increase as to form in his eyes an excuse for yielding to it.
Seldom had he shown himself so unamiable towards her, and with great
relief and satisfaction she beheld her cousin descending the steep
slippery path from the height above, and while the cloud began to
lighten on his brow, she thought to herself, "It will be all right now,
he is always happy with Busy Bee!"
So he might have been had Beatrice been sufficiently unselfish for
once to use her influence in the right direction, and surrender an
amusement for the sake of another; but to give up or defer such a
pleasure as skating with Alex never entered her mind, though a moment's
reflection might have shown her how much more annoying the privation
would be rendered by the sight of a girl fearlessly enjoying the sport
from which he was debarred. It would, perhaps, be judging too hardly to
reckon against her as a fault that her grandmamma could not bear to
hear of anything so "boyish," and had long ago entreated her to be more
like a young lady. There was no positive order in this case, and her
papa and mamma did not object. So she eagerly answered Alexander's
summons, fastened on her skates, and soon was gliding merrily on the
surface of the Knight's Pool, while her cousins watched her dexterity
with surprise and interest; but soon Fred once more grew gloomy,
sighed, groaned, looked at his watch, and recommenced his com-
plaints. At first she had occupation enough in attending to her own
security to bestow any attention on other things, but in less than a
quarter of an hour, she began to feel at her ease, and her spirits
rising to the pitch where consideration is lost, she "could not help,"
in her own phrase, laughing at the disconsolate Fred.
"How wobegone he looks!" said she, as she whisked past, "but never
mind, Fred, the post must go some time or other."
"It must be gone," said Fred. "I am sure we have been here above an
"Henrietta looks blue with cold, like an old hen obliged to follow
her ducklings to the water!" observed Beatrice, again gliding near, and
in the midst of her next circular sweep she chanted—
"Although their feet are pointed, and my feet are round,
Pray, is that any reason why I should be drowned?"
It was a great aggravation of Fred's calamities to be obliged to
laugh, nor were matters mended by the sight of the party now advancing
from the house, Jessie Carey, with three of the lesser boys.
"What news of Uncle Geoffrey?"
"I did not see him," said Jessie: "I think he was in the study,
Uncle Roger went to him there."
"No hope then!" muttered the unfortunate Fred.
"Can't you skate, Fred?" asked little Arthur with a certain most
provoking face of wonder and curiosity.
"Presently," said Fred.
"He must not," cried Richard, in a tone which Fred thought
malicious, though it was only rude.
"Must not?" and Arthur looked up in amazement to the boy so much
taller than his three brothers, creatures in his eyes privileged to do
what they pleased.
"His mamma won't let him," was Dick's polite answer. Fred
could have knocked him down with the greatest satisfaction, but in the
first place he was out of reach, in the second, the young ladies were
present, in the third he was a little boy, and a stupid one, and Fred
had temper enough left to see that there would be nothing gained by
quarrelling with him, so contenting himself with a secret but most
ardent wish that he had him as his fag at school, he turned to Jessie,
and asked her what she thought of the weather, if the white frost would
bring rain, &c., &c.
Jessie thought the morning too bright not to be doubtful, and the
hoar frost was so very thick and white that it was not likely to
continue much longer.
"How beautiful these delicate white crests are to every thorn in the
hedge!" said Henrietta; "and look, these pieces of chalk are almost
cased in glass."
"O I do love such a sight!" said Jessie. "Here is a beautiful bit of
stick crusted over."
"It is a perfect little Giant's Causeway," said Henrietta; "do look
at these lovely little columns, Fred."
"Ah!" said Jessie,
"Myriads of little salts, or hook'd or shaped
Like double wedges.—"
She thought Beatrice safe out of hearing, but that very moment by
she came, borne swiftly along, and catching the cadence of that one
line, looked archly at Fred, and shaped with her lips rather than
"O Jemmy Thomson! Jemmy Thomson, O!"
It filled up the measure. That Beatrice, Alexander and Chorus should
be making him a laughing-stock, and him pinned to Miss Carey's side,
was more than he could endure. He had made up his mind that Uncle
Geoffrey was not coming at all, his last feeble hold of patience and
obedience gave way, and he exclaimed, "Well, I shan't wait any longer,
it is not of the least use."
"O, Fred, consider!" said his sister.
"That's right, Freddy," shouted Carey, "he'll not come now, I'll
answer for it."
"You know he promised he would," pleaded Henrietta.
"Uncle Roger has got hold of him, and he is as bad as the old man of
the sea," said Fred, "the post has been gone this half-hour, and I
shall not wait any longer."
"Think of mamma."
"How can you talk such nonsense, Henrietta?" exclaimed Fred
impatiently, "do you think that I am so awfully heavy that the ice that
bears them must needs break with me?"
"I do not suppose there is any danger," said Henrietta, "but for the
sake of poor mamma's entreaties!"
"Do you think I am going to be kept in leading-strings all the rest
of my life?" said Fred, obliged to work himself into a passion in order
to silence his sister and his conscience. "I have submitted to such
absurd nonsense a great deal too long already, I will not be made a
fool of in the sight of everybody; so here goes!"
And breaking away from her detaining arm, he ran down to the verge
of the pond, and claimed the skates which he had lent to John.
Henrietta turned away her eyes full of tears.
"Never mind, Henrietta," shouted the good-natured Alexander, "I'll
engage to fish him out if he goes in."
"It is as likely I may fish you out, Mr. Alex," returned Fred,
"Or more likely still there will be no fishing in the
case," said the naughty little Syren, who felt all the time a secret
satisfaction in the consciousness that it was she who had made the
temptation irresistible, then adding, to pacify Henrietta and her own
feelings of compunction, "Aunt Mary must be satisfied when she hears
with what exemplary patience he waited till papa was past hope, and the
pond past fear."
Whether Alex smiled at the words "past fear," or whether Fred only
thought he did, is uncertain, the effect was that he exclaimed, "I only
wish there was a place in this pond that you did not like to skate
"Well, there is one," said Alex, laughing, "where Carey drowns the
travelling man: there is a spring there, and the ice is never so firm,
so you may try—"
"Don't, Fred—I beg you won't!" cried Beatrice.
"O, Fred, Fred, think, think, if anything should happen!" implored
"I shan't look, I can't bear it!" exclaimed Jessie, turning away.
Fred without listening skated triumphantly towards the hedge, and
across the perilous part, and fortunately it was without disaster. In
the middle of the shout of applause with which the chorus celebrated
his achievement, a gate in the hedge suddenly opened, and the two
uncles stood before them. The first thing Uncle Geoffrey did was to
take a short run, and slide right across the middle of the pond, while
Uncle Roger stood by laughing and saying, "Well done, Geoffrey, you are
not quite so heavy as I am."
Uncle Geoffrey reaching the opposite side, caught up little Charley
by the arms and whirled him round in the air, then shouted in a voice
that had all the glee and blithe exultation of a boy just released
from school, "I hereby certify to all whom it may concern, the pond is
franked! Where's Fred?"
Fred wished himself anywhere else, and so did Henrietta. Even Queen
Bee's complacency gave way before her father, and it was only Alexander
who had spirit to answer, "We thought you were not coming at all."
"Indeed!" said Uncle Geoffrey; and little Willy exclaimed, "Why,
Alex, Uncle Geoffrey always comes when he promises," a truth to which
every one gave a mental assent.
Without taking the smallest notice of Frederick by word or look,
Uncle Geoffrey proceeded to join the other boys, to the great increase
of their merriment, instructing them in making figures of eight, and in
all the other mysteries of the skating art, which they could scarcely
enjoy more than he seemed to do. Henrietta, cold and unhappy, grieved
at her brother's conduct, and still more grieved at the displeasure of
her uncle, wished to return to the house, yet could not make up her
mind to do so, for fear of her mamma's asking about Fred; and whilst
she was still doubting and hesitating, the Church bell began to ring,
reminding her of the saint's day service, one of the delights of Knight
Sutton to which she had so long looked forward. Yet here was another
disappointment. The uncles and the two girls immediately prepared to
go. Jessie said she must take Arthur and Charley home, and set off. The
boys could do as they pleased, and Willy holding Uncle Geoffrey's hand
was going with him, but the rest continued their sport, and among them
was Fred. He had never disobeyed a Church bell before, and had rather
not have done so now, but as he saw none of his male companions setting
off, he fancied that to attend a week-day service in the holidays
might be reckoned a girlish proceeding, imagined his cousins laughing
at him as soon as his back was turned, and guessed from Uncle
Geoffrey's grave looks that he might be taken to task when no longer
protected by the presence of the rest.
He therefore replied with a gruff short "No" to his sister's anxious
question whether he was not coming, and flourished away to the other
end of the pond; but a few seconds after he was not a little surprised
and vexed at finding himself mistaken after all—at least so far as
regarded Alex, who had been only going on with his sport to the last
moment, and now taking off his skates, vaulted over the gate, and ran
at full speed after the rest of the party, overtaking them before they
reached the village.
Henrietta was sadly disappointed when, looking round at the sound of
footsteps, she saw him instead of her brother. His refusal to go to
Church grieved her more than his disobedience, on which she did not in
general look with sufficient seriousness, and for which in the present
case there were many extenuating circumstances, which she longed to
plead to Uncle Geoffrey, who would, she thought, relax in his severity
towards her poor Fred, if he knew how long he had waited, and how much
he had been teased. This, however, she could not tell him without
complaining of his daughter, and in fact it was an additional pain that
Queen Bee should have used all her powerful influence in the wrong
It was impossible to be long vexed with the little Busy Bee, even in
such circumstances as these, especially when she came up to her, put
her arm into hers, and looked into her face with all the sweetness that
could sometimes reside in those brown features of hers, saying, "My
poor Henrietta, I am afraid we have been putting you to torture all
this time, but you know that it is quite nonsense to be afraid of
"O yes, I know that, but really, Queenie, you should not have
"I? Well, I believe it was rather naughty of me to laugh at him, for
persuade him I did not, but if you had but seen him in the point I did,
and known how absurd you two poor disconsolate creatures looked, you
would not have been able to help it. And how was I to know that he
would go into the only dangerous place he could find, just by way of
bravado? I could have beaten myself when I saw that, but it is all
safe, and no harm done."
"There is your papa displeased with him."
"O, I will settle that; I will tell him it was half of it my fault,
and beg him to say nothing about it. And as for Fred—I should like to
make a charade of fool-hardy, with a personal application. Did you ever
act a charade, Henrietta?"
"Never; I scarcely know what it is."
"O charming, charming! What rare fun we will have! I wish I had not
told you of fool-hardy, for now we can't have that, but this evening,
O, this evening, I am no Queen Bee if you do not see what will amaze
you! Alex! Alex! Where is the boy? I must speak to you this instant."
Pouncing upon Alexander, she drew him a little behind the others,
and was presently engaged in an eager low-voiced conference, apparently
persuading him to something much against his inclination, but Henrietta
was not sufficiently happy to bestow much curiosity on the subject. All
her thoughts were with Fred, and she had not long been in Church before
all her mother's fears seemed to have passed to her. Her mother had
recovered her serenity, and was able to trust her boy in the hands of
his Heavenly FATHER, while Henrietta, haunted by the
remembrance of many a moral tale, was tormenting herself with the
expectation of retribution, and dwelling on a fancied figure of her
brother lifted senseless out of the water, with closed eyes and
WITH all her faults, Queen Bee was a good-natured,
generous little thing, and it was not what every one would have done,
when, as soon as she returned from Church, she followed her father to
the study, saying, "Papa, you must not be displeased with Fred, for he
was very much plagued, and he only had just begun when you came."
"The other boys had been teasing him?"
"Dick had been laughing at him, saying his mamma would not let him
go on the ice, and that, you know, was past all bearing. And honestly,
it was my fault too; I laughed, not at that joke, of course, for it was
only worthy of Dick himself, but at poor Fred's own disconsolate
"Was not his case unpleasant enough, without your making it worse?"
"Of course, papa, I ought to have been more considerate, but you
know how easily I am run away with by high spirits."
"And I know you have the power to restrain them, Beatrice. You have
no right to talk of being run away with, as if you were helpless."
"I know it is very wrong; I often think I will check myself, but
there are many speeches which, when once they come to my lips, are
irresistible, or seem so. However, I will not try to justify myself; I
know I was to blame, only you must not be angry with Fred, for it
really did seem rather unreasonable to keep him there parading about
with Henrietta and Jessie, when the ice was quite safe for everybody
"I am not angry with him, Bee; I cannot but be sorry that he gave
way to the temptation, but there was so much to excuse him, that I
shall not show any further displeasure. He is often in a very vexatious
position for a boy of his age. I can imagine nothing more galling than
"And cannot you—" said Beatrice, stopping short.
"Speak to your aunt? I will not make her miserable. Anything she
thinks right she will do, at whatever cost to herself, and for that
very reason I will not interfere. It is a great deal better for Fred
that his amusement should be sacrificed to her peace, than her peace to
"Yet surely this cannot go on for life," said Beatrice, as if she
was half afraid to hazard the remark.
"Never mind the future. She will grow more used to the other boys,
and gain more confidence in Fred. Things will right themselves, if we
do not set them wrong. And now, mark me. You are not a mere child, who
can plead the excuse of thoughtlessness for leading him into mischief;
you know the greatness of the sin of disobedience, and the fearful
responsibility incurred by conducing to it in others. Do not help to
lead him astray for the sake of—of vanity—of amusement."
Something in the manner in which he pronounced these words conveyed
to Beatrice a sense of the emptiness and worthlessness of her motives,
and she answered earnestly, "I was wrong, papa; I know it is a love of
saying clever things that often leads me wrong. It was so to-day, for I
could have stopped myself, but for the pleasure of making fun. It is
vanity, and I will try to subdue it."
Beatrice had a sort of candid way of reasoning about her faults, and
would blame herself, and examine her motives in a manner which disarmed
reproof by forestalling it. She was perfectly sincere, yet it was
self-deception, for it was not as if it was herself whom she was
analyzing, but rather as if it was some character in a book; indeed,
she would have described herself almost exactly as she is here
described, except that her delineation would have been much more clever
and more exact. She would not have spared herself—for this reason,
that her own character was more a study to her than a reality, her
faults rather circumstances than sins; it was her mind, rather than her
soul, that reflected and made resolutions, or more correctly, what
would have been resolutions, if they had possessed any real
earnestness, and not been done, as it were, mechanically, because they
became the occasion.
The conversation was concluded by the sound of the luncheon bell,
and she ran up to take off her bonnet, her thoughts taking the
following course: "I am very sorry; it is too bad to tease poor Fred,
cruel and wrong, and all that, only if he would not
look absurd! It is too droll to see how provoked he is, when I take the
least notice of Alex, and after all, I don't think he cares for me half
as much as Alex does, only it flatters his vanity. Those great boys are
really quite as vain as girls, not Alex though, good downright fellow,
who would do anything for me, and I have put him to a hard proof
to-night. What a capital thought those charades are! Fred will meet the
others on common, nay, on superior ground, and there will be none of
these foolish questions who can be most manly mad. Fred is really a
fine spirited fellow though, and I thought papa could not find it in
his heart to be angry with him. How capitally he will act, and how
lovely Henrietta will look! I must make them take to
the charades, it will be so very delightful, and keep Fred quite out of
mischief, which will set Aunt Mary at ease. And how amused grandpapa
will be! What shall it be to-night? What Alex can manage to act
tolerably. Ce n'est que le premier pas qui conte, and the premier pas must be with our best foot foremost. I give myself
credit for the thought; it will make all smooth."
These meditations occupied her during a hasty toilette and a still
more rapid descent, and were abruptly concluded by her alighting from
her swinging jump down the last four steps close to Fred himself, who
was standing by the hall fire with a gloomy expression of countenance,
which with inconsiderate good nature she hastened to remove. "Don't
look dismal, Freddy; I have told papa all about it, and he does not mind it. Cheer up, you adventurous knight, I have some
glorious fun for you this evening."
Not mind it! The impression thus conveyed to one but too willing to
receive it, was that Uncle Geoffrey, that external conscience, thought
him excused from attending to unreasonable prohibitions. Away went all
the wholesome self-reproach which he had begun to feel, away went all
fear of Uncle Geoffrey's eye, all compunction in meeting his mother,
and he entered the dining-room in such lively spirits that his uncle
was vexed to see him so unconcerned, and his mother felt sure that her
entreaty had not been disregarded. She never heard to the contrary, for
she liked better to trust than to ask questions, and he, like far too
many boys, did not think concealment blameable where there was no
All the time they were at table, Queen Bee was in one of
her states of wild restlessness, and the instant she was at liberty she
flew away, and was seen no more that afternoon, except in certain
flittings into different apartments, where she appeared for a moment or
two with some extraordinary and mysterious request. First she popped
upon grandpapa, and with the expense of a little coaxing and teasing,
obtained from him the loan of his Deputy-Lieutenant's uniform; then she
darted into the drawing-room, on hearing Uncle Roger's voice, and
conjured him not to forget to give a little note to Alex, containing
these words, "Willy must wear his cap without a peak. Bring Roger's
dirk, and above all, beg, borrow, or steal, Uncle Roger's fishing
boots." Her next descent was upon Aunt Mary, in her own room: "Aunt,
would you do me a great favour, and ask no questions, nor tell
Henrietta? Do just lend me the three little marabout feathers which you
had in your cap yesterday evening. Only for this one evening, and I'll
take great care."
"I am sure, my dear, you are very welcome to them; I do not feel
like myself in such finery," said Mrs. Frederick Langford, smiling, as
Beatrice took possession of the elegant little white cap, which she had
the discretion to carry to Bennet, its lawful protector, to be reft of
its plumed honours. Bennet, an old friend of nursery days, was in the
secret of her plans for the evening; her head-quarters were in the
work-room, which had often served her as a playroom in days gone by,
and Judith, gratified by a visit from "Miss Bee," dived for her sake
into boxes and drawers, amid hoards where none but Judith would have
dared to rummage.
All this might ultimately be for Henrietta's entertainment, but at
present it did not much conduce towards it, as she was left to her own
resources in the drawing-room. She practised a little, worked a little,
listened to a consultation between grandpapa and Uncle Roger, about the
new pig-sty, wrote it down in her list when they went into the study to
ask Uncle Geoffrey's advice, tried to talk over things in general with
her mamma, but found it impossible with grandmamma continually coming
in and out of the room, yawned, wondered what Busy Bee was about, felt
deserted, gave up work, and had just found an entertaining book, when
grandmamma came in, and invited her to visit the poultry yard. She
readily accepted, but for want of Queen Bee to hurry her, kept her
grandmamma waiting longer than she liked, and had more of a scolding
than was agreeable. The chickens were all gone to roost by the time
they arrived, the cock just peering down at them with his
coral-bordered eye, and the ducks waddling stealthily in one by one,
the feeding was over, the hen-wife gone, and Mrs. Langford vexed at
being too late.
Henrietta was annoyed with herself and with the result of the day,
but she had some consolation, for as they were going towards the house,
they met Mr. Langford, who called out, "So you have been walking with
grandmamma! Well, if you are not tired, come and have a little turn
with grandpapa. I am going to speak to Daniels, the carpenter, and my
'merry Christmas' will be twice as welcome to his old father, if I take
you with me."
Henrietta might be a little tired, but such an invitation was not to
be refused, and she was at her grandpapa's side in an instant, thanking
him so much that he laughed and said the favour was to him. "I wish we
had Fred here too," said he, as they walked on, "the old man will be
very glad to see you."
"Was he one of mamma's many admirers in the village?"
"All the village admired Miss Mary, but it was your father who was
old Daniels' chief friend. The boys used to have a great taste for
carpentry, especially your father, who was always at his elbow when he
was at work at the Hall. Poor old man, I thought he would never have
held up his head again when our great trouble came on us. He used to
touch his hat, and turn away without looking me in the face. And there
you may see stuck up over the chimney-piece in his cottage the new
chisel that your father gave him when he had broken his old one."
"Dear old man!" said Henrietta, warmly, "I am so very glad that we
have come here, where people really care for us, and are interested in
us, and not for our own sake. How delightful it is! I feel as if we
were come out of banishment."
"Well, it is all the better for you," said Mr. Langford; "if we had
had you here, depend upon it, we should have spoilt you. We have so few
granddaughters that we cannot help making too much of them. There is
that little Busy Bee—by the by, what is her plan this evening, or are
not you in her secret?"
"O no, I believe she is to surprise us all. I met her just before I
came out dragging a huge bag after her: I wanted to help her, but she
would not let me."
"She turns us all round her finger," said grandpapa. "I never found
the person who could resist Queen Bee, except grandmamma. But I am glad
you do not take after her, Henrietta, for one such grandchild is
enough, and it is better for woman-kind to have leadable
spirits than leading."
"That is a dissentient O. What does it mean? Out with it."
"Only that I was thinking about weakness; I beg your
"Look here!" and Mr. Langford bent the slender cane in his hand (he
disdained a stronger walking-stick) to its full extent of suppleness.
"Is this weak?"
"No, it is strong in energy," said Henrietta, laughing, as the
elastic cane sprang back to its former shape.
"Yet to a certain point you can bend it as far as you please. Well,
that should be the way with you: be turned any way but the wrong, and
let your own determination be only to keep upright."
"But women are admired for influence."
"Influence is a good thing in its way, but only of a good sort when
it is unconscious. At any rate, when you set to work to influence
people, take care it is only with a view to their good, and not to your
own personal wishes, or influencing becomes a dangerous trade,
especially for young ladies towards their elders."
Grandpapa, who had only seen Henrietta carried about by Beatrice,
grandmamma, or Fred, and willing to oblige them all, had little idea
how applicable to her case was his general maxim, nor indeed did she at
the moment take it to herself, although it was one day to return upon
her. It brought them to the neat cottage of the carpenter, with the
thatched workshop behind, and the garden in front, which would have
looked neat but for the melancholy aspect of the frost-bitten cabbages.
This was Henrietta's first cottage visit, and she was all eagerness
and interest, picturing to herself a venerable old man, almost as
fine-looking as her grandfather, and as eloquent as old men in cottages
always are in books; but she found it rather a disappointing meeting.
It was a very nice trim- looking daughter-in-law who opened the door,
on Mr. Langford's knock, and the room was neatness itself, but the old
carpenter was not at all what she had imagined. He was a little
stooping old man, with a shaking head, and weak red eyes under a green
shade, and did not seem to have anything to say beyond "Yes, sir," and
"Thank you, sir," when Mr. Langford shouted into his deaf ears some of
the "compliments of the season." Looking at the young lady, whom he
evidently mistook for Beatrice, he hoped that Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey
were quite well. His face lighted up a little for a moment when Mr.
Langford told him this was Mr. Frederick's daughter, but it was only
for an instant, and in a somewhat querulous voice he asked if there was
not a young gentleman too.
"O yes," said Mr. Langford, "he shall come and see you some day."
"He would not care to see a poor old man," said Daniels, turning a
little away, while his daughter-in-law began to apologise for him by
saying, "He is more lost than usual to-day, sir; I think it was getting
tired going to church, yesterday morning; he did not sleep well, and he
has been so fretful all the morning, a body did not know what to do
Mr. Langford said a few more cheerful words to the poor old man,
then asked the daughter where her husband was, and, hearing that he was
in the workshop, refused offers of fetching him in, and went out to
speak to him, leaving Henrietta to sit by the fire and wait for him. A
weary waiting time she found it; shy as she was of poor people, as of a
class with whom she was utterly unacquainted, feeling bound to make
herself agreeable, but completely ignorant how to set about it, wishing
to talk to the old man, and fearing to neglect him, but finding
conversation quite impossible except with Mrs. Daniels, and not very
easy with her—she tried to recollect what storied young ladies did say
to old men, but nothing she could think of would do, or was what she
could find herself capable of saying. At last she remembered, in
"Gertrude," the old nurse's complaint that Laura did not inquire after
the rheumatism, and she hazarded her voice in expressing a hope that
Mr. Daniels did not suffer from it. Clear as the sweet voice was, it
was too tremulous (for she was really in a fright of embarrassment) to
reach the old man's ear, and his daughter-in-law took it upon her to
repeat the inquiry in a shrill sharp scream, that almost went through
her ears; then while the old man was answering something in a muttering
maundering way, she proceeded with a reply, and told a long story about
his ways with the doctor, in her Sussex dialect, almost
incomprehensible to Henrietta. The conversation dropped, until Mrs.
Daniels began hoping that every one at the Hall was quite well, and as
she inquired after them one by one, this took up a reasonable time; but
then again followed a silence. Mrs. Daniels was not a native of Knight
Sutton, or she would have had more to say about Henrietta's mother; but
she had never seen her before, and had none of that interest in her
that half the parish felt. Henrietta wished there had been a baby to
notice, but she saw no trace in the room of the existence of children,
and did not like to ask if there were any. She looked at the open
hearth, and said it was very comfortable, and was told in return that
it made a great draught, and smoked very much. Then she bethought
herself of admiring an elaborately worked frame sampler, that hung
against the wall; and the conversation this supplied lasted her till,
to her great joy, grandpapa made his appearance again, and summoned her
to return, as it was already growing very dark.
She thought he might have made something of an apology for
the disagreeableness of his friend; but, being used to it, and
forgetting that she was not, he did no such thing; and she was
wondering that cottage visiting could ever have been represented as so
pleasant an occupation, when he began on a far more interesting
subject, asking about her mother's health, and how she thought Knight
Sutton agreed with her, saying how very glad he was to have her there
again, and how like his own daughter she had always been. He went on to
tell of his first sight of his two daughters-in-law, when, little
guessing that they would be such, he went to fetch home the little Mary
Vivian, who had come from India under the care of General St. Leger.
"There they were," said he; "I can almost see them now, as their black
nurse led them in; your aunt a brown little sturdy thing, ready to make
acquaintance in a moment, and your mamma such a fair, shrinking,
fragile morsel of a child, that I felt quite ashamed to take her among
all my great scrambling boys."
"Ah! mamma says her recollection is all in bits and scraps; she
recollects the ship, and she remembers sitting on your knee in a
carriage; but she cannot remember either the parting with Aunt Geoffrey
or the coming here."
"I do not remember about the parting with Aunt Geoffrey; they
managed that in the nursery, I believe, but I shall never forget the
boys receiving her,—Fred and Geoffrey, I mean,—for Roger was at
school. How they admired her like some strange curiosity, and played
with her like a little girl with a new doll. There was no fear that
they would be too rough with her, for they used to touch her as if she
was made of glass. And what a turn out of old playthings there was in
"That was when she was six," said Henrietta, "and papa must have
"Yes, thereabouts, and Geoffrey a year younger. How they
did pet her! and come down to all their old baby-plays again for her
sake, till I was almost afraid that cricket and hockey would be given
up and forgotten."
"And were they?"
"No, no, trust boys for that. Little Mary came to be looker on, if
she did not sometimes play herself. She was distressed damsel, and they
knight and giant, or dragon, or I cannot tell what, though many's the
time I have laughed over it. Whatever they pleased was she: never lived
creature more without will of her own."
"Never," responded Henrietta; but that for which Mr. Langford might
commend his little Mary at seven years old, did not appear so
appropriate a subject of observation in Mrs. Frederick Langford, and by
her own daughter.
"Eh!" said her grandfather. Then answering his mental objection in
another tone, "Ay, ay, no will for her own pleasure; that depends more
on you than on any one else."
"I would do anything on earth for her!" said Henrietta, feeling it
from the bottom of her heart.
"I am sure you would, my dear," said Mr. Langford, "and she deserves
it. There are few like her, and few that have gone through so much. To
think of her as she was when last she was here and to look at her now!
Well, it won't do to talk of it; but I thought when I saw her face
yesterday, that I could see, as well as believe, it was all for the
best for her, as I am sure it was for us."
He was interrupted just as they reached the gate by the voice of his
eldest son calling "Out late, sir," and looking round, Henrietta saw
what looked in the darkness like a long procession, Uncle and Aunt
Roger, and their niece, and all the boys, as far down as William,
coming to the Hall for the regular Christmas dinner-party.
Joining company, Henrietta walked with Jessie and answered her
inquiries whether she had got wet or cold in the morning; but it was in
an absent manner, for she was all the time dwelling on what her
grandfather had been saying. She was calling up in imagination the
bright scenes of her mother's youth; those delightful games of which
she had often heard, and which she could place in their appropriate
setting now that she knew the scenes. She ran up to her room, where she
found only Bennet, her mother having dressed and gone down; and sitting
down before the fire, and resigning her curls to her maid, she let
herself dwell on the ideas the conversation had called up, turning from
the bright to the darker side. She pictured to herself the church, the
open grave, her uncles and her grandfather round it, the villagers
taking part in their grief, the old carpenter's averted head—she
thought what must have been the agony of the moment, of laying in his
untimely grave one so fondly loved, on whom the world was just opening
so brightly,—and the young wife—the infant children—how fearful it
must have been! "It was almost a cruel dispensation," thought
Henrietta. "O, how happy and bright we might have been! What would it
not have been to hold by his hand, to have his kiss, to look for his
smile! And mamma, to have had her in all her joyousness and blitheness,
with no ill health, and no cares! O, why was it not so? And yet
grandpapa said it was for the best! And in what a manner he did say it,
as if he really felt and saw, and knew the advantage of it! To dear
papa himself I know it was for the best, but for us, mamma,
grandpapa—no, I never shall understand it. They were good before; why
did they need punishment? Is this what is called saying 'Thy will be
done?' Then I shall never be able to say it, and yet I ought!"
"Your head a little higher, if you please, Miss Henrietta," said
Bennet; "it is that makes me so long dressing you, and your mamma has
been telling me that I must get you ready faster."
Henrietta slightly raised her head for the moment, but soon let it
sink again in her musings, and when Bennet reminded her, replied, "I
can't, Bennet, it breaks my neck." Her will was not with her mother's,
in a trifling matter of which the reasonableness could not but approve
itself to her. How, then, was it likely to be bent to that of her
Heavenly Parent, in what is above reason?
The toilet was at length completed, and in time for her to be handed
in to dinner by Alexander, an honour which she owed to Beatrice having
already been secured by Frederick, who was resolved not to be again
abandoned to Jessie. Alex did not favour her with much conversation,
partly because he was thinking with perturbation of the task set him
for the evening, and partly because he was trying to hear what Queen
Bee was saying to Fred, in the midst of the clatter of knives and
forks, and the loud voice of Mr. Roger Langford, which was enough to
drown most other sounds. Some inquiries had been made about Mrs.
Geoffrey Langford and her aunt, Lady Susan St. Leger, which had led
Beatrice into a great lamentation for her mother's absence, and from
thence into a description of what Lady Susan exacted from her friends.
"Aunt Susan is a regular fidget," said she; "not such a fidget as some
people," with an indication of Mrs. Langford. "Some people are
determined to make others comfortable in a way of their own, and that
is a fidget to be regarded with considerable respect; but Aunt Susan's
fidgeting takes the turn of sacrificing the comfort of every one else
to her own and her little dog's."
"But that is very hard on Aunt Geoffrey," said Fred.
"Frightfully. Any one who was less selfish would have insisted on
mamma's coming here, instead of which Aunt Susan only complains of her
sister and brother, and everybody else, for going out of London, when
she may be taken suddenly ill at any time. She is in such a nervous
state that Mr. Peyton cannot tell what might be the consequence," said
Beatrice, in an imitative tone, which made Fred laugh.
"I am sure I should leave her to take care of herself," said he.
"So do the whole family except ourselves; they are all worn out by
her querulousness, and are not particularly given to patience or
unselfishness either. But mamma is really fond of her, because she was
kind to her when she came home from India, and she manages to keep her
quiet better than anyone else can. She can very seldom resist mamma's
cheerful voice, which drives off half her nerves at once. You cannot
think how funny it is to see how Aunt Amelia always seems to stroke the
cat the wrong way, and mamma to smooth her down the right."
A lull in the conversation left these last words audible, and Mr.
Langford said, "What is that about stroking the cat, Queenie?"
"O you are telling it all—O don't, Bee!" cried Willy.
And with certain jokes about cats and bags, which seemed excessively
to discomfit Willy, who protested the cat was not in the bag at all—it
was the partridges—the conversation drifted away again from the
As soon as dinner was over, Beatrice again disappeared,
after begging her grandmamma to allow the great Indian screen to remain
as it at present stood, spread out so as to cut off one end of the
room, where there was a door opening into the study. Behind this screen
frequent rustlings were heard, with now and then a burst of laughing or
whispering, and a sound of moving furniture, which so excited Mrs.
Langford, that, starting up, she exclaimed that she must go and see
what they were doing.
"We are taking great care, grandmamma," called Alexander. "We won't
This, by showing so far that there was something to be hurt, was so
far from reassuring her, that she would certainly have set out on a
voyage of discovery, but for Mr. Langford, who professed himself
convinced that all was right, and said he would not have the Busy Bee
She came in to tea, bringing Alex and Willy with her—the latter, in
a marvellous state of mystery and excitement, longing to tell all
himself, and yet in great terror lest the others should tell.
As soon as the tea was despatched, the three actors departed, and
presently there was a call from behind the screen, "Are you ready, good
"Go it," answered Carey.
"Are the elders ready?" said Beatrice's voice.
"Papa, don't go on talking to Uncle Geoffrey!" cried Willy.
"Ay, ay, all attention," said grandpapa. "Now for it!"
The screen was folded back, and discovered Alex in a pasteboard
crown, ermine tippet, and purple mantle, sitting enthroned with
Beatrice (a tiara and feathers on her head) at his side, and kneeling
before them a nondescript article, consisting chiefly of a fur cloak, a
fur cap, adorned with a pair of grey squirrel cuffs, sewn ingeniously
into the form of ears, a boa by way of tail, and an immense pair of
boots. As Uncle Geoffrey said, the cat was certainly out of the bag,
and it proceeded in due form to take two real partridges from the bag,
and present them tot he king and princess in the name of the Marquis
The king and princess made some consultation as to who the marquis
might be, the princess proposing to send for the Peerage, and the king
cross-examining puss in an incredulous way which greatly puzzled him,
until at last he bethought himself of exclaiming, in a fierce manner,
"I've told you the truth, Mr. King, and if you won't believe me, I
can't help it!" and walked off on his hind legs in as dignified and
resentful a manner as his boots would let him; repairing to the
drawing-room to have his accoutrements admired, while the screen was
again spread in preparation for Scene II.
Scene II. presented but a half-length, a shawl being hung in front,
so as to conceal certain incongruities. A great arm-chair was wheeled
close to the table, on which stood an aged black jack out of the hall,
a quart measure, and a silver tankard; while in the chair, a cushion on
his head, and a great carving-knife held like a sceptre in his hand,
reclined Alex, his bulk enlarged by at least two pillows, over which an
old, long-breasted white satin waistcoat, embroidered with silver, had
with some difficulty been brought to meet. Before him stood a little
figure in a cloth cap, set jauntily on one side, decorated with a fox's
brush, and with Mrs. Frederick Langford's three feathers, and a coat
bearing marvellous resemblance to Beatrice's own black velvet spencer,
crossed over one shoulder by a broad blue ribbon, which Henrietta knew
full well. "Do thou stand for my father," began this droll little
shape, "and examine me in the particulars of my life."
It was not badly caried out; Prince Henry, when he did not giggle,
acted beautifully; and Falstaff really did very well, though his eyes
were often directed downwards, and the curious, by standing on tiptoe,
obtained not only a view of Prince Hal's pink petticoat, but of a great
Shakespeare laid open on the floor; and a very low bow on the part of
the heir apparent, when about to change places with his fat friend, was
strongly suspected of being for the purpose of turning over a leaf. It
was with great spirit that the parting appeal was given, "Banish fat
Jack, and banish all the world!" And ther was great applause when fat
Jack and Prince Hal jumped up and drew the screen forward again; though
Uncle Geoffrey and Aunt Mary were cruel enough to utter certain
historical and antiquarian doubts as to whether the Prince of Wales was
likely to wear the three feathers and ribbon of the garter in his
haunts at Eastcheap.
In the concluding scene the deputy lieutenant's uniform made a great
figure, with the addition of the long-breasted waistcoat, a white
scarf, and the white cockade, adorning Alex, who, with a boot-jack
under his arm, looked as tall and as rigid as he possibly could, with a
very low bow, which was gracefully returned by a royal personage in a
Scottish bonnet, also bearing the white cockade, a tartan scarf, and
the blue ribbon. Altogether, Prince Charles Edward and the Baron of
Bradwardine stood confessed; the character was solemnly read, and the
shoe pulled off, or supposed to be, as the lower screen still remained
to cut off the view; and then the Baron indulged in a lengthy yawn and
stretch, while Prince Charlie, skipping into the midst of the audience,
danced round Mr. Langford, asking if he had guessed it.
BEATRICE had not judged amiss when she thought
charade-acting an amusement likely to take the fancy of her cousins.
The great success of her boot-jack inspired both
Frederick and Henrietta with eagerness to imitate it; and nothing was
talked of but what was practicable in the way of scenes, words, and
decorations. The Sutton Leigh party were to dine at the Hall again on
Thursday, and it was resolved that there should be a grand charade,
with all the splendour that due preparation could bestow upon it. "It
was such an amusement to grandpapa," as Beatrice told Henrietta, "and
it occupied Fred so nicely," as she said to her father; both which
observations being perfectly true, Mr. Geoffrey Langford was very
willing to promote the sport, and to tranquillise his mother respecting
the disarrangement of her furniture.
But what should the word be? Every one had predilections of their
own—some for comedy, others for tragedy; some for extemporary acting,
others for Shakespeare. Beatrice, with her eye for drawing, already
grouped her dramatis personæ, so as to display Henrietta's
picturesque face and figure to the greatest advantage, and had designs
of making her and Fred represent Catherine and Henry Seyton, whom, as
she said, she had always believed to be exactly like them. Fred was
inclined for "another touch at Prince Hal," and devised numerous ways
of acting Anonymous, for the sake of "Anon, anon, sir." Henrietta
wanted to contrive something in which Queen Bee might appear as an
actual fairy bee, and had very pretty visions of making her a
beneficent spirit in a little fanciful opera, for which she had written
three or four verses, when Fred put an end to it be pronouncing it
"nonsense and humbug."
So passed Tuesday, without coming to any decision, and Henrietta was
beginning to fear that they would never fix at all, when on Wednesday
morning Beatrice came down in an ecstasy with the news, that by some
chance a wig of her papa's was in the house, and a charade they must
and would have which would bring in the wig. "Come and see it," said
she, drawing her two cousins into the study after breakfast: the study
being the safest place for holding counsel on these secret subjects.
"There now, is it not charming? O, a law charade we must have, that is
Fred and Henrietta, who had never chanced to see a barrister's wig
before, were greatly diverted with its little tails, and tried it on in
turn. While Henrietta was in the midst of her laugh at the sight of her
own fair ringlets hanging out below the tight grey rolls, the door
suddenly opened, and gave entrance to its owner, fiercely exclaiming,
"What! nothing safe from you, you impertinent kittens?"
"O, Uncle Geoffrey, I beg your pardon!" cried Henrietta, blushing
"Don't take it off till I have looked at you," said Uncle Geoffrey.
"Why, you would make a capital Portia!"
"Yes, yes!" cried Queen Bee, "that is it: Portia she shall be, and
I'll be Nerissa."
"Oh, no, Queenie, I could never be Portia!" said
Henrietta: "I am sure I can't."
"But I have set my heart on being the 'little scrubby lawyer's
clerk,'" said Busy Bee; "it is what I am just fit for; and let me
see—Fred shall be Antonio, and that will make you plead from your very
heart, and you shall have Alex for your Bassanio."
"But the word. Do you mean to make it fit in with Falstaff and
Catherine Seyton?" said Henrietta.
"Let me see," said Beatrice; "bond—bondage, jew—jeweller,
"Lawsuit," said Fred. "Ay, don't you see, all the scenes would come
out of the 'Merchant of Venice.' There is 'law' when the old Jew is
crying out for his ducats, and—but halloo!" and Fred stood aghast at
the sight of his uncle, whose presence they had all forgotten in their
"Traitor!" said Beatrice; "but never mind, I believe we must have
let him into the plot, for nobody else can be Shylock."
"O, Bee," whispered Henrietta, reproachfully, "don't tease him with
our nonsense. Think of asking him to study Shylock's part, when he has
all that pile of papers on the table."
"Jessica, my girl,
Look to my house. I am right loth to go;
There is some ill a-brewing to my rest,
For I did dream of money-bags to-night."
Such was Uncle Geoffrey's reply; his face and tone so
suddenly altered to the snarl of the old Jew, that his young companions
at first started, and then clapped their hands in delighted admiration.
"Do you really know it all?" asked Henrietta, in a sort of
"It won't cost me much trouble to get it up," said Mr.
Geoffrey Langford; "Shylock's growls stick in one's memory better than
"Then will you really be so very kind?"
"Provided you will leave the prompter of Monday night on the table
this morning," said Uncle Geoffrey, smiling in that manner which, to a
certain degree, removed any feeling of obligation, by making it seem as
if it was entirely for his own diversion. Nor could it be denied that
he did actually enjoy it.
The party took up their quarters in the study, which really was the
only place fit for consultations and rehearsals, since Fred and Alex
could not be taken to the maids' workroom, and none of the downstairs
apartments could be made subject to the confusion incidental to their
preparations. Henrietta had many scruples at first about disturbing
Uncle Geoffrey, but his daughter laughed at them all; and they were
soon at an end when she perceived that he minded their chattering,
spouting, and laughing, no more than if they had been so many little
sparrows twittering on the eaves, but pursued the even tenour of his
writing uninterruptedly, even while she fitted on his head a yellow
pointed cap, which her ingenious fingers had compounded of the lining
of certain ugly old curtains.
His presence in this silent state served, too, as a protection in
Mrs. Langford's periodical visitations to stir the fire; but for him,
she would assuredly have found fault, and probably Beatrice would have
come to a collision with her, which would have put an end to the whole
It formed a considerable addition to Henrietta's list of his
avocations, and really by making the utmost of everything he did for
other people during that whole week, she made the number reach even to
seventy-nine by the next Thursday morn- ing. The most noted of these
employments were the looking over a new Act of Parliament with the
county member, the curing grandmamma's old gander of a mysterious
lameness, the managing of an emigration of a whole family to New
Zealand, the guessing a riddle supposed "to have no answer," and the
mending of some extraordinary spring that was broken in Uncle Roger's
new drill. Beatrice was charmed with the list; Aunt Mary said it was
delightful to be so precious to every one; and grandpapa, shaking his
head at his son, said he was ashamed to find that his family contained
such a Jack of all trades; to which Uncle Geoffrey replied, that it was
too true that "all work and no play make Jack a very dull boy."
The breaking up of the frost, with a succession of sleet, snow and
rain, was much in favour of Beatrice and her plans, by taking away all
temptation from the boys to engage in out-of-door amusements; and
Antonio and Bassanio studied their parts so diligently, that Carey was
heard to observe that it might just as well be half year. They had
besides their own proper parts, to undertake those of the Princes of
Arragon and Morocco, since Queen Bee, willing to have as much of
Nerissa as possible, had determined to put their choice, and that of
Bassanio, all into the one scene belonging to "suit." It was one of
those occasions on which she showed little consideration, for she thus
gave Portia an immense quantity to learn in only two days; persuading
herself all the time that it was no such hard task, since the beautiful
speech about mercy Henrietta already knew by heart, and she made no
difficulties about the rest. Indeed, Beatrice thought herself
excessively amiable in doing all she could to show off her cousin's
beauty and acting, whilst taking a subordinate part herself; forgetting
that humility is not shown in choosing a part, but in taking willingly
that which is assigned us.
Henrietta was rather appalled at the quantity she had to learn, as
well as at the prominent part she was to take; but she did not like to
spoil the pleasure of the rest with objections, and applied herself in
good earnest to her study. She walked about with a little Shakespeare
in her hand; she learnt while she was dressing, working, waiting; sat
up late, resisting many a summons from her mother to come to bed, and
long before daylight, was up and learning again.
The great evening had come, and the audience were thus arranged:
grandmamma took up her carpet-work, expressing many hopes to Aunt Roger
that it would be over now and out of the children's heads, for they
turned the house upside down, and for her part, she thought it very
like play-acting. Aunt Roger, returning the sentiment with interest,
took out one of the little brown holland frocks, which she seemed to be
always making. Uncle Roger composed himself to sleep in the arm-chair
for want of his brother to talk to; grandpapa moved a sofa to the front
for Aunt Mary, and sat down by her, declaring that they would see
something very pretty, and hoping it would not be too hard a nut for
his old wits to crack; Jessie, and such of the boys as could not be
persuaded to be magnificos, found themselves a convenient station, and
the scene opened.
It was a very short one, but it made every one laugh greatly, thanks
to Shylock's excellent acting, and the chorus of boys, who greatly
enjoyed chasing him across the stage, crying, "The law, his ducats, and
Then, after a short interval, appeared Portia, a silver arrow in her
hair, almost lovely enough for the real Portia; though the alarmed
expression in her glowing face was little accordant with the calm
dignified self-possession of the noble Venetian heiress. Nerissa, a
handkerchief folded squarely over her head, short petticoats, scarlet
lambswool worked into her stockings, and a black apron trimmed with
bright ribbon, made a complete little Italian waiting-maid; her quick,
pert reply to her lady's first faltering speech, seemed wonderfully to
restore Portia to herself, and they got on well and with spirit through
the description of the suitors, and the choice of the two first
caskets. Portia looked excessively dignified, and Nerissa's by-play was
capital. Whether it was owing to Bassanio's awkwardness or her own
shyness, she did not prosper quite so well when the leaden casket was
chosen; Bassanio seemed more afraid of her than rejoiced, and looked
much more at Nerissa than at her, whilst she moved as slowly, and spoke
in as cold and measured a way, as if it had been the Prince of Morocco
who had unfortunately hit upon the right casket.
In the grand concluding scene she was, however, all that could be
wished. She really made a very pretty picture in the dark robes, the
glowing carnation of her cheek contrasting with the grey wig, beneath
which a few bright ringlets still peeped out; one little white hand
raised, and the other holding the parchment, and her eyes fixed on the
Jew, as if she either imagined herself Portia, or saw her brother in
Antonio's case, for they glistened with tears, and her voice had a
tremulous pleading tone, which fairly made her grandfather and mother
both cry heartily.
"Take, then, thy bond; take thou thy pound of flesh!"
The Duke (little Willy) was in an agony, and was forcibly
withheld by Bassanio from crying "No, he shan't!" Nerissa was so
absorbed as even to have forgotten herself; Shylock could hardly keep
his countenance up to the necessary expression of malice and obduracy;
even Johnny and Dick were hanging with breathless attention on the
"but," when suddenly there was a general start throughout the party;
the door opened; Atkins, with a voice and face full of delight,
announced "Master Roger," and there entered a young man, in a pea
jacket and worsted comforter.
Such confusion, such rapture as ensued! The tumultuous welcomes and
handshakings before the sailor had time to distinguish one from
another, the actors assuming their own characters, grandmamma and Mrs.
Roger Langford asking dozens of questions in a breath, and Mr. Roger
Langford fast asleep in his great arm-chair, till roused by Dick
tugging at his arm, and Willy hammering on his knee, he slowly arose,
saying, "What, Roger, my boy, is it you? I thought it was all their
"Ah! Miss Jessie," exclaimed Roger; "that is right: I have not seen
such a crop of shining curls since I have been gone. So you have not
lost your pink cheeks with pining for me. How are they all at home?"
"Here, Roger, your Aunt Mary," said his mother; and instantly there
was a subduing of the young sailor's boisterous mirth, as he turned to
answer her gentle welcome. The laugh arose the next moment at the
appearance of the still half-disguised actors: Alex without Bassanio's
short black cloak and slouched hat and feather, but still retaining his
burnt cork eyebrows and moustache, and wondering that Roger did not
know him; Uncle Geoffrey still in Shylock's yellow cap, and Fred
somewhat grim with the Prince of Morocco's complexion.
"How d'ye do, Phil?" said Roger, returning his cousinly
shake of the hand with interest. "What! are not you Philip Carey?"
"O, Roger, Roger!" cried a small figure, in whom the Italian maiden
"What, Aunt Geoffrey masquerading too? How d'ye do, aunt?"
"Well done, Roger! That's right! Go on!" cried his father, laughing
"Is it not my aunt? No? Is it the little Bee, then? Why you are
grown as like her! But where is Aunt Geoffrey then? Not here? That is a
bore. I thought you would have all been in port here at Christmas. And
is not this Philip? Come tell me, some of you, instead of laughing
there. Are you Fred Langford, then?"
"Right this time," said Fred, "so now you must shake hands with me
in my own name."
"Very glad to do so, and see you here at last," said Roger,
cordially. "And now tell me, what is all this about? One would think
you were crossing the Line?"
"You shall hear what it is all about, and see too," said Mr.
Langford. "We must have that wicked old Jew disappointed, must not we,
Willy? But where is my little Portia? What is become of her?"
"Fled, I suspect," said her mother, "gone to turn into herself
before her introduction."
"O, Roger, it was so jolly," Carey was now heard to say above the
confusion of voices. "Uncle Geoffrey was an old Jew, going to cut a
pound of flesh out of Fred, and Henrietta was making a speech in a
lawyer's wig, and had just found such a dodge!"
"Ha! like the masks in the carnival at Rio! Ferrars and I went
ashore there, and—"
"Have you been at Sutton Leigh, Roger?" "Have you dined?" "Cold
turkey—excellent Christmas pie, only too much pepper—a cup of
tea—no, but we will have the beef in—"
Further conversation was suspended by these propositions, with the
answers and thanks resulting therefrom, but in the midst grandpapa
exclaimed, "Ah! here she is! Here is the counsellor! Here is a new
cousin for you, Roger; here is the advocate for you when you have a
tough law-suit! Lucky for you, Master Geoffrey, that she is not a man,
or your nose would soon be put out of joint. You little rogue! How
dared you make your mother and grandfather cry their hearts out?"
"I was very glad to see you as bad as myself, sir," said Mrs.
Frederick Langford. "I was very much ashamed of being so foolish, but
then, you know, I could hardly ever read through that scene without
"Ah! you are a prudent mamma, and will not let her be conceited. But
to see Geoffrey, with his lips quivering, and yet frowning and looking
savage with all his might and main! Well, you are a capital set of
actors, all of you, and we must see the end of it."
This was the great desire of Beatrice, and she was annoyed with
Henrietta for having thrown aside her borrowed garments, but the Fates
decreed otherwise. The Christmas pie came in, grandpapa proceeded to
carve it, and soon lost the remembrance of the charade in talking to
his eldest grandson about his travels. A sailor just returned from four
years on the South American coast, who had doubled Cape Horn, shot
condors on the Andes, caught goats at Juan Fernandez, fished for sharks
in the Atlantic, and heard parrots chatter in the Brazilian woods,
could not fail to be very entertaining, even though he cared not for
the Incas of Peru, and could tell little about the beauties of an
iceberg; and accordingly everyone was greatly entertained, except the
Queen Bee, who sat in a corner of the sofa, playing with her
watch-chain, wondering how long Roger would go on eating pie, looking
at the time-piece, and strangling the yawns induced by her inability to
attract the notice of either of her squires, whose eyes and ears were
all for the new comer. She was not even missed; if she had been, it
would have been some consolation; but on they went, listening and
laughing, as if the course of the Euphrosyne, her quick sailing, and
the adventures of her crew, were the only subjects of interest in the
world. He was only at home for a week, but so much the worse, that
would be till the end of Beatrice's own visit, and she supposed it
would be nothing but Euphrosyne the whole time.
There was at last a change: Roger had half a hundred questions to
ask about his cousins and all the neighbours.
"And has Philip Carey set up for himself at Allonfield? Does he get
any practice? I have a great mind to be ill; it would be such a joke to
be doctored by Master Philip!"
"Ah! to think of your taking Mr. Frederick for poor Philip," said
Jessie. "I assure you," nodding to Fred, "I take it as a great
compliment, and so will Philip."
"And is Fanny Evans as pretty as ever?"
"Oh! grown quite fat and coarse," said Jessie; "but you may judge
for yourself on Monday. Dear Mrs. Langford is so kind as to give us a
regular Christmas party, and all the Evanses and Dittons are coming.
And we are to dance in the dining-room, the best place for it in the
county; the floor is so much better laid down than in the Allonfield
"No such good place for dancing as the deck of a frigate,"
said Roger. "This time last year we had a ball on board the Euphrosyne
at Rio. I took the prettiest girl there in to supper—don't be jealous,
Jessie, she had not such cheeks as yours. She was better off there than
in the next ball where I met her, in the town. She fancied she had got
rather a thick sandwich at supper: she peeped in, and what do you think
she found? A great monster of a cockroach, twice as big as any you ever
"O, you horrid creature!" cried Jessie, "I am sure it was your
doing. I am sure it was your doing. I am sure you will give me a
scorpion, or some dreadful creature! I won't let you take me in to
supper on Monday, I declare."
"Perhaps I won't have you. I mean to have Cousin Henrietta for my
partner, if she will have me."
"Thank you, Cousin Roger," faltered Henrietta, blushing crimson,
with the doubt whether she was saying the right thing, and fearing
Jessie might be vexed. Her confusion was increased the next moment, as
Roger, looking at her more fully than he had done before, went on,
"Much honoured, cousin. Now, all of you wish me joy. I am safe to have
the prettiest girl in the room for my partner. But how slow of them all
not to have engaged her before. Eh! Alex, what have you to say for
"I hope for Queen Bee," said Alex.
"And Jessie must dance with me, because I don't know how," said
"My dears, this will never do!" interposed grandmamma. "You can't
all dance with each other, or what is to become of the company? I never
heard of such a thing. Let me see: Queen Bee must open the ball with
little Henry Hargrave, and Roger must dance with Miss Benson."
"No, no," cried Roger, "I won't give up my partner, ma'am; I am a
privileged person, just come home. Knight Sutton has not had too much
of Henrietta or me, so you must let us be company. Come, Cousin
Henrietta, stick fast to your engagement; you can't break the first
promise you ever made me. Here," proceeded he, jumping up, and holding
out his hand, "let us begin this minute; I'll show you how we waltz
with the Brazilian ladies."
"Thank you, Cousin Roger, I cannot waltz," said Henrietta.
"That's a pity. Come, Jessie, then."
If the practice of waltzing was not to be admired, there was
something which was very nice in the perfect good humour with which
Jessie answered her cousin's summons, without the slightest sign of
annoyance at his evident preference of Henrietta's newer face.
"If I can't waltz, I can play for you," said Henrietta, willing not
to seem disobliging; and going to the piano, she played whilst Roger
and Jessie whirled merrily round the room, every now and then receiving
shocks against the furniture and minding them not the least in the
world, till at last, perfectly out of breath, they dropped laughing
upon the sofa.
The observations upon the wild spirits of sailors ashore then sank
into silence; Mrs. Roger Langford reproved her son for making such a
racket, as was enough to kill his Aunt Mary; with a face of real
concern he apologised from the bottom of his heart, and Aunt Mary in
return assured him that she enjoyed the sight of his merriment.
Grandmamma announced in her most decided tone that she would have no
waltzes and no polkas at her party. Roger assured her that there was no
possibility of giving a dance without them, and Jessie seconded him as
much as she ventured; but Mrs. Langford was unpersuadable, declaring
that she would have no such things in her house. Young people in her
days were contented to dance country dances; if they wanted anything
newer, they might have quadrilles, but as to these new romps, she would
not hear of them.
And here, for once in her life, Beatrice was perfectly agreed with
her grandmamma, and she came to life again, and sat forward to join in
the universal condemnation of waltzes and polkas that was going on
round the table.
With this drop of consolation to her, the party broke up, and
Jessie, as she walked home to Sutton Leigh, found great solace in
determining within herself that at any rate waltzing was not half so
bad as dressing up and play-acting, which she was sure her mamma would
Beatrice came to her aunt's room, when they went upstairs, and
petitioned for a little talk, and Mrs. Frederick Langford, with kind
pity for her present motherless condition, accepted her visit, and even
allowed her to outstay Bennet, during whose operations the discussion
of the charade, and the history of the preparations and contrivances
gave subject to a very animated conversation.
Then came matters of more interest. What Beatrice seemed above all
to wish for, was to relieve herself by the expression of her intense
dislike to the ball, and all the company, very nearly without
exception, and there were few elders to whom a young damsel could talk
so much without restraint as to Aunt Mary.
The waltzing, too, how glad she was that grandmamma had forbidden
it, and here Henrietta chimed in. She had never seen waltzing before;
had only heard of it as people in their quiet homes hear and think of
the doings of the fashionable world, and in her simplicity was
perfectly shocked and amazed at Jessie, a sort of relation, practising
it and pleading for it.
"My dear!" said Beatrice, laughing, "I do not know what you would do
if you were me, when there is Matilda St. Leger polka-ing
away half the days of her life."
"Yes, but Lady Matilda is a regular fashionable young lady."
"Ay, and so is Jessie at heart. It is the elegance, and the air, and
the society that are wanting, not the will. It is the circumstances
that make the difference, not the temper."
"Quite true, Busy Bee," said her aunt, "temper may be the same in
very different circumstances."
"But it is very curious, mamma," said Henrietta, "how people can be
particular in one point, and not in another. Now, Bee, I beg your
pardon, only I know you don't mind it, Jessie did not approve of your
"Yes," said Beatrice, "every one has scruples of his own, and laughs
at those of other people."
"Which I think ought to teach Busy Bees to be rather less stinging,"
said Aunt Mary.
"But then, mamma," said Henrietta, "we must hold to the right
scruples, and what are they? I do not suppose that in reality Jessie is
less—less desirous of avoiding all that verges towards a want of
propriety then we are, yet she waltzes. Now we were brought up to
dislike such things."
"O, it is just according to what you are brought up to," said
Beatrice. "A Turkish lady despises us for showing our faces: it is just
as you think it."
"No, that will not do," said Henrietta. "Something must be actually
wrong. Mamma, do say what you think."
"I think, my dear, that woman has been mercifully endowed with an
instinct which discerns unconsciously what is becoming or not, and
what- ever at the first moment jars on that sense is unbecoming in her
own individual case. The fineness of the perception may be destroyed by
education, or wilful dulling, and often on one point it may be silent,
though alive and active on others."
"Yes," said Henrietta, as if satisfied.
"And above all," said her mother, "it, like other gifts, grows
dangerous, it may become affectation."
"Pruding," said Beatrice, "showing openly that you like it to be
observed how prudent and proper you are."
"Whereas true delicacy would shrink from showing that it is
conscious of anything wrong," said Henrietta. "Wrong I do not exactly
mean, but something on the borders of it."
"Yes," said Aunt Mary, "and above all, do not let this delicacy show
itself in the carping at other people, which only exalts our own
opinion of ourselves, and very soon turns into 'judging our
"But there is false delicacy, aunt."
"Yes, but it would be false kindness to enter on a fresh discussion
to-night, when you ought to be fast asleep."
THE Queen Bee, usually undisputed sovereign of
Knight Sutton, found in her cousin Roger a formidable rival. As son and
heir, elder brother, and newly arrived after five years' absence, he
had considerable claims to attention, and his high spirits, sailor
manners, sea stories, and bold open temper, were in themselves such
charms that it was no wonder that Frederick and Alexander were seduced
from their allegiance, and even grandpapa was less than usual the
property of his granddaughter.
This, however, she might have endured, had the sailor himself been
amenable to her power, for his glories would then have become hers, and
have afforded her further opportunities of coquetting with Fred. But
between Roger and her there was little in common: he was not, and never
had been, accessible to her influence; he regarded her, indeed, with
all the open-hearted affection of cousinly intercourse, but for the
rest, thought her much too clever for him, and far less attractive than
either Henrietta or Jessie.
If she would, Henrietta might have secured his devotion, for he was
struck with her beauty, and considered it a matter of credit to himself
to engross the prettiest person present. Had Beatrice been in her
place, it may be doubted how far love of power, and the pleasure of
teasing, might have carried her out of her natural character in the
style that suited him; but Henrietta was too simple, and her mind too
full of her own affairs even to perceive that he distinguished her. She
liked him, but she showed none of the little airs which would have
seemed to appropriate him. She was ready to be talked to, but only as
she gave the attention due to any one, nay, showing, because she felt,
less eagerness than if it had been grandpapa, Queen Bee, or Fred, a
talk with the last of whom was a pleasure now longed for, but never
enjoyed. To his stories of adventures, or accounts of manners, she lent
a willing and a delighted ear; but all common-place jokes tending to
flirtation fell flat; she either did not catch them, or did not catch
at them. She might blush and look confused, but it was uncomfortable,
and not gratified embarrassment, and if she found an answer, it was one
either to change the subject, or honestly manifest that she was not
She did not mortify Roger, who liked her all the time; and if he
thought at all, only considered her as shy or grave, and still
continued to admire her, and seek her out, whenever his former
favourite, Jessie, was not in the way to rattle with in his usual
style. Jessie was full of enjoyment, Henrietta was glad to be left to
her own devices, her mamma was still more rejoiced to see her act so
properly without self-consciousness or the necessity of interference,
and the Queen Bee ought to have been duly grateful to the one faithful
vassal who was proof against all allurements from her side and service.
She ought, but the melancholy fact is that the devotion of womankind
is usually taken as a matter of course. Beatrice would have despised
and been very angry with Henrietta had she deserted to Roger, but she
did not feel in the least grateful for her adherence, and would have
been much more proud of retaining either of the boys. There was one
point on which their attention could still be commanded, namely, the
charades; for though the world may be of opinion that they had had
quite a sufficiency of amusement, they were but the more stimulated by
their success on Thursday, and the sudden termination in the very
height of their triumph.
They would, perhaps, have favoured the public with a repetition of
Shylock's trial the next evening, but that, to the great consternation,
and, perhaps, indignation of Beatrice, when she came down to breakfast
in the morning, she found their tiring-room, the study, completely
cleared of all their various goods and chattels, Portia's wig in its
box, the three caskets gone back to the dressing-room, the duke's
throne safe in its place in the hall, and even Shylock's yellow cap
picked to pieces, and rolled up in the general hoard of things which
were to come of use in seven years' time. Judith, who was putting the
finishing touches to the re-arrangement by shaking up the cushions of
the great chair, and restoring the inkstand to its place in the middle
of the table, gave in answer to her exclamations the information that
"Missus had been up since seven o'clock, helping to put away the things
herself, for she said she could not bear to have Mr. Geoffrey's room
not fit for anybody to sit in." This might certainly be considered as a
tolerably broad hint that they had better discontinue their
representations, but they were arrived at that state of eagerness which
may be best illustrated by the proverb referring to a blind horse.
Every one, inclined to that same impetuosity, and want of soberness,
can remember the dismay with which hosts of such disregarded checks
will recur to the mind when too late, and the poor satisfaction of the
self-justification which truly answers that their object was not even
comprehended. Henrietta, accustomed but little to heed such indications
of dissent from her will, did not once think of her grandmamma's
dislike, and Beatrice with her eyes fully open to it, wilfully despised
it as a fidgety fancy.
Henrietta had devised a series of scenes for the word assassin, and
greatly delighted the imagination of her partners by a proposal to make
a pair of asses' ears of cotton velvet for the adornment of Bottom the
weaver. Fred fell back in his chair in fits of laughing at the device,
and Queen Bee capered and danced about the room, declaring her worthy
to be her own "primest of viziers."
"And," said Beatrice, "what an exquisite interlude it will make to
relieve the various plagues of Monday evening."
"Why you don't mean to act then!" exclaimed Henrietta.
"Why not? You don't know what a relief it will be. It will be an
excuse for getting away from all the stupidity."
"To be sure it will," cried Fred. "A bright thought, Mrs. Bee. We
shall have it all to ourselves in the study in comfort."
"But would grandmamma ever let us do it?" said Henrietta.
"I will manage," said Beatrice. "I will make grandpapa agree to it,
and then she will not mind. Think how he enjoyed it."
"Before so many people!" said Henrietta. "O, Queenie, it will never
do! It would be a regular exhibition."
"My dear, what nonsense!" said Beatrice. "Why, it is all among
friends and neighbours."
"Friends and neighbours to you," said Henrietta.
"And yours too. Fred, she is deserting! I thought you meant to adopt
or inherit all Knight Sutton and its neighbourhood could offer."
"A choice inheritance that neighbourhood, by your account," said
Fred. "But come, Henrietta, you must not spoil the whole affair by such
nonsense and affectation."
"Affectation! O, Fred!"
"Yes, to be sure it is," said Fred: "to set up such scruples as
these. Why, you said yourself that you forget all about the spectators
when once you get into the spirit of the thing."
"And what is affectation," said Beatrice, seeing her advantage, "but
thinking what other people will think?"
There are few persuasions to which a girl who claims to possess some
degree of sense is more accessible, than the imputation of affectation,
especially when brought forward by a brother, and enforced by a clever
and determined friend. Such a feeling is no doubt often very useful in
preventing folly, but it may sometimes be perverted to the smothering
of wholesome scruples. Henrietta only pressed one point more, she
begged not to be Titania.
"O, you must, you silly child," said Beatrice. "I have such designs
for dressing you! Besides, I mean to be Mustardseed, and make grandpapa
laugh by my by-play at the giant Ox-beef."
"But consider, Bee," said Henrietta, "how much too tall I am for a
fairy. It would be too absurd to make Titania as large as Bottom
himself—spoil the whole picture. You might surely get some little
girls to be the other fairies, and take Titania yourself."
"Certainly it might conciliate people to have their own children
made part of the show," said Beatrice. "Little Anna Carey has sense
enough, I think; ay, and the two Nevilles, if they will not be shy. We
will keep you to come out in grand force in the last scene—Queen
Eleanor sucking the poison. Aunt Mary has a certain black-lace scarf
that will make an excellent Spanish mantilla. Or else suppose you are
Berengaria, coming to see King Richard when he was
"No, no," cried Fred, "stick to the Queen Eleanor scene. We will
have no more blacking of faces. Yesterday I was too late down stairs
because I could not get the abominable stuff out of my hair."
"And it would be a cruel stroke to be taken for Philip Carey again,
in the gentleman's own presence, too," said Beatrice. "Monsieur is
apparemment the apothecaire de famille. Do you remember, Henrietta, the
French governess in Miss Edgworth's book?"
"Jessie smiled and nodded as if she was perfectly enchanted with the
mistake," siad Henrietta.
"And I do not wonder at it," said Beatrice, "the mistake, I mean.
Fred's white hands there have just the look of a doctor's; of course
Roger thought the only use of them could be to feel pulses, and Philip,
for want of something better to do, is always trying for a genteel
"You insulting creature!" siad Fred. "Just as if I tried to look
"You do, then, whether you try or not. You can't help it, you know,
and I am very sorry for you; but you do stand and walk and hold out
your hand just as Philip is always trying to do, and it is no wonder
Roger thought he had succeeded in attaining his object."
"But what a goose the man must be to make such absurdity his
object," said Henrietta.
"He could not be a Carey and be otherwise," said Busy Bee.
"And besides, what would you have him do? As to getting any practice,
unless his kith and kin choose to victimise themselves
philanthropically according to Roger's proposal, I do not see what
chance he has, where everyone knows the extent of a Carey's intellects;
and what is left for the poor man to do but to study the cut of his
"If you say much more about it, Queenie," said Henrietta, "you will
make Fred dance in Bottom's hob-nailed shoes."
"Ah! it is a melancholy business," said Beatrice; "but it cannot be
helped. Fred cannot turn into a clodhopper. But what earthquake is
this?" exclaimed she, as the front door was dashed open with such
violence as to shake the house, and the next moment Alexander rushed
in, heated and almost breathless. "Rats! rats!" was his cry; "Fred,
that's right. But where is Uncle Geoffrey?"
"Gone to Allonfield."
"More's the pity. There are a whole host of rats in the great barn
at home. Pincher caught me one just now, and they are going to turn the
place regularly out, only I got them to wait while I came up here for
you and Uncle Geoffrey. Come, make haste, fly—like smoke—while I go
and tell grandpapa."
Off flew Fred to make his preparation, and off to the drawing room
hurried Alex to call grandpapa. He was greeted by a reproof from Mrs.
Langford for shaking the house enough to bring it down, and grandpapa
laughed, thanked him, and said he hoped to be at Sutton Leigh in time
for the rat hunt, as he was engaged to drive grandmama and Aunt Mary
thither and to the Pleasance that afternoon.
Two seconds more, and Fred and Alex were speeding away together, and
the girls went up to put on their bonnets to walk and meet their elders
at Sutton Leigh. For once Beatrice let Henrietta be as slow as she
pleased, for she was willing to let as much of the visit as possible
pass before they arrived there. They walked along, merrily concocting
their arrangements for Monday evening, until at length they came to the
gates of Sutton Leigh, and already heard the shouts of triumph, the
barking of dogs, and the cackle of terrified poultry, which proclaimed
that the war was at its height.
"O! the glories of a rat hunt!" cried Beatrice. "Come, Henrietta,
here is a safe place whence to contemplate it, and really it is a sight
not to be lost."
Henrietta thought not indeed when she looked over a gate leading
into the farm-yard on the side opposite to the great old barn, raised
on a multitude of stone posts, a short ladder reaching to the wide
doors which were folded back so as to display the heaps of straw thrown
violently back and forward; the dogs now standing in attitudes of
ecstatic expectation, tail straight out, head bent forward, now
springing in rapture on the prey; the boys rushing about with their
huge sticks, and coming down now and then with thundering blows, the
labourers with their white shirt sleeves and pitchforks pulling down
the straw, Uncle Roger with a portentous-looking club in the thick of
the fight. On the ladder, cheering them on, stood grandpapa, holding
little Tom in his arms, and at the bottom, armed with small sticks,
were Charlie and Arthur, consoling themselves for being turned out of
the melée, by making quite as much noise as all those who were doing
real execution, thumping unmercifully at every unfortunate dead mouse
or rat that was thrown out, and charging fiercely at the pigs, ducks,
and geese that now and then came up to inspect proceedings, and
perhaps, for such accidents will occur in the best regulated families,
to devour a share of the prey.
Beatrice's first exclamation was, "O! if papa was but here!"
"Nothing can go on without him, I suppose," said Henrietta. "And
yet, is this one of his great enjoyments?"
"My dear, don't you know it is a part of the privilege of a
free-born Englishman to delight in hunting 'rats and mice and such
small deer,' as much or more than the grand chasse? I have not the
smallest doubt that all the old cavaliers were fine old farm-loving
fellows, who liked a rat hunt, and enjoyed turning out a barn with all
"There goes Fred!" cried Henrietta.
"Ah! capital. He takes to it by nature, you see. There—there! O
what a scene it is! Look how beautifully the sun comes in, making that
solid sort of light on the mist of dust at the top."
"And how beautifully it falls on grandpapa's head! I think that
grandpapa with little Tom is one of the best parts of the picture,
"To be sure he is, that noble old head of his, and that beautiful
gentle face; and to see him pointing, and soothing the child when he
gets frightened at the hubbub, and then enjoying the victories over the
poor rats as keenly as anybody!"
"Certainly," said Henrietta, "there is something very odd in man's
nature; they can like to do such cruel-sounding things without being
cruel! Grandpapa, or Fred, or Uncle Roger, or Alex now, they are as
kind and gentle as possible: yet the delight they can take in catching
"That is what town-people never can under- stand," said Beatrice,
"that hunting-spirit of mankind. I hate above all things to hear it
cried down, and the nonsense that is talked about it. I only wish that
those people could have seen what I did last summer—grandpapa calling
Carey, and holding the ladder for him while he put the young birds into
their nest that had fallen out. And O the uproar that there was one day
when Dick did something cruel to a poor rabbit; it was two or three
years ago, and Alex and Carey set upon him and thrashed him so that
they were really punished for it, bad as it was of Dick; it was one of
those bursts of generous indignation."
"It is a very curious thing," said Henrietta, "the soldier spirit it
must be, I suppose—"
"What are you philosophising about, young ladies?" asked Mr.
Langford, coming up as Henrietta said these last words.
"Only about the spirit of the chase, grandpapa," said Beatrice,
"what the pleasure can be of the field of slaughter there."
"Something mysterious, you may be sure, young ladies," said
grandpapa. "I have hunted rats once or twice a year now these seventy
years or more, and I can't say I am tired yet. And there is Master Fred
going at it, for the first time in his life, as fiercely as any of us
old veterans, and he has a very good eye for a hit, I can tell you, if
it is any satisfaction to you. Ha! hoigh Vixen! hoigh Carey! that's
it—there he goes!"
"Now, grandpapa," said Beatrice, catching hold of his hand, "I want
just to speak to you. Don't you think we might have a little
charade-acting on Monday to enliven the evening a little?"
"Eh? what? More charades? Well, they are very pretty sport, only I
think they would astonish the natives here a little. Are we to have the
end of Shylock?"
"No," said Beatrice, "we never condescend to repeat
ourselves. We have a new word and a beauty, and don't you think it will
do very well?"
"I am afraid grandmamma will think you are going to take to private
"Well, it won't be nearly such regular acting as the last," said
Beatrice, "I do not think it would do to take another half-play for so
many spectators, but a scene or two mostly in dumb show would make a
very nice diversion. Only say that you consent, grandpapa."
"Well, I don't see any harm in it," said grandpapa, "so long as
grandmamma does not mind it. I suppose your mamma does not, Henrietta?"
"O no," said Henrietta, with a certain mental reservation that she
would make her not mind it, or at any rate not gainsay it. Fred's
calling her affected was enough to make her consent, and bring her
mamma to consent to anything; for so little is it really the nature of
woman to exercise power, that if she domineers, it is sure to be
compensated by some subjection in some other manner: and if Henrietta
ruled her mother, she was completely under the dominion of Fred and
Beatrice. Themistocles' wife might rule Athens, but she was governed by
After this conversation they went in, and found Aunt Roger very
busy, recommending servants to Aunt Mary, and grandmamma enforcing all
she said. The visit soon came to an end, and they went on to the
Pleasance, where the inspection did not prove quite as agreeable as on
the first occasion; for grandmamma and Beatrice had very different
views respecting the appropriation of the rooms, and poor Mrs.
Frederick Langford was harassed and wearied by her vain attempts to
accede to the wishes of both, and vex neither. Grandmamma was
determined too to look over every corner, and discuss every room, and
Henrietta, in despair at the fatigue her mother was obliged to go
through, kept on seeking in vain for a seat for her, and having at last
discovered a broken-backed kitchen chair in some of the regions below,
kept diligently carrying it after her in all her peregrinations. She
was constantly wishing that Uncle Geoffrey would come, but in vain; and
between the long talking at Sutton Leigh, the wandering about the
house, and the many discussions, her mamma was completely tired out,
and obliged, when they came home, to confess that she had a headache.
Henrietta fairly wished her safe at Rocksand.
While Henrietta was attending her mother to her own room, and
persuading her to lay up for the evening, Beatrice, whose head was full
of but one matter, pursued Mrs. Langford into the study, and propounded
her grand object. As she fully expected, she met with a flat refusal,
and sitting down in her arm-chair, Mrs. Langford very earnestly began
with "Now listen to me, my dear child," and proceeded with a long story
of certain private theatricals some forty years ago, which to her
certain knowledge, ended in a young lady eloping with a music master.
Beatrice set to work to argue: in the first place it was not probable
that either she or Henrietta would run away with their cousins;
secondly, that the former elopement was not chargeable on poor
Shakespeare; thirdly, that these were not private theatricals at all.
"And pray what are they, then—when you dress yourselves up, and
speak the speeches out as boldly as Mrs. Siddons, or any of them?"
"You pay us a great compliment," said Beatrice, who could sometimes
be pert when alone with grandmamma; and she then went on with her
explanation of how very far this was from anything that could be
called theatrical; it was the guessing the word, not their acting, that
was the important point. The distinction was too fine for grandmamma;
it was play-acting, and that was enough for her, and she would not have
it done. "But grandpapa liked it, and had given full consent." This was
a powerful piece of ordnance which Beatrice had kept in reserve, but at
the first moment the shot did not tell.
"Ladies were the best judges in such a case as this," said Mrs.
Langford, "and let who would consent, she would never have her
granddaughters standing up, speaking speeches out of Shakespeare,
before a whole room full of company."
"Well, then, grandmamma, I'll tell you what: to oblige you, we will
not have one single scene out of Shakespeare—not one. Won't that do?"
"You will go to some other play-book, and that is worse," said Mrs.
"No, no, we will not: we will do every bit out of our own heads, and
it shall be almost all Fred and Alex; Henrietta and I will scarcely
come in at all. And it will so shorten the evening, and amuse every one
so nicely! and grandpapa has said we may."
Mrs. Langford gave a sort of sigh. "Ah, well! you always will have
your own way, and I suppose you must; but I never thought to see such
things in my house. In my day, young people thought no more of a scheme
when their elders had once said, 'No.'"
"Yes, only you must not say so, grandmamma. I am sure we would give
it up if you did; but pray do not—we will manage very well."
"And put the whole house in a mess, as you did last time; turn
everything upside down. I tell you, Beatrice, I can't have it done. I
shall want the study to put out the supper in."
"We can dress in our own rooms, then," said Beatrice,
"never mind that."
"Well, then, if you will make merry-andrews of yourselves, and your
fathers and mothers like to let you, I can't help it—that's all I have
to say," said Mrs. Langford, walking out of the room; while Fred
entered from the other side a moment after. "Victory, victory, my dear
Fred!" cried Beatrice, darting to meet him in an ecstasy. "I have
prevailed: you find me in the hour of victory. The Assassin for ever!
announced for Monday night, before a select audience!"
"Well, you are an irresistible Queen Bee," said Fred; "why Alex has
just been telling me ever so much that his mother told him about
grandmamma's dislike to it. I thought the whole concern a gone 'coon,
as they say in America."
"I got grandpapa first," said Beatrice, "and then I persuaded her;
she told me it would lead to all sorts of mischief, and gave me a long
lecture which had nothing to do with it. But I found out at last that
the chief points which alarmed her were poor Shakespeare and the
confusion in the study; so by giving up those two I gained everything."
"You don't mean that you gave up bully Bottom?"
"Yes, I do; but you need not resign your asses' ears. You shall wear
them in the character of King Midas."
"I think," said the ungrateful Fred, "that you might as well have
given it all up together as Bottom."
"No, no; just think what capabilities there are in Midas. We will
decidedly make him King of California, and I'll be the priestess of
Apollo; there is an old three-legged epergne-stand that will make a
most excellent tripod. And only think of the whispering into the reeds,
'King Midas has the ears of an ass.' I would have made more of a fight
for Bottom, if that had not come into my head."
"But you will have nothing to do."
"That helped to conciliate. I promised we girls should appear very
little, and for the sake of effect, I had rather Henrietta broke on the
world in all her beauty at the end. I do look forward to seeing her as
Queen Eleanor; she will look so regal."
Fred smiled, for he delighted in his sister's praises. "You are a
wondrous damsel, busy one," said he, "to be content to play second
"Second fiddle! As if I were not the great moving spring! Trust me,
you would never write yourself down an ass but for the Queen Bee. How
shall we ever get your ears from Allonfield? Saturday night, and only
till Monday evening to do everything in!"
"Oh, you will do it," said Fred. "I wonder what you and Henrietta
cannot do between you! Oh, there is Uncle Geoffrey come in," he
exclaimed, as he heard the front door open.
"And I must go and dress," said Beatrice, seized with a sudden
haste, which did not speak well for the state of her conscience.
Uncle Geoffrey was in the hall, taking off his mud-bespattered
gaiters. "So you are entered with the vermin, Fred," called he, as the
two came out of the drawing-room.
"O how we wished for you, Uncle Geoffrey! but how did you hear it?"
"I met Alex just now. Capital sport you must have had. Are you only
just come in?"
"No, we were having a consultation about the charades," said Fred;
"the higher powers consent to our having them on Monday."
"Grandmamma approving?" asked Uncle Geoffrey.
"O yes," said Fred, in all honesty, "she only objected to
our taking a regular scene in a play, and 'coming it as strong' as we
did the other night; so it is to be all extemporary, and it will do
Beatrice, who had been waiting in the dark at the top of the stairs,
listening, was infinitely rejoiced that her project had been explained
so plausibly, and yet in such perfect good faith, and she flew off to
dress in high spirits. Had she mentioned it to her father, he would
have doubted, taken it as her scheme, and perhaps put a stop to it: but
hearing of it from Frederick, whose pleasures were so often thwarted,
was likely to make him far more unwilling to object. For its own sake,
she knew he had no objection to the sport; it was only for that of his
mother; and since he had heard of her as consenting, all was right. No,
could Beatrice actually say so to her own secret soul?
She could not; but she could smother the still small voice that
checked her, in a multitude of plans, and projects, and criticisms, and
airy castles, and, above all, the pleasure of triumph and dominion, and
the resolution not to yield, and the delight of leading.
"OUR hearts and all our members, being mortified
from all worldly and carnal lusts:" so speaks the collect with which we
begin the new year—such the prayer to which the lips of the young
Langfords said, "Amen:" but what was its application to them? What did
they do with the wicked world in their own guarded homes? There was
Uncle Geoffrey, he was in the world. It might be for him to pray for
that spirit which enabled him to pass unscathed through the perils of
his profession, neither tempted to grasp at the honours nor the wealth
which lay in his way, unhardened and unsoured by the contact of the sin
and selfishness on every side. This might indeed be the world. There
was Jessie Carey, with her love of dress, and admiration, and pleasure;
she should surely pray that she might live less to the vanities of the
world; there were others, whose worn countenances spoke of hearts
devoted to the cares of the world; but to those fair, fresh, happy
young things, early taught how to prize vain pomp and glory, their
minds as yet free from anxiety, looking from a safe distance on the
busy field of trial and temptation; were not they truly kept from that
world which they had renounced?
Alas! that they did not lay to heart that the world is everywhere;
that if education had placed them above being tempted by the poorer,
cheaper, and more ordinary attractions, yet allurements there were for
them also. A pleasure pursued with headlong vehemence because it was of
their own devising, love of rule, the spirit of rivalry, the want of
submission; these were of the world. Other temptations had not yet
reached them, but if they gave way to those which assailed them in
their early youth, how could they expect to have strength to bear up
against the darker and stronger ones which would meet their riper
Even before daylight had fully found its way into Knight Sutton
Hall, there was many a note of preparation, and none clearer or louder
than those of the charade actors. Beatrice was up long before light, in
the midst of her preparations, and it was not long after, as, lamp in
hand, she whisked through the passages, Frederick's voice was heard
demanding whether the Busy Bee had turned into a firefly, and if the
paste was made wherewith Midas was to have his crown stuck with gold
paper. Zealous indeed were the workers, and heartily did old Judith
wish them anywhere else, as she drove them, their lamps, their paste,
and newspaper, from one corner of the study to the other, and at last
fairly out into the hall, threatening them with what Missus would say
to them. At last grandmamma came down with a party of neat little notes
in her hand, to be immediately sent off by Martin and the cart to
Allonfield, and Martin came to the door leading to the kitchen regions
to receive his directions.
"O how lucky!" cried Queen Bee, springing up. "The cotton velvet for
the ears! I'll write a note in a second!" Then she paused. "But I can't
do it without Henrietta, I don't know how much she wants. Half a yard
must do, I suppose; but then, how to describe it? Half a yard of
donkey-coloured velvet! It will never do; I must see Henrietta first!"
"Have not you heard her bell?" said Fred.
"No, shall I go and knock at the door? She must be up by this time."
"You had better ask Bennet," said Fred; "she sometimes gets up
quietly, and dresses herself without Bennet, if mamma is asleep,
because it gives her a palpitation to be disturbed in the morning."
Bennet was shouted for, and proved not to have been into her
mistress's room. The charade mania was not strong enough to make them
venture upon disturbing Mrs. Frederick Langford, and to their great
vexation, Martin departed bearing no commission for the asinine
About half an hour after, Henrietta made her appearance, as sorry as
any one that the opportunity had been lost, more especially as mamma
had been broad awake all the time, and the only reason she had not rung
the bell was, that she was not ready for Bennet.
As usual, she was called an incorrigible dawdle, and made humble
confession of the same, offering to do all in her power to make up for
the morning's laziness. But what would Midas be without his ears?
The best plan that Queen Bee could devise, was, that, whilst
Henrietta was engaged with the other preparations, she should walk to
Sutton Leigh with Frederick, to despatch Alexander to Allonfield. No
sooner said than done, and off they set, but neither was this plan
fated to meet with success, for just as they came in sight of Sutton
Leigh, they were hailed by the loud hearty voice of Roger, and beheld
him at the head of four brothers, marching off to pay his respects to
his Aunt Carey, some three miles off. Alex came to hold council at
Queen Bee's summons, but he could do nothing for her, for he had that
morning been taken to task for not having made a visit to Mrs. Carey,
since he came home, and especially ordered off to call upon her, before
meeting her at the party that evening.
"How abominably provoking!" cried Beatrice; "just as if it
signified. If I had but a fairy!"
"Carey!" called Alex, "here! Bee wants to send over to Allonfield:
won't you take Dumple and go?"
"Not I," responded Carey; "I want to walk with Roger. But there's
Dumple, let her go herself."
"What, ride him?" asked Beatrice, "thank you, Carey."
"Fred might drive you," said Carey; "O no, poor fellow, I suppose he
does not know how."
Fred coloured with anger. "I do," said he; "I have often driven our
"Ay," said Beatrice, "with the coachman sitting by you, and Aunt
Mary little guessing what you were doing."
"I assure you, Queen," said Fred, very earnestly, "I do really know
how to drive, and if we may have the gig, and you will trust yourself
with me, I will bring you home quite safe."
"I know you can have the gig," said Carey, "for papa offered it to
Roger and Alex this morning; only we chose all to walk together. To
think of doubting whether to drive old Dumple!"
"I don't question," said Fred; "I only want to know if Busy Bee will
go. I won't break your neck, I promise you."
Beatrice was slightly mistrustful, and had some doubts about Aunt
Mary, but poor Alex did much to decide her, though intending quite the
"I don't advise you, Bee," said he.
"O, as to that," said she, pleased to see that he disliked the
plan, "I have great faith in Dumple's experience, and I can sit tight
in a chay, as the boy said to grandpapa when he asked him if he could
ride. My chief doubt is about Aunt Mary."
Fred's successful disobedience in the matter of skating had
decidedly made him less scrupulous about showing open disregard of his
mother's desires, and he answered in a certain superior patronizing
manner, "O, you know I only give way sometimes, because she does make
herself so intensely miserable about me; but as she will be spared all
that now, by knowing nothing about it, I don't think it need be
Beatrice recollected what her father had said, but eluded it the
next moment, by replying to herself, that no commands had been given in
Alex stood fumbling with the button of his great coat, looking much
annoyed, and saying nothing; Roger called out to him that they could
not wait all day, and he exerted himself to take Beatrice by the arm,
and say, "Bee, I wish you would not, I am sure there will be a blow up
about it at home."
"O, you think nobody can or may drive me but yourself, Master Alex,"
said Beatrice, laughing. "No, no, I know very well that nobody will
care when it is done, and there are no commands one way or the other. I
love my own neck, I assure you, Alex, and will not get that into a
scrape. Come, if that will put you into a better humour, I'll dance
with you first to-night." Alex turned away, muttering, "I don't like
it—I'd go myself, but—Well, I shall speak to Fred."
Beatrice smiled with triumph at the jealousy which she thought she
had excited, and watched to see the effect of the remonstrance.
"You are sure now," said he, "that you can drive safely? Remember
it would be a tolerable piece of work if you were to damage that little
This eloquent expostulation might have had some weight, if it had
come from any one else; but Fred was too much annoyed at the
superiority of his rival to listen with any patience, and he replied
rather sullenly, that he could take as good care of her as Alex
himself, and he only wished that their own horses were come from
"Well, I have no more to say," said Alex, "only please to mind this,
Langford junior, you may do just as you please with our horse, drive
him to Jericho for what I care. It was for your own sake and Beatrice's
that I spoke."
"Much obliged, Langford senior," replied Fred, making himself as
tall as he could, and turning round to Carey with a very different
tone, "Now, Carey, we won't stop you any longer, if you'll only just be
so good as to tell your man to get out the gig."
Carey did so, and Beatrice and Frederick were left alone, but not
long, for Uncle Roger presently came into the yard with Willy and
Arthur running after him. To take possession of his horse and carriage,
in his very sight, without permission, was quite impossible, and,
besides, Beatrice knew full well that her dexterity could obtain a
sanction from him which might be made to parry all blame. So tripping
up to him, she explained in a droll manner the distress in which the
charade actors stood, and how the boys had said that they might have
Dumple to drive to Allonfield. Good natured Uncle Roger, who did not
see why Fred should not drive as well as Alex or any of his other boys,
knew little or nothing of his sister-in-law's fears, and would,
perhaps, have taken Fred's side of the question if he had, did exactly
as she intended, declared them perfectly welcome to the use of Dumple,
and sent Willy into the house for the driving whip. Thus authorized,
Beatrice did not fear even her father, who was not likely to allow in
words what a nonentity the authority of Uncle Roger might really be
Willy came back with a shilling in his hand, and an entreaty that he
might go with Queen Bee and Fred to buy a cannon for the little ships,
of which Roger's return always produced a whole fleet at Sutton Leigh.
His cousins were in a triumphant temper of good nature, and willingly
consenting, he was perched between them, but for one moment Beatrice's
complacency was diminished as Uncle Roger called out, "Ha! Fred take
care! What are you doing?—you'll be against the gate-post—don't bring
his head so short round. If you don't take more care, you'll certainly
come to a smash before you get home."
If honour and credit had not been concerned, both Beatrice and
Frederick would probably have been much better satisfied to have given
up their bold design after this debut, but they were far too
much bent on their own way to yield, and Fred's pride would never have
allowed him to acknowledge that he felt himself unequal to the task he
had so rashly undertaken. Uncle Roger, believing it to be only
carelessness instead of ignorance, and too much used to dangerous
undertakings of his own boys to have many anxieties on their account,
let them go on without further question, and turned off to visit his
young wheat without the smallest uneasiness respecting the smash he had
predicted, as he had done, by way of warning, at least twenty times
Busy Bee was in that stage of girlhood which is very sensible on
some points, in the midst of great folly upon others, and she was quite
wise enough to let Fred alone, to give full attention to his driving
all the way to Allonfield. Dumple knew perfectly well what was required
of him, and went on at a very steady well-behaved pace, up the hill,
across the common, and into the town, where, leaving him at the inn,
they walked into the street, and Beatrice, after an infinity of
searching, succeeded in obtaining certain grey cotton velvet, which,
though Fred asserted that donkeys had a tinge of lilac, was certainly
not unfit to represent their colour. As Fred's finances were in a much
more flourishing state since New Year's day, he proceeded to delight
the very heart of Willy by a present of a pair of little brass cannon,
on which his longing eyes had often before been fixed, and they then
returned to the carriage, in some dismay on perceiving that it was
nearly one o'clock.
"We must go straight home," said Beatrice, "or this velvet will be
of no use. There is no time to drive to Sutton Leigh and walk from
Unfortunately, however, there was an influential personage who was
by no means willing to consent to this arrangement, namely, Dumple,
who, well aware that an inexperienced hand held the reins, was
privately determined that his nose should not be turned away from the
shortest road to his own stable.
As soon, therefore, as he came to the turning towards Sutton Leigh,
he made a decided dash in that direction. Fred pulled him sharply, and
a little nervously; the horse resisted; Fred gave him a cut with the
whip, but Dumple felt that he had the advantage, and replying with a
demonstration of kicking, suddenly whisked round the corner, and set
off over the rough jolting road at a pace very like running away. Fred
pulled hard, but the horse went the faster. He stood up. "Sit still,"
cried Beatrice, now speaking for the first time, "the gate will stop
him;" but ere the words were uttered, Frederick, whether by a movement
of his own, or the rapid motion of the carriage, she knew not, was
thrown violently to the ground; and as she was whirled on, she saw him
no more. Instinct, rather than presence of mind, made her hold fast to
the carriage with one hand, and throw the other arm round little Willy,
to prevent him from being thrown out, as they were shaken from side to
side by the ruts and stones over which they were jolted. A few minutes
more, and their way was barred by a gate—that which she had spoken
of—the horse, used to stopping there, slackened his pace, and stood
still, looking over it as if nothing had happened.
Trembling in every limb, Beatrice stood safely on the ground, and
Willy beside her. Without speaking, she hurried back to seek for Fred,
her steps swifter than they had ever before been, though to herself it
seemed as if her feet were of lead, and the very throbbing of her heart
dragged her back. In every bush she fancied she saw Fred coming to meet
her, but it was only for a moment, and at length she saw him but too
plainly. He was stretched at full length on the ground,
senseless—motionless. She sank rather than knelt down beside him, and
called him; but not a token was there that he heard her. She lifted his
hand, it fell powerless, and clasping her own, she sat in an almost
unconscious state of horror, till roused by little Willy, who asked in
a terrified breathless whisper,
"Bee, is he dead?"
"No, no, no," cried she, as if she could frighten away her own
fears; "he is only stunned. He is—he must be alive. He will come to
himself! Help me to lift him up—here—that is it—his head on my lap—"
"O, the blood!" said Willy, recoiling in increased fear,
as he saw it streaming from one or two cuts and bruises on the side of
"That is not the worst," said Beatrice. "There—hold him toward the
wind." She raised his head, untied his handkerchief, and hung over him;
but there was not a sound, not a breath; his head sank a dead weight on
her knee. She locked her hands together, and gazed wildly round for
help; but no one all over the wide lonely common could be seen, except
Willy, who stood helplessly looking at her.
"Aunt Mary! O, Aunt Mary!" cried she, in a tone of the bitterest
anguish of mind. "Fred—dear, dear Freddy, open your eyes, answer me!
Oh, only speak to me! O what shall I do?"
GOD," whispered Willy.
"You—you—Willy; I can't—it was my doing. O, Aunt Mary!" A few
moments passed in silence, then she exclaimed, "What are we doing here?
Willy, you must go and call them. The Hall is nearest; go through the
plantation as fast as you can. Go to papa in the study; if he is not
there, find grandpapa—any one but Aunt Mary. Mind, Willy, don't let
her hear it, it would kill her. Go, fly! You understand—any one but
Greatly relieved at being sent out of sight of that senseless form,
Willy required no second bidding, but rushed off at a pace which bade
fare to bring him to the Hall in a very brief space. Infinite were the
ramifications of thought that now began to chase each other over the
surface of her mind, as she sat supporting her cousin's head, all clear
and distinct, yet all overshadowed by that agony of suspense which made
her sit as if she was all eye and ear, watching for the slightest
motion, the faintest sound, that hope might seize as a sign of life.
She wiped away the blood which was streaming from the cuts in the
face, and softly laid her trembling hand to seek for some trace of a
blow amid the fair shining hair; she felt the pulse, but she could not
satisfy herself whether it beat or not; she rubbed the cold hand
between both her own, and again and again started with the hope that
the long black eyelashes were being lifted from the white cheek, or
that she saw a quivering of lip or nostril. All this while her thoughts
were straying miles away, and yet so wondrously and painfully present.
As she thought of her Uncle Frederick, and, as it were, realized his
death, which had happened so nearly in this same manner, she
experienced a sort of heart-sinking which would almost make her believe
in a fate on the family. And that Fred should be cut off in the midst
of an act of disobedience, and she the cause! O thought beyond
endurance! She tried to pray for him, for herself, for her aunt, but no
prayer would come; and suddenly she found her mind pursuing Willy,
following him through all the gates and gaps, entering the garden,
opening the study door, seeing her father's sudden start, hearing poor
Henrietta's cry, devising how it would be broken to her aunt; and
again, the misery of recollecting her overpowered her,
and she gave a groan, the very sound of which thrilled her with the
hope that Fred was reviving, and made her, if possible, watch with
double intenseness, and then utter a desponding sigh. She wished it was
she who lay there, unconscious of such exceeding wretchedness, and,
strange to say, her imagination began to devise all that would be said
were it really so; what all her acquaintance would say of the little
Queen Bee, how soon Matilda St. Leger would forget her, how long
Henrietta would cherish the thought of her, how deeply and silently
Alex would grieve. "He would be a son to papa," she thought; but then
came a picture of her home, her father and mother without their only
one, and tears came into her eyes, which she brushed away, almost
smiling at the absurdity of crying for her own imagined death, instead
of weeping over this but too positive and present distress.
There was nothing to interrupt her; Fred lay as lifeless as before,
and not a creature passed along the lonely road. The frosty air was
perfectly still, and through it sounded the barking of dogs, the tinkle
of the sheep-bell, the woodsman's axe in the plantations, and now and
then the rattle of Dumple's harness, as she shook his head or shifted
his feet at the gate where he had been left standing. The rooks wheeled
above her head in a clear blue sky, the little birds answering each
other from the high furze-bushes, and the pee-wits came careering near
her with their broad wings, floating movement, and long melancholy note
At length, far away, there sounded on the hard turnpike road a
horse's tread, coming nearer and nearer. Help was at hand! Be it who it
might, some human sympathy would be with her, and that most oppressive
solitude, which seemed to have lasted for years instead of minutes,
would be relieved. In almost an agony of nervousness lest the new-comer
might pass by, she gently laid her cousin's head on the grass, and flew
rather than ran towards the opening of the lane. She was too late, the
horseman had passed, but she recognised the shining hat, the form of
the shoulders, and with a scream almost wild in its energy, called
"Philip! O, Philip Carey!"
Joy, joy! he looked back, he turned his horse, and came up in
amazement at finding her there, and asking questions which she could
only answer by leading the way down the lane.
In another moment he was off his horse, and she could almost have
adored him when she heard him pronounce that Frederick lived.
A few moments passed whilst he was handling his patient, and asking
questions, when Beatrice beheld some figures advancing from the
plantation. She dashed through the heath and furze to meet them,
sending her voice before her with the good news, "He is alive! Philip
Carey says he is alive!" and with these words she stood before her
father and her Aunt Mary.
Her aunt seemed neither to see nor hear her; but with a face as
white and still as a marble figure, hastened on. Mr. Geoffrey Langford
stopped for an instant and looked at her with an expression such as she
never could forget. "Beatrice, my child!" he exclaimed, "you are hurt!"
"No, no, papa," she cried. "It is Fred's blood—I am quite, quite
He held her in his arms, pressed her close to him, and kissed her
brow, with a whispered exclamation of fervent thankfulness. Beatrice
could never remember that moment without tears; the tone, the look, the
embrace,—all had revealed to her the fervour of her father's
affection, beyond—far beyond all that she had ever imagined. It was
but for one instant that he gave way; the next, he was hastening on,
and stood beside Frederick as soon as his sister-in-law.
THE drawing-room at Knight Sutton Hall was in that
state of bustle incidental to the expectation of company, which was
sure to prevail wherever Mrs. Langford reigned. She walked about,
removing the covers from chairs and ottomans, shaking out curtains,
adjusting china, and appealing to Mrs. Frederick Langford in various
matters of taste, though never allowing her to move to assist her.
Henrietta, however, often came to her help, and was certainly acting in
a way to incur the severe displeasure of the absent queen, by laying
aside Midas's robes to assist in the arrangements. "That picture is
crooked, I am sure!" said Mrs. Langford; and of course she was not
satisfied till she had summoned Geoffrey from the study to give his
opinion, and had made him mount upon a chair to settle its position. In
the midst of the operation, in walked Uncle Roger. "Hollo! Geoffrey,
what are you up to now? So, ma'am, you are making yourself smart
to-day. Where is my father?"
"He has ridden over to see the South Farm," said Mrs. Langford.
"Oho! got out of the way of the beautifying,—I understand."
"Have you seen anything of Fred and Busy Bee?" asked Mrs. Frederick
Langford. "They went out directly after breakfast to walk to Sutton
Leigh, and I have not seen them since."
"O yes," said Mr. Roger Langford, "I can tell you what has become of
them; they are gone to Allonfield. I have just seen them off in the
gig, and Will with them, after some of their acting affairs."
Good, easy man; he little thought what a thunder-clap was this
intelligence. Uncle Geoffrey turned round on his elevation to look him
full in the face; every shade of colour left the countenance of Mrs.
Frederick Langford; Henrietta let her work fall, and looked up in
"You don't mean that Fred was driving?" said her mother.
"Yes, I do! Why my boys can drive long before they are that
age,—surely he knows how!"
"O, Roger, what have you done!" said she faintly, as if the
exclamation would break from her in spite of herself.
"Indeed, mamma," said Henrietta, alarmed at her paleness, "I assure
you Fred has often told me how he has driven our own horses when he was
sitting up by Dawson."
"Ay, ay, Mary," said Uncle Roger, "never fear. Depend upon it, boys
do many and many a thing that mammas never guess at, and come out with
whole bones after all."
Henrietta, meantime, was attentively watching Uncle Geoffrey's face,
in hopes of discovering what he thought of the danger; but she could
learn nothing, for he kept his features as composed as possible.
"I do believe those children are gone crazy about their acting,"
said Mrs. Langford; "and how Mr. Langford can encourage them in it I
cannot think. So silly of Bee to go off in this way, when she might
just as well have sent by Martin!" And her head being pretty much
engrossed with her present occupation, she went out to obey a summons
from the kitchen, without much perception of the consternation that
prevailed in the drawing-room.
"Did you know they were going, Henrietta?" asked Uncle Geoffrey,
"No! I thought they meant to sent Alex. But O! uncle, do you think
there is any danger?" exclaimed she, losing self-control in the
infection of fear caught from the mute terror which she saw her mother
struggling to overcome. Her mother's inquiring, imploring glance
followed her question.
"Foolish children!" said Uncle Geoffrey, "I am very much vexed with
the Bee for her wilfulness about this scheme, but as for the rest,
there is hardly a steadier animal than old Dumple, and he is pretty
well used to young hands."
Henrietta thought him quite satisfied, and even her mother was in
some degrees tranquillized, and would have been more so, had not Mr.
Roger Langford begun to reason with her in the following style:—"Come,
Mary, you need not be in the least alarmed. It is quite nonsense in
you. You know a boy of any spirit will always be doing things that
sound imprudent. I would not give a farthing for Fred if he was always
to be the mamma's boy you would make him. He is come to an age now when
you cannot keep him up in that way, and he must get knocked about some
time or other."
"O yes, I know I am very foolish," said she, trying to smile.
"I shall send up Elizabeth to talk to you," said Uncle Roger. "She
would have a pretty life of it if she went into such a state as you do
on all such occasions."
"Enough to break the heart of ten horses, as they say in
Ireland," said Uncle Geoffrey, seeing that the best chance for her was
to appear at his ease, and divert his brother's attention. "And by the
by, Roger, you never told me if you heard any more of your poor Irish
"Why, Geoffrey, you have an absent fit now for once in your life,"
said his brother. "Are you the man to ask if I heard any more of them,
when you yourself gave me a sovereign to send them in the famine?"
Uncle Geoffrey, however, persevered, and finally succeeded in
starting Uncle Roger upon his favourite and inexhaustible subject of
the doings at the Allonfield Union. During this time Mrs. Frederick
Langford put a few stitches into her work, found it would not do, and
paused, stood up, seemed to be observing the new arrangement in the
room,—then took a long look out at the window, and at last left the
room. Henrietta ran after her to assure her that she was convinced that
Uncle Geoffrey was not alarmed, and to beg her to set her mind at rest.
"Thank you, my dear," said she. "I—no, really—you know how foolish I
am, my dear, and I think I had rather be alone. Don't stay here and
frighten yourself too; this is only my usual fright, and it will be
better if I am left alone. Go down, my dear, think about something
else, and let me know when they come home."
With considerable reluctance Henrietta was obliged to obey, and
descended to the drawing-room, where the first words that met her ears
were from Uncle Roger. "Well, I wish, with all my heart, they were safe
at home again. But do you mean to say, Geoffrey, that I ought not to
have let them go?"
"I shall certainly come upon you for damages, if he breaks the neck
of little Bee," said Uncle Geoffrey.
"If I had guessed it," said Uncle Roger; "but then, you know, any of
my boys would think nothing of driving Dumple,—even Dick I have
trusted,—and they came up—you should have seen them—as confidently
as if he had been driving four-in-hand every day of his life. Upon my
word your daughter has a tolerable spirit of her own, if she knew that
he could not drive."
"A tolerable spirit of self-will," said Uncle Geoffrey, with a sigh.
"But did you see them off, how did they manage?"
"Ah! why there, I must confess, I was to blame," said his brother.
"They did clear out of the yard in a strange fashion, certainly, and I
might have questioned a little closer. But never mind, 'tis all
straight road. I would lay any wager they will come back safe,—boys
Uncle Geoffrey smiled, but Henrietta thought it a very bad sign that
he, too, looked out at the window; and the confidence founded on his
tranquillity deserted her.
Uncle Roger forthwith returned to the fighting o'er again of his
battles at the Board of Guardians, and Henrietta was able to get to the
window, where for some ten minutes she sat, and at length exclaimed
with a start, "Here is Willy running across the paddock!"
"All right!" said Uncle Roger, "they must have stopped at Sutton
"It is the opposite way!" said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, who at the
same moment stepped up to the window. Henrietta's heart throbbed
fearfully as she saw how wearied was the boy's running, and yet how
rapid. She could hardly stand as she followed her uncles to the hall;
her mother at the same moment came downstairs, and all together met
the little boy, as, breathless, exhausted, unable to speak, he rushed
into the hall, and threw himself upon his father, leaning his head
against him and clinging as if he could not stand.
"Why Will, how now, my boy? Have you been racing?" said his father,
kneeling on one knee, and supporting the poor little wearied fellow, as
he almost lay upon his breast and shoulder. "What is the matter now?"
There was a deep silence only interrupted by the deep pantings of
the boy. Henrietta leant on the banisters, giddy with suspense. Uncle
Geoffrey stepped into the dining-room, and brought back a glass of wine
and some water. Aunt Mary parted the damp hair that hung over his
forehead, laid her cold hand on it, and said, "Poor little fellow."
At her voice Willy looked up, clung faster to his father, and
whispered something unintelligible.
"What? Has anything happened? What is the matter?" were questions
anxiously asked, while Uncle Geoffrey in silence succeeded in
administering the wine; after which Willy managed to say, pointing to
his aunt, "Don't—tell—her."
It was with a sort of ghastly composure that she leant over him,
saying, "Don't be afraid, my dear, I am ready to hear it."
He raised himself, and gazed at her in perplexity and wonder.
Henrietta's violently throbbing heart took from her almost the
perception of what was happening.
"Take breath, Willy," said his father; "don't keep us all anxious."
"Bee said I was to tell Uncle Geoffrey," said the boy.
she safe?" asked Aunt Mary, earnestly.
GOD," said she, holding out her hand to
Uncle Geoffrey, with a look of relief and congratulation, and yet of
inexpressible mournfulness which went to his heart.
"And Fred?" said Uncle Roger.
"Do not ask, Roger," said she, still as calmly as before; "I always
knew how it would be."
Henrietta tried to exclaim, to inquire, but her lips would not frame
one word, her tongue would not leave the roof of her mouth. She heard a
few confused sounds, and then a mist came over her eyes, a rushing of
waters in her ears, and she sank on the ground in a fainting fit. When
she came to herself she was lying on the sofa in the drawing-room, and
all was still.
"Mamma!" said she.
"Here, dear child,"—but it was Mrs. Langford's voice.
"Mamma!" again said she. "Where is mamma? Where are they all? Why
does the room turn round?"
"You have not been well, my dear," said her grandmother; "but drink
this, and lie still, you will soon be better."
"Where is mamma?" repeated Henrietta, gazing round and seeing no one
but Mrs. Langford and Bennet. "Was she frightened at my being ill? Tell
her I am better."
"She knows it, my dear: lie still and try to go to sleep."
"But weren't there a great many people?" said Henrietta. "Were we
not in the hall? Did not Willy come? O! grandmamma, grandmamma, do tell
me, where are mamma and Fred?"
"They will soon be here, I hope."
"But, grandmamma," cried she vehemently, turning herself round as
clearer recollection returned, "something has happened—O! what has
happened to Fred?"
"Nothing very serious, we hope, my dear," said Mrs.
Langford. "It was Willy who frightened you. Fred has had a fall, and
your mamma and uncles are gone to see about him."
"A fall! O, tell me, tell me! I am sure it is something dreadful! O,
tell me all about it, grandmamma, is he much hurt? O, Freddy, Freddy!"
With more quietness than could have been anticipated from so active
and bustling a nature, Mrs. Langford gradually told her granddaughter
all that she knew, which was but little, as she had been in attendance
on her, and had only heard the main fact of Willy's story. Henrietta
clapped her hands wildly together in an agony of grief. "He is
killed—he is, I'm sure of it!" said she. "Why do you not tell me so?"
"My dear, I trust and believe that he is only stunned."
"No, no, no! papa was killed in that way, and I am sure he is! O,
Fred, Fred, my own dear, dear brother, my only one! O, I cannot bear
it! O, Fred!"
She rose up from the sofa, and walked and down the room in an
ecstasy of sorrow. "And it was I that helped to bring him here! It was
my doing! O, my own, my dearest, my twin brother, I cannot live without
"Henrietta," said Mrs. Langford, "you do not know what you are
saying; you must bear the will of GOD, be it what it
"I can't, I can
not," repeated Henrietta; "if I am
to lose him, I can't live; I don't care for anything without Fred!"
"Your mother, Henrietta."
"Mamma! O, don't speak of her; she would die, I am sure she would,
without him; and then I should too, for I should have nothing."
Henrietta's grief was the more ungovernable that it was
chiefly selfish; there was little thought of her mother,—little,
indeed, for anything but the personal loss to herself. She hid her face
in her hands, and sobbed violently, though without a tear, while Mrs.
Langford vainly tried to make her hear of patience and resignation,
turning away, and saying, "I can't be patient—no, I can't!" and then
again repeating her brother's name with all the fondest terms of
Then came a sudden change: it was possible that he yet lived—and
she became certain that he had been only stunned for a moment, and
required her grandmamma to be so too. Mrs. Langford, at the risk of a
cruel disappointment, was willing to encourage her hope; but Henrietta,
fancying herself treated like a petted child, chose to insist on being
told really and exactly what was her view of the case. Then she was
urgent to go out and meet the others, and learn the truth; but this
Mrs. Langford would not permit. It was in kindness, to spare her some
fearful sight, which might shock and startle her, but Henrietta was far
from taking it so; her habitual want of submission made itself felt in
spite of her usual gentleness, now that she had been thrown off her
balance, and she burst into a passionate fit of weeping.
In such a dreadful interval of suspense, her conduct was, perhaps,
scarcely under her own control; and it is scarcely just to mention it
as a subject of blame. But, be it remembered that it was the effect of
a long previous selfishness and self-will; quiet, amiable selfishness;
gentle, caressing self-will; but no less real, and more perilous and
deceitful. But for this, Henrietta would have thought more of her
mother, prepared for her comfort, and braced herself in order to be a
support to her; she would have remembered how terrible must be the
shock to her grandmother in her old age, and how painful must be the
remembrances thus excited of the former bereavement; and in the attempt
to console her, the sense of her own sorrow would have been in some
degree relieved; whereas she now seemed to forget that Frederick was
anything to any one but herself. She prayed, but it was one wild
repetition of "O, give him back to me!—save his life!—let him be safe
and well!" She had no room for any other entreaty; she did not call for
strength and resignation on the part of herself and her mother, for
whatever might be appointed; she did not pray that his life might be
granted only if it was for his good; she could ask nothing but that her own beloved brother might be spared to
, and she ended her prayer as unsubdued, and therefore as miserable, as
when she began it.
The first intelligence that arrived was brought by Uncle Roger and
Beatrice, who, rather to their surprise, came back in the gig, and
greatly relieved their minds with the intelligence of Frederick's life,
and of Philip Carey's arrival. Henrietta had sprung eagerly up on their
first entrance, with parted lips and earnest eyes, and listened to
their narration with trembling throbbing hope, but with scarcely a
word; and when she heard that Fred still lay senseless and motionless,
she again turned away, and hid her face on the arm of the sofa, without
one look at Beatrice, reckless of the pang that shot through the heart
of one flesh from that trying watch over her brother. Beatrice hoped
for one word, one kiss, and looked wistfully at the long veil of half
uncurled ringlets that floated over the crossed arms on which her
forehead rested, and meantime submitted with a kind of patient
indifference to her grandmother's caress, drank hot wine and water, sat
by the fire, and finally was sent up stairs to change her dress. Too
restless, too anxious, too wretched to stay there alone, longing for
some interchange of sympathy,—but her mind too turbid with agitation
to seek it where it would most surely have been found,—she hastened
down again. Grandmamma was busied in giving directions for the room
which was being prepared for Fred; Uncle Roger had walked out to meet
those who were conveying him home: and Henrietta was sitting in the
window, her forehead resting against the glass, watching intently for
"Are they coming?" asked Beatrice anxiously.
"No!" was all the answer, hardly uttered, and without looking round,
as if her cousin's entrance was perfectly indifferent to her. Beatrice
went up and stood by her, looking out for a few minutes; then taking
the hand that lay in her lap, she said in an imploring whisper,
"Henrietta, you forgive me?"
The hand lay limp and lifeless in hers, and Henrietta scarcely
raised her face as she answered, in a low, languid, dejected voice, "Of
course, Bee, only I am so wretched. Don't talk to me."
Her head sunk again, and Beatrice stepped hastily back to the fire,
with a more bitter feeling than she had ever known. This was no
forgiveness; it was worse than anger or reproach; it was a repulse, and
that when her whole heart was yearning to relieve the pent-up
oppression that almost choked her, by weeping with her. She leant her
burning forehead on the cool marble chimney-piece, and longed for her
mother,—longed for her almost as much for her papa's, her Aunt Mary's
and her grandmother's sake, as for her own. But O! what an infinite
relief would one talk with her have been! She turned toward the table,
and thought of writing to her, but her hand was trembling—every pulse
throbbing; she could not even sit still enough to make the attempt.
At last she saw Henrietta spring to her feet, and
hastening to the window beheld the melancholy procession; Fred carried
on a mattrass by Uncle Geoffrey and three of the labourers; Philip
Carey walking at one side, and on the other Mrs. Frederick Langford
leaning on Uncle Roger's arm.
Both girls hurried out to meet them, but all attention was at that
moment for the patient, as he was carried in on his mattrass, and
deposited for a few minutes on the large hall table. Henrietta pushed
between her uncles, and made her way up to him, unconscious of the
presence of anyone else—even of her mother—while she clasped his
hand, and hanging over him looked with an agonized intensity at his
motionless features. The next moment she felt her mother's hand on her
shoulder, and was forced to turn round and look into her face: the
sweet mournful meekness of which came for a moment like a soft cooling
breeze upon the dry burning desert of her grief.
"My poor child," said the gentle voice.
"O, mamma, is—is—." She could not speak; her face was violently
agitated, and the very muscles of her throat quivered.
"They hope for the best, my dear," was the reply; but both Mr.
Geoffrey Langford and Beatrice distinguished her own hopelessness in
the intonation, and the very form of the expression: whereas Henrietta
only took in and eagerly seized the idea of comfort which it was
intended to convey to her. She would have inquired more, but Mrs.
Langford was telling her mother of the arrangements she had made, and
entreating her to take some rest.
"Thank you, ma'am,—thank you very much indeed—you are very kind: I
am very sorry to give you so much trouble," were her answers; and
simple as were the words, there was a whole world of truth and reality
Preparations were now made for carrying Fred up stairs, but even at
that moment Aunt Mary was not without thought for Beatrice, who was
retreating, as if she feared to be as much in her way as she had been
"I did not see you, before, Queenie," she said, holding out her hand
and kissing her, "you have gone through more than any one."
A thrill of fond grateful affection brought the tears into Queen
Bee's eyes. How much there was even in the pronunciation of that pet
playful name to touch her heart, and fill it to overflowing with love
and contrition. She longed to pour out her whole confession, but there
was no one to attend to her—the patient occupied the whole attention
of all. He was carried to his mother's room, placed in bed, and again
examined by young Mr. Carey, who pronounced with increased confidence
that there was no fracture, and gave considerable hopes of improvement.
While this was passing, Henrietta sat on the upper step of the stairs,
her head on her hands, scarcely moving or answering when addressed. As
evening twilight began to close in, the surgeon left the room, and went
down to make his report to those who were anxiously awaiting it in the
drawing-room; and she took advantage of his exit to come to the door,
and beg to be let in.
Uncle Geoffrey admitted her; and her mother, who was sitting by the
bed-side, held out her hand. Henrietta came up to her, and at first
stood by her, intently watching her brother; then after a time sat down
on a footstool, and, with her head resting on her mother's lap, gave
herself up to a sort of quiet heavy dream, which might be called the
very luxury of grief. Uncle Geoffrey sat by the fire, watching his
sister-in-law even more anxiously than the patient, and thus a
considerable interval passed in complete silence, only broken by the
crackling of the fire, the ticking of the watches, or some slight
change of posture of one or other of the three nurses. At last the
stillness was interrupted by a little movement among the bedclothes,
and with a feeling like transport, Henrietta saw the hand, which had
hitherto lain so still and helpless, stretched somewhat out, and the
head turned upon the pillow. Uncle Geoffrey stood up, and Mrs.
Frederick Langford pressed her daughter's hand with a sort of
convulsive tremor. A faint voice murmured "Mamma!" and while a flush of
trembling joy illumined her pale face, she bent over him, answering him
eagerly and fondly, but he did not seem to know her, and again
repeating "Mamma," opened his eyes with a vacant gaze, and tried in
vain to express some complaint.
In a short time, however, he regained a partial degree of
consciousness. He knew his mother, and was continually calling to her,
as if for the sake of feeling her presence, but without recognizing any
other person, not even his sister or his uncle. Henrietta stood gazing
sadly upon him, while his mother hung over him soothing his
restlessness, and answering his half-uttered complaints, and Uncle
Geoffrey was ever ready with assistance and comfort to each in turn, as
it was needed, and especially supporting his sister-in-law with that
sense of protection and reliance so precious to a sinking heart.
Aunt Roger came up to announce that dinner was ready, and to beg
that she might stay with Fred while the rest went down. Mrs. Frederick
Langford only shook her head, and thanked her, saying with a painful
smile that it was impossible, but begging Uncle Geoffrey and Henrietta
to go. The former complied, knowing how much alarm his absence would
create downstairs; but Henrietta declared that she could not bear the
thoughts of going down, and it was only by a positive order that he
succeeded in making her come with him. Grandpapa kissed her, and made
her sit by him, and grandmamma loaded her plate with all that was best
on the table, but she looked at it with disgust, and leaning back in
her chair, faintly begged not to be asked to eat.
Uncle Geoffrey poured out a glass of wine, and said in a tone which
startled her by its unwonted severity, "This will not do, Henrietta; I
cannot allow you to add to your mamma's troubles by making yourself
ill. I desire you will eat, as you certainly can."
Every one was taken by surprise, and perhaps Mrs. Langford might
have interfered, but for a sign from grandpapa. Henrietta, with a
feeling of being cruelly treated, silently obeyed, swallowed down the
wine, and having done so, found herself capable of making a very
tolerable dinner, by which she was greatly relieved and refreshed.
Uncle Geoffrey said a few cheering words to his father and mother,
and returned to Fred's room as soon as he could, without giving that
appearance of hurry and anxiety which would have increased their alarm.
Henrietta, without the same thoughtfulness, rushed rather than ran
after him, and neither of the two came down again to tea.
Philip Carey was to stay all night, and though Beatrice was of
course very glad that he should do so, yet she was much harassed by the
conversation kept up with him for civility's sake. She had been leading
a forlorn dreary life all the afternoon, busy first in helping
grandmamma to write notes to be sent to the intended guests, and
afterwards, with a feeling of intense disgust, putting out of sight all
the preparations for their own self-chosen sport. She desired quiet,
and yet when she found it, it was unendurable, and to talk to her
father or grandfather would be a great relief, yet the first beginning
might well be dreaded. Neither of them was forthcoming, and now in the
evening to hear the quiet grave discussion of Allonfield gossip was
excessively harassing and irritating. No one spoke for their own
pleasure, the thoughts of all were elsewhere, and they only talked thus
for the sake of politeness; but she gave them no credit for this, and
felt fretted and wearied beyond bearing. Even this, however, was better
than when they did return to the engrossing thought, and spoke of the
accident, requiring of her a more exact and particular account of it.
She hurried over it. Grandmamma praised her, and each word was a sting.
"But, my dear," said Mrs. Roger Langford, "what could have made you
so anxious to go to Allonfield?"
"O, Aunt Roger, it was very—" but here Beatrice, whose agitated
spirits made her particularly accessible to momentary emotion, was
seized with such a sense of the absurdity of undertaking so foolish an
expedition, with no other purpose than going to buy a pair of ass's
ears, that she was overpowered by a violent fit of laughing. Grandmamma
and Aunt Roger, after looking at her in amazement for a moment, both
started up, and came towards her with looks of alarm that set her off
again still more uncontrollably. She struggled to speak, but that only
made it worse, and when she perceived that she was supposed to be
hysterical, she laughed the more, though the laughter was positive
pain. Once she for a moment succeeded in recovering some degree of
composure, but every kind demonstration of solicitude brought on a
fresh access of laughter, and a certain whispering threat of calling
Philip Carey was worse than all. When, however, Aunt Roger was
actually setting off for the purpose, the dread of his coming had a
salutary effect, and enabled her to make a violent effort, by which she
composed herself, and at length sat quite still, except for the
trembling, which she could not control.
Grandmamma and Aunt Roger united in ordering her to bed, but she
could not bear to go without seeing her papa, nor would she accept Mrs.
Langford's offer of calling him; and at last a compromise was made that
she should go up to bed on condition that her papa should come and
visit her when he came out of Fred's room. Her grandmamma came up with
her, helped her to undress, gave her the unwonted indulgence of a fire,
and summoned Judith to prepare things as quickly and quietly as
possible for Henrietta, who was to sleep with her that night. It was
with much difficulty that she could avoid making a promise to go to bed
immediately, and not to get up to breakfast. At last, with a very
affectionate kiss, grandmamma left her to brush her hair, an operation
which she resolved to lengthen out until her papa's visit.
It was long before he came, but at last his step was heard along the
passage, his knock was at her door. She flew to it, and stood before
him, her large black eyes looking larger, brighter, blacker than usual
from the contrast with the pale or rather sallow face, and the white
nightcap and dressing-gown.
"How is Fred?" asked she as well as her parched tongue would allow
her to speak.
"Much the same, only talking a little more. But why are you up
still? Your grandmamma said—"
"Never mind, papa," interrupted she, "only tell me this—is Fred in
"You have heard all we can tell, my dear—"
Beatrice interrupted him by an impatient, despairing look,
and clasped her hands: "I know—I know; but what do you
"My own impression is," said her father, in a calm, kind, yet almost
reproving tone, as if to warn her to repress her agitation, "that there
is no reason to give up hope, although it is impossible yet to
ascertain the extent of the injury."
Beatrice retreated a step or two: she stood by the table, one hand
upon it, as if for support, yet her figure quite erect, her eyes fixed
on his face, and her voice firm, though husky, as she said, slowly and
quietly, "Papa, if Fred dies, it is my doing."
His face did not express surprise or horror—nothing but kindness
and compassion, while he answered, "My poor girl, I was afraid how it
might have been." Then he led her to a chair and sat down by her side,
so as to let her perceive that he was ready to listen, and would give
her time. He might be in haste, but it was no time to show it.
She now spoke with more hurry and agitation, "Yes, yes, papa, it was
the very thing you warned me against—I mean—I mean—the being set in
my own way, and liking to tease the boys. O if I could but speak to
tell you all, but it seems like a weight here choking me," and she
touched her throat. "I can't get it out in words! O!" Poor Beatrice
even groaned aloud with oppression.
"Do not try to express it," said her father: "at least, it is not I
who can give you the best comfort. Here"—and he took up a Prayer Book.
"Yes, I feel as if I could turn there now I have told you, papa,"
said Beatrice; "but when I could not get at you, everything seemed
dried up in me. Not one prayer or confession would come;—but now, O!
now you know it, and—and—I feel as if He would not turn away His
face. Do you know I did try the 51st Psalm, but it would not do, not
even 'deliver me from blood-guiltiness,' it would only make me shudder!
O, papa, it was dreadful!"
Her father's answer was to draw her down on her knees by his side,
and read a few verses of that very Psalm, and a few clauses of the
prayer for persons troubled in mind, and he ended with the L
ORD's Prayer. Beatrice, when it was over, leant her head
against him, and did not speak, nor weep, but she seemed refreshed and
relieved. He watched her anxiously and affectionately, doubting whether
it was right to bestow so much time on her exclusively, yet unwilling
to leave her. When she again spoke, it was in a lower, more subdued,
and softer voice, "Aunt Mary will forgive me, I know; you will tell
her, papa, and then it will not be quite so bad! Now I can pray that he
may be saved—O, papa—disobedient, and I the cause; how could I ever
bear the thought?"
"You can only pray," replied her father.
"Now that I can once more," said Beatrice; and again there was a
silence, while she stood thinking deeply, but contrary to her usual
habit, not speaking, and he knowing well her tendency to lose her
repentant feelings by expressing them, was not willing to interrupt
her. So they remained for nearly ten minutes, until at last he thought
it time to leave her, and made some movement as if to do so. Then she
spoke, "Only tell me one thing, papa. Do you think Aunt Mary has any
hope? There was something—something death-like in her face. Does she
Mr. Geoffrey Langford shook his head. "Not yet," said he. "I think
it may be better after this first night is over. She is evidently
reckoning the hours, and I think she has a kind of morbid expectation
that it will be as it was with his father, who lived twelve hours after
"But surely, surely," said Beatrice eagerly, "this is a
very different case; Fred has spoken so much more than my uncle did;
and Philip says he is convinced that there is no fracture—"
"It is a morbid feeling," said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, "and therefore
impossible to be reasoned away. I see she dreads to be told to hope,
and I shall not even attempt it till these fatal twelve hours are
"Poor dear aunt!" sighed Beatrice. "I am glad, if it was to be, that
you were here, for nobody else would understand her."
"Understand her!" said he, with something of a smile. "No, Bee, such
sorrow as hers has a sacredness in it which is not what can be
Beatrice sighed, and then with a look as if she saw a ray of
comfort, said, "I suppose mamma will soon be here?"
"I think not," said her father, "I shall tell her she had better
wait to see how things go on, and keep herself in reserve. At present
it is needlessly tormenting your aunt to ask her to leave Fred for a
moment, and I do not think she has even the power to rest. While this
goes on, I am of more use in attending to him than your mamma could be;
but if he is a long time recovering, it will be a great advantage to
have her coming fresh, and not half knocked up with previous
"But how she will wish to be here!" exclaimed Beatrice, "and how you
will want her!"
"No doubt of that, Queenie," said her father smiling, "but we must
reserve our forces, and I think she will be of the same mind. Well, I
must go. Where is Henrietta to sleep to-night?"
"With me," said Beatrice.
"I will send her to you as soon as I can. You must do what you can
with her, Bee, for I can see that the way she hangs on her mamma is
quite oppressive. If she had but a little vigour!"
"I don't know what to do about her!" said Beatrice with more
dejection than she had yet shown, "I wish I could be of any comfort to
her, but I can't—I shall never do good to anybody—only harm."
"Fear the harm, and the good will come," said Mr. Geoffrey Langford.
"Good night, my dear."
Beatrice threw herself on her knees as soon as the door had closed
on her father, and so remained for a considerable time in one earnest,
unexpressed outpouring of confession and prayer, for how long she knew
not, all that she was sensible of was a feeling of relief, the repose
of such humility and submission, such heartfelt contrition as she had
never known before.
So she continued till she heard Henrietta's approaching steps, when
she rose and opened the door, ready to welcome her with all the
affection and consolation in her power. There stood Henrietta, a heavy
weight on her eyes, her hair on one side all uncurled and flattened,
the colour on half her face much deepened, and a sort of stupor about
her whole person, as if but one idea possessed her. Beatrice went up to
meet her, and took her candle, asking what account she brought of the
patient. "No better," was all the answer, and she sat down making no
more detailed answers to all her cousin's questions. She would have
done the same to her grandmamma, or any one else, so wrapped up was she
in her own grief, but this conduct gave more pain to Beatrice than it
could have done to any one else, since it kept up the last miserable
feeling of being unforgiven. Beatrice let her sit still for some
minutes, looking at her all the time with an almost piteous glance of
entreaty, of which Henrietta was perfectly unconscious, and then began
to beg her to undress, seconding the proposal by beginning to unfasten
Henrietta moved pettishly, as if provoked at being disturbed.
"I beg your pardon, dear Henrietta," said Beatrice; "if you would
but let me! You will be ill to-morrow, and that would be worse still."
"No, I shan't," said Henrietta shortly, "never mind me."
"But I must, dear Henrietta. If you would but—"
"I can't go to bed," replied Henrietta, "thank you, Bee, never
Beatrice stood still, much distressed at her own inability to be of
any service, and pained far more by the sight of Henrietta's grief than
by the unkind rejection of herself. "Papa thinks there is great hope,"
said she abruptly.
"Mamma does not," said Henrietta, edging away from her cousin as if
to put an end to the subject.
Beatrice almost wrung her hands. O this wilfulness of grief, how
hard it was to contend with it! At last there was a knock at the
door—it was grandmamma, suspecting that they were still up. Little
recked Beatrice of the scolding that fell on herself for not having
been in bed hours ago; she was only rejoiced at the determination that
swept away all Henrietta's feeble opposition. The bell was rung, Bennet
was summoned, grandmamma peremptorily ordered her to be undressed, and
in another half-hour the cousins were lying side by side, Henrietta's
lethargy had become a heavy sleep, Beatrice was broad awake, listening
to every sound, forming every possible speculation on the future, and
to her own overstretched fancy seeming actually to feel
the thoughts chasing each other through her throbbing head.
"HALF-PAST one," said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, as if
it was a mere casual observation, though in reality it was the
announcement that the fatal twelve hours had passed more than
There was no answer, but he heard a slight movement, and though
carefully avoiding any attempt to penetrate the darkness around the
sick bed, he knew full well that his sister was on her knees, and when
he again heard her voice in reply to some rambling speech of her son,
it had a tremulous tone, very unlike its former settled hopelessness.
Again, when Philip Carey paid his morning visit, she studied the
expression of his face with anxious, inquiring, almost hopeful eyes,
the crushed heart-broken indifference of yesterday had passed away; and
when the expedience of obtaining further advice was hinted at, she
caught at the suggestion with great eagerness, though the day before
her only answer had been, "As you think right." She spoke so as to show
the greatest consideration for the feelings of Philip Carey, then with
her usual confiding spirit, she left the selection of the person to be
called in entirely to him, to her brother and father-in-law, and
returned to her station by Frederick, who had already missed and
Philip, in spite of the small follies which provoked Beatrice's
sarcasm, was by no means deficient in good sense or ability; his
education had owed much to the counsels of Mr. Geoffrey Langford, whom
he regarded with great reverence, and he was so conscious of his own
inexperience and diffident of his own opinion, as to be very anxious
for assistance in this, the first very serious case which had fallen
under his own management. The proposal had come at first from himself,
and this was a cause of great rejoicing to those who had to reconcile
Mrs. Langford to the measure. In her eyes a doctor was a doctor, member
of a privileged fraternity in which she saw no distinctions, and to
send for advice from London would, she thought, not only hurt the
feelings of Mrs. Roger Langford, and all the Carey connection, but
seriously injure the reputation of young Mr. Carey in his own
Grandpapa answered, and Beatrice was glad he did so, that such
considerations were as nothing when weighed in the scale against
Frederick's life; she was silenced, but unconvinced, and unhappy till
her son Geoffrey, coming down late to breakfast, greatly comforted her
by letting her make him some fresh toast with her own hands, and
persuading her that it would be greatly in favour of Philip's practice
that his opinion should be confirmed by an authority of note.
The electric telegraph and the railroad brought the surgeon even
before she had begun seriously to expect him, and his opinion was
completely satisfactory as far as regarded Philip Carey and the
measures already taken; Uncle Geoffrey himself feeling convinced that
his approval was genuine, and not merely assumed for courtesy's sake.
He gave them, too, more confident hope of the patient than Philip, in
his diffidence, had ventured to do, saying that though there certainly
was concussion of the brain, he thought there was great probability
that the patient would do well, provided that they could combat the
feverish symptoms which had begun to appear. He consulted with Philip
Carey, the future treatment was agreed upon, and he left them with
cheered and renewed spirits to enter on a long and anxious course of
attendance. Roger, who was obliged to go away the next day, cheered up
his brother Alex into a certainty that Fred would be about again in a
week, and though no one but the boys shared the belief, yet the
assurances of any one so sanguine, inspired them all with something
The attendance at first fell almost entirely on Mrs. Frederick
Langford and Uncle Geoffrey, for the patient, who had now recovered a
considerable degree of consciousness, would endure no one else. If his
mother's voice did not answer him the first moment, he instantly grew
restless and uneasy, and the plaintive inquiry, "Is Uncle Geoffrey
here?" was many times repeated. He would recognise Henrietta, but his
usual answer to her was "You speak so loud;" though in reality, her
tone was almost exactly the same as her mother's; and above all others
he disliked the presence of Philip Carey.
"Who is that?" inquired he, the first time that he was at all
conscious of the visits of other people: and when his mother explained,
he asked quickly, "Is he gone?"
The next day, Fred was alive to all that was going on, but suffering
considerable pain, and with every sense quickened to the most acute and
distressing degree, his eyes dazzled by light which, as he declared,
glanced upon the picture frames in a room where his mother and uncle
could scarcely see to find their way, and his ears pierced, as it were,
by the slightest sound in the silent house, sleepless with pain,
incapable of thought, excessively irritable in temper, and his
faculties, as it seemed, restored only to be the means of suffering.
Mrs. Langford came to the door to announce that Philip Carey was come.
Mr. Geoffrey Langford went to speak to him, and grandmamma and
Henrietta began to arrange the room a little for his reception. Fred,
however, soon stopped this. "I can't bear the shaking," said he. "Tell
them to leave off, mamma."
Grandmamma, unconscious of the pain she was inflicting, and
believing that she made not the slightest noise, continued to put the
chairs in order, but Fred gave an impatient, melancholy sort of groan
and exclamation, and Mrs. Langford remarked, "Well, if he cannot bear
it, it cannot be helped; but it is quite dangerous in this dark room!"
And out she went, Fred frowning with pain at every step she took.
"Why do you let people come?" asked he sharply of his mother. "Where
is Uncle Geoffrey gone?"
"He is speaking with Mr. Philip Carey, my dear, he will be here with
"I don't want Philip Carey; don't let him come."
"My dear boy, he must come; he has not seen you to-day, perhaps he
may do something for this sad pain."
Fred turned away impatiently, and at the same moment Uncle Geoffrey
opened the door to ask if Fred was ready.
"Yes," said Mrs. Frederick Langford: and Philip entered. But Fred
would not turn towards him till desired to do so, nor give his hand
readily for his pulse to be felt. Philip thought it necessary to see
his face a little more distinctly, and begged his pardon for having the
window shutters partly opened; but Fred contrived completely to
frustrate his intention, as with an exclamation which had in it as much
of anger as of pain, he turned his face inwards to the pillow, and drew
the bed-clothes over it.
"My dear boy," said his mother, pleadingly, "for one moment only!"
"I told you I could not bear the light," was all the reply.
"If you would but oblige me for a few seconds," said Philip.
"Fred!" said his uncle gravely; and Fred made a slight demonstration
as if to obey, but at the first glimpse of the dim light, he hid his
face again, saying, "I can't;" and Philip gave up the attempt, closed
the shutter, unfortunately not quite as noiselessly as Uncle Geoffrey
had opened it, and proceeded to ask sundry questions; to which the
patient scarcely vouchsafed a short and pettish reply. When at last he
quitted the room, and was followed by Mrs. Frederick Langford, a "Don't
go, mamma," was immediately heard.
"You must spare me for a very little while, my dear," said she,
gently but steadily.
"Don't stay long, then," replied he.
Uncle Geoffrey came up to his bedside, and with a touch soft and
light as a woman's, arranged the coverings disturbed by his
restlessness, and for a few moments succeeded in tranquillizing him,
but almost immediately he renewed his entreaties that his mother would
return, and had it been any other than his uncle who had taken her
place, would have grumbled at his not going to call her. On her return,
she was greeted with a discontented murmur. "What an immense time you
have stayed away!"—presently after, "I wish you would not have that
Carey!" and then, "I wish we were at Rocksand,—I wish Mr. Clarke were
Patience in illness is a quality so frequently described in books as
well as actually found in real life, that we are apt to believe that it
comes as a matter of course, and without previous training,
particularly in the young, and that peevishness is especially reserved
for the old and querulous, who are to try the amiability of the
heroine. To a certain degree, this is often the case; the complete
prostration of strength, and the dim awe of approaching death in the
acute illnesses of the young, often tame down the stubborn or petulant
temper, and their patience and forbearance become the wonder and
admiration of those who have seen germs of far other dispositions. And
when this is not the case, who would have the heart to complain?
Certainly not those who are like the mother and uncle who had most to
endure from the exacting humours of Frederick Langford. High spirits,
excellent health, a certain degree of gentleness of character, and a
home where, though he was not over indulged, there was little to ruffle
him, all had hitherto combined to make him appear one of the most
amiable good-tempered boys that ever existed; but there was no
substance in this apparent good quality, it was founded on no real
principle of obedience or submission, and when to an habitual spirit of
determination to have his own way, was superadded the irritability of
nerves which was a part of his illness, when his powers of reflection
were too much weakened to endure or comprehend argument; when, in fact,
nothing was left to fall back upon but the simple obedience which would
have been required in a child, and when that obedience was wanting,
what could result but increased discomfort to himself and all
concerned? Yes, even as we should lay up a store of prayers against
that time when we shall be unable to pray for ourselves, so surely
should we lay up a store of habits against the time when we may be
unable to think or reason for ourselves! How often have lives been
saved by the mere instinct of unquestioning instantaneous obedience!
Had Frederick possessed that instinct, how much present suffering
and future wretchedness might have been spared him! His ideas were as
yet too disconnected for him to understand or bear in mind that he was
subjecting his mother to excessive fatigue, but the habit of submission
would have led him to bear her absence patiently, instead of
perpetually interrupting even the short repose which she would now and
then be persuaded to seek on the sofa. He would have spared her his
perpetual, harassing complaints, not so much of the pain he suffered,
as of every thing and every person who approached him, his Uncle
Geoffrey being the only person against whom he never murmured. Nor
would he have rebelled against measures to which he was obliged to
submit in the end, after he had distressed every one and exhausted
himself by his fruitless opposition.
It was marvellous that the only two persons whose attendance he
would endure could bear up under the fatigue. Even Uncle Geoffrey, one
of those spare wiry men, who, without much appearance of strength are
nevertheless capable of such continued exertion, was beginning to look
worn and almost aged, and yet Mrs. Frederick Langford was still
indefatigable, unconscious of weariness, quietly active, absorbed in
the thought of her son, and yet not so absorbed as not to be full of
consideration for all around. All looked forward with apprehension to
the time when the consequences of such continued exertion must be felt,
but in the meantime it was not in the power of any one ex- cept her
brother Geoffrey to be of any assistance to her, and her relations
could only wait and watch with such patience as they could command, for
the period when their services might be effectual.
Mrs. Langford was the most visibly impatient. The hasty bustling of
her very quietest steps gave such torture to Frederick, as to excuse
the upbraiding eyes which he turned on his poor perplexed mother
whenever she entered the room; and her fresh arrangements and orders
always created a disturbance, which created such positive injury, that
it was the aim of the whole family to prevent her visits there. This
was, as may be supposed, no easy task. Grandpapa's "You had better not,
my dear," checked her for a little while, but was far from satisfying
her: Uncle Geoffrey, who might have had the best chance, had not time
to spare for her; and no one could persuade her how impossible, nay,
how dangerous it was to attempt to reason with the patient: so she
blamed the whole household for indulging his fancies, and half a dozen
times a day pronounced that he would be the death of his mother.
Beatrice did the best she could to tranquillise her; but two spirits so
apt to clash did not accord particularly well even now, though Busy Bee
was too much depressed to queen it as usual. To feel herself completely
useless in the midst of the suffering she had occasioned was a severe
trial; and above all, poor child, she longed for her mother, and the
repose of confession and parental sympathy. She saw her father only at
meal times; she was anxious and uneasy at his worn looks, and even he
could not be all that her mother was. Grandpapa was kind as ever, but
the fault that sat so heavy on her mind was not one for discussion with
any one but a mother, and this consciousness was the cause of a little
reserve with him, such as had never before existed between them.
Alexander was more of a comfort to her than any one else,
and that chiefly because he wanted her to be a comfort to him. All the
strong affection and esteem which he really entertained for Frederick
was now manifested, and the remembrance of old rivalries and petty
contentions served but to make the reaction stronger. He kept aloof
from his brothers, and spent every moment he could at the Hall, either
reading in the library, or walking up and down the garden paths with
Queen Bee. One of the many conversations which they held will serve as
a specimen of the rest.
"So they do not think he is much better to-day?" said Alex, walking
into the library, where Beatrice was sealing some letters.
Beatrice shook her head. "Every day that he is not worse is so much
gained," said she.
"It is very odd," meditated Alex: "I suppose the more heads have in
them, the easier it is to knock them!"
Beatrice smiled. "Thick skulls are proverbial, you know, Alex."
"Well, I really believe it is right. Look, Bee," and he examined his
own face in the glass over the chimney; "there, do you see a little bit
of a scar under my eyebrow?—there! Well, that was where I was knocked
over by a cricket-ball last half, pretty much harder than poor Fred
could have come against the ground,—but what harm did it do me? Why
everything spun round with me for five minutes or so, and I had a black
eye enough to have scared you, but I was not a bit the worse otherwise.
Poor Fred, he was quite frightened for me I believe; for the first
thing I saw was him, looking all green and yellow, standing over me,
and so I got up and laughed at him for thinking I could care about it.
That was the worst of it! I wish I had not been always set against him.
I would give anything now."
"Well, but Alex, I don't understand. You were very good
friends at the bottom, after all; you can't have anything really to
repent of towards him."
"Oh, haven't I though?" was the reply. "It was more the other
fellows' doing than my own, to be sure, and yet, after all, it was
worse, knowing all about him as I did; but somehow, every one,
grandmamma and all of you, had been preaching up to me all my life that
cousin Fred was to be such a friend of mine. And then
when he came to school, there he was—a fellow with a pink and white
face, like a girl's, and that did not even know how to shy a stone, and
cried for his mamma! Well, I wish I could begin it all over again."
"But do you mean that he was really a—a—what you call a Miss
"Who said so? No, not a bit of it!" said Alex. "No one thought so in
reality, though it was a good joke to put him in a rage, and pretend to
think that he could not do anything. Why, it took a dozen times more
spirit for him to be first in everything than for me, who had been
knocked about all my life. And he was up to anything, Bee, to anything.
The matches at foot-ball will be good for nothing now; I am sure I
shan't care if we do win."
"And the prize," said Beatrice, "the scholarship!"
"I have no heart to try for it now! I would not, if Uncle Geoffrey
had not a right to expect it of me. Let me see: if Fred is well by the
summer, why then—hurrah! Really, Queenie, he might get it all up in no
time, clever fellow as he is, and be first after all. Don't you think
Queen Bee shook her head. "They say he must not read or study for a
very long time," said she.
"Yes, but six months—a whole year is an immense time," said Alex.
"O yes, he must, Bee! Reading does not cost him half the trouble it
does other people; and his verses, they never fail—never except when
he is careless; and the sure way to prevent that is to run him up for
time. That is right. Why there!" exclaimed Alex joyfully, "I do believe
this is the very best thing for his success!" Beatrice could not help
laughing, and Alex immediately sobered down as the remembrance crossed
him, that if Fred were living a week hence, they would have great
reason to be thankful.
"Ah! they will all of them be sorry enough to hear of this,"
proceeded he. "There was no one so much thought of by the fellows, or
the masters either."
"The masters, perhaps," said Beatrice; "but I thought you said there
was a party against him among the boys?"
"Oh, nonsense! It was only a set of stupid louts who, just because
they had pudding-heads themselves, chose to say that I did better
without all his reading and Italian, and music, and stuff; and I was
foolish enough to let them go on, though I knew all the time it was
nothing but chaff. I shall let them all know what fools they were for
their pains, as soon as I go back. Why, Queenie, you, who only know
Fred at home, you have not the slightest notion what a fellow he is.
I'll just tell you one story of him."
Alexander forthwith proceeded to tell not one story alone, but many,
to illustrate the numerous excellences which he ascribed to Fred, and
again and again blaming himself for the species of division which had
existed between them, although the fact was that he had always been the
more conciliatory of the two. Little did he guess, good, simple-hearted
fellow, that each word was quite as much, or more, to his credit, as to
Frederick's; but Beatrice well appreciated them, and felt proud of him.
These talks were her chief comfort, and always served to
refresh her, if only by giving her the feeling that some one wanted
her, and not that the only thing she could do for anybody was the
sealing of the letters which her father, whose eyes were supposed to be
acquiring the power of those of cats, contrived to write in the
darkness of Fred's room. She thought she could have borne everything
excepting Henrietta's coldness, which still continued, not from
intentional unkindness or unwillingness to forgive, but simply because
Henrietta was too much absorbed in her own troubles to realise to
herself the feelings which she wounded. Her uncle Geoffrey had
succeeded in awakening her consideration for her mother; but with her
and Fred it began and ended, and when outside the sick room, she seemed
not to have a thought beyond a speedy return to it. She seldom or never
left it, except at meal-times, or when her grandfather insisted on her
taking a walk with him, as he did almost daily. Then he walked between
her and Beatrice, trying in vain to arouse her to talk, and she,
replying as shortly as possible when obliged to speak, left her cousin
to sustain the conversation.
The two girls went to church with grandpapa on the feast of the
Epiphany, and strange it was to them to see again the wreaths which
their own hands had woven, looking as bright and festal as ever, the
glistening leaves unfaded, and the coral berries fresh and gay. A tear
began to gather in Beatrice's eye, and Henrietta hung her head, as if
she could not bear the sight of those branches, so lately gathered by
her brother. As they were leaving the church, both looked towards the
altar at the wreath which Henrietta had once started to see, bearing a
deeper and more awful meaning than she had designed. Their eyes met,
and they saw that they had the same thought in their minds.
When they were taking off their bonnets in their own room, Queen Bee
stretched out a detaining hand, not in her usual commanding manner, but
with a gesture that was almost timid, saying,
"Look, Henrietta, one moment, and tell me if you were not thinking
And hastily opening the Lyra Innocentium, she pointed out the
"Such garland grave and fair,
His church to-day adorns,
And—mark it well—e'en there
He wears His Crown of Thorns.
"Should aught profane draw near,
Full many a guardian spear
Is set around, of power to go
Deep in the reckless hand, and stay the grasping foe."
"They go very deep," sighed Henrietta, raising her eyes, with a
mournful complaining glance.
Beatrice would have said more, but when she recollected her own
conduct on Christmas Eve, it might well strike her that she was the
"thing profane" that had then dared to draw near; and it pained her
that she had even appeared for one moment to accuse her cousin. She was
beginning to speak, but Henrietta cut her short by saying, "Yes, yes,
but I can't stay," and was flying along the passage the next moment.
Beatrice sighed heavily, and spent the next quarter of an hour in
recalling, with all the reality of self-reproach, the circumstances of
her recklessness, vanity and self-will on that day. She knelt and
poured out her confession, her prayer for forgiveness, and grace to
avoid the very germs of these sins for the future, before Him Who seeth
in secret: and a calm energetic spirit of hope, in the midst of true
repentance, began to dawn on her.
It was good for her, but was it not selfish in Henrietta thus to
leave her alone to bear her burthen? Yes, selfish it was; for Henrietta
had heard the last report of Frederick since their return, and knew
that her presence in his room was quite useless; and it was only for
the gratification of her own feelings that she hurried thither without
even stopping to recollect that her cousin might also be unhappy, and
be comforted by talking to her.
Her thought was only the repining one: "the thorns go deep!" Poor
child, had they yet gone deep enough? The patient may cry out, but the
skilful surgeon will nevertheless probe on, till he has reached the
hidden source of the malady.
ON a soft hazy day in the beginning of February,
the Knight Sutton carriage was on the road to Allonfield, and in it sat
the Busy Bee and her father, both of them speaking far less than was
their wont when alone together.
Mr. Geoffrey Langford took off his hat, so as to let the moist
spring breeze play round his temples and in the thin locks where the
silvery threads had lately grown more perceptible, and gazed upon the
dewy grass, the tiny woodbine leaf, the silver "pussycats" on the
withy, and the tasselled catkin of the hazel, with the eyes of a man to
whom such sights were a refreshment—a sort of holiday—after the many
springs spent in close courts of law and London smoke; and now after
his long attendance in a warm dark sick-room. His daughter sat by him,
thinking deeply, and her heart full of a longing earnestness which
seemed as if it would not let her speak. She was going to meet her
mother, whom she had not seen for so long a time; but it was only to be
for one evening! Her father, finding that his presence was absolutely
required in London, and no longer actually indispensable at Knight
Sutton, had resolved on changing places with his wife, and she was to
go with him and take her mother's place in attending on Lady Susan St.
Leger. They were now going to fetch Mrs. Geoffrey Langford home from
the Allonfield station, and they would have one evening at Knight
Sutton with her, returning themselves the next morning to Westminster.
They arrived at Allonfield, executed various commissions with which
Mrs. Langford had been delighted to entrust Geoffrey; they ordered some
new books for Frederick, and called at Philip Carey's for some
medicines; and then driving up to the station watched eagerly for the
Soon it was there, and there at length she was; her own dear
self,—the dark aquiline face, with its sweetest and brightest of all
expressions; the small youthful figure, so active, yet so quiet and
elegant; the dress so plain and simple, yet with that distinguished
air. How happy Beatrice was that first moment of feeling herself at her
"My dear! my own dear child!" Then anxiously following her husband
with her eye, as he went to look for her luggage, she said, "How thin
he looks, Queenie!"
"O, he has been doing
so much," said Busy Bee. "It
is only for this last week he has gone to bed at all, and then only on
the sofa in Fred's room. This is the first time he has been out, except
last Sunday to Church, and a turn or two round the garden with
He came back before Queen Bee had done speaking. "Come, Beatrice,"
said he to his wife, "I am in great haste to have you at home; that
fresh face of yours will do us all so much good."
"One thing is certain," said she; "I shall send home orders that you
shall be allowed no strong coffee at night, and that Busy Bee shall
hide half the mountain of letters in the study. But tell me honestly,
Geoffrey, are you really well?"
"Perfectly, except for a growing disposition to yawn,"
said her husband laughing.
"Well, what are the last accounts of the patient?"
"He is doing very well: the last thing I did before coming away, was
to lay him down on the sofa, with Retzsch's outlines to look at: so you
may guess that he is coming on quickly. I suppose you have brought down
the books and prints?"
"Such a pile, that I almost expected my goods would be over weight."
"It is very fortunate that he has a taste for this kind of thing:
only take care, they must not be at Henrietta's discretion, or his own,
or he will be overwhelmed with them,—a very little oversets him, and
might do great mischief."
"You don't think the danger of inflammation over yet, then?"
"O, no! his pulse is so very easily raised, that we are obliged to
keep him very quiet, and nearly to starve him, poor fellow; and his
appetite is returning so fast, that it makes it very difficult to
"I should be afraid that now would be the time to see the effects of
poor Mary's over gentleness."
"Yes; but what greatly increases the difficulty is that Fred has
some strange prejudice against Philip Carey."
Busy Bee, who had heard nothing of this, felt her cheeks flush,
while her father proceeded.
"I do not understand it at all: Philip's manners in a sick room are
particularly good—much better than I should have expected, and he has
been very attentive and gentle-handed; but, from the first, Fred has
shown a dislike to him, questioned all his measures, and made the most
of it whenever he was obliged to give him any pain. The last time the
London doctor was here, I am sure he hurt Fred a good deal more than
Philip has ever done, yet the boy bore it manfully, though he shrinks
and exclaims the moment Philip touches him. Then he is always talking
of wishing for old Clarke at Rocksand, and I give Mary infinite credit
for never having proposed to send for him. I used to think she had
great faith in the old man, but I believe it was only her mother."
"Of course it was. It is only when Mary has to act alone that you
really are obliged to perceive all her excellent sense and firmness;
and I am very glad that you should be convinced now and then, that in
nothing but her fears, poor thing, has she anything of the spoiling
mamma about her."
"As if I did not know that," said he, smiling.
"And so she would not yield to this fancy? Very wise indeed. But I
should like to know the reason of this dislike on Fred's part. Have you
ever asked him?"
"No; he is not in a fit state for argument; and, besides, I think
the prejudice would only be strengthened. We have praised Philip again
and again, before him, and said all we could think of to give him
confidence in him, but nothing will do; in fact, I suspect Mr. Fred was
sharp enough to discover that we were talking for a purpose. It has
been the great trouble this whole time, though neither Mary nor I have
mentioned it, for fear of annoying my mother."
"Papa," said Busy Bee, "I am afraid I know the reason but too well.
It was my foolish way of talking about the Careys; I used to tease poor
Fred about Roger's having taken him for Philip, and say all sorts of
things that I did not really mean."
"Hem!" said her father. "Well, I should think it might be so; it
always struck me that the prejudice must be grounded upon some absurd
notion, the memory of which had passed away, while the impression
"And do you think I could do anything towards removing it? You know
I am to go and wish Fred good-bye this afternoon."
"Why, yes; you might as well try to say something cheerful, which
might do away with the impression. Not that I think it will be of any
use; only do not let him think it has been under discussion."
Beatrice assented, and was silent again while they went on talking.
"Aunt Mary has held out wonderfully?" said her mother.
"Too wonderfully," said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, "in a way which I
fear will cost her dearly. I have been positively longing to see her
give way as she ought to have done under the fatigue; and now I am
afraid of the old complaint: she puts her hand to her side now and
then, and I am persuaded that she had some of those spasms a night or
"Ah!" said his wife, with great concern, "that is just what I have
been dreading the whole time. When she consulted Dr. —, how strongly
he forbade her to use any kind of exertion. Why would you not let me
come? I assure you it was all I could do to keep myself from setting
"It was very well behaved in you, indeed, Beatrice," said he,
smiling; "a sacrifice which very few husbands would have had resolution
either to make themselves, or to ask of their wives. I thanked you
greatly when I did not see you."
"But why would you not have me? Do you not repent it now?"
"Not in the least. Fred would let no one come near him but his
mother and me; you could not have saved either of us an hour's nursing
then, whereas now you can keep Fred in order, and take care of Mary,
if she will suffer it, and that she will do better from you than from
any one else."
They were now reaching the entrance of Sutton Leigh Lane, and Queen
Bee was called upon for the full history of the accident, which, often
as it had been told by letter, must again be narrated in all its
branches. Even her father had never had time to hear it completely; and
there was so much to ask and to answer on the merely external
circumstances, that they had not begun to enter upon feelings and
thoughts when they arrived at the gate of the paddock, which was held
open by Dick and Willy, excessively delighted to see Aunt Geoffrey.
In a few moments more she was affectionately welcomed by old Mrs.
Langford, whose sentiments with regard to the two Beatrices were of a
curiously varying and always opposite description. When her
daughter-in-law was at a distance, she secretly regarded with a kind of
respectful aversion, both her talents, her learning, and the
fashionable life to which she had been accustomed; but in her presence
the winning, lively simplicity of her manners completely dispelled all
these prejudices in an instant, and she loved her most cordially for
her own sake, as well as because she was Geoffrey's wife. On the
contrary, the younger Beatrice, while absent, was the dear little
granddaughter,—the Queen of Bees, the cleverest of creatures; and
while present, it has already been shown how constantly the two tempers
fretted each other, or had once done so, though now, so careful had
Busy Bee lately been, there had been only one collision between them
for the last ten days, and that was caused by her strenuous attempts to
convince grandmamma that Fred was not yet fit for boiled chicken and
calves' foot jelly.
Mrs. Langford's greetings were not half over when Henrietta and her
mamma hastened down stairs to embrace dear Aunt Geoffrey.
"My dear Mary, I am so glad to be come to you at last!"
"Thank you, O! thank you, Beatrice. How Fred will enjoy having you
"Is he tired?" asked Uncle Geoffrey.
"No, not at all; he seems to be very comfortable. He has been
talking of Queen Bee's promised visit. Do you like to go up now, my
Queen Bee consented eagerly, though with some trepidation, for she
had not seen her cousin since his accident, and besides, she did not
know how to begin about Philip Carey. She ran to take off her bonnet,
while Henrietta went to announce her coming. She knocked at the door,
Henrietta opened it, and coming in, she saw Fred lying on the sofa by
the fire, in his dressing-gown, stretched out in that languid listless
manner that betokens great feebleness. There were the purple marks of
leeches on his temples; his hair had been cropped close to his head;
his face was long and thin, without a shade of colour, but his eyes
looked large and bright; and he smiled and held out his hand: "Ah,
Queenie, how d'ye do?"
"How d'ye do, Fred? I am glad you are better."
"You see I have the asses' ears after all," said he, pointing to his
own, which were very prominent in his shorn and shaven condition.
Beatrice could not very easily call up a smile, but she made an
effort, and succeeded, while she said, "I should have complimented you
on the increased wisdom of your looks. I did not know the shape of your
head was so like papa's."
"Is Aunt Geoffrey come?" asked Fred.
"Yes," said his sister: "but mamma thinks you had better not see her
"I wish Uncle Geoffrey was not going," said Fred. "Nobody
else has the least notion of making one tolerably comfortable."
"O, your mamma, Fred!" said Queen Bee.
"O yes, mamma, of course! But then she is getting fagged."
"Mamma says she is quite unhappy to have kept him so long from his
work in London," said Henrietta; "but I do not know what we should have
done without him."
"I do not know what we shall do now," said Fred, in a languid and
The Queen Bee, thinking this a capital opportunity, spoke with
almost alarmed eagerness, "O yes, Fred, you will get on famously; you
will enjoy having my mamma so much, and you are so
much better already, and Philip Carey manages you so well—"
"Manages!" said Fred; "ay, and I'll tell you how, Queenie; just as
the man managed his mare when he fed her on a straw a day. I believe he
thinks I am a ghool, and can live on a grain of rice. I only wish he
knew himself what starvation is. Look here! you can almost see the fire
through my hand, and if I do but lift up my head, the whole room is in
a a merry-go-round. And that is nothing but weakness; there is nothing
else on earth the matter with me, except that I am starved down to the
strength of a midge!"
"Well, but of course he knows," said Busy Bee; "Papa says he has had
an excellent education, and he must know."
"To be sure he does, perfectly well: he is a sharp fellow, and knows
how to keep a patient when he has got one."
"How can you talk such nonsense, Fred? One comfort is, that it is a
sign you are getting well, or you would not have spirits to do it."
"I am talking no nonsense," said Fred, sharply; "I am as
serious as possible."
"But you can't really think that if Philip was capable of acting in
such an atrocious way, that papa would not find it out, and the other
"What! when that man gets I don't know how many guineas from mamma
every time he comes, do you think that it is for his interest that I
should get well?"
"My dear Fred," interposed his sister, "you are exciting yourself,
and that is so very bad for you."
"I do assure you, Henrietta, you would find it very little exciting
to be shut up in this room with half a teaspoonful of wishy-washy
pudding twice a day, and all just to fill Philip Carey's pockets! Now,
there was old Clarke at Rocksand, he had some feeling for one, poor old
fellow; but this man, not the slightest compunction has he; and I am
ready to kick him out of the room when I hear that silky voice of his
trying to be gen-tee-eel, and condoling; and those boots—O! Busy Bee!
those boots! whenever he makes a step I always hear them say, 'O what a
pretty fellow I am!'"
"You seem to be very merry here, my dears," said Aunt Mary, coming
in; "but I am afraid you will tire yourself, Freddy; I heard your voice
even before I opened the door."
Fred was silent, a little ashamed, for he had sense enough not
absolutely to believe all that he had been saying, and his mother,
sitting down, began to talk to the visitor, "Well, my little Queen, we
have seen very little of you of late, but we shall be very sorry to
lose you. I suppose your mamma will have all your letters, and
Henrietta must not expect any, but we shall want very much to know how
you get on with Aunt Susan and her little dog."
"O very well, I dare say," said Beatrice, rather absently,
for she was looking at her aunt's delicate fragile form, and thinking
of what her father had been saying.
"And Queenie," continued her aunt, earnestly, "you must take great
care of your papa—make him rest, and listen to your music, and read
story-books instead of going back to his work all the evening."
"To be sure I shall, Aunt Mary, as much as I possibly can."
"But Bee," said Fred, "you don't mean that you are going to be shut
up with that horrid Lady Susan all this time? Why don't you stay here,
and let her take care of herself?"
"Mamma would not like that; and besides, to do her justice, she is
really ill, Fred," said Beatrice.
"It is too bad, now I am just getting better—if they would let me,
I mean," said Fred: "just when I could enjoy having you, and now there
you go off to that old woman. It is a downright shame."
"So it is, Fred," said Queen Bee gaily, but not coquettishly, as
once she would have answered him, "a great shame in you not to have
learned to feel for other people, now you know what it is to be ill
"That is right, Bee," said Aunt Mary, smiling; "tell him he ought to
be ashamed of having monopolized you all so long, and spoilt all the
comfort of your household. I am sure I am," added she, her eyes filling
with tears, as she affectionately patted Beatrice's hand.
Queen Bee's heart was very full, but she knew that to give way to
the expression of her feelings would be hurtful to Fred, and she only
pressed her aunt's long thin fingers very earnestly, and turned her
face to the fire, while she struggled down the rising emotion. There
was a little silence, and when they began to talk again, it was of the
en- gravings at which Fred had just been looking. The visit lasted
till the dressing bell rang, when Beatrice was obliged to go, and she
shook hands with Fred, saying cheerfully, "Well, good-bye, I hope you
will be better friends with the doctors next time I see you."
"Never will I like one inch of a doctor, never!" repeated Fred, as
she left the room, and ran to snatch what moments she could with her
mamma in the space allowed for dressing.
Grandmamma was happy that evening, for, except poor Frederick's own
place, there were no melancholy gaps at the dinner-table. He had Bennet
to sit with him, and besides, there was within call the confidential
old man-servant, who had lived so many years at Rocksand, and in whom
both Fred and his mother placed considerable dependence.
Everything looked like recovery; Mrs. Frederick Langford came down
and talked and smiled like her own sweet self; Mrs. Geoffrey Langford
was ready to hear all the news, old Mr. Langford was quite in spirits
again, Henrietta was bright and lively. The thought of long days in
London with Lady Susan, and of long evenings with no mamma, and with
papa either writing or at his chambers, began from force of contrast to
seem doubly like banishment to poor little Queen Bee, but whatever
faults she had, she was no repiner. "I deserve it," said she to
herself, "and surely I ought to bear my share of the trouble my
wilfulness has occasioned. Besides, with even one little bit of papa's
company I am only too well off."
So she smiled, and answered grandpapa in her favourite style, so
that no one would have guessed from her demeanour that a task had been
imposed upon her which she so much disliked, and in truth her thoughts
were much more on others than on herself. She saw all hopeful and happy
about Fred, and as to her aunt, when she saw her as usual with all her
playful gentleness, she could not think that there was anything
seriously amiss with her, or if there was, mamma would find out and set
it all to rights. Then how soothing and comforting, now that the first
acute pain of remorse was over, was that affectionate kindness, which,
in every little gesture and word, Aunt Mary had redoubled to her ever
since the accident.
Fred was all this time lying on his sofa, very glad to rest after so
much talking: weak, dizzy, and languid, and throwing all the blame of
his uncomfortable sensations on Philip Carey and the starvation system,
but still, perhaps, not without thoughts of a less discontented nature,
for when Mr. Geoffrey Langford came to help him to bed, he said, as he
watched the various arrangements his uncle was for the last time
sedulously making for his comfort, "Uncle Geoffrey, I ought to thank
you very much; I am afraid I have been a great plague to you."
Perhaps Fred did not say this in all sincerity, for any one but
Uncle Geoffrey would have completely disowned the plaguing, and he
fully expected him to do so; but his uncle had a stern regard for
truth, coupled with a courtesy which left it no more harshness than was
"Anything for your good, my dear sir," said he, with a smile. "You
are welcome to plague me as much as you like, only remember that your
mamma is not quite so tough."
"Well, I do try to be considerate about her," said Fred. "I mean to
make her rest as much as possible; Henrietta and I have been settling
how to save her."
"You could save her more than all, Fred, if you would spare her
Fred held his tongue, for though his memory was rather cloudy about
the early part of his illness, he did remember having seen her look
greatly harassed one day lately when he had been arguing against Philip
Uncle Geoffrey proceeded to gather up some of the outlines which
Henrietta had left on the sofa. "I like those very much," said Fred,
"especially the Fight with the Dragon."
"You know Schiller's poem on it?" said Uncle Geoffrey.
"Yes, Henrietta has it in German."
"Well, it is what I should especially recommend to your
"I am afraid it will be long enough before I am able to go out on a
dragon-killing expedition," said Fred, with a weary helpless sigh.
"Fight the dragon at home, then, Freddy. Now is the time for—
'The duty hardest to fulfil,
To learn to yield our own self-will.'"
"There is very little hasty pudding in the case," said Fred, rather
disconsolately, and at the same time rather drolly, and with a sort of
resolution of this kind, "I will try then, I will not bother mamma, let
that Carey serve me as he may. I will not make a fuss, if I can help
it, unless he is very unreasonable indeed, and when I get well I will
submit to be coddled in an exemplary manner; I only wonder when I shall
feel up to anything again! O! what a nuisance it is to have this
swimming head and aching knees, all by the fault of that Carey!"
Uncle Geoffrey said no more, for he thought a hint often was more
useful than a lecture, even if Fred had been in a state for the latter,
and besides he was in greater request than ever on this last evening,
so much so that it seemed as if no one was going to spare him even to
have half an hour's talk with his wife. He did find the time for this
at last, however, and his first question was, "What do you think of the
"I think with great hope, much more satisfactorily than I have been
able to do for some time past," was the answer.
"Poor child, she has felt it very deeply," said he, "I have been
grieved to have so little time to bestow on her."
"I am disposed to think," said Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, thoughtfully,
"that it was the best thing for her to be thrown on herself. Too much
talk has always been the mischief with her, as with many another only
child, and it struck me to-day as a very good sign that she said so
little. There was something very touching in the complete absence of
"None of her sensible sayings," said her father, with a gratified
though a grave smile. "It was perfectly open confession, and yet with
no self in it. Ever since the accident there has been a staidness and
sedateness about her manner which seemed like great improvement, as far
as I have seen. And when it was proposed for her to go to Lady Susan, I
was much pleased with her, she was so simple: 'Very well,' she said, 'I
hope I shall be able to make her comfortable:' no begging off, no
heroism. And really, Beatrice, don't you think we could make some other
arrangement? It is too great a penance for her, poor child. Lady Susan
will do very well, and I can have an eye to her; I am much inclined to
leave the poor little Queen here with you."
"No, no, Geoffrey," said his wife, "that would never do: I do not
mean on my aunt's account, but on the Busy Bee's; I am sure, wish it as
we may," and the tears were in her eyes, "this is no time for even the
semblance of neglecting a duty for her sake."
"Not so much hers as yours," said Mr. Geoffrey Langford, "you have
more on your hands than I like to leave you alone to encounter, and she
is a valuable little assistant. Besides you have been without her so
long, it is your turn to keep her now."
"No, no, no," she repeated, though not without an effort, "it is
best as it is settled for all, and decidedly so for me, for with her to
write to me about you every day, and to look after you, I shall be a
hundred times more at ease than if I thought you were working yourself
to death with no one to remonstrate."
So it remained as before decided, and the pain that the decision
cost both mother and daughter was only to be inferred by the way in
which they kept close together, as if determined not to lose
unnecessarily one fragment of each other's company; but they had very
few moments alone together, and those were chiefly employed in
practical matters, in minute directions as to the little things that
conduced to keep Lady Susan in good humour, and above all, the
arrangements for papa's comfort. There was thus not much time for
Beatrice to spend with Henrietta, nor indeed would much have resulted
if there had been more. As she grew more at ease about her brother,
Henrietta had gradually resumed her usual manner, and was now as
affectionate to Beatrice as ever, but she was quite unconscious of her
previous unkindness, and therefore made no attempt to atone for it.
Queen Bee had ceased to think of it, and if a reserve had grown up
between the two girls, they neither of them perceived it.
Mr. Geoffrey Langford and his daughter set out on their return to
London so early the next morning that hardly any of the family were up;
but their hurried breakfast in the grey of morning was enlivened by
Alex, who came in just in time to exchange some last words with Uncle
Geoffrey about his school work, and to wish Queen Bee good-bye, with
hopes of a merrier meeting next summer.
MRS. GEOFFREY LANGFORD had from the first felt
considerable anxiety for her sister-in-law, who, though cheerful as
ever, began at length to allow that she felt worn out, and consented to
spare herself more than she had hitherto done. The mischief was,
however, not to be averted, and after a few days of increasing languor,
she was attacked by a severe fit of the spasms, to which she had for
several years been subject at intervals, and was obliged to confine
herself entirely to her own room, relying with complete confidence on
her sister for the attendance on her son.
It was to her, however, that Mrs. Geoffrey Langford wished most to
devote herself; viewing her case with more uneasiness than that of
Frederick, who was decidedly on the fair road to convalescence; and she
only gave him as much time as was necessary to satisfy his mother, and
to superintend the regulation of his room. He had all the society he
wanted in his sister, who was always with him, and in grandpapa and
grandmamma, whose short and frequent visits he began greatly to enjoy.
He had also been more amenable to authority of late, partly in
consequence of his uncle's warning, partly because it was not quite so
easy to torment an aunt as a mother, and partly too because, excepting
al- ways the starving system, he had nothing in particular of which to
complain. His mother's illness might also have its effect in subduing
him; but it did not dwell much on his spirits, or Henrietta's, as they
were too much accustomed to her ill health to be easily alarmed on her
It was the last day of the holidays, and Alexander was to come late
in the afternoon—Fred's best time in the day—to take his leave. All
the morning Fred was rather out of spirits, and talked to Henrietta a
good deal about his school life. It might have been a melancholy day if
he had been going back to school, but it was more sad to be obliged to
stay away from the world where he had hitherto been measuring his
powers, and finding his most exciting interests. It was very mortifying
to be thus laid helplessly aside; a mere nobody, instead of an
important and leading member of a community; at such an age too that it
was probable that he would never return there again.
He began to describe to Henrietta all the scenes where he would be
missing, but not missed; the old cathedral town, with its nest of
trees, and the chalky hills; the quiet river creeping through the
meadows: the "beech-crowned steep," girdled in with the "hollow trench
that the Danish pirate made;" the old collegiate courts, the painted
windows of the chapel, the surpliced scholars,—even the very shops in
the streets had their part in his description: and then falling into
silence he sighed at the thought that there he would be known no
more,—all would go on as usual, and after a few passing inquiries and
expressions of compassion, he would be forgotten; his rivals would pass
him in the race of distinction; his school-boy career be at an end.
His reflections were interrupted by Mrs. Langford's entrance with
Aunt Geoffrey, bringing a message of invitation from grandpapa to
Henrietta, to walk with him to Sutton Leigh. She went; and Aunt
Geoffrey, after putting a book within Fred's reach, and seeing that he
and grandmamma were quite willing to be companionable, again returned
to his mother.
Mrs. Langford thought him low and depressed, and began talking about
his health, and the present mode of treatment,—a subject on which they
were perfectly agreed: one being as much inclined to bestow a good diet
as the other could be to receive it. If his head was still often
painfully dizzy and confused; if his eyes dazzled when he attempted to
read for a long time together; if he could not stand or walk across the
room without excessive giddiness—what was that but the effect of want
of nourishment? "If there was a craving, that was a sure sign that the
thing was wholesome." So she said, and her grandson assented with his
In a few minutes she left the room, and presently returned with a
most tempting-looking glass of clear amber-coloured jelly.
"O, grandmamma!" said Fred, doubtfully, though his eyes positively
lighted up at the sight.
"Yes, my dear, I had it made for your mamma, and she says it is very
good. It is as clear as possible, and quite innocent; I am sure it must
do you good."
"Thank you! O, thank you! It does look very nice," said Fred, gazing
on it with wistful eyes, "but really I do not think I ought."
"If it was to do you any harm, I am sure I should not think of such
a thing," said Mrs. Langford. "But I have lived a good many more years
in the world than these young people, and I never saw any good come of
all this keeping low. There was old Mr. Hilton, now, that attended all
the neighbourhood round when I was a girl; he kept you low enough
while the fever was on you, but as soon as it was gone, why then
re-invigorate the system,—that was what he used to say."
"Just like old Clarke, of Rocksand!" sighed Fred. "I know my system
would like nothing better than to be re-invigorated with that splendid
stuff; but you would know it would put them all in a dreadful state if
they knew it."
"Never mind," said grandmamma; "'tis all my doing, you know. Come,
to oblige me, taste it, my dear."
"One spoonful," said Fred—"to oblige grandmamma," added he to
himself: and he let grandmamma lift him on the cushions as far as he
could bear to have his head raised. He took the spoonful, then started
a little,—"There is wine in it!" said he.
"A very little—just enough to give it a flavour; it cannot make any
difference. Do you like it, my dear?" as the spoon scooped out another
transparent rock. "Ay, that is right! I had the receipt from my old
Aunt Kitty, and nobody ever could make it like Judith."
"I am in for it now," thought Fred. "Well, 'tis excellent," said he;
"capital stuff! I feel it all down to my fingers' ends," added he with
a smile, as he returned the glass, after fishing in vain for the
particles remaining in the small end.
"That is right; I am so glad to see you enjoy it!" said grandmamma,
hurrying off with the empty glass with speed at which Fred smiled, as
it implied some fears of meeting Aunt Geoffrey. He knew the nature of
his own case sufficiently to be aware that he had acted very
imprudently,—that is to say, his better sense was aware—but his
spirit of self-will made him consider all these precautions as
nonsense, and was greatly confirmed by his feeling himself much more
fresh and lively. Grandmamma returned to announce Alexander and Willy,
who soon followed her, and after shaking hands, stood silent, much
shocked at the alteration in Fred's appearance.
This impression, however, soon passed off, as Fred began to talk
over school affairs in a very animated manner; sending messages to his
friends, discussing the interests of the coming half-year, the games,
the studies, the employments; Alex lamenting Fred's absence, engaging
to write, undertaking numerous commissions, and even prognosticating
his speedy recovery, and attainment of that cynosure,—the prize. Never
had the two cousins met so cordially, or so enjoyed their meeting.
There was no competition; each could afford to do the other justice,
and both felt great satisfaction in doing so; and so high and even so
loud became their glee, that Alex could scarcely believe that Fred was
not in perfect health. At last Aunt Geoffrey came to put an end to it;
and finding Fred so much excited, she made Alex bring his blunt honest
farewells and good wishes to a speedy conclusion, desired Fred to lie
quiet and rest, and sat down herself to see that he did so.
Fred could not easily be brought to repose; he went on talking fast
and eagerly in praise of Alex, and in spite of her complete assent, he
went on more and more vehemently, just as if he was defending Alex from
some one who wanted to detract from his merits. She tried reading to
him, but he grew too eager about the book; and at last she rather
advanced the time for dressing for dinner, both for herself and
Henrietta, and sent Bennet to sit with him, hoping thus perforce to
reduce him to a quiescent state. He was by this means a little calmed
for the rest of the evening; but so wakeful and restless a night
ensued, that he began to be alarmed, and fully came to the conclusion
that Philip Carey was in the right after all. Towards morning,
however, a short sleep visited him, and he awoke at length quite
sufficiently refreshed to be self-willed as ever; and, contrary to
advice, insisted on leaving his bed at his usual hour.
Philip Carey came at about twelve o'clock, and was disappointed as
well as surprised to find him so much more languid and uncomfortable,
as he could not help allowing that he felt. His pulse, too, was
unsatisfactory; but Philip thought the excitement of the interview with
Alex well accounted for the sleepless night, as well as for the
exhaustion of the present day: and Fred persuaded himself to believe so
Henrietta did not like to leave him to-day, but she was engaged to
take a ride with grandpapa, who felt as if the little Mary of years
long gone by was restored to him, when he had acquired a riding
companion in his granddaughter. Mrs. Langford undertook to sit with
Fred, and Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, who had been at first afraid that she
would be too bustling a nurse for him just now, seeing that he was
evidently impatient to be left alone with her, returned to Mrs.
Frederick Langford, resolving, however, not to be long absent.
In that interval Mrs. Langford brought in the inviting glass, and
Fred, in spite of his good sense, could not resist it. Perhaps the
recent irritation of Philip's last visit made him more willing to act
in opposition to his orders. At any rate, he thought of little save of
swallowing it before Aunt Geoffrey should catch him in the fact, in
which he succeeded; so that grandmamma had time to get the tell-tale
glass safely into the store-closet just as Mrs. Frederick Langford's
door was opened at the other end of the passage.
Fred's sofa cushions were all too soft or too hard that
afternoon,—too high or too low; there was a great mountain in the
middle of the sofa, too, so that he could not lie on it comfortably.
The room was chilly though the fire was hot, and how grandmamma did
poke it! Fred thought she did nothing else the whole afternoon; and
there was a certain concluding shovel that she gave to the cinders,
that very nearly put him in a passion. Nothing would make him
comfortable till Henrietta came in, and it seemed very long before he
heard the paddock gate, and the horses' feet upon the gravel. Then he
grew very much provoked because his sister went first to her mamma's
room; and it was grandpapa who came to him full of a story of
Henrietta's good management of her horse when they suddenly met the
hounds in a narrow lane. In she came, at last, in her habit, her hair
hanging loosely round her face, her cheeks and eyes lighted up by the
exercise, and some early primroses in her hand, begging his pardon for
having kept him waiting, but saying she thought he did not want her
directly, as he had grandpapa.
Nevertheless he scolded her, ordered her specimens of the promise of
spring out of the room on an accusation of their possessing a strong
scent, made her make a complete revolution on his sofa, and then
insisted on her going on with Nicolo de Lapi, which she was translating
to him from the Italian. Warm as the room felt to her in her habit, she
sat down directly, without going to take it off; but he was not to be
thus satisfied. He found fault with her for hesitating in her
translation, and desired her to read the Italian instead; then she read
first so fast that he could not follow, and then so slowly that it was
quite unbearable, and she must go on translating. With the greatest
patience and sweetest temper she obeyed; only when next he interrupted
her to find fault, she stopped and said gently, "Dear Fred, I am
afraid you are not feeling so well."
"Nonsense! What should make you think so? You think I am cross, I
suppose. Well, never mind, I will go on for myself," said he, snatching
Henrietta turned away to hide her tears, for she was too wise to
"Are you crying? I am sure I said nothing to cry about; I wish you
would not be so silly."
"If you would only let me go on, dear Fred," said she, thinking that
occupying him would be better than arguing. "It is so dark where you
are, and I will try to get on better. There is an easier piece coming."
Fred agreed, and she went on without interruption for some little
time, till at last he grew so excited by the story as to be very angry
when the failing light obliged her to pause. She tried to extract some
light from the fire, but this was a worse offence than any; it was too
bad of her, when she knew how he hated both the sound of poking, and
that horrible red flickering light which always hurt his eyes. This
dislike, which had been one of the symptoms of the early part of his
illness, so alarmed her that she had thoughts of going to call Aunt
Geoffrey, and was heartily glad to see her enter the room.
"Well, how are you going on?" she said, cheerfully. "Why, my dear,
how hot you must be in that habit!"
"Rather," said poor Henrietta, whose face, between the heat and her
perplexity, was almost crimson. "We have been reading 'Nicolo,' and I
am very much afraid it is as bad as Alex's visit, and has excited Fred
"I am quite sick of hearing that word excitement!" said Fred,
"Almost as tired as of having your pulse felt," said Aunt
Geoffrey. "But yet I must ask you to submit to that disagreeable
Fred moved pettishly, but as he could not refuse, he only told
Henrietta that he could not bear any one to look at him while his pulse
"Will you fetch me a candle, my dear?" said Aunt Geoffrey, amazed as
well as terrified by the fearful rapidity of the throbs, and trying to
acquire sufficient composure to count them calmly. The light came, and
still she held his wrist, beginning her reckoning again and again, in
the hope that it was only some momentary agitation that had so
"What! 'tis faster?" asked Fred, speaking in a hasty alarmed tone,
when she released him at last.
"You are flushed, Fred," she answered very quietly, though she felt
full of consternation. "Yes, faster than it ought to be; I think you
had better not sit up any longer this evening, or you will sleep no
better than last night."
"Very well," said Fred.
"Then I will ring for Stephens," said she.
The first thing she did on leaving his room was to go to her own,
and there write a note to young Mr. Carey, giving an account of the
symptoms that had caused her so much alarm. As she wrote them down
without exaggeration, and trying to give each its just weight, going
back to recollect the first unfavourable sign, she suddenly remembered
that as she left her sister's room, she had seen Mrs. Langford, whom
she had left with Fred, at the door of the store-closet. Could she have
been giving him any of her favourite nourishing things? Mrs. Geoffrey
Langford could hardly believe that either party could have acted so
foolishly, yet when she remembered a few words that had passed about
the jelly that morning at breakfast, she could no longer doubt, and
bitterly reproached herself for not having kept up a stricter
surveillance. Of her suspicion she however said nothing, but sealing
her note, she went down to the drawing-room, told Mr. Langford that she
did not think Fred quite so well that evening, and asked him if he did
not think it might be better to let Philip Carey know. He agreed
instantly, and rang the bell to order a servant to ride to Allonfield;
but Mrs. Langford, who could not bear any one but Geoffrey to act
without consulting her, pitied man and horse for being out so late, and
opined that Beatrice forgot that she was not in London, where the
medical man could be called in so easily.
It was fortunate that it was the elder Beatrice instead of the
younger, for provoked as she already had been before with the old lady,
it was not easy even for her to make a cheerful answer. "Well, it is
very kind in you to attend to my London fancies," said she; "I think if
we can do anything to spare him such a night as the last, it should be
"Certainly, certainly," said Mr. Langford. "It is very disappointing
when he was going on so well. He must surely have been doing something
It was very tempting to interrogate Mrs. Langford, but her
daughter-in-law had long since come to a resolution never to convey to
her anything like reproach, let her do what she might in her mistaken
kindness of heart, or her respectable prejudices; so, without entering
on what many in her place might have made a scene of polite
recrimination, she left the room, and on her way up, heard Frederick's
door gently opened. Stephens came quickly and softly to the end of the
passage to meet her. "He is asking for you, ma'am," said he; "I am
afraid he is not so well; I did not like to ring, for fear of alarming
my mistress, but—"
Mrs. Geoffrey Langford entered the room, and found that
the bustle and exertion of being carried to his bed had brought on
excessive confusion and violent pain. He put his hand to his forehead,
opened his eyes, and looked wildly about. "Oh, Aunt Geoffrey," he
exclaimed, "what shall I do? It is as bad—worse than ever!"
"You have been doing something imprudent, I fear," said Aunt
Geoffrey, determined to come to the truth at once.
"Only that glass of jelly—if I had guessed!"
"One to-day, one yesterday. It was grandmamma's doing. Don't let her
know that I told. I wish mamma was here!"
Aunt Geoffrey tried to relieve the pain by cold applications, but
could not succeed, and Fred grew more and more alarmed.
"The inflammation is coming back!" he cried, in an agony of
apprehension that almost overcame the sense of pain. "I shall be in
danger—I shall lose my senses—I shall die! Mamma! O! where is mamma?"
"Lie still, my dear Fred," said Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, laying her
hand on him so as to restrain his struggling movements to turn round or
to sit up. "Resistance and agitation will hurt you more than anything
else. You must control yourself, and trust to me, and you may be sure I
will do the best in my power for you. The rest is in the hands of GOD."
"Then you think me very ill?" said Fred, trying to speak more
"I think you will certainly make yourself very ill, unless you will
keep yourself quiet, both mind and body. There—"she settled him as
comfortably as she could: "Now I am going away for a few minutes. Make
a resolution not to stir till I come back. Stephens is here, and I
shall soon come back."
This was very unlike the way in which his mother used to beseech him
as a favour to spare her, and yet his aunt's tone was so affectionate,
as well as so authoritative, that he could not feel it unkind. She left
the room, and as soon as she found herself alone in the passage, leant
against the wall and trembled, for she felt herself for a moment quite
overwhelmed, and longed earnestly for her husband to think for her, or
even for one short interval in which to reflect. For this, however,
there was no time, and with one earnest mental supplication, summoning
up her energies, she walked on to the person whom she at that moment
most dreaded to see, her sister-in-law. She found her sitting in her
arm-chair, Henrietta with her, both looking very anxious, and she was
glad to find her prepared.
"What is it?" was the first eager question.
"He has been attempting rather too much of late," was the answer,
"and has knocked himself up. I came to tell you, because I think I had
better stay with him, and perhaps you might miss me."
"O no, no, pray go to him. Nothing satisfies me so well about him as
that you should be there, except that I cannot bear to give you so much
trouble. Don't stay here answering questions. He will be so restless if
he misses you—"
"Don't you sit
imagining, Mary; let Henrietta read
This proposal made Henrietta look so piteous and wistful that her
mother said, "No, no, let her go to Freddy, poor child. I dare say he
"By no means," said Aunt Geoffrey, opening the door; "he will be
quieter without her."
Henrietta was annoyed, and walked about the room, instead of
sitting down to read. She was too fond of her own will to like being
thus checked, and she thought she had quite as good a right to be with
her brother as her aunt could have. Every temper has one side or other
on which it is susceptible; and this was hers. She thought it affection
for her brother, whereas it was impatience of being ordered.
Her mother forced herself to speak cheerfully. "Aunt Geoffrey is a
capital nurse," said she; "there is something so decided about her that
it always does one good. It saves all the trouble and perplexity of
thinking for oneself."
"I had rather judge for myself," said Henrietta.
"That is all very well to talk of," said her mother, smiling sadly,
"but it is a very different thing when you are obliged to do it."
"Well, what do you like to hear?" said Henrietta, who found herself
too cross for conversation. "The old man's home?"
"Do not read unless you like it, my dear; I think you must be tired.
You would want 'lungs of brass' to go on all day to both of us. You had
better not. I should like to talk."
Henrietta being in a wilful fit, chose nevertheless to read, because
it gave her the satisfaction of feeling that Aunt Geoffrey was
inflicting a hardship upon her; although her mother would have
preferred conversation. So she took up a book, and began, without any
perception of the sense of what she was reading, but her thoughts
dwelling partly on her brother, and partly on her aunt's provoking
ways. She read on through a whole chapter, then closing the book
hastily, exclaimed, "I must go and see what Aunt Geoffrey is doing with
"She is not such a very dangerous person," said Mrs. Frederick
Langford, almost laughing at the form of the expression.
"Well, but you surely want to know how he is, mamma?"
"To be sure I do, but I am so afraid of his being disturbed. If he
was just going to sleep now."
"Yes, but you know how softly I can open the door."
"Your aunt would let us know if there was anything to hear. Pray
take care, my dear."
"I must go, I can't bear it any longer; I will only just listen,"
said Henrietta; "I will not be a moment."
"Let me have the book, my dear," said her mother, who knew but too
well the length of Henrietta's moments, and who had just, by means of a
great effort, succeeded in making herself take interest in the book.
Henrietta gave it to her, and darted off. The door of Fred's room
was ajar, and she entered. Aunt Geoffrey, Bennet, and Judith were
standing round the bed, her aunt sponging away the blood that was
flowing from Frederick's temples. His eyes were closed, and he now and
then gave long gasping sighs of oppression and faintness. "Leeches!"
thought Henrietta, as she started with consternation and displeasure.
"This is pretty strong! Without telling me or mamma! Well, this is what
I call doing something with him indeed."
She advanced to the table, but no one saw her for more than a
minute, till at last Aunt Geoffrey stepped quickly up to it in search
of some bottle.
"Let me do something," said Henrietta, catching up the bottle that
she thought likely to be the right one.
Her aunt looked vexed, and answered in a low quick tone, "You had
better stay with your mamma."
"But why are you doing this? Is he worse? Is Mr. Philip Carey here?
Has he ordered it?"
"He is not come yet. My dear, I cannot talk to you: I
should be much obliged if you would go back to your mamma."
Aunt Geoffrey went back to Fred, but a few minutes after she looked
up and still saw Henrietta standing by the table. She came up to her,
"Henrietta, you are of no use here; every additional person oppresses
him; your mamma must be kept tranquil. Why will you stay?"
"I was just going," said Henrietta, taking this hurrying as an
additional offence, and walking off in a dignified way.
It was hard to say what had affronted her most, the proceeding
itself, the neglect, or the commands which Aunt Geoffrey had presumed
to lay upon her, and away she went to her mamma, a great deal too much
displeased, and too distrustful to pay the smallest attention to any
precautions which her aunt might have tried to impress upon her.
"Well!" asked her mother anxiously.
"She would not let me stay," answered Henrietta. "She has been
putting on leeches."
"Leeches!" exclaimed her mother. "He must be much worse. Poor
fellow! Is Mr. Carey here?"
"No, that is the odd thing."
"Has he not been sent for?"
"I am sure I don't know. Aunt Geoffrey seems to like to do things in
her own way."
"It must be very bad indeed if she cannot venture to wait for him!"
said Mrs. Frederick Langford, much alarmed.
"And never to tell you!" said Henrietta.
"O, that was her consideration. She knew how foolishly anxious I
should be. I have no doubt that she is doing right. How did he seem to
"Very faint, I thought," said Henrietta, "there seemed to be a
great deal of bleeding, but Aunt Geoffrey would not let me come near."
"She knows exactly what to do," said Mrs. Frederick Langford. "How
well it was that she should be here."
Henrietta began to be so fretted at her mother's complete confidence
in her aunt, that without thinking of the consequences she tried to
argue it away. "Aunt Geoffrey is so quick—she does things without half
the consideration other people do. And she likes to settle everything."
But happily the confiding friendship of a lifetime was too strong to
be even harassed for a moment by the petulant suspicions of an angry
"My dear, if you were not vexed and anxious, I should tell you that
you were speaking very improperly of your aunt. I am perfectly
satisfied that she is doing what is right by dear Fred, as well as by
me; and if I am satisfied, no one else has any right to object."
There was nothing left for Henrietta in her present state of spirits
but to have a hearty cry, one of the best possible ways she could find
of distressing her mother, who all the time was suffering infinitely
more than she could imagine from her fears, her efforts to silence
them, and the restraint which she was exercising upon herself, longing
as she did to fly to her son's room, to see with her own eyes, and only
detained by the fear that her sudden appearance there might agitate
him. The tears, whatever might be their effect upon her, did Henrietta
good, and restored her to something more like her proper senses. She
grew rather alarmed, too, when she saw her mamma's pale looks, as she
leant back almost exhausted with anxiety and repressed agitation.
Mrs. Langford came up to bring them some tea, and she, having little
idea of the real state of things, took so encouraging a view as to
cheer them both, and her visit did much service at least to Henrietta.
Then they heard sounds announcing Philip Carey's arrival, and presently
after in came Bennet with a message from Mr. Frederick that he was
better, and that his mother was not to be frightened. At last came Aunt
Geoffrey, saying, "Well, Mary, he is better. I have been very sorry to
leave you so long, and I believe Henrietta," looking at her with a
smile, "thinks I have used you very ill."
"I believe she did," said her mother, "but I was sure you would do
right; you say he is better? Let me hear."
"Much better; only—. But Mary, you look quite worn out, you should
go to bed."
"Let me hear about him first."
Aunt Geoffrey accordingly told the whole history, as, perhaps, every
one would not have told it, for one portion of it in some degree
justified Henrietta's opinion that she had been doing a great deal on
her own responsibility. It had been very difficult to stop the
bleeding, and Fred, already very weak, had been so faint and exhausted
that she had felt considerable alarm, and was much rejoiced by the
arrival of Philip Carey, who had not been at home when the messenger
reached his house. Now, however, all was well; he had fully approved
all that she had done, and, although she did not repeat this to Mrs.
Frederick Langford, had pronounced that her promptitude and energy had
probably saved the patient's life. Fred, greatly relieved, had fallen
asleep, and she had now come, with almost an equal sense of relief, to
tell his mother all that had passed, and ask her pardon.
"Nay, Beatrice, what do you mean by that? Is it not what you and
Geoffrey have always done to treat him as your own son instead of mine?
and is it not almost my chief happiness to feel assured that you
always will do so? You know that is the reason I never thank you."
Henrietta hung her head, and felt that she had been very unjust and
ungrateful, more especially when her aunt said, "You thought it very
hard to have your mouth stopped, Henrietta, my dear, and I was sorry
for it, but I had not much time to be polite."
"I am sorry I was in the way," said she, an acknowledgment such as
she had seldom made.
Fred awoke the next morning much better, though greatly fallen back
in his progress towards recovery, but his mother had during the night
the worst fit of spasms from which she had ever suffered.
But Henrietta thought it all so well accounted for by all the
agitations of the evening before, that there was no reason for further
It was a comfort to Aunt Geoffrey, who took it rather more
seriously, that she received that morning a letter from her husband,
"As to the Queen Bee, I have no doubt that you can judge of her
frame better from the tone of her letters than from anything I have to
tell. I think her essentially improved and improving, and you will
think I do not speak without warrant, when I tell you that Lady Susan
expressed herself quite warmly respecting her this morning. She
continues to imagine that she has the charge of Queen Bee, and not
Queen Bee of her, and I think it much that she has been allowed to
continue in the belief. Lady Amelia comes to-morrow, and then I hope
the poor little woman's penance may be over, for though she makes no
complaints, there is no doubt that it is a heavy one, as her thorough
enjoyment of a book, and an hour's freedom from that little gossiping
flow of plaintive talk sufficiently testify."
FREDERICK had lost much ground, and yet on the
whole his relapse was of no slight service to him. In the earlier part
of his illness he had been so stupefied by the accident, that he had
neither been conscious of his danger, nor was able to preserve any
distinct remembrance of what he had suffered. But this return to his
former state, with all his senses perfect, made him realise the rest,
and begin to perceive how near to the grave he had been brought. A deep
shuddering sense of awe came over him, as he thought what it would have
been to die then, without a minute of clear recollection, and his last
act one of wilful disobedience. And how had he requited the mercy which
had spared him? He had shown as much of that same spirit of self-will
as his feebleness would permit; he had been exacting, discontented,
rebellious, and well indeed had he deserved to be cut off in the midst
of the sin in which he had persisted.
He was too weak to talk, but his mind was wide awake; and many an
earnest thanksgiving, and resolution strengthened by prayer, were made
in silence during the two or three days that passed, partly in such
thoughts as these, and for many hours more in sleep; while sometimes
his aunt, sometimes his sister, and sometimes even Bennet, sat by his
bed-side unchidden for not being "mamma."
"Above all," said he to himself, "he would for the future devote
himself, to make up to her for all that he had caused her to suffer for
his sake. Even if he were never to mount a horse or fire a gun for the
rest of his life, what would such a sacrifice be for such a mother?" It
was very disappointing that, at present, all he could even attempt to
do for her was to send her messages—and affection does not travel well
by message,—and at the same time to show submission to her known
wishes. And after all, it would have been difficult not to have shown
submission, for Aunt Geoffrey, as he already felt, was not a person to
be argued with, but to be obeyed; and for very shame he could not have
indulged himself in his Philippics after the proof he had experienced
of their futility.
So, partly on principle, and partly from necessity, he ceased to
grumble, and from that time forth it was wonderful how much less
unpleasant even external things appeared, and how much his health
benefited by the tranquillity of spirits thus produced. He was willing
to be pleased with all that was done with that intent; and as he grew
better, it certainly was a strange variety with which he had to be
amused throughout the day. Very good naturedly he received all such
civilities, especially when Willy brought him a bottle of the first
live sticklebacks of the season, accompanied by a message from Arthur
that he hoped soon to send him a basin of tame tadpoles,—and when John
rushed up with a basket of blind young black satin puppies, their
mother following in a state of agitation only equalled by that of Mrs.
Langford and Judith.
Willy, a nice intelligent little fellow, grew very fond of him, and
spent much time with him, taking delight in his books and prints,
beyond what could have been thought possible in one of the Sutton
When he was strong enough to guide a pencil or pen, a very enjoyable
correspondence commenced between him and his mother, who was still
unable to leave her apartment; and hardly any one ever passed between
the two rooms without being the bearer of some playful greeting, or
droll descriptions of the present scene and occupation, chronicles of
the fashionable arrivals of the white clouds before the window, of a
bunch of violets, or a new book; the fashionable departure of the
headache, the fire, or a robin; notices that tom-tits were whetting
their saws on the next tree, or of the domestic proceedings of the
rooks who were building their house opposite to Mrs. Frederick
Langford's window, and whom she watched so much that she was said to be
in a fair way of solving the problem of how many sticks go to a crow's
nest; criticisms of the books read by each party, and very often a
reference to that celebrated billet, unfortunately delivered over night
to Prince Talleyrand, informing him that his devoted friend had
scarcely closed her eyes all night, and then only to dream of him!
Henrietta grew very happy. She had her brother again, as wholly hers
as in their younger days,—depending upon her, participating in all her
pleasures, or rather giving her favourite occupations double zest, by
their being for him, for his amusement. She rode and walked in the
beautiful open spring country with grandpapa, to whom she was a most
valuable companion; and on her return she had two to visit, both of
whom looked forward with keen interest and delight to hearing her
histories of down and wood, of field and valley, of farm-house,
cottage, or school; had a laugh for the least amusing circumstance,
admiration for the spring flower or leaf, and power to follow her
descriptions of budding woods, soft rising hills, and gorgeous
sunsets. How her mamma enjoyed comparing notes with her about those
same woods and dells, and would describe the adventures of her own
youth! And now it might be noticed that she did not avoid speaking of
those in which Henrietta's father had been engaged; nay, she dwelt on
them by preference, and without the suppressed sigh which had formerly
followed anything like a reference to him. Sometimes she would smile to
identify the bold open down with the same where she had run races with
him, and even laugh to think of the droll adventures. Sometimes the
shady woodland walk would make her describe their nutting parties, or
it would bring her thoughts to some fit of childish mischief and
concealment, and to the confession to which his bolder and more upright
counsel had at length led her. Or she would tell of the long walks they
had taken together when older grown, when each had become prime
counsellor and confidante of the other; and the interests and troubles
of home and of school were poured out to willing ears, and sympathy and
advice exchanged. How Fred and Mary had been companions from the very
first, how their love had grown up unconsciously, in the sports in the
sunny fields, shady coombs, and green woods of their home: how it had
strengthened and ripened with advancing years, and how bright and
unclouded their sunshine had been to dwell on: this was her delight,
while the sadness which once spoke of crushed hopes, and lost
happiness, had gone from her smile. It was as if she still felt herself
walking in the light of his love, and at the same time, as if she
wished to show him to his daughter as he was, and to tell Henrietta of
those words and those ways of his which were most characteristic, and
which used to be laid up so fast in her heart, that she could never
have borne to speak of them. The bitterness of his death, as it
regarded herself, seemed to have passed, the brightness of his memory
alone remaining. Henrietta loved to listen, but scarcely so much as her
mother loved to tell; and instead of agitating her, these recollections
always seemed to soothe and make her happy.
Henrietta knew that Aunt Geoffrey and grandpapa were both of them
anxious about her mother's health, but for her own part she did not
think her worse than she had often been before; and whilst she
continued in nearly the same state, rose every day, sat in her
arm-chair, and was so cheerful, and even lively, there could not be
very much amiss, even though there was no visible progress in
amendment. Serious complaint there was, as she knew of old, to cause
the spasms; but it had existed so long, that after the first shock of
being told of it two years ago, she had almost ceased to think about
it. She satisfied herself to her own mind that it could not, should not
be progressing, and that this was only a very slow recovery from the
Time went on, and a shade began to come over Fred. He was bright and
merry when anything occurred to amuse him, did not like reading less,
or take less interest in his occupations; but in the intervals of quiet
he grew grave and almost melancholy, and his inquiries after his mother
grew minute and anxious.
"Henrietta," said he, one day when they were alone together, "I was
trying to reckon how long it is since I have seen mamma."
"O, I think she will come and see you in a few days more," said
"You have told me that so many times," said Fred. "I think I must
try to get to her. That passage, if it was not so very
long! If Uncle Geoffrey comes on Saturday, I am sure he can manage to
take me there."
"It will be a festival day indeed when you meet!" said Henrietta.
"Yes," said he thoughtfully. Then returning to the former subject,
"But how long is it, Henrietta? This is the twenty-seventh of March, is
"Yes; a whole quarter of a year you have been laid up here."
"It was somewhere about the beginning of February that Uncle
"The fourth," said Henrietta.
"And it was three days after he went away that mamma had those first
spasms. Henrietta, she has been six weeks ill!"
"Well," said Henrietta, "you know she was five weeks without
stirring out of the room, that last time she was ill at Rocksand, and
she is getting better."
"I don't think it is getting better," said Fred. "You always say so,
but I don't think you have anything to show for it."
"You might say the same for yourself," said Henrietta, laughing.
"You have been getting better these three months, poor man, and you
need not boast."
"Well, at least I can show something for it," said Fred; "they allow
me a lark's diet instead of a wren's, I can hold up my head like other
people now, and I actually made my own legs and the table's carry me to
the window yesterday, which is what I call getting on. But I do not
think it is so with mamma. A fortnight ago she used to be up by ten or
eleven o'clock; now I don't believe she ever is till one."
"It has been close, damp weather," said Henrietta, surprised at the
accurate remembrance, which she could not confute. "She misses the
cold bracing wind."
"I don't like it," said Fred, growing silent, and after a short
interval beginning again more earnestly, "Henrietta, neither you nor
any one else are keeping anything from me, I trust?"
"O, no, no!" said Henrietta, eagerly.
"You are quite sure?"
"Quite," responded she. "You know all I know, every bit; and I know
all Aunt Geoffrey does, I am sure I do, for she always tells me what
Mr. Philip Carey says. I have heard Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey both say
strong things about keeping people in the dark, and I am convinced they
would not do so."
"I don't think they would," said Fred; "but I am not satisfied.
Recollect and tell me clearly, are they convinced that this is only
recovering slowly—I do not mean that; I know too well that this is not
a thing to be got rid of; but do they think that she is going to be as
well as usual?"
"I do," said Henrietta, "and you know I am more used to her illness
than any of them. Bennet and I were agreeing to-day that, considering
how bad the spasms were, and how much fatigue she had been going
through, we could not expect her to get on faster."
"You do? But that is not Aunt Geoffrey."
"O! Aunt Geoffrey is anxious, and expected her to get on faster,
just like Busy Bee expecting everything to be so quick; but I am sure
you could not get any more information from her than from me, and
impressions—I am sure you may trust mine, used as I am to watch
Fred asked no more; but it was observable that from that day he
never lost one of his mother's little notes, placing them as soon as
read in his pocket-book, and treasuring them carefully. He also begged
Henrietta to lend him a miniature of her mother, taken at the time of
her marriage. It represented her in all her youthful loveliness, with
the long ringlets and plaits of dark brown hair hanging on her neck,
the arch suppressed smile on her lips, and the laughing light in her
deep blue eye. He looked at it for a little while, and then asked
Henrietta if she thought that she could find, among the things sent
from Rocksand which had not yet been unpacked, another portrait, taken
in the earlier months of her widowhood, when she had in some partial
degree recovered from her illness, but her life seemed still to hang on
a thread. Mrs. Vivian, at whose especial desire it had been taken, had
been very fond of it, and had always kept it in her room, and Fred was
very anxious to see it again. After a long search, with Bennet's help,
Henrietta found it, and brought it to him. Thin, wan, and in the deep
black garments, there was much more general resemblance to her present
appearance in this than in the portrait of the beautiful smiling bride.
"And yet," said Fred, as he compared them, "do not you think,
Henrietta, that there is more of mamma in the first?"
"I see what you mean," said Henrietta. "You know it is by a much
"Yes," said he, "the other is like enough in feature,—more so
certainly to anything we have ever seen: but what a difference! And yet
what is it? Look! Her eyes generally have something melancholy in their
look, and yet I am sure those bright happy ones put me much more in
mind of hers than these, looking so weighed down with sorrow. And the
sweet smile, that is quite her own!"
"If you could but see her now, Fred," said Henrietta, "I think you
would indeed say so. She has now and then a beautiful little pink
flush, that lights up her eyes as well as her cheeks; and when she
smiles and talks about those old times with papa, she does really look
just like the miniature, all but her thinness."
"I do not half like to hear of all that talking about my father,"
murmured Fred to himself as he leant back. Henrietta at first opened
her eyes; then a sudden perception of his meaning flashed over her, and
she began to speak of something else as fast as she could.
Uncle Geoffrey came on Saturday afternoon, and after paying a
minute's visit to Fred, had a conference of more than an hour with his
sister-in-law. Fred did not seem pleased with his sister's information
that "it was on business," and only was in a slight degree re-assured
by being put in mind that there was always something to settle at
Lady-day. Henrietta thought her uncle looked grave; and as she was
especially anxious to prevent either herself or Fred from being
frightened, she would not leave him alone in Fred's room, knowing full
well that no questions would be asked except in private—none at least
of the description which she dreaded.
All Fred attempted was the making his long-mediated request that he
might visit his mother, and Uncle Geoffrey undertook to see whether it
was possible. Numerous messages passed, and at length it was arranged
that on Sunday, just before afternoon service, when the house was
quiet, his uncle should help him to her room, where his aunt would read
to them both.
Frederick made quite a preparation for what was to him a great
undertaking. He sat counting the hours all the morning; and when at
length the time arrived, his heart beat so violently, that it seemed to
take away all the little strength he had. His uncle came in, but waited
a few moments; then said, with some hesitation, "Fred, you must be
prepared to see her a good deal altered."
"Yes," said Fred, impatiently.
"And take the greatest care not to agitate her. Can you be trusted?
I do not ask it for your own sake."
"Yes," said Fred, resolutely.
And in process of time Fred was at her door. There he quitted his
uncle's arm, and came forward alone to the large easy chair where she
sat by the fire-side. She started joyfully forward, and soon he was on
one knee before her, her arms round his neck, her tears dropping on his
face, and a quiet sense of excessive happiness felt by both. Then
rising, he sank back into another great chair, which his sister had
arranged for him close to hers, and too much out of breath to speak, he
passively let Henrietta make him comfortable there; while holding his
mother's hand, he kept his eyes fixed upon her, and she, anxious only
for him, patted his cushions, offered her own, and pushed her footstool
A few words passed between Mr. and Mrs. Geoffrey Langford outside
"I still think it a great risk," said she.
"But I should not feel justified in preventing it," was his answer,
"only do not leave them long alone." Then opening the door he called,
"Henrietta, there is the last bell." And Henrietta, much against her
will, was obliged to go with him to Church.
"Good-bye, my dear," said her mother. "Think of us prisoners in the
right way at Church, and not in the wrong one."
Strangely came the sound of the Church bell to their ears through
the window, half open to admit the breezy breath of spring; the cawing
of the rooks and the song of the blackbird came with it; the sky was
clear and blue, the buds were bursting into life.
"How very lovely it is!" added she.
Fred made a brief reply, but without turning his head to the window.
His eyes, his thoughts, his whole soul, were full of the contemplation
of what was to him a thousand times more lovely,—that frail wasted
form, namely, whose hand he held. The delicate pink colour which
Henrietta had described was on her cheek, contrasting with the ivory
whiteness of the rest of her face; the blue eyes shone with a sweet
subdued brightness under their long black lashes; the lips smiled,
though languidly yet as sunnily as ever; the dark hair lay in wavy
lines along the sides of her face; and but for the helplessness with
which the figure rested in the chair, there was less outward token of
suffering than he had often seen about her,—more appearance almost of
youth and beauty. But it was not an earthly beauty; there was something
about it which filled him with a kind of indescribable undefined awe,
together with dread of a sorrow towards which he shrank from looking.
She thought him fatigued with the exertion he had made, and allowed him
to rest, while she contemplated with pleasure even the slight advances
which he had already made in shaking off the traces of illness.
The silence was not broken till Aunt Geoffrey came in, just as the
last stroke of the Church-bell died away, bringing in her hand a
fragrant spray of the budding sweet-briar.
"The bees are coming out with you, Freddy," said she. "I have just
been round the garden watching them revelling in the crocuses."
"How delicious!" said Mrs. Frederick Langford, to whom she had
offered the sweet-briar. "Give it to him, poor fellow; he is quite
knocked up with his journey."
"O no, not in the least, mamma, thank you," said Fred, sitting up
vigorously; "you do not know how strong I am growing." And then turning
to the window, he made an effort, and began observing on her rook's
nest, as she called it, and her lilac buds. Then came a few more
cheerful questions and comments on the late notes, and then Mrs.
Frederick Langford proposed that the reading of the service should
Aunt Geoffrey, kneeling at the table, read the prayers, and Fred
took the alternate verses of the Psalms. It was the last day of the
month, and as he now and then raised his eyes to his mother's face, he
saw her lips follow the glorious responses in those psalms of praise,
and a glistening in her lifted eyes such as he could never forget.
"He healeth those that are broken in heart, and giveth medicine to
heal their sickness."
"He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their
He read this verse as he had done many a time before, without
thinking of the exceeding beauty of the manner in which it is connected
with the former one; but in after years he never read it again without
that whole room rising before his eyes, and above all his mother's
face. It was a sweet soft light, and not a gloom, that rested round
that scene in his memory; springtide sights and sounds; the beams of
the declining sun, with its quiet spring radiance; the fresh mild air;
even the bright fire, and the general look of calm cheerfulness which
pervaded all around, all conduced to that impression which never left
The service ended, Aunt Geoffrey read the hymn for the day in the
"Christian Year," and then left them for a few minutes; but strange as
it may seem, those likewise were spent in silence, and though there
was some conversation when she returned, Fred took little share in it.
Silent as he was, he could hardly believe that he had been there more
than ten minutes, when sounds were heard of the rest of the family
returning from Church, and Mrs. Geoffrey Langford went down to meet
In another instant Henrietta came up, very bright and joyous, with
many kind messages from Aunt Roger. Next came Uncle Geoffrey, who,
after a few cheerful observations on the beauty of the day, to which
his sister responded with pleasure, said, "Now, Freddy, I must be
hard-hearted; I am coming back almost directly to carry you off."
"So soon!" exclaimed Henrietta. "Am I to be cheated of all the
pleasure of seeing you together?"
No one seemed to attend to her; but as soon as the door had closed
behind his uncle, Fred moved as if to speak, paused, hesitated, then
bent forward, and, shading his face with his hand, said in a low voice,
"Mamma, say you forgive me."
She held out her arm, and again he sank on his knee, resting his
head against her.
"My own dear boy," said she, "I will not say I have nothing to
forgive, for that I know is not what you want; but well do you know how
freely forgiven and forgotten is all that you may ever feel to have
been against my wish. GOD bless you, my own dear
Frederick!" she added, pressing her hand upon his head. "His choicest
blessings be with you forever."
Uncle Geoffrey's knock was heard; Frederick hastily rose to his
feet, was folded in one more long embrace, then, without another word,
suffered his uncle to lead him out of the room, and support him back to
his own. He stretched himself on the sofa, turned his face inwards, and
gave two or three long gasping sighs, as if completely overpowered,
though his uncle could scarcely determine whether by grief or by
Henrietta looked frightened, but her uncle made her a sign to say
nothing: and after watching him anxiously for some minutes, during
which he remained perfectly still, her uncle left the room, and she sat
down to watch for him, taking up a book, for she dreaded the reveries
in which she had once been so prone to indulge. Fred remained for a
long time tranquil, if not asleep; and when at length he was disturbed,
complained that his head ached, and seemed chiefly anxious to be left
in quiet. It might be that, in addition to his great weariness, he felt
a charm upon him which he could not bear to break. At any rate, he
scarcely looked up or spoke all the rest of the evening, excepting
that, when he went to bed, he sent a message that he hoped Uncle
Geoffrey would come to his room the next morning before setting off, as
he was obliged to do at a very early hour.
He came, and found Fred awake, looking white and heavy-eyed, as if
he had slept little, and allowing that his head still ached.
"Uncle Geoffrey," said he, raising himself on his elbow, and looking
at him earnestly, "would it be of no use to have further advice?"
His uncle understood him, and answered, "I hope that Dr. — will
come this evening or to-morrow morning. But," added he, slowly and
kindly, "you must not build your hopes upon that, Fred. It is more from
the feeling that nothing should be untried, than from the expectation
that he can be of use."
"Then there is no hope?" said Fred, with a strange quietness.
"Man can do nothing," answered his uncle. "You know how the case
stands; the complaint cannot be reached, and there is scarcely a proba-
bility of its becoming inactive. It may be an affair of days or weeks,
or she may yet rally, and be spared to us for some time longer."
"If I could but think so!" said Fred. "But I cannot. Her face will
not let me hope."
"If ever a ray from heaven shone out upon a departing saint," said
Uncle Geoffrey,—but he could not finish the sentence, and turning
away, walked to the window.
"And you must go?" said Fred, when he came back to his side again.
"I must," said Uncle Geoffrey. "Nothing but the most absolute
necessity could make me leave you now. I scarcely could feel myself an
honest man if I was not in my place to-morrow. I shall be here again on
Thursday, at latest, and bring Beatrice. Your mother thinks she may be
a comfort to Henrietta."
"Henrietta knows all this?" asked Fred.
"As far as she will bear to believe it," said his uncle. "We cannot
grudge her her unconsciousness, but I am afraid it will be worse for
her in the end. You must nerve yourself, Fred, to support her. Now,
good-bye, and may GOD bless and strengthen you in your
Fred was left alone again to the agony of the bitterest thoughts he
had ever known. All his designs of devoting himself to her at an end!
Her whom he loved with such an intensity of enthusiastic admiration and
reverence,—the gentlest, the most affectionate, the most beautiful
being he knew! Who would ever care for him as she did? To whom would it
matter now whether he was in danger or in safety? whether he
distinguished himself or not? And how thoughtlessly had he trifled with
her comfort, for the mere pleasure of a moment, and even fancied
himself justified in doing so! Even her present illness, had it not
probably been brought on by her anxiety and attendance on him? and it
was his own wilful disobedience to which all might be traced. It was no
wonder that, passing from one such miserable thought to another, his
bodily weakness was considerably increased, and he remained very
languid and unwell; so much so that had Philip Carey ever presumed to
question anything Mr. Geoffrey Langford thought fit to do, he would
have pronounced yesterday's visit a most imprudent measure. In the
afternoon, as Fred was lying on his sofa, he heard a foot on the
stairs, and going along the passage.
"Who is that?" said he; "the new doctor already? It is a strange
"O! Fred, don't be the fairy Fine Ear, as you used to be when you
were at the worst," said Henrietta.
"But do you know who it is?" said Fred.
"It is Mr. Franklin," said Henrietta. "You know mamma has only been
once at Church since your accident, and then there was no Holy
Communion. So you must not fancy she is worse, Fred."
"I wish we were confirmed," said Fred, sighing, and presently
adding, "My Prayer-Book, if you please, Henrietta."
"You will only make your head worse, with trying to read the small
print," said she; "I will read anything you want to you."
He chose nevertheless to have it himself, and when he next spoke, it
was to say, "I wish, when Mr. Franklin leaves her, you would ask him to
come to me."
Henrietta did not like the proposal at all, and said all she could
against it; but Fred persisted, and made her at last undertake to ask
Aunt Geoffrey's consent. Even then she would have done her best to miss
the opportunity; but Fred heard the first sounds, and she was obliged
to fetch Mr. Franklin. The conference was not long, and she found no
reason to regret that it had taken place; for Fred did not seem so much
oppressed and weighted down when she again returned to him.
The physician who had been sent for arrived. He had seen Mrs.
Frederick Langford some years before, and well understood her case, and
his opinion was now exactly what Fred had been prepared by his uncle to
expect. It was impossible to conjecture how long she might yet survive:
another attack might come at any moment, and be the last. It might be
deferred for weeks or months, or even now it was possible that she
might rally, and return to her usual state of health.
It was on this possibility, or as she chose to hear the word,
probability, that Henrietta fixed her whole mind. The rest was to her
as if unsaid; she would not hear nor believe it, and shunned anything
that brought the least impression of the kind. The only occasion when
she would avow her fears even to herself, was when she knelt in prayer;
and then how wild and unsubmissive were her petitions! How embittered
and wretched she would feel at her own powerlessness! Then the next
minute she would drive off her fears as by force; call up a vision of a
brightly smiling future; think, speak, and act as if hiding her eyes
would prevent the approach of the enemy she dreaded.
Her grandmamma was as determined as herself to hope; and her
grandpapa, though fully alive to the real state of the case, could not
bear to sadden her before the time, and let her talk on and build
schemes for the future, till he himself almost caught a glance of her
hopes, and his deep sigh was the only warning she received from him.
Fred, too weak for much argument, and not unwilling to rejoice now and
then in an illusion, was easily silenced, and Aunt Geoffrey had no
time for anyone but the patient. Her whole thought, almost her whole
being, was devoted to "Mary," the friend, the sister of her childhood,
whom she now attended upon with something of the reverent devotedness
with which an angel might be watched and served, were it to make a
brief sojourn upon earth; feeling it a privilege each day that she was
still permitted to attend her, and watching for each passing word and
expression as a treasure to be dwelt on in many a subsequent year.
It could not be thus with Henrietta, bent on seeing no illness, on
marking no traces of danger; shutting her eyes to all the tokens that
her mother was not to be bound down to earth for ever. She found her
always cheerful, ready to take interest in all that pleased her, and
still with the playfulness which never failed to light up all that
approached her. A flower,—what pleasure it gave her! and how sweet her
smile would be!
It was on the evening of the day after the physician's visit, that
Henrietta came in talking, with the purpose of, as she fancied,
cheering her mother's spirits, of some double lilac primroses which
Mrs. Langford had promised her for the garden at the Pleasance. Her
mamma smelt the flowers, admired them, and smiled as she said, "Your
papa planted a root of those in my little garden the first summer I was
"Then I am sure you will like to have them at the Pleasance, mamma."
"My dear child,"—she paused, while Henrietta started, and gazed
upon her, frightened at the manner—"you must not build upon our
favourite old plan; you must prepare—"
"O but, mamma, you are better! You are so much better than two days
ago; and these clear days do you so much good; and it is all so bright."
"Thanks to Him Who has made it bright!" said her mother,
taking her hand. "But I fear, my own dearest, that it will seem far
otherwise to you. I want you to make up your mind—"
Henrietta broke vehemently upon the feeble accents. "Mamma! mamma!
you must not speak so! It is the worst thing people can do to think
despondingly of themselves. Aunt Geoffrey, do tell her so!"
"Despondingly! my child; you little know what the thought is to me!"
The words were almost whispered, and Henrietta scarcely marked them.
"No, no, you must not! It is too cruel to me,—I can't bear it!" she
cried; the tears in her eyes, and a violence of agitation about her,
which her mother, feeble as she was, could not attempt to contend with.
She rested her head on her cushions, and silently and mournfully
followed with her eyes the hasty trembling movements of her daughter,
who continued to arrange the things on the table, and make desperate
attempts to regain her composure; but completely failing, caught up her
bonnet, and hurried out of the room.
"Poor dear child," said Mrs. Frederick Langford, "I wish she was
more prepared. Beatrice, the comforting her is the dearest and saddest
task I leave you. Fred, poor fellow, is prepared, and will bear up like
a man; but it will come fearfully upon her. And Henrietta and I have
been more like sisters than mother and daughter. If she would only bear
to hear me—but no, if I were to be overcome while speaking to her, it
might give her pain in the recollection. Beatrice, you must tell her
all I would say."
"If I could!"
"You must tell her, Beatrice, that I was as undisciplined as she is
now. Tell her how I have come to rejoice in the great affliction of my
life: how little I knew how to bear it when Frederick was taken from me
and his children, in the prime of his health and strength. You remember
how crushed to the ground I was, and how it was said that my life was
saved chiefly by the calmness that came with the full belief that I was
dying. And O! how my spirit rebelled when I found myself recovering! Do
you remember the first day I went to Church to return thanks?"
"It was after we were gone home."
"Ah! yes. I had put it off longer than I ought, because I felt so
utterly unable to join in the service. The sickness of heart that came
with those verses of thanksgiving! All I could do was to pray to be
forgiven for not being able to follow them. Now I can own with all my
heart the mercy that would not grant my blind wish for death. My
treasure was indeed in heaven, but O! it was not the treasure that was
meant. I was forgetting my mother, and so selfish and untamed was I,
that I was almost forgetting my poor babies! Yes, tell her this,
Beatrice, and tell her that, if duties and happiness sprang up all
around me, forlorn and desolate as I thought myself, so much the more
will they for her; and 'at evening time there shall be light.' Tell her
that I look to her for guiding and influencing Fred. She must never let
a week pass without writing to him, and she must have the honoured
office of waiting on the old age of her grandfather and grandmother. I
think she will be a comfort to them, do not you? They are fond of her,
and she seems to suit them."
"Yes, I have little doubt that she will be everything to them. I
have especially noted her ways with Mrs. Langford, they are so exactly
what I have tried to teach Beatrice."
"Dear little Busy Bee! I am glad she is com- ing; but in case I
should not see her, give her her godmother's love, and tell her that
she and Henrietta must be what their mammas have been to each other;
and that I trust that after thirty-five years' friendship, they will
still have as much confidence in one another as I have in you, my own
dear Beatrice. I have written her name in one of these books," she
added after a short interval, touching some which were always close to
her. "And, Beatrice, one thing more I had to say," she proceeded,
taking up a Bible, and finding out a place in it. "Geoffrey has always
been a happy prosperous man, as he well deserves; but if ever trouble
should come to him in his turn, then show him this." She pointed out
the verse, "Be as a father to the fatherless, and instead of a husband
to their mother; so shalt thou be as the son of the Most High, and He
shall love thee more than thy mother doth." "Show him that, and tell
him it is his sister Mary's last blessing."
ON Thursday morning, Henrietta began to awake from
her sound night's rest. Was it a dream that she saw a head between her
and the window? She thought it was, and turned to sleep again; but at
her movement the head turned, the figure advanced, and Mrs. Geoffrey
Langford stood over her.
Henrietta opened her eyes, and gazed upon her without saying a word
for some moments; then, as her senses awakened, she half sprung up.
"How is mamma? Does she want me? Why?" Her aunt made an effort to
speak, but it seemed beyond her power.
"O, aunt, aunt!" cried she, "what is the matter? What has happened?
Speak to me!"
"Henrietta," said her aunt, in a low, calm, but hoarse tone, "she
bade you bear up for your brother's sake."
"But—but—" said Henrietta, breathlessly; "and she—"
"My dear child, she is at rest."
Henrietta laid her head back, as if completely stunned, and unable
to realise what she had heard.
"Tell me," she said, after a few moments.
Her aunt knelt by her and steadily, without a tear, began to speak.
"It was at half-past twelve; she had been asleep some little time very
quietly. I was just going to lie down on the sofa, when I thought her
face looked different, and stood watching. She woke, said she felt
oppressed, and asked me to raise her pillows. While she was leaning
against my arm, there was a spasm, a shiver, and she was gone! Yes, we
must only think of her as in perfect peace!"
Henrietta lay motionless for some moments, then at last broke out
with a sort of anger, "O, why did you not call me?"
"There was not one instant, my dear, and I could not ring, for fear
of disturbing Fred. I could not call any one till it was too late."
"O, why was I not there? I would—I would—she must have heard me. I
would not have let her go. O, mamma!" cried Henrietta, almost
unconscious of what she said, and bursting into a transport of
ungovernable grief; sobbing violently and uttering wild incoherent
exclamations. Her aunt tried in vain to soothe her by kind words, but
all she said seemed only to add impulse to the torrent; and at last she
found herself obliged to wait till the violence of the passion had in
some degree exhausted itself; and young, strong, and undisciplined as
poor Henrietta was, this was not quickly. At last, however, the sobs
grew less loud, and the exclamations less vehement. Aunt Geoffrey
thought she could be heard, leant down over her, kissed her, and said,
"Now we must pray that we may fulfil her last desire; bear it
patiently, and try to help your brother."
"Fred, O poor Fred!" and she seemed on the point of another burst of
lamentation, but her aunt went on speaking—"I must go to him; he has
yet to hear it, and you had better come to him as soon as you are
"O aunt; I could not bear to see him. It will kill him, I know it
will! O no, no, I cannot, can- not see Fred! O, mamma, mamma!" A fresh
fit of weeping succeeded, and Mrs. Langford herself feeling most
deeply, was in great doubt and perplexity; she did not like to leave
Henrietta in this condition, and yet there was an absolute necessity
that she should go to poor Fred, before any chance accident or
mischance should reveal the truth.
"I must leave you, my dear," said she, at last. "Think how your dear
mother bowed her head to His will. Pray to your FATHER
in Heaven, Who alone can comfort you. I must go to your brother, and
when I return, I hope you will be more composed."
The pain of witnessing the passionate sorrow of Henrietta was no
good preparation for carrying the same tidings to one, whose bodily
weakness made it to be feared that he might suffer even more; but Mrs.
Geoffrey Langford feared to lose her composure by stopping to reflect,
and hastened down from Henrietta's room with a hurried step.
She knocked at Fred's door, and was answered by his voice. As she
entered he looked at her with anxious eyes, and before she could speak,
said, "I know what you are come to tell me."
"Yes, Fred," said she; "but how?"
"I was sure of it," said Fred. "I knew I should never see her again;
and there were sounds this morning. Did not I hear poor Henrietta
"She has been crying very much," said his aunt.
"Ah! she would never believe it," said Fred. "But after last
Sunday—O, no one could look at that face, and think she was to stay
here any longer!"
"We could not wish it for her sake," said his aunt, for the first
time feeling almost overcome.
"Let me hear how it was," said Frederick, after a pause.
His aunt repeated what she had before told Hen- rietta, and then he
asked quickly, "What did you do? I did not hear you ring."
"No, that was what I was afraid of. I was going to call some one,
when I met grandpapa, who was just going up. He came with me, and—and
was very kind—then he sent me to lie down; but I could not sleep, and
went to wait for Henrietta's waking."
Fred gave a long, deep, heavy sigh, and said, "Poor Henrietta! Is
she very much overcome?"
"So much, that I hardly know how to leave her."
"Don't stay with me, then, Aunt Geoffrey. It is very kind in you,
but I don't think anything is much good to me." He hid his face as he
spoke thus, in a tone of the deepest dejection.
"Nothing but prayer, my dear Fred," said she, gently. "Then I will
go to your sister again."
"Thank you." And she had reached the door when he asked, "When does
Uncle Geoffrey come?"
"By the four o'clock train," she answered, and moved on.
Frederick hid his head under the clothes, and gave way to a burst of
agony, which, silent as it was, was even more intense than his
sister's. O! the blank that life seemed without her look, her voice,
her tone! the frightful certainty that he should never see her more!
Then it would for a moment seem utterly incredible that she should thus
have passed away; but then returned the conviction, and he felt as if
he could not even exist under it. But this excessive oppression and
consciousness of misery seemed chiefly to come upon him when alone. In
the presence of another person he could talk in the same quiet
matter-of-fact way in which he had already done to his aunt; and the
blow itself, sudden as it was, did not affect his health as the first
anticipation of it had done. With Henrietta things were quite
otherwise. When alone she was quiet, in a sort of stupor, in which she
scarcely even thought; but the entrance of any person into her room
threw her into a fresh paroxysm of grief, ever increasing in vehemence;
then she was quieted a little, and was left to herself, but she could
not, or would not, turn where alone comfort could be found, and
repelled, almost as if it was an insult to her affection, any entreaty
that she would even try to be comforted. Above all, in the perverseness
of her undisciplined affliction, she persisted in refusing to see her
brother. "She should do him harm," she said. "No, it was utterly
impossible for her to control herself so as not to do him harm." And
thereupon her sobs and tears redoubled. She would not touch a morsel of
food; she would not consent to leave her bed when asked to do so,
though ten minutes after, in the restlessness of her misery, she was
found walking up and down her room in her dressing-gown.
Never had Mrs. Geoffrey Langford known a more trying day. Old Mr.
Langford, who had loved "Mary" like his own child, did indeed bear up
under the affliction with all his own noble spirit of Christian
submission; but, excepting by his sympathy, he could be of little
assistance to her in the many painful offices which fell to her share.
Mrs. Langford walked about the house, active as ever; now sitting down
in her chair, and bursting into a flood of tears for "poor Mary," or
"dear Frederick," all the sorrow for whose loss seemed renewed; then
rising vigorously, saying, "Well, it is His will; it is all for the
best!" and hastening away to see how Henrietta and Fred were, to make
some arrangement about mourning, or to get Geoffrey's room ready for
him. And in all these occupations she wanted Beatrice to consult, or to
sympathise, or to promise that Geoffrey would like and approve what
she did. In the course of the morning Mr. and Mrs. Roger Langford came
from Sutton Leigh, and the latter, by taking the charge of, talking to,
and assisting Mrs. Langford, greatly relieved her sister-in-law. Still
there were the two young mourners. Henrietta was completely
unmanageable, only resting now and then to break forth with more
violence; and her sorrow far too selfish and unsubmissive to be soothed
either by the thought of Him Who sent it, or of the peace and rest to
which that beloved one was gone; and as once the anxiety for her
brother had swallowed up all care for her mother, so now grief for her
mother absorbed every consideration for Frederick; so that it was
useless to attempt to persuade her to make any exertion for his sake.
Nothing seemed in any degree to tranquillize her except Aunt Geoffrey's
reading to her; and then it was only that she was lulled by the sound
of the voice, not that the sense reached her mind. But then, how go on
reading to her all day, when poor Fred was left in his lonely room, to
bear his own share of sorrow in solitude? For though Mr. and Mrs.
Langford, and Uncle and Aunt Roger, made him many brief kind visits,
they all of them had either too much on their hands, or were unfitted
by disposition to be the companions he wanted. It was only Aunt
Geoffrey who could come and sit by him, and tell him all those precious
sayings of his mother in her last days, which in her subdued low voice
renewed that idea of perfect peace and repose which came with the image
of his mother, and seemed to still the otherwise overpowering thought
that she was gone. But in the midst the door would open, and grandmamma
would come in, looking much distressed, with some such request as
this—"Beatrice, if Fred can spare you, would you just go up to poor
Henrietta? I thought she was better, and that it was as well to do it
at once; so I went to ask her for one of her dresses, to send for a
pattern for her mourning, and that has set her off crying to such a
degree, that Elizabeth and I can do nothing with her. I wish Geoffrey
Nothing was expressed so often through the day as this wish, and no
one wished more earnestly than his wife, though, perhaps, she was the
only person who did not say so a dozen times. There was something
cheering in hearing that his brother had actually set off to meet him
at Allonfield; and at length Fred's sharpened ears caught the sound of
the carriage wheels, and he was come. It seemed as if he was considered
by all as their own exclusive property. His mother had one of her
quick, sudden bursts of lamentation as soon as she saw him; his
brother, as usual, wanted to talk to him; Fred was above all eager for
him; and it was only his father who seemed even to recollect that his
wife might want him more than all. And so she did. Her feelings were
very strong and impetuous by nature, and the loss was one of the
greatest she could have sustained. Nothing save her husband and her
child was so near to her heart as her sister; and worn out as she was
by long attendance, sleepless nights, and this trying day, when all
seemed to rest upon her, she now completely gave way, and was no sooner
alone with her husband and daughter, than her long repressed feelings
relieved themselves in a flood of tears, which, though silent, were
completely beyond her own control. Now that he was come, she could, and
indeed must, give way; and the more she attempted to tell him of the
peacefulness of her own dear Mary, the more her tears would stream
forth. He saw how it was, and would not let her even reproach herself
for her weakness, or attempt any longer to exert herself; but made her
lie down on her bed, and told her that he and Queen Bee could manage
Queen Bee stood there pale, still, and bewildered-looking. She had
scarcely spoken since she heard of her aunt's death; and new as
affliction was to her sunny life, scarce knew where she was, or whether
this was her own dear Knight Sutton; and even her mother's grief seemed
to her almost more like a dream.
"Ah, yes," said Mrs. Geoffrey Langford, as soon as her daughter had
been named, "I ought to have sent you to Henrietta before."
"Very well," said Beatrice, though her heart sank within her as she
thought of her last attempt at consoling Henrietta.
"Go straight up to her," continued her mother; "don't wait to let
her think whether she will see you or not. I only wish poor Fred could
do the same."
"If I could but do her any good," sighed Beatrice, as she opened the
door and hastened upstairs. She knocked, and entered without waiting
for an answer: Henrietta lifted up her head, came forward with a little
cry, threw herself into her arms, and wept bitterly. Mournful as all
around was, there was a bright ray of comfort in Queen Bee's heart when
she was thus hailed as a friend and comforter. She only wished and
longed to know what might best serve to console her poor Henrietta; but
all that occurred to her was to embrace and fondle her very
affectionately, and call her by the most caressing names. This was all
that Henrietta was as yet fit to bear; and after a time, growing
quieter, she poured out to her cousin all her grief, without fear of
blame for its violence. Beatrice was sometimes indeed startled by the
want of all idea of resignation, but she could not believe that any one
could feel otherwise, —least of all Henrietta, who had lost her only
parent, and that parent Aunt Mary. Neither did she feel herself good
enough to talk seriously to Henrietta; she considered herself as only
sent to sit with her, so she did not make any attempt to preach the
resignation which was so much wanted; and Henrietta, who had all day
been hearing of it, and rebelling against it, was almost grateful to
her. So Henrietta talked and talked, the same repeated lamentation, the
same dreary views of the future coming over and over again; and
Beatrice's only answer was to agree with all her heart to all that was
said of her own dear Aunt Mary, and to assure Henrietta of the fervent
love that was still left for her in so many hearts on earth.
The hours passed on; Beatrice was called away and Henrietta was
inclined to be fretful at her leaving her; but she presently returned,
and the same discourse was renewed, until at last Beatrice began to
read to her, and thus did much to soothe her spirits, persuaded her to
make a tolerable meal at tea-time, bathed her eyelids that were
blistered with tears, put her to bed, and finally read her to sleep.
Then, as she crept quietly down to inquire after her mamma, and wish
the others in the drawing-room good night, she reflected whether she
had done what she ought for her cousin.
"I have not put a single right or really consoling thought into her
head," said she to herself; "for as to the reading, she did not attend
to that. But after all I could not have done it. I must be better
myself before I try to improve other people; and it is not what I
deserve to be allowed to be any comfort at all."
Thanks partly to Beatrice's possessing no rightful authority over
Henrietta, partly to the old habit of relying on her, she contrived to
make her get up and dress herself at the usual time next morning. But
nothing would prevail on her to go down stairs. She said she could not
endure to pass "that door," where ever before the fondest welcome
awaited her; and as to seeing her brother, that having been deferred
yesterday, seemed to-day doubly dreadful. The worst of this piece of
perverseness—for it really deserved no better name—was that it began
to vex Fred. "But that I know how to depend upon you, Uncle Geoffrey,"
said he, "I should really think she must be ill. I never knew anything
Uncle Geoffrey resolved to put an end to it, if possible; and soon
after leaving Fred's room he knocked at his niece's door. She was
sitting by the fire with a book in her hand, but not reading.
"Good morning, my dear," said he, taking her languid hand. "I bring
you a message from Fred, that he hopes you are soon coming down to see
She turned away her head. "Poor dear Fred!" said she; "but it is
quite impossible. I cannot bear it as he does; I should only overset
him and do him harm."
"And why cannot you bear it as he does?" said her uncle gravely.
"You do not think his affection for her was less? and you have all the
advantages of health and strength."
"Oh, no one can feel as I do!" cried Henrietta, with one of her
passionate outbreaks. "O how I loved her!"
"Fred did not love her less," proceeded her uncle. "And why will you
leave him in sorrow and in weakness to doubt the sister's love that
should be his chief stay?"
"He does not doubt it," sobbed Henrietta. "He knows me better."
"Nay, Henrietta, what reason has he to trust to that affection which
is not strong enough to overcome the dread of a few moments' painful
"Oh, but it is not that only! I shall feel it all so much more out
of this room, where she has never been; but to see the rest of the
house—to go past her door! O, uncle, I have not the strength for it."
"No, your affection for him is not strong enough."
Henrietta's pale cheeks flushed, and her tears were angry. "You do
not know me, Uncle Geoffrey," said she proudly, and then she almost
choked with weeping at unkindness where she most expected kindness.
"I know this much of you, Henrietta. You have been nursing up your
grief and encouraging yourself in murmuring and repining, in a manner
which you will one day see to have been sinful: you are obstinate in
making yourself useless."
Henrietta, little used to blame, was roused to defend herself with
the first weapon she could. "Aunt Geoffrey is just as much knocked up
as I am," said she.
If ever Uncle Geoffrey was made positively angry, he was so now,
though if he had not thought it good that Henrietta should be roused,
he would have repressed even such demonstrations as he made.
"Henrietta, this is too bad! Has she been weakly yielding?—has she
been shutting herself up in her room, and keeping aloof from those who
most needed her, lest she should pain her own feelings? Have not you
rather been perplexing and distressing, and harassing her with your
wilful selfishness, refusing to do the least thing to assist her in the
care of your own brother, after she has been wearing herself out in
watching over your mother? And now, when her strength and spirits are
exhausted by the exertions she has made for you and yours, and I have
been obliged to insist on her resting, you fancy her example an excuse
for you! Is this the way your mother would have acted? I see arguing
with you does you no good: I have no more to say."
He got up, opened the door, and went out: Henrietta, dismayed at the
accusation but too well founded on her words, had but one thought, that
she should not deem her regardless of his kindness. "Uncle Geoffrey!"
she cried, "O, uncle—" but he was gone; and forgetting everything
else, she flew after him down the stairs, and before she recollected
anything else, she found herself standing in the hall, saying, "O
uncle, do not think I meant that!"
At that moment her grandpapa came out of the drawing-room.
"Henrietta!" said he, "I am glad to see you downstairs."
Henrietta hastily returned his kiss, and looked somewhat confused;
then laying her hand entreatingly on her uncle's arm, said, "Only say
you are not angry with me."
"No, no, Henrietta, not if you will act like a rational person,"
said he with something of a smile, which she could not help returning
in her surprise at finding herself downstairs after all.
"And you do not imagine me ungrateful?"
"Not when you are in your right senses."
"Ungrateful!" exclaimed Mr. Langford. "What is he accusing you of,
Henrietta? What is the meaning of all this?"
"Nothing," said Uncle Geoffrey, "but that Henrietta and I have both
been somewhat angry with each other; but we have made it up now, have
we not, Henrietta?"
It was wonderful how much good the very air of the hall was doing
Henrietta, and how fast it was restoring her energy and power of
turning her mind to other things. She answered a few remarks of
grandpapa's with very tolerable cheerfulness, and even when the
hall-door opened and admitted Uncle and Aunt Roger, she did not run
away, but stayed to receive their greetings before turning to ascend
"You are not going to shut yourself up in your own room again?" said
"No, I was only going to Fred," said she, growing as desirous of
seeing him as she had before been averse to it.
"Suppose," said Uncle Geoffrey, "that you were to take a turn or two
round the garden first. There is Queen Bee, she will go out with you,
and you will bring Fred in a fresher face."
"I will fetch your bonnet," said Queen Bee, who was standing at the
top of the stairs, wisely refraining from expressing her astonishment
at seeing her cousin in the hall.
And before Henrietta had time to object, the bonnet was on her head,
a shawl thrown round her, Beatrice had drawn her arm within hers, and
had opened the sashed door into the garden.
It was a regular April day, with all the brilliancy and clearness of
the sunshine that comes between showers, the white clouds hung in huge
soft masses on the blue sky, the leaves of the evergreens were
glistening with drops of rain, the birds sang sweetly in the shrubs
around. Henrietta's burning eyes felt refreshed, and though she sighed
heavily, she could not help admiring, but Beatrice was surprised that
the first thing she began to say was an earnest inquiry after Aunt
Geoffrey, and a warm expression of gratitude towards her.
Then the conversation died away again, and they completed their two
turns in silence; but Henrietta's heart began to fail her when she
thought of going in without having her to greet. She
lingered and could hardly resolve to go, but at length she entered,
walked up the stairs, gave her shawl and bonnet to Beatrice, and tapped
at Fred's door.
"Is that you?" was his eager answer, and as she entered he came
forward to meet her. "Poor Henrietta!" was all he said, as she put her
arm round his neck and kissed him, and then leaning on her he returned
to his sofa, made her sit by him, and showed all sorts of kind
solicitude for her comfort. She had cried so much that she felt as if
she could cry no longer, but she reproached herself excessively for
having left him to himself so long, when all he wanted was to comfort
her; and she tried to make some apology.
"I am sorry I did not come sooner, Fred."
"O, it is of no use to talk about it," said Fred, playing with her
long curls as she sat on a footstool close to him, just as she used to
do in times long gone by. "You are come now, and that is all I want.
Have you been out? I thought I heard the garden door just before you
"Yes, I took two turns with Queen Bee. How bright and sunny it is.
And how are you this morning, Freddy?"
"O, pretty well I think," said he, sighing, as if he cared little
about the matter. "I wanted to show you this, Henrietta." And he took
up a book where he had marked a passage for her. She saw several paper
marks in some other books, and perceived with shame that he had been
reading yesterday, and choosing out what might comfort her, his selfish
sister, as she could not help feeling herself.
And here was the first great point gained, though there was still
much for Henrietta to learn. It was the first time she had ever been
conscious of her own selfishness, or perhaps more justly, of her
proneness to make all give way to her own feeling of the moment.
THERE was some question as to who should attend the
funeral. Henrietta shuddered and trembled all over as if it were a
cruelty to mention it before her; but Frederick was very desirous that
she should be there, partly from a sort of feeling that she would
represent himself, and partly from a strong conviction that it would be
good for her. She was willing to do anything or everything for him, to
make up for her day's neglect: and she consented, though with many
tears, and was glad that at least Fred seemed satisfied, and her uncle
looked pleased with her.
Aunt Geoffrey undertook to stay with Fred, and Henrietta, who clung
much to Beatrice, felt relieved by the thought of her support in such
an hour of trial. She remembered the day when, with a kind of agreeable
emotion, she had figured to herself her father's funeral, little
thinking of the reality that so soon awaited her, so much worse, as she
thought, than what any of them could even then have felt; and it seemed
to her perfectly impossible that she should ever have power to go
through with it.
In was much, however, that she should have agreed to what in the
prospect gave her so much pain; and perhaps, for that very reason, she
found the reality less overwhelming than she had dreaded. Seeing
nothing, observing nothing, hardly conscious of anything, she walked
along, wrapped in one absorbing sense of wretchedness; and the first
words that "broke the stillness of that hour," healing as they were,
seemed but to add certainty to that one thought that "she was gone."
But while the Psalms and the Lessons were read, the first heavy
oppression of grief seemed in some degree to grow lighter. She could
listen, and the words reached her mind; a degree of thankfulness arose
to Him Who had wiped away the tears from her mother's eyes, and by Whom
the sting of death had been taken away. Yes; she had waited in faith,
in patience, in meek submission, until now her long widowhood was over;
and what better for her could those who most loved her desire, than
that she should safely sleep in the chancel of the Church of her
childhood, close to him whom she had so loved and so mourned, until the
time when both should once more awaken,—the corruptible should put on
incorruption, the mortal should put on immortality, and death be
swallowed up in victory.
Something of this was what Henrietta began to feel; and though the
tears flowed fast, they were not the bitter drops of personal sorrow.
She was enabled to bear, without the agony she had expected, the
standing round the grave in the chancel; nor did her heart swell
rebelliously against the expression that it was "in great mercy that
the soul of this our dear sister" was taken, even though she shrank and
shivered at the sound of the earth cast in, which would seem to close
up from her for ever the most loved and loving creature that she would
ever know. No, not for ever,—might she too but keep her part in Him
Who is the Resurrection and the Life—might she be found acceptable in
His sight, and receive the blessing to be pronounced to all that love
and fear Him.
It was over: they all stood round for a few minutes. At
last Mr. Langford moved; Henrietta was also obliged to turn away, but
before doing so, she raised her eyes to her father's name, to take
leave of him as it were, as she always did before going out of Church.
She met her Uncle Geoffrey's eye as she did so, and took his arm; and
as soon as she was out of the church, she said almost in a whisper,
"Uncle, I don't wish for him now."
He pressed her arm, and looked most kindly at her, but he did not
speak, for he could hardly command his voice; and he saw, too, that she
might safely be trusted to the influences of that only true consolation
which was coming upon her.
They came home—to the home that looked as if it would fain be once
more cheerful, with the front window blinds drawn up again, and the
solemn stillness no longer observed. Henrietta hastened up to her own
room, for she could not bear to show herself to her brother in her long
crape veil. She threw her bonnet off, knelt down for a few minutes, but
rose on hearing the approach of Beatrice, who still shared the same
room. Beatrice came in, and looked at her for a few moments, as if
doubtful how to address her; but at last she put her hand on her
shoulder, and looking earnestly in her face, repeated—
"Then cheerly to your work again,
With hearts new braced and set,
To run untir'd love's blessed race,
As meet for those who, face to face,
Over the grave their LORD have met."
"Yes, Queenie," said Henrietta, giving a long sigh, "it is a very
different world to me now; but I do mean to try. And first, dear Bee,
you must let me thank you for having been very kind to me this long
time past, though I am afraid I showed little thankfulness." She
kissed her affectionately, and the tears almost choked Beatrice.
"Me! me, of all people," she said. "O, Henrietta!"
"We must talk of it all another time," said Henrietta, "but now it
will not do to stay away from Fred any longer. Don't think this like
the days when I used to run away from you in the winter, Bee—that time
when I would not stop and talk about the verses on the holly."
While she spoke, there was something of the "new bracing" visible in
every movement, as she set her dress to rights, and arranged her curls,
which of late she had been used to allow to hang in a deplorable way,
that showed how little vigour or inclination to bear up there was about
her whole frame.
"O no, do not stay with me," said Queen Bee, "I am going"—to mamma,
she would have said, but she hardly knew how to use the word when
speaking to Henrietta.
"Yes," said Henrietta, understanding her. "And tell her, Bee—for I
am sure I shall never be able to say it to her,—all about our thanks,
and how sorry I am that I cared so little about her or her comfort."
"If I had only believed, instead of blinding myself so wilfully!" she
almost whispered to herself with a deep sigh; but being now ready, she
ran downstairs and entered her brother's room. His countenance bore
traces of weeping, but he was still calm; and as she came in he looked
anxiously at her. She spoke quietly as she sat down by him, put her
hand into his, and said, "Thank you, dear Fred, for making me go."
"I was quite sure you would be glad when it was over," said Fred. "I
have been reading the service with Aunt Geoffrey, but that is a very
"It will all come to you when you go to Church again,"
"How little I thought that New Year's Day—!" said Fred.
"Ah! and how little we either of us thought last summer's holidays!"
said Henrietta. "If it was not for that, I could bear it all better;
but it was my determination to come here that seems to have caused
everything, and that is the thought I cannot bear."
"I was talking all that over with Uncle Geoffrey last night," said
Fred, "and he especially warned us against reproaching ourselves with
consequences. He said it was he who had helped my father to choose the
horse that caused his death, and asked me if I thought he ought to
blame himself for that. I said no; and he went on to tell me that he
did not think we ought to take unhappiness to ourselves for what has
happened now; that we ought to think of the actions themselves, instead
of the results. Now my skating that day was just as bad as my driving,
except, to be sure, that I put nobody in danger but myself; it was just
as much disobedience, and I ought to be just as sorry for it, though
nothing came of it, except that I grew more wilful."
"Yes," said Henrietta, "but I shall always feel as if everything had
been caused by me. I am sure I shall never dare wish anything again."
"It was just as much my wish as yours," said Fred.
"Ah! but you did not go on always trying to make her do what you
pleased, and keeping her to it, and almost thinking it a thing of
course, to make her give up her wishes to yours. That was what I was
always doing, and now I can never make up for it!"
"O yes," said Fred, "we can never feel other- wise than that. To
know how she forgave us both, and how her wishes always turned to be
the same as ours, if ours were not actually wrong; that is little
comfort to remember, now, but perhaps it will be in time. But don't you
see, Henrietta, my dear, what Uncle Geoffrey means?—that if you did
domineer over her, it was very wrong, and you may be sorry for that;
but that you must not accuse yourself of doing all the mischief by
bringing her here. He says he does not know whether it was not, after
all, what was most for her comfort, if—"
"O, Freddy, to have you almost killed!"
"If the thoughts I have had lately will but stay with me when I am
well again, I do not think my accident will be a matter of regret,
Henrietta. Just consider, when I was so disobedient in these little
things, and attending so little to her or to Uncle Geoffrey, how likely
it was that I might have gone on to much worse at school and college."
"Never, never!" said Henrietta.
"Not now, I hope," said Fred; "but that was not what I meant to say.
No one could say, Uncle Geoffrey told me, that the illness was brought
on either by anxiety or over-exertion. The complaint was of long
standing, and must have made progress some time or other; and he said
that he was convinced that, as she said to Aunt Geoffrey, she had
rather have been here than anywhere else. She said she could only be
sorry for grandpapa and grandmamma's sake, but that for herself it was
great happiness to have been to Knight Sutton Church once more; and she
was most thankful that she had come to die in my father's home, after
seeing us well settled here, instead of leaving us to come to it as a
"How little we guessed it was for that," said Henrietta. "O what
were we doing? But if it made her happy—"
"Just imagine what to-day would have been if we were at
Rocksand," said Fred. "I, obliged to go back to school directly, and
you, taking leave of everything there which would seem to you so full
of her; and Uncle Geoffrey, just bringing you here without any time to
stay with you, and the place and people all strange. I am sure that she
who thought so much for you, must have rejoiced that you are at home
"Home!" said Henrietta, "how determinedly we used to call it so! But
O, that my wish should have turned out in such a manner! If it has been
all overruled so as to be happiness to her, as I am sure it has, I
cannot complain; but I think I shall never wish again, or care for my
"The devices and desires of our own hearts!" said Fred.
"I don't think I shall ever have spirit enough to be wilful for my
own sake," proceeded Henrietta. "Nothing will ever be the same pleasure
to me, as when she used to be my other self, and enjoy it all over
again for me; so that it was all twofold!" Here she hid her face, and
her tears streamed fast, but they were soft and calm; and when she saw
that Fred also was much overcome, she recalled her energies in a
"But, Fred, I may well be thankful that I have you, which is far
more than I deserve; and as long as we do what she wished, we are still
obeying her. I think at last I may get something of the right sort of
feeling; for I am sure I see much better now what she and grandpapa
used to mean when they talked about dear papa. And now do you like for
me to read to you?"
Few words more require to be said of Frederick and Henrietta
Langford. Knight Sutton Hall was according to their mother's wish,
their home; and there Henrietta had the consolation, during the
advancing spring and summer, of watching her brother's recovery, which
was very slow, but at the same time steady. Mrs. Geoffrey Langford
stayed with her as long as he required much nursing; and Henrietta
learnt to look upon her, not as quite a mother, but at any rate as more
than an aunt, far more than she had ever been to her before; and when
at length she was obliged to return to Westminster, it was a great
satisfaction to think how soon the vacation would bring them all back
to Knight Sutton.
The holidays arrived, and with them Alexander, who, to his great
disappointment, was obliged to give up all his generous hopes that Fred
would be one of his competitors for the prize, when he found him able
indeed to be with the family, to walk short distances, and to resume
many of his former habits; but still very easily tired, and his head in
a condition to suffer severely from noise, excitement, or application.
Perhaps this was no bad thing for their newly formed alliance, as Alex
had numberless opportunities of developing his consideration and
kindness, by silencing his brothers, assisting his cousin when tired,
and again and again silently giving up some favourite scheme of
amusement when Fred proved to be unequal to it. Even Henrietta herself
almost learned to trust Fred to Alex's care, which was so much less
irritating than her own; and how greatly the Queen Bee was improved is
best shown, when it is related, that neither by word nor look did she
once interrupt the harmony between them, or attempt to obtain the
attention, of which, in fact, she always had as large a share as any
reasonable person could desire.
How fond Fred learnt to be of Alex will be easily understood, and
the best requital of his kindness that he could devise was an offer—a
very adventurous one, as was thought by all who heard of it—to
undertake little Willy's Latin, which being now far beyond Aunt Roger's
knowledge, had been under Alex's care for the holidays. Willy was a
very good pupil on the whole—better, it was said by most, than Alex
himself had been—and very fond of Fred; but Latin grammar and Cæsar
formed such a test as perhaps their alliance would scarcely have
endured, if in an insensible manner Willy and his books had not
gradually been made over to Henrietta, whose great usefulness and good
nature in this respect quite made up, in grandmamma's eyes, for her
very tolerable amount of acquirements in Latin and Greek.
By the time care for her brother's health had ceased to be
Henrietta's grand object, and she was obliged once more to see him
depart to pursue his education, a whole circle of pursuits and
occupations had sprung up around her, and given her the happiness of
feeling herself both useful and valued. Old Mr. Langford saw in her
almost the Mary he had parted with when resumed in early girlhood by
Mrs. Vivian; Mrs. Langford had a granddaughter who would either be
petted, sent on messages, or be civil to the Careys, as occasion
served; Aunt Roger was really grateful to her, as well for the Latin
and Greek she bestowed upon Willy and Charlie, as for the braided
merino frocks or coats on which Bennet used to exercise her taste when
Henrietta's wardrobe failed to afford her sufficient occupation. The
boys all liked her, made a friend of her, and demonstrated it in
various ways more or less uncouth: her manners gradually acquired the
influence over them which Queen Bee had only exerted over Alex and
Willy, and when, saving Carey and Dick, they grew less awkward and
bearish, without losing their honest downright good humour and good
nature, Uncle Geoffrey only did her justice in attributing the change
to her unconscious power. Miss Henrietta was also the friend of the
poor women, the teacher and guide of the school children, and in their
eyes and imagination second to no one but Mr. Franklin. And withal she
did not cease to be all that she had ever been to her brother, if not
still more. His heart and soul were for her, and scarce a joy and
sorrow but was shared between them. She was his home, his everything,
and she well fulfilled her mother's parting trust of being his truest
friend and best-loved counsellor.
Would that her own want of submission and resignation had not
prevented her from hearing the dear accents in which that charge was
conveyed! This was, perhaps, the most deeply felt sorrow that followed
her through life; and even with the fair peaceful image of her beloved
mother, there was linked a painful memory of a long course of
wilfulness and domineering on her own part. But there was much to be
dwelt on that spoke only of blessedness and love, and each day brought
her nearer to her whom she had lost, so long as she was humbly striving
to walk in the steps of Him Who "came not to do His own will, but the
will of Him that sent Him."