My Lady Ludlow
by Elizabeth Gaskell
I am an old woman now, and things are very different to what they
were in my youth. Then we, who travelled, travelled in coaches,
carrying six inside, and making a two days' journey out of what people
now go over in a couple of hours with a whizz and a flash, and a
screaming whistle, enough to deafen one. Then letters came in but three
times a week; indeed, in some places in Scotland where I have stayed
when I was a girl, the post came in but once a month; but letters were
letters then; and we made great prizes of them, and read them and
studied them like books. Now the post comes rattling in twice a day,
bringing short, jerky notes, some without beginning or end, but just a
little sharp sentence, which well-bred folks would think too abrupt to
be spoken. Well, well! they may all be improvements - I dare say they
are; but you will never meet with a Lady Ludlow in these days.
I will try and tell you about her. It is no story: it has, as I
said, neither beginning, middle, nor end.
My father was a poor clergyman with a large family. My mother was
always said to have good blood in her veins; and when she wanted to
maintain her position with the people she was thrown among -
principally rich democratic manufacturers, all for liberty and the
French Revolution - she would put on a pair of ruffles, trimmed with
real old English point, very much darned to be sure - but which could
not be bought new for love or money, as the art of making it was lost
years before. These ruffles showed, as she said, that her ancestors had
been Somebodies, when the grandfathers of the rich folk, who now looked
down upon her, had been Nobodies - if, indeed, they had any
grandfathers at all. I don't know whether any one out of our own family
ever noticed these ruffles - but we were all taught as children to feel
rather proud when my mother put them on, and to hold up our heads as
became the descendants of the lady who had first possessed the lace.
Not but what my dear father often told us that pride was a great sin;
we were never allowed to be proud of anything but my mother's ruffles;
and she was so innocently happy when she put them on - often, poor dear
creature, to a very worn and threadbare gown - that I still think, even
after all my experience of life, they were a blessing to the family.
You will think that I am wandering away from my Lady Ludlow. Not at
all. The lady who had owned the lace, Ursula Hanbury, was a common
ancestress of both my mother and my Lady Ludlow. And so it fell out,
that when my poor father died, and my mother was sorely pressed to know
what to do with her nine children, and looked far and wide for signs of
willingness to help, Lady Ludlow sent her a letter, proffering aid and
assistance. I see that letter now: a large sheet of thick yellow paper,
with a straight broad margin left on the left-hand side of the delicate
Italian writing - writing which contained far more in the same space of
paper than all the sloping, or masculine handwritings of the present
day. It was sealed with a coat of arms - a lozenge - for Lady Ludlow
was a widow. My mother made us notice the motto, "Foy et Loy," and told
us where to look for the quarterings of the Hanbury arms before she
opened the letter. Indeed, I think she was rather afraid of what the
contents might be; for, as I have said, in her anxious love for her
fatherless children, she had written to many people upon whom, to tell
truly, she had but little claim; and their cold hard answers had many a
time made her cry, when she thought none of us were looking. I do not
even know if she had ever seen Lady Ludlow: all I knew of her was that
she was a very grand lady, whose grandmother had been half-sister to my
mother's great-grandmother; but of her character and circumstances I
heard nothing, and I doubt if my mother was acquainted with them.
I looked over my mother's shoulder to read the letter; it began,
"Dear Cousin Margaret Dawson," and I think I felt hopeful from the
moment I saw those words. She went on to say - stay, I think I can
remember the very words -
"DEAR COUSIN MARGARET DAWSON, - I have been much grieved to hear of
the loss you have sustained in the death of so good a husband, and so
excellent a clergyman as I have always heard that my late cousin
Richard was esteemed to be."
"There!" said my mother, laying her finger on the passage, "read
that aloud to the little ones. Let them hear how their father's good
report travelled far and wide, and how well he is spoken of by one whom
he never saw. COUSIN Richard, how prettily her ladyship writes! Go on,
Margaret!" She wiped her eyes as she spoke, and laid her fingers on her
lips, to still my little sister, Cecily, who, not understanding
anything about the important letter, was beginning to talk and make a
"You say you are left with nine children. I too should have had
nine, if mine had all lived. I have none left but Rudolph, the present
Lord Ludlow. He is married, and lives, for the most part, in London.
But I entertain six young gentlewomen at my house at Connington, who
are to me as daughters - save that, perhaps, I restrict them in certain
indulgences in dress and diet that might be befitting in young ladies
of a higher rank, and of more probable wealth. These young persons -
all of condition, though out of means - are my constant companions, and
I strive to do my duty as a Christian lady towards them. One of these
young gentlewomen died (at her own home, whither she had gone upon a
visit) last May. Will you do me the favour to allow your eldest
daughter to supply her place m my household? She is, as I make out,
about sixteen years of age. She will find companions here who are but a
little older than herself. I dress my young friends myself, and make
each of them a small allowance for pocket-money. They have but few
opportunities for matrimony, as Connington is far removed from any
town. The clergyman is a deaf old widower; my agent is married; and as
for the neighbouring farmers, they are, of course, below the notice of
the young gentlewomen under my protection. Still, if any young woman
wishes to marry, and has conducted herself to my satisfaction, I give
her a wedding dinner, her clothes, and her house-linen. And such as
remain with me to my death will find a small competency provided for
them in my will. I reserve to myself the option of paying their
travelling expenses - disliking gadding women, on the one hand; on the
other, not wishing by too long absence from the family home to weaken
"If my proposal pleases you and your daughter - or rather, if it
pleases you, for I trust your daughter has been too well brought up to
have a will in opposition to yours - let me know, dear cousin Margaret
Dawson, and I will make arrangements for meeting the young gentlewoman
at Cavistock, which is the nearest point to which the coach will bring
My mother dropped the letter and sat silent.
"I shall not know what to do without you, Margaret."
A moment before, like a young untried girl as I was, I had been
pleased at the notion of seeing a new place, and leading a new life.
But now - my mother's look of sorrow, and the children's cry of
remonstrance: "Mother, I won't go," I said.
"Nay! but you had better," replied she, shaking her head. "Lady
Ludlow has much power. She can help your brothers. It will not do to
slight her offer."
So we accepted it, after much consultation. We were rewarded - or
so we thought - for afterwards, when I came to know Lady Ludlow, I saw
that she would have done her duty by us, as helpless relations, however
we might have rejected her kindness - by a presentation to Christ's
Hospital for one of my brothers.
And this was how I came to know my Lady Ludlow.
I remember well the afternoon of my arrival at Hanbury Court. Her
ladyship had sent to meet me at the nearest post-town at which the
mail-coach stopped. There was an old groom inquiring for me, the ostler
said, if my name was Dawson - from Hanbury Court, he believed. I felt
it rather formidable; and first began to understand what was meant by
going among strangers, when I lost sight of the guard to whom my mother
had entrusted me. I was perched up in a high gig with a hood to it,
such as in those days was called a chair, and my companion was driving
deliberately through the most pastoral country I had ever yet seen.
By-and-by we ascended a long hill, and the man got out and walked at
the horse's head. I should have liked to walk, too, very much indeed;
but I did not know how far I might do it; and, in fact, I dared not
speak to ask to be helped down the deep steps of the gig. We were at
last at the top - on a long, breezy, sweeping, unenclosed piece of
ground, called, as I afterwards learnt, a Chase. The groom stopped,
breathed, patted his horse, and then mounted again to my side.
"Are we near Hanbury Court?" I asked.
"Near! Why, Miss! we've a matter of ten mile yet to go."
Once launched into conversation, we went on pretty glibly. I fancy
he had been afraid of beginning to speak to me, just as I was to him;
but he got over his shyness with me sooner than I did mine with him. I
let him choose the subjects of conversation, although very often I
could not understand the points of interest in them: for instance, he
talked for more than a quarter of an hour of a famous race which a
certain dog-fox had given him, above thirty years before; and spoke of
all the covers and turns just as if I knew them as well as he did; and
all the time I was wondering what kind of an animal a dog-fox might be.
After we left the Chase, the road grew worse. No one in these days,
who has not seen the byroads of fifty years ago, can imagine what they
were. We had to quarter, as Randal called it, nearly all the way along
the deep-rutted, miry lanes; and the tremendous jolts I occasionally
met with made my seat in the gig so unsteady that I could not look
about me at all, I was so much occupied in holding on. The road was too
muddy for me to walk without dirtying myself more than I liked to do,
just before my first sight of my Lady Ludlow. But by-and-by, when we
came to the fields in which the lane ended, I begged Randal to help me
down, as I saw that I could pick my steps among the pasture grass
without making myself unfit to be seen; and Randal, out of pity for his
steaming horse, wearied with the hard struggle through the mud, thanked
me kindly, and helped me down with a springing jump.
The pastures fell gradually down to the lower land, shut in on
either side by rows of high elms, as if there had been a wide grand
avenue here in former times. Down the grassy gorge we went, seeing the
sunset sky at the end of the shadowed descent. Suddenly we came to a
long flight of steps.
"If you'll run down there, Miss, I'll go round and meet you; and
then you'd better mount again, for my lady will like to see you drive
up to the house."
"Are we near the house?" said I, suddenly checked by the idea.
"Down there, Miss," replied he, pointing with his whip to certain
stacks of twisted chimneys rising out of a group of trees, in deep
shadow against the crimson light, and which lay just beyond a great
square lawn at the base of the steep slope of a hundred yards, on the
edge of which we stood.
I went down the steps quietly enough. I met Randal and the gig at
the bottom; and, falling into a side road to the left, we drove
sedately round, through the gateway, and into the great court in front
of the house.
The road by which we had come lay right at the back.
Hanbury Court is a vast red-brick house - at least, it is cased in
part with red bricks; and the gate-house and walls about the place are
of brick - with stone facings at every corner, and door, and window,
such as you see at Hampton Court. At the back are the gables, and
arched doorways, and stone mullions, which show (so Lady Ludlow used to
tell us) that it was once a priory. There was a prior's parlour, I know
- only we called it Mrs. Medlicott's room; and there was a tithe-barn
as big as a church, and rows of fish-ponds, all got ready for the
monks' fasting-days in old time. But all this I did not see till
afterwards. I hardly noticed, this first night, the great Virginian
Creeper (said to have been the first planted in England by one of my
lady's ancestors) that half covered the front of the house. As I had
been unwilling to leave the guard of the coach, so did I now feel
unwilling to leave Randal, a known friend of three hours. But there was
no help for it; in I must go; past the grand-looking old gentleman
holding the door open for me, on in to the great hall on the right
hand, into which the sun's last rays were sending glorious red light -
the gentleman was now walking before me - up a step on to the dais, as
I afterwards learned that it was called - then again to the left,
through a series of sitting-rooms, opening one out of another, and all
of them looking into a stately garden, glowing, even in the twilight,
with the bloom of flowers. We went up four steps out of the last of
these rooms, and then my guide lifted up a heavy silk curtain, and I
was in the presence of my Lady Ludlow.
She was very small of stature, and very upright. She wore a great
lace cap, nearly half her own height, I should think, that went round
her head (caps which tied under the chin, and which we called "mobs,"
came in later, and my lady held them in great contempt, saying people
might as well come down in their nightcaps). In front of my lady's cap
was a great bow of white satin ribbon; and a broad hand of the same
ribbon was tied tight round her head, and served to keep the cap
straight. She had a fine Indian muslin shawl folded over her shoulders
and across her chest, and an apron of the same; a black silk mode gown,
made with short sleeves and ruffles, and with the tail thereof pulled
through the placket-hole, so as to shorten it to a useful length:
beneath it she wore, as I could plainly see, a quilted lavender satin
petticoat. Her hair was snowy white, but I hardly saw it, it was so
covered with her cap: her skin, even at her age, was waxen in texture
and tint; her eyes were large and dark blue, and must have been her
great beauty when she was young, for there was nothing particular, as
far as I can remember, either in mouth or nose. She had a great
gold-headed stick by her chair; but I think it was more as a mark of
state and dignity than for use; for she had as light and brisk a step
when she chose as any girl of fifteen, and, in her private early walk
of meditation in the mornings, would go as swiftly from garden alley to
garden alley as any one of us.
She was standing up when I went in. I dropped my curtsey at the
door, which my mother had always taught me as a part of good manners,
and went up instinctively to my lady. She did not put out her hand, but
raised herself a little on tiptoe, and kissed me on both cheeks.
"You are cold, my child. You shall have a dish of tea with me." She
rang a little hand-bell on the table by her, and her waiting-maid came
in from a small anteroom; and, as if all had been prepared, and was
awaiting my arrival, brought with her a small china service with tea
ready made, and a plate of delicately-cut bread and butter, every
morsel of which I could have eaten, and been none the better for it, so
hungry was I after my long ride. The waiting-maid took off my cloak,
and I sat down, sorely alarmed at the silence, the hushed foot-falls of
the subdued maiden over the thick carpet, and the soft voice and clear
pronunciation of my Lady Ludlow. My teaspoon fell against my cup with a
sharp noise, that seemed so out of place and season that I blushed
deeply. My lady caught my eye with hers - both keen and sweet were
those dark-blue eyes of her ladyship's -
"Your hands are very cold, my dear; take off those gloves" (I wore
thick serviceable doeskin, and had been too shy to take them off
unbidden), "and let me try and warm them - the evenings are very
chilly." And she held my great red hands in hers - soft, warm, white,
ring-laden. Looking at last a little wistfully into my face, she said -
"Poor child! And you're the eldest of nine! I had a daughter who would
have been just your age; but I cannot fancy her the eldest of nine."
Then came a pause of silence; and then she rang her bell, and desired
her waiting-maid, Adams, to show me to my room.
It was so small that I think it must have been a cell. The walls
were whitewashed stone; the bed was of white dimity. There was a small
piece of red stair-carpet on each side of the bed, and two chairs. In a
closet adjoining were my washstand and toilet-table. There was a text
of Scripture painted on the wall right opposite to my bed; and below
hung a print, common enough in those days, of King George and Queen
Charlotte, with all their numerous children, down to the little
Princess Amelia in a go-cart. On each side hung a small portrait, also
engraved: on the left, it was Louis the Sixteenth; on the other, Marie
Antoinette. On the chimney-piece there was a tinder-box and a
Prayer-book. I do not remember anything else in the room. Indeed, in
those days people did not dream of writing-tables, and inkstands, and
portfolios, and easy-chairs, and what not. We were taught to go into
our bedrooms for the purposes of dressing, and sleeping, and praying.
Presently I was summoned to supper. I followed the young lady who
had been sent to call me, down the wide shallow stairs, into the great
hall, through which I had first passed on my way to my Lady Ludlow's
room. There were four other young gentlewomen, all standing, and all
silent, who curtsied to me when I first came in. They were dressed in a
kind of uniform: muslin caps bound round their heads with blue ribbons,
plain muslin handkerchiefs lawn aprons, and drab-coloured stuff gowns.
They were all gathered together at a little distance from the table, on
which were placed a couple of cold chickens, a salad, and a fruit tart.
On the dais there was a smaller round table, on which stood a silver
jug filled with milk, and a small roll. Near that was set a carved
chair, with a countess's coronet surmounting the back of it. I thought
that some one might have spoken to me; but they were shy, and I was
shy; or else there was some other reason; but, indeed, almost the
minute after I had come into the hall by the door at the lower hand,
her ladyship entered by the door opening upon the dais; whereupon we
all curtsied very low; I, because I saw the others do it. She stood and
looked at us for a moment.
"Young gentlewomen, said she, "make Margaret Dawson welcome among
you;" and they treated me with the kind politeness due to a stranger,
but still without any talking beyond what was required for the purposes
of the meal. After it was over, and grace was said by one of our party,
my lady rang her hand-hell, and the servants came in and cleared away
the supper things; then they brought in a portable reading-desk, which
was placed on the dais, and, the whole household trooping in, my lady
called to one of my companions to come up and read the Psalms and
Lessons for the day. I remember thinking how afraid I should have been
had I been in her place. There were no prayers. My lady thought it
schismatic to have any prayers excepting those in the Prayer-book; and
would as soon have preached a sermon herself in the parish church, as
have allowed any one not a deacon at the least to read prayers in a
private dwelling-house. I am not sure that even then she would have
approved of his reading them in an unconsecrated place.
She had been maid of honour to Queen Charlotte; a Hanbury of that
old stock that flourished in the days of the Plantagenets, and heiress
of all the land that remained to the family, of the great estates which
had once stretched into four separate counties. Hanbury Court was hers
by right. She had married Lord Ludlow, and had lived for many years at
his various seats, and away from her ancestral home. She had lost all
her children but one, and most of them had died at these houses of Lord
Ludlow's; and, I dare say, that gave my lady a distaste to the places,
and a longing to come back to Hanbury Court, where she had been so
happy as a girl. I imagine her girlhood had been the happiest time of
her life; for, now I think of it, most of her opinions, when I knew her
in later life, were singular enough then, but had been universally
prevalent fifty years before. For instance, while I lived at Hanbury
Court, the cry for education was beginning to come up: Mr. Raikes had
set up his Sunday-schools; and some clergymen were all for teaching
writing and arithmetic, as well as reading. My lady would have none of
this; it was levelling and revolutionary, she said. When a young woman
came to be hired, my lady would have her in, and see if she liked her
looks and her dress, and question her about her family. Her ladyship
laid great stress upon this latter point, saying that a girl who did
not warm up when any interest or curiosity was expressed about her
mother, or "the baby" (if there was one), was not likely to make a good
servant. Then she would make her put out her feet, to see if they were
well and neatly shod. Then she would bid her say the Lord's Prayer and
the Creed. Then she inquired if she could write. If she could, and she
had liked all that had gone before, her face sank - it was a great
disappointment, for it was an all but inviolable rule with her never to
engage a servant who could write. But I have known her ladyship break
through it, although in both cases in which she did so she put the
girl's principles to a further and unusual test in asking her to repeat
the Ten Commandments. One pert young woman - and yet I was sorry for
her too, only she afterwards married a rich draper in Shrewsbury - who
had got through her trials pretty tolerably, considering she could
write, spoilt all, by saying glibly, at the end of the last
Commandment, "An't please your ladyship, I can cast accounts."
"Go away, wench," said my lady in a hurry, "you're only fit for
trade; you will not suit me for a servant." The girl went away
crestfallen; in a minute, however, my lady sent me after her to see
that she had something to eat before leaving the house; and, indeed,
she sent for her once again, but it was only to give her a Bible, and
to bid her beware of French principles, which had led the French to cut
off their king's and queen's heads.
The poor, blubbering girl said, "Indeed, my lady, I wouldn't hurt a
fly, much less a king, and I cannot abide the French, nor frogs
neither, for that matter."
But my lady was inexorable, and took a girl who could neither read
nor write, to make up for her alarm about the progress of education
towards addition and subtraction; and afterwards, when the clergyman
who was at Hanbury parish when I came there, had died, and the bishop
had appointed another, and a younger man, in his stead, this was one of
the points on which he and my lady did not agree. While good old deaf
Mr. Mountford lived, it was my lady's custom, when indisposed for a
sermon, to stand up at the door of her large square pew - just opposite
the reading-desk - and to say (at that part of the morning service
where it is decreed that, in choirs and places where they sing, here
followeth the anthem): "Mr. Mountford, I will not trouble you for a
discourse this morning." And we all knelt down to the Litany with great
satisfaction; for Mr. Mountford, though he could not hear, had always
his eyes open, about this part of the service, for any of my lady's
movements. But the new clergyman, Mr. Gray, was of a different stamp.
He was very zealous in all his parish work; and my lady, who was just
as good as she could be to the poor, was often crying him up as a
godsend to the parish, and he never could send amiss to the Court when
he wanted broth, or wine, or jelly, or sago for a sick person. But he
needs must take up the new hobby of education; and I could see that
this put my lady sadly about one Sunday, when she suspected, I know not
how, that there was something to be said in his sermon about a
Sunday-school which he was planning. She stood up, as she had not done
since Mr. Mountford's death, two years and better before this time, and
"Mr. Gray, I will not trouble you for a discourse this morning."
But her voice was not well-assured and steady; and we knelt down
with more of curiosity than satisfaction in our minds. Mr. Gray
preached a very rousing sermon, on the necessity of establishing a
Sabbath-school in the village. My lady shut her eyes, and seemed to go
to sleep; but I don't believe she lost a word of it, though she said
nothing about it that I heard until the next Saturday, when two of us,
as was the custom, were riding out with her in her carriage, and we
went to see a poor bedridden woman, who lived some miles away at the
other end of the estate and of the parish; and as we came out of the
cottage we met Mr. Gray walking up to it, in a great heat, and looking
very tired. My lady beckoned him to her, and told him she would wait
and take him home with her, adding that she wondered to see him there,
so far from his home, for that it was beyond a Sabbath-day's journey,
and, from what she had gathered from his sermon the last Sunday, he was
all for Judaism against Christianity. He looked as if he did not
understand what she meant; but the truth was that, besides the way in
which he had spoken up for schools and schooling, he had kept calling
Sunday the Sabbath; and, as her ladyship said, "The Sabbath is the
Sabbath, and that's one thing - it is Saturday; and, if I keep it, I'm
a Jew, which I'm not. And Sunday is Sunday; and that's another thing;
and, if I keep it, I'm a Christian, which I humbly trust I am."
But, when Mr. Gray got an inkling of her meaning in talking about a
Sabbath-day's journey, he only took notice of a part of it; he smiled
and bowed, and said no one knew better than her ladyship what were the
duties that abrogated all inferior laws regarding the Sabbath; and that
he must go in and read to old Betty Brown, so that he would not detain
"But I shall wait for you, Mr. Gray," said she, "Or I will take a
drive round by Oakfield, and be back in an hour's time." For, you see,
she would not have him feel hurried or troubled with a thought that he
was keeping her waiting, while he ought to be comforting and praying
with old Betty.
"A very pretty young man, my dears," said she, as we drove away.
"But I shall have my pew glazed all the same."
We did not know what she meant at the time; but the next Sunday but
one we did. She had the curtains all round the grand old Hanbury family
pew taken down, and, instead of them, there was glass up to the height
of six or seven feet. We entered by a door, with a window in it that
drew up or down just like what you see in carriages. This window was
generally down, and then we could hear perfectly; but if Mr. Gray used
the word "Sabbath," or spoke in favour of schooling or education, my
lady stepped out of her corner, and drew up the window with a decided
clang and clash.
I must tell you something more about Mr. Gray. The presentation to
the living of Hanbury was vested in two trustees, of whom Lady Ludlow
was one: Lord Ludlow had exercised this right in the appointment of Mr.
Mountford, who had won his lordship's favour by his excellent
horsemanship. Nor was Mr. Mountford a bad clergyman, as clergymen went
in those days. He did not drink, though he liked good eating as much as
any one. And if any poor person was ill, and he heard of it, he would
send them plates from his own dinner of what he himself liked best;
sometimes of dishes which were almost as bad as poison to sick people.
He meant kindly to everybody except dissenters, whom Lady Ludlow and he
united in trying to drive out of the parish; and among dissenters he
particularly abhorred Methodists - some one said, because John Wesley
had objected to his hunting. But that must have been long ago, for when
I knew him he was far too stout and too heavy to hunt; besides, the
bishop of the diocese disapproved of hunting, and had intimated his
disapprobation to the clergy. For my own part, I think a good run would
not have come amiss, even from a moral point of view, to Mr. Mountford.
He ate so much, and took so little exercise, that we young women often
heard of his being in terrible passions with his servants, and the
sexton and clerk. But they none of them minded him much, for he soon
came to himself, and was sure to make them some present or other - some
said in proportion to his anger; so that the sexton, who was a bit of a
wag (as all sextons are, I think), said that the vicar's saying, "The
Devil take you," was worth a shilling any day, whereas "The Deuce" was
a shabby sixpenny speech, only fit for a curate.
There was a great deal of good in Mr. Mountford, too. He could not
bear to see pain, or sorrow, or misery of any kind; and, if it came
under his notice, he was never easy till he had relieved it, for the
time, at any rate. But he was afraid of being made uncomfortable; so,
if he possibly could, he would avoid seeing any one who was ill or
unhappy; and he did not thank any one for telling him about them.
"What would your ladyship have me to do?" he once said to my Lady
Ludlow, when she wished him to go and see a poor man who had broken his
leg. "I cannot piece the leg as the doctor can; I cannot nurse him as
well as his wife does; I may talk to him, but he no more understands me
than I do the language of the alchemists. My coming puts him out; he
stiffens himself into an uncomfortable posture, out of respect to the
cloth, and dare not take the comfort of kicking, and swearing, and
scolding his wife, while I am there. I hear him, with my figurative
ears, my lady, heave a sigh of relief when my back is turned, and the
sermon that he thinks I ought to have kept for the pulpit, and have
delivered to his neighbours (whose case, as he fancies, it would just
have fitted, as it seemed to him to be addressed to the sinful) is all
ended, and done, for the day. I judge others as myself; I do to them as
I would be done to. That's Christianity, at any rate. I should hate -
saving your ladyship's presence - to have my Lord Ludlow coming and
seeing me, if I were ill. 'Twould be a great honour, no doubt; but I
should have to put on a clean nightcap for the occasion, and sham
patience, in order to be polite, and not weary his lordship with my
complaints. I should be twice as thankful to him if he would send me
game, or a good fat haunch, to bring me up to that pitch of health and
strength one ought to be in, to appreciate the honour of a visit from a
nobleman. So I shall send Jerry Butler a good dinner every day till he
is strong again; and spare the poor old fellow my presence and advice."
My lady would be puzzled by this, and by many other of Mr.
Mountford's speeches. But he had been appointed by my lord, and she
could not question her dead husband's wisdom; and she knew that the
dinners were always sent, and often a guinea or two to help to pay the
doctor's bills; and Mr. Mountford was true blue, as we call it, to the
backbone; hated the dissenters and the French; and could hardly drink a
dish of tea without giving out the toast of "Church and King, and down
with the Rump." Moreover, he had once had the honour of preaching
before the King and Queen, and two of the Princesses, at Weymouth; and
the King had applauded his sermon audibly with - "Very good; very
good;" and that was a seal put upon his merit in my lady's eyes.
Besides, in the long winter Sunday evenings, he would come up to
the Court, and read a sermon to us girls, and play a game of picquet
with my lady afterwards; which served to shorten the tedium of the
time. My lady would, on those occasions, invite him to sup with her on
the dais; but, as her meal was invariably bread and milk only, Mr.
Mountford preferred sitting down amongst us, and made a joke about its
being wicked and heterodox to eat meagre on Sunday, a festival of the
Church. We smiled at this joke just as much the twentieth time we heard
it as we did at the first; for we knew it was coming, because he always
coughed a little nervously before he made a joke, for fear my lady
should not approve; and neither she nor he seemed to remember that he
had ever hit upon the idea before.
Mr. Mountford died quite suddenly at last. We were all very sorry
to lose him. He left some of his property (for he had a private estate)
to the poor of the parish, to furnish them with an annual Christmas
dinner of roast beef and plum-pudding, for which he wrote out a very
good receipt in the codicil to his will.
Moreover, he desired his executors to see that the vault in which
the vicars of Hanbury were interred was well aired, before his coffin
was taken in; for, all his life long, he had had a dread of damp, and
latterly he kept his rooms to such a pitch of warmth that some thought
it hastened his end.
Then the other trustee, as I have said, presented the living to Mr.
Gray, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. It was quite natural for us
all, as belonging in some sort to the Hanbury family, to disapprove of
the other trustee's choice. But when some ill-natured person circulated
the report that Mr. Gray was a Moravian Methodist, I remember my lady
said, "She could not believe anything so bad, without a great deal of
Before I tell you about Mr. Gray, I think I ought to make you
understand something more of what we did all day long at Hanbury Court.
There were five of us at the time of which I am speaking, all young
women of good descent, and allied (however distantly) to people of
rank. When we were not with my lady, Mrs. Medlicott looked after us: a
gentle little woman, who had been companion to my lady for many years,
and was indeed, I have been told, some kind of relation to her. Mrs.
Medlicott's parents had lived in Germany, and the consequence was, she
spoke English with a very foreign accent. Another consequence was, that
she excelled in all manner of needlework, such as is not known even by
name in these days. She could darn either lace, table-linen, India
muslin, or stockings, so that no one could tell where the hole or rent
had been. Though a good Protestant, and never missing Guy Faux day at
church, she was as skilful at fine work as any nun in a Papist convent.
She would take a piece of French cambric, and by drawing out some
threads, and working in others, it became delicate lace in a very few
hours. She did the same by Hollands cloth, and made coarse strong lace,
with which all my lady's napkins and table-linen were trimmed. We
worked under her during a great part of the day, either in the
still-room, or at our sewing in a chamber that opened out of the great
hall. My lady despised every kind of work that would now be called
Fancy-work. She considered that the use of coloured threads or worsted
was only fit to amuse children; but that grown women ought not to be
taken with mere blues and reds, but to restrict their pleasure in
sewing to making small and delicate stitches. She would speak of the
old tapestry in the hall as the work of her ancestresses, who lived
before the Reformation, and were consequently unacquainted with pure
and simple tastes in work, as well as in religion. Nor would my lady
sanction the fashion of the day, which, at the beginning of this
century, made all the fine ladies take to making shoes. She said that
such work was a consequence of the French Revolution, which had done
much to annihilate all distinctions of rank and class, and hence it was
that she saw young ladies of birth and breeding handling lasts, and
awls, and dirty cobblers'-wax, like shoe-makers' daughters.
Very frequently one of us would be summoned to my lady to read
aloud to her, as she sat in her small withdrawing-room, some improving
book. It was generally Mr. Addison's "Spectator;" but one year, I
remember, we had to read "Sturm's Reflections," translated from a
German book Mrs. Medlicott recommended. Mr. Sturm told us what to think
about for every day in the year; and very dull it was; but I believe
Queen Charlotte had liked the book very much, and the thought of her
royal approbation kept my lady awake during the reading. "Mrs.
Chapone's Letters" and "Dr. Gregory's Advice to Young Ladies" composed
the rest of our library for week-day reading. I, for one, was glad to
leave my fine sewing, and even my reading aloud (though this last did
keep me with my dear lady) to go to the still-room and potter about
among the preserves and the medicated waters. There was no doctor for
many miles round, and with Mrs. Medlicott to direct us, and Dr. Buchan
to go by for recipes, we sent out many a bottle of physic, which, I
dare say, was as good as what comes out of the druggist's shop. At any
rate, I do not think we did much harm; for, if any of our physics
tasted stronger than usual, Mrs. Medlicott would bid us let it down
with cochineal and water, to make all safe as she said. So our bottles
of medicine had very little real physic in them at last; but we were
careful in putting labels on them, which looked very mysterious to
those who could not read, and helped the medicine to do its work. I
have sent off many a bottle of salt and water coloured red; and,
whenever we had nothing else to do in the still-room, Mrs. Medlicott
would set us to making bread-pills, by way of practice; and, as far as
I can say, they were very efficacious, as before we gave out a box Mrs.
Medlicott always told the patient what symptoms to expect; and I hardly
ever inquired without hearing that they had produced their effect.
There was one old man who took six pills a-night, of any kind we liked
to give him, to make him sleep; and if, by any chance, his daughter had
forgotten to let us know that he was out of his medicine, he was so
restless and miserable that, as he said, he thought he was like to die.
I think ours was what would be called homoeopathic practice now-a-days.
Then we learnt to make all the cakes and dishes of the season in the
still-room. We had plum-porridge and mince-pies at Christmas, fritters
and pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, furmenty on Mothering Sunday,
violet-cakes in Passion Week, tansy-pudding on Easter Sunday,
three-cornered cakes on Trinity Sunday, and so on through the year: all
made from good old Church receipts, handed down from one of my lady's
earliest Protestant ancestresses. Every one of us passed a portion of
the day with Lady Ludlow; and now and then we rode out with her in her
coach and four. She did net like to go out with a pair of horses,
considering this rather beneath her rank; and, indeed, four horses were
very often needed to pull her heavy coach through the stiff mud. But it
was rather a cumbersome equipage through the narrow Warwickshire lanes;
and I used often to think it was well that countesses were not
plentiful, or else we might have met another lady of quality in another
coach and four, where there would have been no possibility of turning,
or passing each other, and very little chance of backing. Once, when
the idea of this danger of meeting another countess in a narrow,
deep-rutted lane was very prominent in my mind, I ventured to ask Mrs.
Medlicott what would have to be done on such an occasion; and she told
me that "de latest creation must back, for sure," which puzzled me a
good deal at the time, although I understand it now. I began to find
out the use of the "Peerage," a book which had seemed to me rather dull
before; but, as I was always a coward in a coach, I made myself well
acquainted with the dates of creation of our three Warwickshire earls,
and was happy to find that Earl Ludlow ranked second, the oldest earl
being a hunting widower, and not likely to drive out in a carriage.
All this time I have wandered from Mr. Gray. Of course, we first
saw him in church when he read himself in. He was very red-faced, the
kind of redness which goes with light hair and a blushing complexion;
he looked slight and short, and his bright light frizzy hair had hardly
a dash of powder in it. I remember my lady making this observation, and
sighing over it; for, though since the famine in seventeen hundred and
ninety-nine and eighteen hundred there had been a tax on hair-powder,
yet it was reckoned very revolutionary and Jacobin not to wear a good
deal of it. My lady hardly liked the opinions of any man who wore his
own hair; but this she would say was rather a prejudice; only, in her
youth none but the mob had gone wigless, and she could not get over the
association of wigs with birth and breeding; a man's own hair with that
class of people who had formed the rioters in seventeen hundred and
eighty, when Lord George Gordon had been one of the bugbears of my
lady's life. Her husband and his brothers, she told us, had been put
into breeches, and had their heads shaved on their seventh birthday,
each of them, a handsome little wig of the newest fashion forming the
old Lady Ludlow's invariable birthday present to her sons as they each
arrived at that age; and afterwards, to the day of their death, they
never saw their own hair. To be without powder, as some underbred
people were talking of being now, was in fact to insult the proprieties
of life by being undressed. It was English sans-culottism. But Mr. Gray
did wear a little powder - enough to save him in my lady's good
opinion, but not enough to make her approve of him decidedly.
The next time I saw him was in the great hall. Mary Mason and I
were going to drive out with my lady in her coach; and, when we went
downstairs with our best hats and cloaks on, we found Mr. Gray awaiting
my lady's coming. I believe he had paid his respects to her before, but
we had never seen him; and he had declined her invitation to spend
Sunday evening at the Court (as Mr. Mountford used to do pretty
regularly - and play a game at picquet too), which, Mrs. Medlicott told
us, had caused my lady to be not over well pleased with him.
He blushed redder than ever at the sight of us, as we entered the
hall and dropped him our curtsies. He coughed two or three times, as if
he would have liked to speak to us, if he could but have found
something to say; and every time he coughed he became hotter-looking
than ever. I am ashamed to say, we were nearly laughing at him; half
because we, too, were so shy that we understood what his awkwardness
My lady came in, with her quick active step - she always walked
quickly when she did not bethink herself of her cane - as if she was
sorry to have us kept waiting - and, as she entered, she gave us all
round one of those graceful sweeping curtsies, of which I think the art
must have died out with her, it implied so much courtesy; - this time
it said, as well as words could do, "I am sorry to have kept you all
waiting - forgive me."
She went up to the mantelpiece, near which Mr. Gray had been
standing until her entrance, curtseying afresh to him, and pretty
deeply this time, because of his cloth, and her being hostess, and he,
a new guest. She asked him if he would not prefer speaking to her in
her own private parlour, and looked as though she would have conducted
him there. But he burst out with his errand, of which he was full even
to choking, and which sent the glistening tears into his large blue
eyes, which stood farther and farther out with his excitement.
"My lady, I want to speak to you, and to persuade you to exert your
kind interest with Mr. Lathom - Justice Lathom, of Hathaway Manor" —
"Harry Lathom?" inquired my lady, - as Mr. Gray stopped to take the
breath he had lost in his hurry - "I did not know he was in the
"He is only just appointed; he took the oaths not a month ago -
more's the pity!"
"I do not understand why you should regret it. The Lathoms have
held Hathaway since Edward the First, and Mr. Lathom hears a good
character, although his temper is hasty" —
"My lady! he has committed Job Gregson for stealing - a fault of
which he is as innocent as I - and all the evidence goes to prove it,
now that the case is brought before the Bench; only the Squires hang so
together that they can't be brought to see justice, and are all for
sending Job to gaol, out of compliment to Mr. Lathom, saying it is his
first committal, and it won't be civil to tell him there is no evidence
against his man. For God's sake, my lady, speak to the gentlemen; they
will attend to you, while they only tell me to mind my own business."
Now my lady was always inclined to stand by her order, and the
Lathoms of Hathaway Court were cousins to the Hanburys. Besides, it was
rather a point of honour in those days to encourage a young magistrate,
by passing a pretty sharp sentence on his first committals; and Job
Gregson was the father of a girl who had been lately turned away from
her place as scullery-maid for sauciness to Mrs. Adams, her ladyship's
own maid; and Mr. Gray had not said a word of the reasons why he
believed the man innocent - for he was in such a hurry, I believe he
would have had my lady drive off to the Henley Court-house then and
there; - so there seemed a good deal against the man, and nothing but
Mr. Gray's bare word for him; and my lady drew herself a little up, and
"Mr. Gray! I do not see what reason either you or I have to
interfere. Mr. Harry Lathom is a sensible kind of young man, well
capable of ascertaining the truth without our help" —
"But more evidence has come out since," broke in Mr. Gray. My lady
went a little stiffer, and spoke a little more coldly -
"I suppose this additional evidence is before the justices: men of
good family, and of honour and credit, well known in the county. They
naturally feel that the opinion of one of themselves must have more
weight than the words of a man like Job Gregson, who bears a very
indifferent character - has been strongly suspected of poaching coming
from no one knows where, squatting on Hareman's Common - which, by the
way, is extra-parochial, I believe; consequently you, as a clergyman,
are not responsible for what goes on there; and, although impolitic,
there might be some truth in what the magistrates said, in advising you
to mind your own business," said her ladyship, smiling, "and they might
be tempted to bid me mind mine, if I interfered, Mr. Gray: might they
He looked extremely uncomfortable; half angry. Once or twice he
began to speak, but checked himself, as if his words would not have
been wise or prudent. At last he said -
"It may seem presumptuous in me - a stranger of only a few weeks'
standing - to set up my judgment as to men's character against that of
residents" - Lady Ludlow gave a little bow of acquiescence, which was,
I think, involuntary on her part, and which I don't think he perceived
- "but I am convinced that the man is innocent of this offence - and
besides, the justices themselves allege this ridiculous custom of
paying a compliment to a newly-appointed magistrate as their only
That unlucky word "ridiculous!" It undid all the good his modest
beginning had done him with my lady. I knew as well as words could have
told me, that she was affronted at the expression being used by a man
inferior in rank to those whose actions he applied it to - and, truly,
it was a great want of tact, considering to whom be was speaking.
Lady Ludlow spoke very gently and slowly; she always did so when
she was annoyed; it was a certain sign, the meaning of which we had all
"I think, Mr. Gray, we will drop the subject. It is one on which we
are not likely to agree."
Mr. Gray's ruddy colour grew purple and then faded away, and his
face became pale. I think both my lady and he had forgotten our
presence; and we were beginning to feel too awkward to wish to remind
them of it. And yet we could not help watching and listening with the
Mr. Gray drew himself up to his full height, with an unconscious
feeling of dignity. Little as was his stature, and awkward and
embarrassed as he had been only a few minutes before, I remember
thinking he looked almost as grand as my lady when he spoke.
"Your ladyship must remember that it may be my duty to speak to my
parishioners on many subjects on which they do not agree with me. I am
not at liberty to be silent, because they differ in opinion from me."
Lady Ludlow's great blue eyes dilated with surprise, and - I do
think - anger, at being thus spoken to. I am not sure whether it was
very wise in Mr. Gray. He himself looked afraid of the consequences,
but as if he was determined to bear them without flinching. For a
minute there was silence. Then my lady replied -
"Mr. Gray, I respect your plain speaking, although I may wonder
whether a young man of your age and position has any right to assume
that he is a better judge than one with the experience which I have
naturally gained at my time of life, and in the station I hold."
"If I, madam, as the clergyman of this parish, am not to shrink
from telling what I believe to be the truth to the poor and lowly, no
more am I to hold my peace in the presence of the rich and titled." Mr.
Gray's face showed that he was in that state of excitement which in a
child would have ended in a good fit of crying. He looked as if he had
nerved himself up to doing and saying things, which he disliked above
everything, and which nothing short of serious duty could have
compelled him to do and say. And at such times every minute
circumstance which could add to pain comes vividly before one. I saw
that he became aware of our presence, and that it added to his
My lady flushed up. "Are you aware, sir," asked she, "that you have
gone far astray from the original subject of conversation? But, as you
talk of your parish, allow me to remind you that Hareman's Common is
beyond the bounds, and that you are really not responsible for the
characters and lives of the squatters on that unlucky piece of ground."
"Madam, I see I have only done harm in speaking to you about the
affair at all. I beg your pardon and take my leave."
He bowed, and looked very sad. Lady Ludlow caught the expression of
"Good morning!" she cried, in rather a louder and quicker way than
that in which she had been speaking. "Remember, Job Gregson is a
notorious poacher and evildoer, and you really are not responsible for
what goes on at Hareman's Common."
He was near the hall-door, and said something - half to himself,
which we heard (being nearer to him), but my lady did not; although she
saw that he spoke. "What did he say?" she asked in a somewhat hurried
manner, as soon as the door was closed - "I did not hear." We looked at
each other, and then I spoke -
"He said, my lady, that 'God help him! he was responsible for all
the evil he did not strive to overcome.'"
My lady turned sharp round away from us, and Mary Mason said
afterwards she thought her ladyship was much vexed with both of us for
having been present, and with me for having repeated what Mr. Gray had
said. But it was not our fault that we were in the hall; and, when my
lady asked what Mr. Gray had said, I thought it right to tell her.
In a few minutes she bade us accompany her in her ride in the
Lady Ludlow always sat forwards by herself, and we girls backwards.
Somehow this was a rule, which we never thought of questioning. It was
true that riding backwards made some of us feel very uncomfortable and
faint; and to remedy this my lady always drove with both windows open,
which occasionally gave her the rheumatism; but we always went on in
the old way. This day she did not pay any great attention to the road
by which we were going, and Coachman took his own way. We were very
silent, as my lady did not speak, and looked very serious. Or else, in
general, she made these rides very pleasant (to those who were not
qualmish with riding backwards), by talking to us in a very agreeable
manner, and telling us of the different things which had happened to
her at various places - at Paris and Versailles, where she had been in
her youth - at Windsor and Kew and Weymouth, where she had been with
the Queen, when maid-of-honour - and so on. But this day she did not
talk at all. All at once she put her head out of the window.
"John Footman," said she, "where are we? Surely this is Hareman's
"Yes, an't please my lady," said John Footman, and waited for
further speech or orders. My lady thought a while, and then said she
would have the steps put down and get out.
As soon as she was gone, we looked at each other, and then without
a word began to gaze after her. We saw her pick her dainty way, in the
little high-heeled shoes she always wore (because they had been in
fashion in her youth), among the yellow pools of stagnant water that
had gathered in the clayey soil. John Footman followed, stately, after;
afraid too, for all his stateliness, of splashing his pure white
stockings. Suddenly my lady turned round and said something to him, and
he returned to the carriage with a half-pleased, half-puzzled air.
My lady went on to a cluster of rude mud houses at the higher end
of the Common: cottages built, as they were occasionally at that day,
of wattles and clay, and thatched with sods. As far as we could make
out from dumb show, Lady Ludlow saw enough of the interiors of these
places to make her hesitate before entering, or even speaking to any of
the children who were playing about in the puddles. After a pause, she
disappeared into one of the cottages. It seemed to us a long time
before she came out; but I dare say it was not more than eight or ten
minutes. She came back with her head hanging down, as if to choose her
way - but we saw it was more in thought and bewilderment than for any
She had not made up her mind where we should drive to when she got
into the carriage again. John Footman stood, bare-headed, waiting for
"To Hathaway. My dears, if you are tired, or if you have anything
to do for Mrs. Medlicott, I can drop you at Barford Corner, and it is
but a quarter of an hour's brisk walk home."
But luckily we could safely say that Mrs. Medlicott did not want
us; and as we had whispered to each other, as we sat alone in the
coach, that surely my lady must have gone to Job Gregson's, we were far
too anxious to know the end of it all to say that we were tired. So we
all set off to Hathaway. Mr. Harry Lathom was a bachelor squire, thirty
or thirty-five years of age, more at home in the field than in the
drawing-room, and with sporting men than with ladies.
My lady did not alight, of course; it was Mr. Lathom's place to
wait upon her, and she bade the butler - who had a smack of the
gamekeeper in him, very unlike our own powdered venerable fine
gentleman at Hanbury - tell his master, with her compliments, that she
wished to speak to him. You may think how pleased we were to find that
we should hear all that was said; though, I think, afterwards we were
half sorry when we saw how our presence confused the squire, who would
have found it bad enough to answer my lady's questions, even without
two eager girls for audience.
"Pray, Mr. Lathom," began my lady, something abruptly for her - but
she was very full of her subject - "what is this I hear about Job
Mr. Lathom looked annoyed and vexed, but dared not show it in his
"I gave out a warrant against him, my lady, for theft - that is
all. You are doubtless aware of his character: a man who sets nets and
springes in long cover, and fishes wherever he takes a fancy. It is but
a short step from poaching to thieving."
"That is quite true," replied Lady Ludlow (who had a horror of
poaching for this very reason): "but I imagine you do not send a man to
gaol on account of his bad character."
"Rogues and vagabonds," said Mr. Lathom. "A man may be sent to
prison for being a vagabond; for no specific act, but for his general
mode of life."
He had the better of her ladyship for one moment; but then she
"But in this case, the charge on which you committed him is for
theft; now his wife tells me he can prove he was some miles distant
from Holmwood, where the robbery took place, all that afternoon; she
says you had the evidence before you.
Mr. Lathom here interrupted my lady, by saying, in a somewhat sulky
"No such evidence was brought before me when I gave the warrant. I
am not answerable for the other magistrates' decision when they had
more evidence before them. It was they who committed him to gaol. I am
not responsible for that."
My lady did not often show signs of impatience; but we knew she was
feeling irritated, by the little perpetual tapping of her high-heeled
shoe against the bottom of the carriage. About the same time we,
sitting backwards, caught a glimpse of Mr. Gray through the open door,
standing in the shadow of the hall. Doubtless Lady Ludlow's arrival had
interrupted a conversation between Mr. Lathom and Mr. Gray. The latter
must have heard every word of what she was saying; but of this she was
not aware, and caught at Mr. Lathom's disclaimer of responsibility with
pretty much the same argument which she had heard (through our
repetition) that Mr. Gray had used not two hours before.
"And do you mean to say, Mr. Lathom, that you don't consider
yourself responsible for all injustice or wrong-doing that you might
have prevented, and have not? Nay, in this case the first germ of
injustice was your own mistake. I wish you had been with me a little
while ago, and seen the misery in that poor fellow's cottage. She spoke
lower, and Mr. Gray drew near, in a sort of involuntary manner, as if
to hear all she was saying. We saw him, and doubtless Mr. Lathom heard
his footstep, and knew who it was that was listening behind him, and
approving of every word that was said. He grew yet more sullen in
manner; but still my lady was my lady, and he dared not speak out
before her, as he would have done to Mr. Gray. Lady Ludlow, however,
caught the look of stubbornness in his face, and it roused her as I had
never seen her roused.
"I am sure you will not refuse, sir, to accept my bail. I offer to
bail the fellow out, and to be responsible for his appearance at the
sessions. What say you to that, Mr. Lathom?"
"The offence of theft is not bailable, my lady."
"Not in ordinary cases, I dare say. But I imagine this is an
extraordinary case. The man is sent to prison out of compliment to you,
and against all evidence, as far as I can learn. He will have to rot in
gaol for two months, and his wife and children to starve. I, Lady
Ludlow, offer to bail him out, and pledge myself for his appearance at
"It is against the law, my lady."
"Bah! Bah! Bah! Who makes laws? Such as I, in the House of Lords -
such as you, in the House of Commons. We, who make the laws in St.
Stephen's, may break the mere forms of them, when we have right on our
sides, on our own land, and amongst our own people."
"The lord-lieutenant may take away my commission, if he heard of
"And a very good thing for the county, Harry Lathom, and for you
too, if he did - if you don't go on more wisely than you have begun. A
pretty set you and your brother magistrates are to administer justice
through the land! I always said a good despotism was the best form of
government; and I am twice as much in favour of it now I see what a
quorum is! My dears!" suddenly turning round to us," if it would not
tire you to walk home, I would beg Mr. Lathom to take a seat in my
coach, and we would drive to Henley Gaol, and have the poor man out at
"A walk over the fields at this time of day is hardly fitting for
young ladies to take alone," said Mr. Lathom, anxious no doubt to
escape from his tte-ˆ-tte drive with my lady, and possibly not quite
prepared to go to the illegal length of prompt measures, which she had
But Mr. Gray now stepped forward, too anxious for the release of
the prisoner to allow any obstacle to intervene which he could do away
with. To see Lady Ludlow's face when she first perceived whom she had
had for auditor and spectator of her interview with Mr. Lathom, was as
good as a play. She had been doing and saying the very things she had
been so much annoyed at Mr. Gray's saying and proposing only an hour or
two ago. She had been setting down Mr. Lathom pretty smartly, in the
presence of the very man to whom she had spoken of that gentleman as so
sensible, and of such a standing in the county, that it was presumption
to question his doings. But before Mr. Gray had finished his offer of
escorting us back to Hanbury Court, my lady had recovered herself.
There was neither surprise nor displeasure in her manner, as she
"I thank you, Mr. Gray. I was not aware that you were here, but I
think I can understand on what errand you came. And seeing you here
recalls me to a duty I owe Mr. Lathom. Mr. Lathom, I have spoken to you
pretty plainly - forgetting until I saw Mr. Gray, that only this very
afternoon I differed from him on this very question; taking completely,
at that time, the same view of the whole subject which you have done;
thinking that the county would be well rid of such a man as Job
Gregson, whether he had committed this theft or not. Mr. Gray and I did
not part quite friends," she continued, bowing towards him; "but it so
happened that I saw Job Gregson's wife and home - I felt that Mr. Gray
had been right and I had been wrong; so, with the famous inconsistency
of my sex, I came hither to scold you," smiling towards Mr. Lathom, who
looked half-sulky yet, and did not relax a bit of his gravity at her
smile, "for holding the same opinions that I had done an hour before.
Mr. Gray," (again bowing towards him) "these young ladies will be very
much obliged to you for your escort, and so shall I. Mr. Lathom, may I
beg of you to accompany me to Henley?"
Mr. Gray bowed very low, and went very red; Mr. Lathom said
something which we none of us heard, but which was, I think, some
remonstrance against the course he was, as it were, compelled to take.
Lady Ludlow, however, took no notice of his murmur, but sat in an
attitude of polite expectancy; and, as we turned off on our walk, I saw
Mr. Lathom getting into the coach with the air of a whipped hound. I
must say, considering my lady's feeling, I did not envy him his ride -
though, I believe, he was quite in the right as to the object of the
ride being illegal.
Our walk home was very dull. We had no fears; and would far rather
have been without the awkward, blushing young man, into which Mr. Gray
had sunk. At every stile be hesitated - sometimes he half got over it,
thinking that he could assist us better in that way; then he would turn
back, unwilling to go before ladies. He had no ease of manner, as my
lady once said of him, though on any occasion of duty, he had an
immense deal of dignity.
As far as I can remember, it was very soon after this that I first
began to have the pain in my hip which has ended in making me a cripple
for life. I hardly recollect more than one walk after our return under
Mr. Gray's escort from Mr. Lathom's. Indeed, at the time, I was not
without suspicions (which I never named) that the beginning of all the
mischief was a great jump I had taken from the top of one of the stiles
on that very occasion.
Well, it is a long while ago, and God disposes of us all, and I am
not going to tire you out with telling you how I thought and felt, and
how, when I saw what my life was to be, I could hardly bring myself to
be patient, but rather wished to die at once. You can every one of you
think for yourselves what becoming all at once useless and unable to
move, and by-and-by growing hopeless of cure, and feeling that one must
be a burden to some one all one's life long, would be to an active,
wilful, strong girl of seventeen, anxious to get on in the world, so
as, if possible, to help her brothers and sisters. So I shall only say,
that one among the blessings which arose out of what seemed at the time
a great, black sorrow was, that Lady Ludlow for many years took me, as
it were, into her own especial charge; and now, as I lie still and
alone in my old age, it is such a pleasure to think of her!
Mrs. Medlicott was great as a nurse, and I am sure I can never be
grateful enough to her memory for all her kindness. But she was puzzled
to know how to manage me in other ways. I used to have long, hard fits
of crying; thinking that I ought to go home - and yet what could they
do with me there ? - and a hundred and fifty other anxious thoughts,
some of which I could tell to Mrs. Medlicott, and others I could not.
Her way of comforting me was hurrying off for some kind of tempting or
strengthening food - a basin of melted calves'-foot jelly was, I am
sure she thought, a cure for every woe.
"There! take it, dear, take it!" she would say; "and don't go on
fretting for what can't be helped."
But, I think, she got puzzled at length at the non-efficacy of good
things to eat; and one day, after I had limped down to see the doctor,
in Mrs. Medlicott's sitting-room - a room lined with cupboards,
containing preserves and dainties of all kinds, which she perpetually
made, and never touched herself - when I was returning to my bedroom to
cry away the afternoon, under pretence of arranging my clothes, John
Footman brought me a message from my lady (with whom the doctor had
been having a conversation), to bid me go to her in that private
sitting-room at the end of the suite of apartments about which I spoke
in describing the day of my first arrival at Hanbury. I had hardly been
in it since; as, when we read to my lady, she generally sat in the
small withdrawing-room out of which this private room of hers opened. I
suppose great people do not require what we smaller people value so
much - I mean privacy. I do not think that there was a room which my
lady occupied that had not two doors, and some of them had three or
four. Then my lady had always Adams waiting upon her in her
bed-chamber; and it was Mrs. Medlicott's duty to sit within call, as it
were, in a sort of ante-room that led out of my lady's own
sitting-room, on the opposite side to the drawing-room door. To fancy
the house, you must take a great square, and halve it by a line; at one
end of this line was the hall-door, or public entrance; at the opposite
the private entrance from a terrace, which was terminated at one end by
a sort of postern door in an old grey stone wall, beyond which lay the
farm buildings and offices; so that people could come in this way to my
lady on business, while, if she were going into the garden from her own
room, she had nothing to do but to pass through Mrs. Medlicott's
apartment, out into the lesser hall; and then, turning to the right as
she passed on to the terrace, she could go down the flight of broad,
shallow steps at the corner of the house into the lovely garden, with
stretching, sweeping lawns, and gay flower-beds, and beautiful, bossy
laurels, and other blooming or massy shrubs, with full-grown beeches,
or larches feathermg down to the ground a little farther off. The whole
was set in a frame, as it were, by the more distant woodlands. The
house had been modernised in the days of Queen Anne, I think; but the
money had fallen short that was requisite to carry out all the
improvements, so it was only the suite of withdrawing-rooms and the
terrace-rooms, as far as the private entrance, that had the new, long,
high windows put in; and these were old enough by this time to be
draped with roses, and honeysuckles, and pyracanthus, winter and summer
Well, to go back to that day when I limped into my lady's
sitting-room, trying hard to look as if I had not been crying, and not
to walk as if I was in much pain. I do not know whether my lady saw how
near the tears were to my eyes, but she told me she had sent for me,
because she wanted some help in arranging the drawers of her bureau,
and asked me - just as if it was a favour I was to do her - if I could
sit down in the easy-chair near the window - (all quietly arranged
before I came in, with a footstool, and a table quite near) - and
assist her. You will wonder, perhaps, why I was not bidden to sit or
lie on the sofa; but (although I found one there a morning or two
afterwards, when I came down) the fact was, that there was none in the
room at this time. I have even fancied that the easy-chair was brought
in on purpose for me; for it was not the chair in which I remember my
lady sitting the first time I saw her. That chair was very much carved
and gilded, with a countess's coronet at the top. I tried it one day,
some time afterwards, when my lady was out of the room, and I had a
fancy for seeing how I could move about; and very uncomfortable it was.
Now my chair (as I learnt to call it, and to think it) was soft and
luxurious, and seemed somehow to give one's body rest just in that part
where one most needed it.
I was not at my ease that first day, nor indeed for many days
afterwards, notwithstanding my chair was so comfortable. Yet I forgot
my sad pain in silently wondering over the meaning of many of the
things we turned out of those curious old drawers. I was puzzled to
know why some were kept at all: a scrap of writing may be, with only
half-a-dozen commonplace words written on it, or a bit of broken
riding-whip, and here and there a stone, of which I thought I could
have picked up twenty just as good in the first walk I took. But it
seems that was just my ignorance; for my lady told me they were pieces
of valuable marble, used to make the floors of the great Roman emperors
palaces long ago; and that when she had been a girl, and made the grand
tour long ago, her cousin, Sir Horace Mann, the ambassador or envoy at
Florence, had told her to be sure to go into the fields inside the
walls of ancient Rome, when the farmers were preparing the ground for
the onion-sowing, and had to make the soil fine, and pick up what bits
of marble she could find. She had done so, and meant to have had them
made into a table; but somehow that plan fell through, and there they
were with all the dirt out of the onion-field upon them; but once when
I thought of cleaning them with soap and water, at any rate, she bade
me not to do so, for it was Roman dirt - earth, I think, she called it
- but it was dirt all the same.
Then in this bureau, were many other things, the value of which I
could understand - locks of hair carefully ticketed, which my lady
looked at very sadly; and lockets and bracelets with miniatures in
them, - very small pictures to what they make now-a-days, and called
miniatures; some of them had even to be looked at through a microscope
before you could see the individual expression of the faces, or how
beautifully they were painted. I don't think that looking at these made
my lady seem so melancholy, as the seeing and touching of the hair did.
But, to be sure, the hair was, as it were, a part of some beloved body
which she might never touch and caress again, but which lay beneath the
turf, all faded and disfigured, except perhaps the very hair from which
the lock she held had been dissevered; whereas the pictures were but
pictures after all - likenesses, but not the very things themselves.
This is only my own conjecture, mind. My lady rarely spoke out her
feelings. For, to begin with, she was of rank: and I have heard her say
that people of rank do not talk about their feelings except to their
equals, and even to them they conceal them, except upon rare occasions.
Secondly - and this is my own reflection - she was an only child and an
heiress, and as such was more apt to think than to talk, as all
well-brought-up heiresses must be, I think. Thirdly, she had long been
a widow, without any companion of her own age with whom it would have
been natural for her to refer to old associations, past pleasures, or
mutual sorrows. Mrs. Medlicott came nearest to her as a companion of
this sort; and her ladyship talked more to Mrs. Medlicott, in a kind of
familiar way, than she did to all the rest of the household put
together. But Mrs. Medlicott was silent by nature, and did not reply at
any great length. Adams, indeed, was the only one who spoke much to
After we had worked away about an hour at the bureau, her ladyship
said we had done enough for one day; and, as the time was come for her
afternoon ride, she left me, with a volume of engravings from Mr.
Hogarth's pictures on one side of me (I don't like to write down the
names of them. though my lady thought nothing of it, I am sure), and
upon a stand her great Prayer-book open at the evening psalms for the
day, on the other. But, as soon as she was gone, I troubled myself
little with either, but amused myself with looking round the room at my
leisure. The side on which the fireplace stood was all panelled - part
of the old ornaments of the house, for there was an Indian paper with
birds and beasts and insects on it, on all the other sides. There were
coats of arms, of the various families with whom the Hanburys had
intermarried, all over these panels, and up and down the ceiling as
well. There was very little looking-glass in the room, though one of
the great drawing-rooms was called the "Mirror Room," because it was
lined with glass, which my lady's great-grandfather had brought from
Venice when he was ambassador there. There were china jars of all
shapes and sizes round and about the room, and some china monsters, or
idols, of which I could never bear the sight, they were so ugly, though
I think my lady valued them more than all. There was a thick carpet on
the middle of the floor, which was made of small pieces of rare wool
fitted into a pattern; the doors were opposite to each other, and were
composed of two heavy tall wings, and opened in the middle, moving on
brass grooves inserted into the floor - they would not have opened over
a carpet. There were two windows reaching up nearly to the ceiling, but
very narrow, and with deep window-seats in the thickness of the wall.
The room was full of scent, partly from the flowers outside, and partly
from the great jars of pot-pourri inside. The choice of odours was what
my lady piqued herself upon, saying nothing showed birth like a keen
susceptibility of smell. We never named musk in her presence, her
antipathy to it was so well understood through the household: her
opinion on the subject was believed to be, that no scent derived from
an animal could ever he of a sufficiently pure nature to give pleasure
to any person of good family, where, of course, the delicate perception
of the senses had been cultivated for generations. She would instance
the way in which sportsmen preserve the breed of dogs who have shown
keen scent; and how such gifts descend for generations amongst animals,
who cannot be supposed to have anything of ancestral pride, or
hereditary fancies about them. Musk, then, was never mentioned at
Hanbury Court. No more were bergamot or southernwood, although
vegetable in their nature. She considered these two latter as betraying
a vulgar taste in the person who chose to gather or wear them. She was
sorry to notice sprigs of them in the button-hole of any young man in
whom she took an interest, either because he was engaged to a servant
of hers or otherwise, as he came out of church on a Sunday afternoon.
She was afraid that he liked coarse pleasures; and I am not sure if she
did not think that his preference for these coarse sweetnesses did not
imply a probability that he would take to drinking. But she
distinguished between vulgar and common. Violets, pinks, and sweetbriar
were common enough; roses and mignonette, for those who had gardens,
honeysuckle for those who walked along the bowery lanes; but wearing
them betrayed no vulgarity of taste: the queen upon her throne might be
glad to smell at a nosegay of the flowers. A beau-pot (as we called it)
of pinks and roses freshly gathered was placed every morning that they
were in bloom on my lady's own particular table. For lasting vegetable
odours she preferred lavender and sweet-woodroof to any extract
whatever. Lavender reminded her of old customs, she said, and of homely
cottage-gardens, and many a cottager made his offering to her of a
bundle of lavender. Sweet-woodroof, again, grew in wild, woodland
places, where the soil was fine and the air delicate: the poor children
used to go and gather it for her up in the woods on the higher lands;
and for this service she always rewarded them with bright new pennies,
of which my lord, her son, used to send her down a bagful fresh from
the Mint in London every February.
Attar of roses, again, she disliked. She said it reminded her of
the city and of merchants' wives, over-rich, over-heavy in its perfume.
And lilies of the valley somehow fell under the same condemnation. They
were most graceful and elegant to look at (my lady was quite candid
about this), flower, leaf, colour - everything was refined about them
but the smell. That was too strong. But the great hereditary faculty on
which my lady piqued herself, and with reason, for I never met with any
person who possessed it, was the power she had of perceiving the
delicious odour arising from a bed of strawberries in the late autumn,
when the leaves were all fading and dying. "Bacon's Essays" was one of
the few books that lay about in my lady's room; and, if you took it up
and opened it carelessly, it was sure to fall apart at his "Essay on
Gardens." "Listen," her ladyship would say, "to what that great
philosopher and statesman says. 'Next to that' - he is speaking of
violets, my dear - 'is the musk-rose' - of which you remember the great
bush, at the corner of the south wall just by the Blue Drawing-room
windows; that is the old musk-rose, Shakespeare's musk-rose, which is
dying out through the kingdom now. But to return to my Lord Bacon:
'Then the strawberry leaves, dying with a most excellent cordial
smell.' Now the Hanburys can always smell this excellent cordial odour,
and very delicious and refreshing it is. You see, in Lord Bacon's time,
there had not been so many intermarriages between the court and the
city as there have been since the needy days of his Majesty Charles the
Second; and altogether, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, the great, old
families of England were a distinct race, just as a cart-horse is one
creature, and very useful in its place, and Childers or Eclipse is
another creature, though both are of the same species. So the old
families have gifts and powers of a different and higher class to what
the other orders have. My dear, remember that you try if you can smell
the scent of dying strawberry-leaves in this next autumn. You have some
of Ursula Hanbury's blood in you, and that gives you a chance."
But when October came, I sniffed and sniffed, and all to no
purpose; and my lady - who had watched the little experiment rather
anxiously - had to give me up as a hybrid. I was mortified, I confess,
and thought that it was in some ostentation of her own powers that she
ordered the gardener to plant a border of strawberries on that side of
the terrace that lay under her windows.
I have wandered away from time and place. I tell you all the
remembrances I have of those years just as they come up, and I hope
that, in my old age, I am not getting too like a certain Mrs. Nickleby,
whose speeches were once read out aloud to me.
I came by degrees to be all day long in this room which I have been
describing; sometimes sitting in the easy-chair, doing some little
pieces of dainty work for my lady, or sometimes arranging flowers, or
sorting letters according to their handwriting, so that she could
arrange them afterwards, and destroy or keep, as she planned, looking
ever onward to her death. Then, after the sofa was brought in, she
would watch my face, and if she saw my colour change, she would bid me
lie down and rest. And I used to try to walk upon the terrace every day
for a short time; it hurt me very much, it is true, but the doctor had
ordered it, and I knew her ladyship wished me to obey.
Before I had seen the background of a great lady's life, I had
thought it all play and fine doings. But whatever other grand people
are, my lady was never idle. For one thing, she had to superintend the
agent for the large Hanbury estate. I believe it was mortgaged for a
sum of money which had gone to improve the late lord's Scotch lands;
but she was anxious to pay off this before her death, and so to leave
her own inheritance free of incumbrance to her son, the present Earl;
whom, I secretly think, she considered a greater person, as being the
heir of the Hanburys (though through a female line), than as being my
Lord Ludlow with half-a-dozen other minor titles.
With this wish of releasing her property from the mortgage, skilful
care was much needed in the management of it; and as far as my lady
could go, she took every pains. She had a great book, in which every
page was ruled into three divisions; on the first column was written
the date and the name of the tenant who addressed any letter on
business to her; on the second was briefly stated the subject of the
letter, which generally contained a request of some kind. This request
would be surrounded and enveloped in so many words, and often inserted
amidst so many odd reasons and excuses, that Mr. Horner (the steward)
would sometimes say it was like hunting through a bushel of chaff to
find a grain of wheat. Now, in the second column of this book, the
grain of meaning was placed, clean and dry, before her ladyship every
morning. She sometimes would ask to see the original letter; sometimes
she simply answered the request by a "Yes," or a "No;" and often she
would send for leases and papers, and examine them well, with Mr.
Horner at her elbow, to see if such petitions, as to be allowed to
plough up pasture fields, were provided for in the terms of the
original agreement. On every Thursday she made herself at liberty to
see her tenants, from four to six in the afternoon. Mornings would have
suited my lady better, as far as convenience went, and I believe the
old custom had been to have these levees (as her ladyship used to call
them) held before twelve. But, as she said to Mr. Horner, when he urged
returning to the former hours, it spoilt a whole day for a farmer, if
he had to dress himself in his best and leave his work in the forenoon
(and my lady liked to see her tenants come in their Sunday clothes; she
would not say a word, may be, but she would take her spectacles slowly
out, and put them on with silent gravity, and look at a dirty or
raggedly-dressed man so solemnly and earnestly, that his nerves must
have been pretty strong if he did not wince, and resolve that, however
poor he might be, soap and water, and needle and thread, should he used
before be again appeared in her ladyship's ante-room). The outlying
tenants had always a supper provided for them in the servants' hall on
Thursdays, to which, indeed, all comers were welcome to sit down. For
my lady said, though there were not many hours left of a working-man's
day when their business with her was ended, yet that they needed food
and rest, and that she should be ashamed if they sought either at the
Fighting Lion (called at this day the Hanbury Arms). They had as much
beer as they could drink while they were eating; and, when the food was
cleared away, they had a cup apiece of good ale, in which the oldest
tenant present, standing up, gave Madam's health; and after that was
drunk, they were expected to set off homewards; at any rate, no more
liquor was given them. The tenants one and all called her "Madam"; for
they recognised in her the married heiress of the Hanburys, not the
widow of a Lord Ludlow, of whom they and their forefathers knew
nothing; and against whose memory, indeed, there rankled a dim unspoken
grudge, the cause of which was accurately known to the very few who
understood the nature of a mortgage, and were therefore aware that
Madam's money had been taken to enrich my lord's poor land in Scotland.
I am sure - for you can understand I was behind the scenes, as it were,
and had many an opportunity of seeing and hearing, as I lay or sat
motionless in my lady's room with the double doors open between it and
the anteroom beyond, where Lady Ludlow saw her steward, and gave
audience to her tenants - I am certain, I say, that Mr. Horner was
silently as much annoyed at the money that was swallowed up by this
mortgage as any one; and, some time or other, he had probably spoken
his mind out to my lady; for there was a sort of offended reference on
her part, and respectful submission to blame on his, while every now
and then there was an implied protest - whenever the payments of the
interest became due, or whenever my lady stinted herself of any
personal expense, such as Mr. Horner thought was only decorous and
becoming in the heiress of the Hanburys. Her carriages were old and
cumbrous, wanting all the improvements which had been adopted by those
of her rank throughout the county. Mr. Horner would fain have had the
ordering of a new coach. The carriage-horses, too, were getting past
their work; yet all the promising colts bred on the estate were sold
for ready money; and so on. My lord, her son, was ambassador at some
foreign place, and very proud we all were of his glory and dignity; but
I fancy it cost money, and my lady would have lived on bread and water
sooner than have called upon him to help her in paying off the
mortgage, although he was the one who was to benefit by it in the end.
Mr. Horner was a very faithful steward, and very respectful to my
lady; although sometimes, I thought, she was sharper to him than to any
one else; perhaps because she knew that, although he never said
anything, he disapproved of the Hanburys being made to pay for the Earl
Ludlow's estates and state.
The late lord had been a sailor, and had been as extravagant in his
habits as most sailors are, I am told - for I never was at sea; and yet
he had a long sight to his own interests; but whatever he was, my lady
loved him and his memory, with about as fond and proud a love as ever
wife gave husband, I should think.
For a part of his life Mr. Horner, who was born on the Hanbury
property, had been a clerk to an attorney in Birmingham; and these few
years had given him a kind of worldly wisdom, which, though always
exerted for her benefit, was antipathetic to her ladyship, who thought
that some of her steward's maxims savoured of trade and commerce. I
fancy that if it had been possible, she would have preferred a return
to the primitive system, of living on the produce of the land, and
exchanging the surplus for such articles as were needed, without the
intervention of money.
But Mr. Horner was bitten with new-fangled notions, as she would
say, though his new-fangled notions were what folk at the present day
would think sadly behindhand; and some of Mr. Gray's ideas fell on Mr.
Horner's mind like sparks on tow, though they started from two
different points. Mr. Horner wanted to make every man useful and active
in this world, and to direct as much activity and usefulness as
possible to the improvement of the Hanbury estates, and the
aggrandisement of the Hanbury family, and therefore he fell into the
new cry for education.
Mr. Gray did not care much - Mr. Horner thought not enough - for
this world, and where any man or family stood in their earthly
position; but he would have every one prepared for the world to come,
and capable of understanding and receiving certain doctrines, for which
latter purpose, it stands to reason, he must have heard of these
doctrines; and therefore Mr. Gray wanted education. The answer in the
Catechism that Mr. Horner was most fond of calling upon a child to
repeat, was that to, "What is thy duty towards thy neighbour?" The
answer Mr. Gray liked best to hear repeated with unction was that to
the question, "What is the inward and spiritual grace?" The reply to
which Lady Ludlow bent her head the lowest, as we said our Catechism to
her on Sundays, was to, "What is thy duty towards God?" But neither Mr.
Horner nor Mr. Gray had heard many answers to the Catechism as yet.
Up to this time there was no Sunday-school in Hanbury. Mr. Gray's
desires were bounded by that object. Mr. Horner looked farther on: he
hoped for a day-school at some future time, to train up intelligent
labourers for working on the estate. My lady would hear of neither the
one nor the other; indeed, not the boldest man whom she ever saw would
have dared to name the project of a day-school within her hearing:
So Mr. Horner contented himself with quietly teaching a sharp,
clever lad to read and write, with a view to making use of him as a
kind of foreman in process of time. He had his pick of the farm-lads
for this purpose; and, as the brightest and sharpest, although by far
the raggedest and dirtiest, singled out Job Gregson's son. But all this
- as my lady never listened to gossip, or, indeed, was spoken to unless
she spoke first - was quite unknown to her, until the unlucky incident
took place which I am going to relate.
I think my lady was not aware of Mr. Horner's views on education
(as making men into more useful members of society), or the practice to
which he was putting his precepts in taking Harry Gregson as pupil and
protege - if, indeed, she were aware of Harry's distinct existence at
all - until the following unfortunate occasion. The ante-room, which
was a kind of business-place for my lady to receive her steward and
tenants in, was surrounded by shelves. I cannot call them book-shelves,
though there were many books on them; but the contents of the volumes
were principally manuscript, and relating to details connected with the
Hanbury property. There were also one or two dictionaries, gazetteers,
works of reference on the management of property; all of a very old
date (the dictionary was Bailey's, I remember; we hid a great Johnson
in my lady's room, but, where lexicographers differed, she generally
In this antechamber a footman generally sat, awaiting orders from
my lady; for she clung to the grand old customs, and despised any
bells, except her own little hand-bell, as modern inventions; she would
have her people always within summons of this silvery bell, or her
scarce less silvery voice. This man had not the sinecure you might
imagine. He had to reply to the private entrance: what we should call
the back door in a smaller house. As none came to the front door but my
lady, and those of the county whom she honoured by visiting, and her
nearest acquaintance of this kind lived eight miles (of bad road) off,
the majority of comers knocked at the nail-studded terrace door; not to
have it opened (for open it stood, by my lady's orders, winter and
summer, so that the snow often drifted into the back hall, and lay
there in heaps when the weather was severe), but to summon some one to
receive their message, or carry their request to be allowed to speak to
my lady. I remember it was long before Mr. Gray could be made to
understand that the great door was only open on state occasions, and
even to the last he would as soon come in by that as the terrace
entrance. I had been received there on my first setting foot over my
lady's threshold; every stranger was led in by that way the first time
they came; but after that (with the exceptions I have named) they went
round by the terrace, as it were by instinct. It was an assistance to
this instinct to be aware that, from time immemorial, the magnificent
and fierce Hanbury wolf-hounds, which were extinct in every other part
of the island, had been and still were kept chained in the front
quadrangle, where they bayed through a great part of the day and night,
and were always ready with their deep, savage growl at the sight of
every person and thing, excepting the man who fed them, my lady's
carriage and four, and my lady herself. It was pretty to see her small
figure go up to the great, crouching brutes, thumping the flags with
their heavy, wagging tails, and slobbering in an ecstasy of delight, at
her light approach and soft caress. She had no fear of them; but she
was a Hanbury born, and the tale went, that they and their kind knew
all Hanburys instantly, and acknowledged their supremacy, ever since
the ancestors of the breed had been brought from the East by the great
Sir Urian Hanbury, who lay with his legs crossed on the altar tomb in
the church. Moreover, it was reported that, not fifty years before, one
of these dogs had eaten up a child, which had inadvertently strayed
within reach of its chain. So you may imagine how most people preferred
the terrace door. Mr. Gray did not seem to care for the dogs. It might
be absence of mind, for I have heard of his starting away from their
sudden spring when he had unwittingly walked within reach of their
chains; but it could hardly have been absence of mind, when one day he
went right up to one of them, and patted him in the most friendly
manner, the dog meanwhile looking pleased, and affably wagging his
tail, just as if Mr. Gray had been a Hanbury. We were all very much
puzzled by this, and to this day I have not been able to account for
But now let us go back to the terrace door, and the footman sitting
in the antechamber.
One morning we heard a parleying, which rose to such a vehemence,
and lasted for so long, that my lady had to ring her hand-bell twice
before the footman heard it.
"What is the matter, John?" asked she, when he entered.
"A little boy, my lady, who says he comes from Mr. Horner, and must
see your ladyship. Impudent little lad!" (This last to himself.)
"What does he want?"
"That's just what I have asked him, my lady; but he won't tell me,
please your ladyship."
"It is, probably, some message from Mr. Horner," said Lady Ludlow,
with just a shade of annoyance in her manner; for it was against all
etiquette to send a message to her, and by such a messenger too!
"No! please your ladyship, I asked him if he had any message, and
be said no, he had none; but he must see your ladyship for all that."
"You had better show him in then, without more words," said her
ladyship quietly, but still, as I have said, rather annoyed.
As if in mockery of the humble visitor, the footman threw open both
battants of the door, and in the opening there stood a lithe, wiry lad,
with a thick head of hair, standing out in every direction, as if
stirred by some electrical current, a short, brown face, red now from
affright and excitement, wide, resolute mouth, and bright, deep-set
eyes, which glanced keenly and rapidly round the room, as if taking in
everything (and all was new and strange), to be thought and puzzled
over at some future time. He knew enough of manners not to speak first
to one above him in rank, or else he was afraid.
"What do you want with me?" asked my lady, in so gentle a tone that
it seemed to surprise and stun him.
"An't please your ladyship?" said he, as if he had been deaf.
"You come from Mr. Horner's: why do you want to see me?" again
asked she, a little more loudly.
"An't please your ladyship, Mr. Horner was sent for all on a sudden
to Warwick this morning."
His face began to work; but he felt it, and closed his lips into a
"And he went off all on a sudden like."
"And he left a note for your ladyship with me, your ladyship."
"Is that all? You might have given it to the footman."
"Please your ladyship, I've clean gone and lost it."
He never took his eyes off her face. If he had not kept his look
fixed, he would have burst out crying.
"That was very careless," said my lady gently. "But I am sure you
are very sorry for it. You had better try and find it; it may have been
"Please, mum - please your ladyship - I can say it off by heart."
"You! What do you mean?" I was really afraid now. My lady's blue
eyes absolutely gave out light, she was so much displeased, and,
moreover, perplexed. The more reason he had for affright, the more his
courage rose. He must have seen - so sharp a lad must have perceived -
her displeasure; but he went on quickly and steadily.
"Mr. Horner, my lady, has taught me to read, write, and cast
accounts, my lady. And he was in a hurry, and he folded his paper up,
but he did not seal it; and I read it, my lady; and now, my lady, it
seems like as if I had got it off by heart;" and he went on with a
high-pitched voice, saying out very loud what, I have no doubt, were
the identical words of the letter, date, signature, and all: it was
merely something about a deed, which required my lady's signature.
When he had done, he stood almost as if he expected commendation
for his accurate memory.
My lady's eyes contracted till the pupils were as needlepoints; it
was a way she had when much disturbed. She looked at me, and said -
"Margaret Dawson, what will this world come to?" And then she was
The lad, beginning to perceive he had given deep offence, stood
stock still - as if his brave will had brought him into this presence,
and impelled him to confession, and the best amends he could make, but
had now deserted him or was extinct, and left his body motionless,
until some one else with word or deed made him quit the room. My lady
looked again at him, and saw the frowning, dumb-foundering terror at
his misdeed, and the manner in which his confession had been received.
"My poor lad!" said she, the angry look leaving her face, "into
whose hands have you fallen?"
The boy's lips began to quiver.
"Don't you know what tree we read of in Genesis? - No! I hope you
have not got to read so easily as that." A pause. "Who has taught you
to read and write?"
"Please, my lady, I meant no harm, my lady." He was fairly
blubbering, overcome by her evident feeling of dismay and regret, the
soft repression of which was more frightening to him than any strong or
violent words would have been.
"Who taught you, I ask?"
"It were Mr. Horner's clerk who learned me, my lady."
"And did Mr. Horner know of it?"
"Yes, my lady. And I am sure I thought for to please him."
"Well! perhaps you were not to blame for that. But I wonder at Mr.
Horner. However, my boy, as you have got possession of edge-tools, you
must have some rules how to use them. Did you never hear that you were
not to open letters?"
"Please, my lady, it were open. Mr. Horner forgot to seal it, in
his hurry to be off."
"But you must not read letters that are not intended for you. You
must never try to read any letters that are not directed to you, even
if they be open before you."
"Please, my lady, I thought it were good for practice, all as one
as a book."
My lady looked bewildered as to what way she could farther explain
to him the laws of honour as regarded letters.
"You would not listen, I am sure," said she, "to anything you were
not intended to hear?"
He hesitated for a moment, partly because he did not fully
comprehend the question. My lady repeated it. The light of intelligence
came into his eager eyes, and I could see that he was not certain if he
could tell the truth.
"Please, my lady, I always hearken when I hear folk talking
secrets; but I mean no harm."
My poor lady sighed: she was not prepared to begin a long way off
in morals. Honour was, to her, second nature, and she had never tried
to find out on what principle its laws were based. So, telling the lad
that she wished to see Mr. Horner when he returned from Warwick, she
dismissed him with a despondent look; he, meanwhile, right glad to be
out of the awful gentleness of her presence.
"What is to be done?" said she, half to herself and half to me. I
could not answer, for I was puzzled myself.
"It was a right word," she continued, "that I used, when I called
reading and writing 'edge-tools.' If our lower orders have these
edge-tools given to them, we shall have the terrible scenes of the
French Revolution acted over again in England. When I was a girl, one
never heard of the rights of men, one only heard of the duties. Now,
here was Mr. Gray, only last night, talking of the right every child
had to instruction. I could hardly keep my patience with him, and at
length we fairly came to words; and I told him I would have no such
thing as a Sunday-school (or a Sabbath-school, as he calls it, just
like a Jew) in my village."
"And what did he say, my lady?" I asked; for the struggle that
seemed now to have come to a crisis had been going on for some time in
a quiet way.
"Why, he gave way to temper, and said, he was bound to remember he
was under the bishop's authority, not under mine; and implied that he
should persevere in his designs, notwithstanding my expressed opinion."
"And your ladyship" — I half inquired.
"I could only rise and curtsey, and civilly dismiss him. When two
persons have arrived at a certain point of expression on a subject,
about which they differ as materially as I do from Mr. Gray, the wisest
course, if they wish to remain friends, is to drop the conversation
entirely and suddenly. It is one of the few cases where abruptness is
I was sorry for Mr. Gray. He had been to see me several times, and
had helped me to bear my illness in a better spirit than I should have
done without his good advice and prayers. And I had gathered, from
little things he said, how much his heart was set upon this new scheme.
I liked him so much, and I loved and respected my lady so well, that I
could not bear them to be on the cool terms to which they were
constantly getting. Yet I could do nothing but keep silence.
I suppose my lady understood something of what was passing in my
mind; for, after a minute or two, she went on: -
"If Mr. Gray knew all I know, - if he had my experience, he would
not be so ready to speak of setting up his new plans in opposition to
my judgment. Indeed," she continued, lashing herself up with her own
recollections, "times are changed when the parson of a village comes to
beard the liege lady in her own house. Why, in my grandfather's days,
the parson was family chaplain too, and dined at the Hall every Sunday.
He was helped last, and expected to have done first. I remember seeing
him take up his plate and knife and fork, and say, with his mouth full
all the time he was speaking: 'If you please Sir Urian, and my lady,
I'll follow the beef into the housekeeper's room'; for, you see, unless
he did so, he stood no chance of a second helping. A greedy man, that
parson was, to be sure! I recollect his once eating up the whole of
some little bird at dinner, and, by way of diverting attention from his
greediness, he told how he had heard that a rook soaked in vinegar and
then dressed in a particular way, could not be distinguished from the
bird he was then eating. I saw by the grim look of my grandfather's
face that the parson's doing and saying displeased him; and, child as I
was, I had some notion of what was coming, when, as I was riding out on
my little white pony by my grandfather's side the next Friday, he
stopped one of the gamekeepers, and bade him shoot one of the oldest
rooks he could find. I knew no more about it till Sunday, when a dish
was set right before the parson, and Sir Urian said: 'Now Parson
Hemming, I have had a rook shot, and soaked in vinegar, and dressed as
you described last Sunday. Fall to, man, and eat it with as good an
appetite as you had last Sunday. Pick the bones clean, or by —, no
more Sunday dinners shall you eat at my table!' I gave one look at poor
Mr. Hemming's face, as he tried to swallow the first morsel, and make
believe as though he thought it very good; but I could not look again
for shame, although my grandfather laughed, and kept asking us all
round if we knew what could have become of the parson's appetite."
"And did he finish it?" I asked.
"Oh yes, my dear. What my grandfather said was to be done, was done
always. He was a terrible man in his anger! But to think of the
difference between Parson Hemming and Mr. Gray! or even of poor dear
Mr. Mountford and Mr. Gray. Mr. Mountford would never have withstood me
as Mr. Gray did!"
"And your ladyship really thinks that it would not be right to have
a Sunday-school?" I asked, feeling very timid as I put the question.
"Certainly not. As I told Mr. Gray, I consider a knowledge of the
Creed, and of the Lord's Prayer, as essential to salvation; and that
any child may have, whose parents bring it regularly to church. Then
there are the Ten Commandments, which teach simple duties in the
plainest language. Of course, if a lad is taught to read and write (as
that unfortunate boy has been who was here this morning) his duties
become complicated, and his temptations much greater, while, at the
same time, he has no hereditary principles and honourable training to
serve as safeguards. I might take up my old simile of the race-horse
and cart-horse. I am distressed," continued she, with a break in her
ideas, "about that boy. The whole thing reminds me so much of a story
of what happened to a friend of mine - Clement de Crequy. Did I ever
tell you about him?"
"No, your ladyship," I replied.
"Poor Clement! More than twenty years ago, Lord Ludlow and I spent
a winter in Paris. He had many friends there; perhaps not very good or
very wise men, but he was so kind that he liked every one, and every
one liked him. We had an apartment, as they call it there, in the Rue
de Lille; we had the first-floor of a grand h™tel, with the basement
for our servants. On the floor above us the owner of the house lived, a
Marquise de Crequy, a widow. They tell me that the Grequy coat-of-arms
is still emblazoned, after all these terrible years, on a shield above
the arched porte-cochre, just as it was then, though the family is
quite extinct. Madam de Crequy had only one son, Clement, who was just
the same age as my Urian - you may see his portrait in the great hall -
Urian's, I mean." I knew that Master Urian had been drowned at sea; and
often had I looked at the presentment of his bonny hopeful face, in his
sailor's dress, with right hand outstretched to a ship on the sea in
the distance, as if he had just said, "Look at her! all her sails are
set, and I'm just off." Poor Master Urian! he went down in this very
ship not a year after the picture was taken! But now I will go back to
my lady's story. "I can see those two boys playing now," continued she
softly, shutting her eyes, as if the better to call up the vision, "as
they used to do five-and-twenty years ago in those old-fashioned French
gardens behind our h™tel. Many a time have I watched them from my
windows. It was, perhaps, a better play-place than an English garden
would have been, for there were but few flower-beds, and no lawn at all
to speak about; but instead, terraces and balustrades and vases and
flights of stone steps more in the Italian style; and there were
jets-d'eau, and little fountains that could be set playing by turning
water-cocks that were hidden here and there. How Clement delighted in
turning the water on to surprise Urian, and how gracefully he did the
honours, as it were, to my dear, rough, sailor lad! Urian was as dark
as a gipsy boy, and cared little for his appearance, and resisted all
my efforts at setting off his black eyes and tangled curls; but
Clement, without ever showing that he thought about himself and his
dress, was always dainty and elegant, even though his clothes were
sometimes but threadbare. He used to be dressed in a kind of hunter's
green suit, open at the neck and half-way down the chest to beautiful
old lace frills; his long golden curls fell behind just like a girl's,
and his hair in front was cut over his straight dark eyebrows in a line
almost as straight. Urian learnt more of a gentleman's carefulness and
propriety of appearance from that lad in two months than he had done in
years from all my lectures. I recollect one day, when the two boys were
in full romp - and, my window being open, I could hear them perfectly -
and Urian was daring Clement to some scrambling or climbing, which
Clement refused to undertake, but in a hesitating way, as though he
longed to do it if some reason had not stood in the way; and at times,
Urian, who was hasty and thoughtless, poor fellow, told Clement that he
was afraid. 'Fear!' said the French boy, drawing himself up; 'you do
not know what you say. If you will be here at six to-morrow morning,
when it is only just light, I will take that starling's nest on the top
of yonder chimney.' 'But why not now, Clement ?' said Urian, putting
his arm round Clement's neck. 'Why then, and not now, just when we are
in the humour for it?' 'Because we De Crequys are poor, and my mother
cannot afford me another suit of clothes this year, and yonder stone
carving is all jagged, and would tear my coat and breeches. Now,
to-morrow morning I could go up with nothing on but an old shirt.'
"'But you would tear your legs.'
"'My race do not care for pain,' said the boy, drawing himself from
Urian's arm, and walking a few steps away, with a becoming pride and
reserve; for he was hurt at being spoken to as if he were afraid, and
annoyed at having to confess the true reason for declining the feat.
But Urian was not to be thus baffled. He went up to Clement, and put
his arm once more about his neck, and I could see the two lads as they
walked down the terrace away from the h™tel windows: first Urian spoke
eagerly, looking with imploring fondness into Clement's face, which
sought the ground, till at last the French boy spoke, and by-and-by his
arm was round Urian too, and they paced backwards and forwards in deep
talk, but gravely, as became men, rather than boys.
"All at once, from the little chapel at the corner of the large
garden belonging to the Missions ƒtrangres, I heard the tinkle of the
little bell, announcing the elevation of the host. Down on his knees
went Clement, hands crossed, eyes bent down: while Urian stood looking
on in respectful thought.
"What a friendship that might have been! I never dream of Urian
without seeing Clement too, - Urian speaks to me, or does something -
but Clement only flits round Urian, and never seems to see any one
"But I must not forget to tell you, that the next morning, before
he was out of his room, a footman of Madame de Crequy's brought Urian
the starling's nest.
"Well! we came back to England, and the boys were to correspond;
and Madame de Crequy and I exchanged civilities; and Urian went to sea.
"After that, all seemed to drop away. I cannot tell you all.
However, to confine myself to the De Crequys. I had a letter from
Clement; I knew he felt his friend's death deeply; but I should never
have learnt it from the letter he sent. It was formal, and seemed like
chaff to my hungering heart. Poor fellow! I dare say he had found it
hard to write. What could he - or any one - say to a mother who has
lost her child? The world does not think so, and, in general, one must
conform to the customs of the world; but, judging from my own
experience, I should say that reverent silence at such times is the
tenderest balm. Madame de Crequy wrote too. But I knew she could not
feel my loss so much as Clement, and therefore her letter was not such
a disappointment. She and I went on being civil and polite in the way
of commissions, and occasionally introducing friends to each other, for
a year or two, and then we ceased to have any intercourse. Then the
terrible Revolution came. No one who did not live at those times can
imagine the daily expectation of news - the hourly terror of rumours
affecting the fortunes and lives of those whom most of us had known as
pleasant hosts, receiving us with peaceful welcome in their magnificent
houses. Of course, there was sin enough and suffering enough behind the
scenes; but we English visitors to Paris had seen little or nothing of
that - and I had sometimes thought, indeed, how even Death seemed loth
to choose his victims out of that brilliant throng whom I had known.
Madame de Crequy's one boy lived; while three out of my six were gone
since we had met! I do not think all lots are equal, even now that I
know the end of her hopes; but I do say that whatever our individual
lot is, it is our duty to accept it, without comparing it with that of
"The times were thick with gloom and terror. 'What next?' was the
question we asked of every one who brought us news from Paris. Where
were these demons hidden when, so few years ago, we danced and feasted,
and enjoyed the brilliant salons and the charming friendships of Paris?
"One evening, I was sitting alone in Saint James's Square; my lord
off at the club with Mr. Fox and others: he had left me, thinking that
I should go to one of the many places to which I had been invited for
that evening; but I had no heart to go anywhere, for it was poor
Urian's birthday, and I had not even rung for lights, though the day
was fast closing in, but was thinking over all his pretty ways, and on
his warm affectionate nature, and how often I had been too hasty in
speaking to him for all I loved him so dearly; and how I seemed to have
neglected and dropped his dear friend Clement, who might even now be in
need of help in that cruel, bloody Paris. I say I was thinking
reproachfully of all this, and particularly of Clement de Crequy in
connection with Urian, when Fenwick brought me a note, sealed with a
coat of arms I knew well, though I could not remember at the moment
where I had seen it. I puzzled over it as one does sometimes, for a
minute or more, before I opened the letter. In a moment I saw it was
from Clement de Crequy. 'My mother is here,' he said: 'she is very ill,
and I am bewildered in this strange country. May I entreat you to
receive me for a few minutes?' The bearer of the note was the woman of
the house where they lodged. I had her brought up into the anteroom,
and questioned her myself, while my carriage was being brought round.
They had arrived in London a fortnight or so before; she had not known
their quality, judging them (according to her kind) by their dress and
their luggage: poor enough, no doubt. The lady had never left her
bedroom since her arrival; the young man waited upon her, did
everything for her, never left her, in fact; only she (the messenger)
had promised to stay within call, as soon as she returned, while he
went out somewhere. She could hardly understand him, he spoke English
so badly. He had never spoken it, I dare say, since he had talked to my
"In the hurry of the moment I scarce knew what I did. I bade the
housekeeper put up every delicacy she had, in order to tempt the
invalid, whom yet I hoped to bring back with me to our house. When the
carriage was ready I took the good woman with me to show us the exact
way, which my coachman professed not to know; for, indeed, they were
staying at but a poor kind of place at the back of Leicester Square, of
which they had heard, as Clement told me afterwards, from one of the
fishermen who had carried them across from the Dutch coast in their
disguises as a Friesland peasant and his mother. They had some jewels
of value concealed round their persons; but their ready money was all
spent before I saw them; and Clement had been unwilling to leave his
mother, even for the time necessary to ascertain the best mode of
disposing of the diamonds. For, overcome with distress of mind and
bodily fatigue, she had reached London only to take to her bed in a
sort of low, nervous fever, in which her chief and only idea seemed to
be that Clement was about to be taken from her to some prison or other;
and if he were out of her sight, though but for a minute, she cried
like a child, and could not be pacified or comforted. The landlady was
a kind, good woman, and though she but half understood the case, she
was truly sorry for them, as foreigners, and the mother sick in a
"I sent her forwards to request permission for my entrance. In a
moment I saw Clement - a tall, elegant young man, in a curious dress of
coarse cloth, standing at the open door of a room, and evidently - even
before he accosted me - striving to soothe the terrors of his mother
inside. I went towards him, and would have taken his hand, but he bent
down and kissed mine.
"'May I come in, madame?' I asked, looking at the poor sick lady,
lying in the dark, dingy bed, her bead propped up on coarse and dirty
pillows, and gazing with affrighted eyes at all that was going on.
"'Clement! Clement! come to me!' she cried; and when he went to the
bedside she turned on one side, and took his hand in both of hers, and
began stroking it, and looking up in his face. I could scarce keep back
"He stood there quite still, except that from time to time he spoke
to her in a low tone. At last I advanced into the room, so that I could
talk to him, without renewing her alarm. I asked for the doctor's
address; for I had heard that they had called in some one, at their
landlady's recommendation; but I could hardly understand Clement's
broken English, and mispronunciation of our proper names, and was
obliged to apply to the woman herself. I could not say much to Clement,
for his attention was perpetually needed by his mother, who never
seemed to perceive that I was there. But I told him not to fear,
however long I might be away, for that I would return before night;
and, bidding the woman take charge of all the heterogeneous things the
housekeeper had put up, and leaving one of my men in the house, who
could understand a few words of French, with directions that he was to
hold himself at Madame de Crequy's orders until I sent or gave him
fresh commands, I drove off to the doctor's. What I wanted was his
permission to remove Madame de Crequy to my own house, and to learn how
it best could be done; for I saw that every movement in the room, every
sound except Clement's voice, brought on a fresh access of trembling
and nervous agitation.
"The doctor was, I should think, a clever man; but he had that kind
of abrupt manner which people get who have much to do with the lower
"I told him the story of his patient, the interest I had in her,
and the wish I entertained of removing her to my own house.
"'It can't be done,' said he. 'Any change will kill her.'
"'But it must be done,' I replied. 'And it shall not kill her.'
"'Then I have nothing more to say,' said he, turning away from the
carriage door, and making as though he would go back into the house.
"'Stop a moment. You must help me; and, if you do, you shall have
reason to be glad, for I will give you fifty pounds down with pleasure.
If you won't do it, another shall.'
"He looked at me, then (furtively) at the carriage, hesitated, and
then said - 'You do not mind expense apparently. I suppose you are a
rich lady of quality. Such folks will not stick at such trifles as the
life or death of a sick woman to get their own way. I suppose I must
e'en help you, for if I don't, another will.'
"I did not mind what he said, so that he would assist me. I was
pretty sure that she was in a state to require opiates; and I had not
forgotten Christopher Sly, you may be sure; so I told him what I had in
my head. That in the dead of night - the quiet time in the streets -
she should be carried in a hospital litter, softly and warmly covered
over from the Leicester Square lodging-house to rooms that I would have
in perfect readiness for her. As I planned, so it was done. I let
Clement know, by a note, of my design. I had all prepared at home, and
we walked about my house as though shod with velvet, while the porter
watched at the open door. At last, through the darkness, I saw the
lanterns carried by my men, who were leading the little procession. The
litter looked like a hearse; on one side walked the doctor, on the
other Clement; they came softly. and swiftly along. I could not try any
farther experiment; we dared not change her clothes; she was laid in
the bed in the landlady's coarse night-gear, and covered over warmly,
and left in the shaded, scented room, with a nurse and the doctor
watching by her, while I led Clement to the dressing-room adjoining, in
which I had had a bed placed for him. Farther than that he would not
go; and there I had refreshments brought. Meanwhile, he had shown his
gratitude by every possible action (for we none of us dared to speak):
he had kneeled at my feet, and kissed my hand, and left it wet with his
tears. He had thrown up his arms to heaven, and prayed earnestly, as I
could see by the movement of his lips. I allowed him to relieve himself
by these dumb expressions, if I may so call them - and then I left him,
and went to my own rooms to sit up for my lord, and tell him what I had
"Of course, it was all right; and neither my lord nor I could sleep
for wondering how Madame de Crequy would bear her awakening. I had
engaged the doctor, to whose face and voice she was accustomed, to
remain with her all night; the nurse was experienced, and Clement was
within call. But it was with the greatest relief that I heard from my
own woman, when she brought me my chocolate, that Madame de Crequy
(Monsieur had said) had awakened more tranquil than she had been for
many days. To be sure, the whole aspect of the bed-chamber must have
been more familiar to her than the miserable place where I had found
her, and she must have intuitively felt herself among friends.
My lord was scandalised at Clement's dress, which, after the first
moment of seeing him, I had forgotten, in thinking of other things, and
for which I had not prepared Lord Ludlow. He sent for his own tailor,
and bade him bring patterns of stuffs, and engage his men to work night
and day till Clement could appear as became his rank. In short, in a
few days so much of the traces of their flight were removed, that we
had almost forgotten the terrible causes of it, and rather felt as if
they had come on a visit to us than that they had been compelled to fly
their country. Their diamonds, too, were sold well by my lord's agents,
though the London shops were stocked with jewellery, and such portable
values, some of rare and curious fashion, which were sold for half
their real value by emigrants who could not afford to wait. Madame de
Crequy was recovering her health, although her strength was sadly gone,
and she would never be equal to such another flight as the perilous one
which she had gone through, and to which she could not bear the
slightest reference. For some time things continued in this state; -
the De Crequys still our honoured visitors - many houses besides our
own, even among our own friends, open to receive the poor flying
nobility of France, driven from their country by the brutal
republicans, and every freshly-arrived emigrant bringing new tales of
horror, as if these revolutionists were drunk with blood, and mad to
devise new atrocities. One day, Clement - I should tell you he had been
presented to our good King George and the sweet Queen, and they had
accosted him most graciously, and his beauty and elegance, and some of
the circumstances attendant on his flight, made him be received in the
world quite like a hero of romance; he might have been on intimate
terms in many a distinguished house, had he cared to visit much; but he
accompanied my lord and me with an air of indifference and languor,
which I sometimes fancied made him all the more sought after;
Monkshaven (that was the title my eldest son bore) tried in vain to
interest him in all young men's sports. But no it was the same through
all. His mother took far more interest in the on-dits of the London
world, into which she was far too great an invalid to venture, than he
did in the absolute events themselves, in which he might have been an
actor. One day, as I saying, an old Frenchman of a humble class
presented himself to our servants, several of whom understood French;
and through Medlicott, I learnt that he was in some way connected with
the De Crequys; not with their Paris life, but I fancy he had been
intendant of their estates in the country - estates which were more
useful as hunting-grounds than as adding to their income. However there
was the old man; and with him, wrapped round his person, he had brought
the long parchment rolls, and deeds relating to. their property. These
he would deliver up to none but Monsieur de Crequy, the rightful owner;
and Clement was out with Monkshaven, so the old man waited; and when
Clement came in, I told him of the steward's arrival, and how he had
been cared for by my people. Clement went directly to see him. He was a
long time away, and I was waiting for him to drive out with me, for
some purpose or other, I scarce know what, but I remember I was tired
of waiting, and was just in the act of ringing the bell to desire that
he might be reminded of his engagement with me, when he came in, his
face as white as the powder in his hair, his beautiful eyes dilated
with horror. I saw that he had heard something that touched him even
more closely than the usual tales which every fresh emigrant brought.
"'What is it, Clement?' I asked.
"He clasped his hands, and looked as though he tried to speak, but
could not bring out the words.
"'They have guillotined my uncle!' said he at last. Now, I knew
that there was a Count de Crequy; but I had always understood that the
elder branch held very little communication with him; in fact, that he
was a vaurien of some kind, and rather a disgrace than otherwise to the
family. So, perhaps, I was hard-hearted; but I was a little surprised
at this excess of emotion, till I saw that peculiar look in his eyes
that many people have when there is more terror m their hearts than
they dare put into words. He wanted me to understand something without
his saying it; but how could I? I had never heard of a Mademoiselle de
"'Virginie!' at last he uttered. In an instant I understood it all,
and remembered that, if Urian had lived, he too might have been in
"'Your uncle's daughter?' I inquired.
"'My cousin,' he replied
"I did not say, 'your betrothed,' but I had no doubt of it. I was
"'Oh, madame!' he continued, 'her mother died long ago - her father
now - and she is in daily fear - alone, deserted' —
"'Is she in the Abbaye?' asked I.
"'No! she is in hiding with the widow of her father's old
concierge. Any day they may search the house for aristocrats. They are
seeking them everywhere. Then, not her life alone, but that of the old
woman, her hostess, is sacrificed. The old woman knows this, and
trembles with fear. Even if she is brave enough to be faithful, her
fears would betray her, should the house be searched. Yet, there is no
one to help Virginie to escape. She is alone in Paris.'
"I saw what was in his mind. He was fretting and chafing to go to
his cousin's assistance; but the thought of his mother restrained him.
I would not have kept back Urian from such an errand at such a time.
How should I restrain him? And yet, perhaps, I did wrong in not urging
the chances of danger more. Still, if it was danger to him, was it not
the same or even greater danger to her? - for the French spared neither
age nor sex in those wicked days of terror. So I rather fell in with
his wish, and encouraged him to think how best and most prudently it
might be fulfilled; never doubting, as I have said, that he and his
cousin were troth-plighted.
"But when I went to Madame de Crequy - after he had imparted his,
or rather our plan to her - I found out my mistake. She, who was in
general too feeble to walk across the room save slowly, and with a
stick, was going from end to end with quick, tottering steps; and, if
now and then she sank upon a chair, it seemed as if she could not rest,
for she was up again ins moment, pacing along, wringing her hands, and
speaking rapidly to herself. When she saw me, she stopped: 'Madame,'
she said, 'you have lost your own boy. You might have left me mine.'
"I was so astonished I hardly knew what to say. I had spoken to
Clement as if his mother's consent were secure (as I had felt my own
would have been if Urian had been alive to ask it). Of course, both he
and I knew that his mother's consent must be asked and obtained, before
he could leave her to go on such an undertaking; but, somehow, my blood
always rose at the sight or sound of danger; perhaps, because my life
had been so peaceful. Poor Madame de Crequy I it was otherwise with
her; she despaired while I hoped and Clement trusted.
"'Dear Madame de Crequy,' said I, 'he will return safely to us;
every precaution shall be taken, that either he or you, or my lord, or
Monkshaven can think of; but he cannot leave a girl - his nearest
relation save you - his betrothed, is she not?'
"'His betrothed!' cried she, now at the utmost pitch of her
excitement. 'Virginie betrothed to Clement? - no! thank Heaven, not so
bad as that! Yet it might have been. But mademoiselle scorned my son!
She would have nothing to do with him. Now is the time for him to have
nothing to do with her!'
Clement had entered at the door behind his mother as she thus
spoke. His face was set and pale, till it looked as grey and immovable
as if it had been carved in stone. He came forward and stood before his
mother. She stopped her walk, threw back her haughty head, and the two
looked each other steadily in the face. After a minute or two in this
attitude, her proud and resolute gaze never flinching or wavering, he
went down upon one knee, and, taking her hand - her hard, stony hand,
which never closed on his, but remained straight and stiff -
"'Mother,' he pleaded, 'withdraw your prohibition. Let me go!'
"'What were her words?' Madame de Crequy replied slowly, as if
forcing her memory to the extreme of accuracy. '"My cousin," she said,
"when I marry, I marry a man, not a petit-ma”tre. I marry a man who,
whatever his rank may be, will add dignity to the human race by his
virtues, and not be content to live in an effeminate court on the
traditions of past grandeur." She borrowed her words from the infamous
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the friend of her scarce less infamous father, -
nay! I will say it - if not her words, she borrowed her principles. And
my son to request her to marry him!'
"'It was my father's written wish,' said Clement.
"'But did you not love her? You plead your father's words - words
written twelve years before - and as if that were your reason for being
indifferent to my dislike to the alliance. But you requested her to
marry you - and she refused you with insolent contempt; and now you are
ready to leave me - leave me desolate in a foreign land' —
"'Desolate! my mother! and the Countess Ludlow stands there!'
"'Pardon, madame! But all the earth, though it were full of kind
hearts, is but a desolation and a desert place to a mother when her
only child is absent. And you, Clement, would leave me for this
Virginie - this degenerate De Crequy, tainted with the atheism of the
Encyclopedistes! She is only reaping some of the fruit of the harvest
whereof her friends have sown the seed. Let her alone! Doubtless she
has friends - it may be lovers - among these demons, who, under the cry
of liberty, commit every license. Let her alone, Clement! She refused
you with scorn: be too proud to notice her now.'
"'Mother, I cannot think of myself; only of her.'
"'Think of me, then! I, your mother, forbid you to go.'
"Clement bowed low, and went out of the room instantly, as one
blinded. She saw his groping movement, and, for an instant, I think,
her heart was touched. But she turned to me, and tried to exculpate her
past violence by dilating upon her wrongs, and they certainly were
many. The Count, her husband's younger brother, had invariably tried to
make mischief between husband and wife. He had been the cleverer man of
the two, and had possessed extraordinary influence over her husband.
She suspected him of having instigated that clause in her husband's
will, by which the Marquis expressed his wish for the marriage of the
cousins. The Count had had some interest in the management of the De
Crequy property during her son's minority. Indeed, I remembered then,
that it was through Count de Crequy that Lord Ludlow had first heard of
the apartment which we afterwards took in the H™tel de Crequy; and then
the recollection of a past feeling came distinctly out of the mist, as
it were; and I called to mind how, when we first took up our abode in
the H™tel de Crequy, both Lord Ludlow and I imagined that the
arrangement was displeasing to our hostess; and how it had taken us a
considerable time before we had been able to establish relations of
friendship with her. Years after our visit, she began to suspect that
Clement (whom she could not forbid to visit at his uncle's house,
considering the terms on which his father had been with his brother;
though she herself never set foot over the Count de Crequy's threshold)
was attaching himself to mademoiselle, his cousin; and she made
cautious inquiries as to the appearance, character, and disposition of
the young lady. Mademoiselle was not handsome, they said: but of a fine
figure, and generally considered as having a very noble and attractive
presence. In character she was daring and wilful (said one set);
original and independent (said another). She was much indulged by her
father, who had given her something of a man's education, and selected
for her intimate friend a young lady below her in rank, one of the
Bureaucratie, a Mademoiselle Necker, daughter of the Minister of
Finance. Mademoiselle de Crequy was thus introduced into all the
free-thinking salons of Paris; among people who were always full of
plans for subverting society. 'And did Clement affect such people?'
Madame do Crequy had asked with some anxiety. No! Monsieur do Crequy
had neither eyes nor ears, nor thought, for anything but his cousin,
while she was by. And she? She hardly took notice of his devotion, so
evident to every one else. The proud creature! But perhaps that was her
haughty way of concealing what she felt. And so Madame de Crequy
listened, and questioned, and learnt nothing decided, until one day she
surprised Clement with the note in his hand, of which she remembered
the stinging words so well, in which Virginie had said, in reply to a
proposal Clement had sent her through her father, that 'When she
married, she married a man, not a petit-ma”tre.'
"Clement was justly indignant at the insulting nature of the answer
Virginie had sent to a proposal, respectful in its tone, and which was,
after all, but the cool, hardened lava over a burning heart. He
acquiesced in his mother's desire, that he should not again present
himself in his uncle's salons; but he did not forget Virginie, though
he never mentioned her name.
"Madame de Crequy and her son were among the earliest proscrits, as
they were of the strongest possible royalists, and aristocrats, as it
was the custom of the horrid Sansculottes to term those who adhered to
the habits of expression and action in which it was their pride to have
been educated. They had left Paris some weeks before they had arrived
in England, and Clement's belief at the time of quitting the Hotel do
Crequy had certainly been, that his uncle was not merely safe, but
rather a popular man with the party in power. And, as all communication
having relation to private individuals of a reliable kind was
intercepted, Monsieur do Crequy had felt but little anxiety for his
uncle and cousin, in comparison with what he did for many other friends
of very different opinions in politics, until the day when he was
stunned by the fatal information that even his progressive uncle was
guillotined, and learnt that his cousin was imprisoned by the license
of the mob, whose rights (as she called them) she was always
"When I had heard all this story, I confess I lost in sympathy for
Clement what I gained for his mother. Virginie's life did not seem to
me worth the risk that Clement's would run. But when I saw him - sad,
depressed, nay, hopeless - going about like one oppressed by a heavy
dream which he cannot shake off; caring neither to eat, drink, nor
sleep, yet bearing all with silent dignity, and even trying to force a
poor, faint smile when he caught my anxious eyes: I turned round again
and wondered hew Madame de Crequy could resist this mute pleading of
her son's altered appearance. As for my Lord Ludlow and Monkshaven, as
soon as they understood the case, they were indignant that any mother
should attempt to keep a son out of honourable danger; and it was
honourable, and a clear duty (according to them), to try to save the
life of a helpless orphan girl, his next-of-kin. None but a Frenchman,
said my lord, would hold himself bound by an old woman's whimsies and
fears, even though she were his mother. As it was, he was chafing
himself to death under the restraint. If he went, to be sure, the —
wretches might make an end of him, as they had done of many a fine
fellow; but my lord would take heavy odds, that, instead of being
guillotined, he would save the girl, and bring her safe to England,
just desperately in love with her preserver, and then we would have a
jelly wedding down at Monkshaven. My lord repeated his opinion so often
that it became a certain prophecy in his mind of what was to take
place; and, one day, seeing Clement leek even paler and thinner than he
had ever done before, he sent a message to Madame de Crequy, requesting
permission to speak to her in private.
"'For, by George!' said he, 'she shall hear my opinion, and not let
that lad of hers kill himself by fretting. He's too good for that. If
he had been an English lad, he would have been off to his sweetheart
long before this, without saying with your leave or by your leave; but,
being a Frenchman, he is all for ®neas and filial piety - filial
fiddlesticks!' (My lord had run away to sea, when a boy, against his
father's consent, I am sorry to say; and, as all had ended well, and he
had come back to find both his parents alive, I do not think he was
ever as much aware of his fault as he might have been under other
circumstances.) 'No, my lady,' he went on, 'don't come with me. A woman
can manage a man best when he has a fit of obstinacy, and a man can
persuade a woman out of her tantrums, when all her own sex, the whole
army of them, would fail. Allow me to go alone to my tte-ˆ-tte with
"What he said, what passed, he never could repeat; but he came back
graver than he went. However, the point was gained; Madame do Crequy
withdrew her prohibition, and had given him leave to tell Clement as
"'But she is an old Cassandra,' said he. 'Don't let the lad be much
with her; her talk would destroy the courage of the bravest man; she is
so given ever to superstition.' Something that she had said had touched
a chord in my lord's nature which he inherited from his Scotch
ancestors. Long afterwards, I heard what this was. Medlicott told me.
"However, my lord shook off all fancies that told against the
fulfilment of Clement's wishes. All that afternoon we three sat
together, planning; and Monkshaven passed in and out, executing our
commissions, and preparing everything. Towards nightfall all was ready
for Clement's start on his journey towards the coast.
"Madame had declined seeing any of us since my lord's stormy
interview with her. She sent word that she was fatigued, and desired
repose. But, of course, before Clement set off, he was bound to wish
her farewell, and to ask for her blessing. In order to avoid an
agitating conversation between mother and son, my lord and I resolved
to be present at the interview. Clement was already in his
travelling-dress, that of a Norman fisherman, which Monkshaven had,
with infinite trouble, discovered in the possession of one of the
emigres who thronged London, and who had made his escape from the
shores of France in this disguise. Clement's plan was to go down to the
coast of Sussex, and get some of the fishing or smuggling boats to take
him across to the French coast near Dieppe. There again he would have
to change his dress. Oh, it was so well planned! His mother was
startled by his disguise (of which we had not thought to forewarn her)
as he entered her apartment. And either that, or the being suddenly
roused from the heavy slumber into which she was apt to fall when she
was left alone, gave her manner an air of wildness that was almost like
"'Go, go!' she said to him, almost pushing him away as he knelt to
kiss her hand. 'Virginie is beckoning to you, but you don't see what
kind of a bed it is' —
"'Clement, make haste!' said my lord, in a hurried manner, as if to
interrupt madame. 'The time is later than I thought, and you must not
miss the morning's tide. Bid your mother good-bye at once, and let us
be off.' For my lord and Monkshaven were to ride with him to an inn
near the shore, from whence he was to walk to his destination. My lord
almost took him by the arm to pull him away; and they were gone, and I
was left alone with Madame de Crequy. When she heard the horses' feet,
she seemed to find out the truth, as if for the first time. She set her
teeth together. 'He has left me for her!' she almost screamed. 'Left me
for her!' she kept muttering; and then, as the wild look came back into
her eyes, she said, almost with exultation, 'But I did not give him my
"All night Madame de Crequy raved in delirium. If I could, I would
have sent for Clement back again. I did send off one man, but I suppose
my directions were confused, or they were wrong, for he came back after
my lord's return, on the following afternoon. By this time Madame de
Crequy was quieter; she was, indeed, asleep from exhaustion when Lord
Ludlow and Monkshaven came in. 'They were in high spirits, and their
hopefulness brought me round to a less dispirited state. All had gone
well: they had accompanied Clement on foot along the shore, until they
had met with a lugger, which my lord had hailed in good nautical
language. The captain had responded to these freemason terms by sending
a boat to pick up his passenger, and by an invitation to breakfast sent
through a speaking-trumpet. Monkshaven did not approve of either the
meal or the company, and had returned to the inn; but my lord had gone
with Clement, and breakfasted on board, upon grog, biscuit,
fresh-caught fish - 'the best breakfast he ever ate,' he said; but that
was probably owing to the appetite his night's ride had given him.
However, his good fellowship had evidently won the captain's heart, and
Clement had set sail under the best auspices. It was agreed that I
should tell all this to Madame de Crequy, if she inquired; otherwise,
it would be wiser not to renew her agitation by alluding to her son's
"I sat with her constantly for many days; but she never spoke of
Clement. She forced herself to talk of the little occurrences of
Parisian society in former days; she tried to be conversational and
agreeable, and to betray no anxiety or even interest in the object of
Clement's journey; and, as far as unremitting efforts could go, she
succeeded. But the tones of her voice were sharp and yet piteous, as if
she were in constant pain; and the glance of her eye hurried and
fearful, as if she dared not let it rest on any object.
"In a week we heard of Clement's safe arrival on the French coast.
He sent a letter to this effect by the captain of the smuggler, when
the latter returned. We hoped to hear again; but week after week
elapsed, and there was no news of Clement. I had told Lord Ludlow, in
Madams de Crequy's presence, as he and I had arranged, of the note I
had received from her son, informing us of his landing in France. She
heard, but she took no notice, and evidently began to. wonder that we
did not mention any further intelligence of him in the same manner
before her; and daily I began to fear that her pride would give way,
and that she would supplicate for news before I had any to give her.
"One morning, on my awakening, my maid told me that Madame de
Crequy had passed a wretched night, and had hidden Medlicott (whom, as
understanding French, and speaking it pretty well, though with that
horrid German accent, I had put about her) request that I would go to
madame's room as soon as I was dressed.
"I knew what was coming, and I trembled all the time they were
doing my hair, and otherwise arranging me. I was not encouraged by my
lord's speeches. He had heard the message, and kept declaring that he
would rather be shot than have to tell her that there was no news of
her son; and yet he said, every now and then, when I was at the lowest
pitch of uneasiness, that he never expected to hear again: that some
day soon we should see him walking in and introducing Mademoiselle de
Crequy to us.
"However, at last I was ready, and go I must.
"Her eyes were fixed on the door by which I entered. I went up to
the bedside. She was not rouged, - she had left it off now for several
days, - she no longer attempted to keep up the vain show of not
feeling, and loving, and fearing.
"For a moment or two she did not speak, and I was glad of the
"'Clement?' she said at length, covering her mouth with a
handkerchief the minute she had spoken, that I might not see it quiver.
"'There has been no news since the first letter, saying how well
the voyage was performed, and how safely he had landed - near Dieppe,
you know,' I replied as cheerfully as possible. 'My lord does not
expect that we shall have another letter; he thinks that we shall see
"'There was no answer. As I looked, uncertain whether to do or say
more, she slowly turned herself in bed, and lay with her face to the
wall; and, as if that did not shut out the light of day and the busy,
happy world enough, she put out her trembling hands, and covered her
face with her handkerchief. 'There was no violence: hardly any sound.
"I told her what my lord had said about Clement's coming in some
day, and taking us all by surprise. I did not believe it myself, but it
was just possible - and I had nothing else to say. Pity, to one who was
striving so hard to conceal her feelings, would have been impertinent.
She let me talk; but she did not reply. She knew that my words were
vain and idle, and had no root in my belief, as well as I did myself.
"I was very thankful when Medlicott came in with madame's
breakfast, and gave me an excuse for leaving.
"But I think that conversation made me feel more anxious and
impatient than ever. I felt almost pledged to Madame de Crequy for the
fulfilment of the vision I had held out. She had taken entirely to her
bed by this time: not from illness, but because she had no hope within
her to stir her up to the effort of dressing. In the same way she
hardly cared for food. She had no appetite - why eat to prolong a life
of despair? But she let Medlicott feed her, sooner than take the
trouble of resisting.
"And so it went on - for weeks, months - I could hardly count the
time, it seemed so long. Medlicott told me she noticed a preternatural
sensitiveness of ear in Madame de Crequy, induced by the habit of
listening silently for the slightest unusual sound in the house.
Medlicott was always a minute watcher of any one whom she cared about;
and, one day, she made me notice by a sign madame's acuteness of
hearing, although the quick expectation was but evinced for a moment in
the turn of the eye, the hushed breath - and then, when the unusual
footstep turned into my lord's apartments, the soft quivering sigh and
the closed eyelids.
"At length the intendant of the De Crequy estates - the old man,
you will remember, whose information respecting Virginie de Crequy
first gave Clement the desire to return to Paris - came to St. James's
Square, and begged to speak to me. I made haste to go down to him in
the housekeeper's room, sooner than that he should he ushered into
mine, for fear of madame hearing any sound.
"'The old man stood - I see him now - with his hat held before him
in both his hands; he slowly bowed till his face touched it when I came
in. Such long excess of courtesy augured ill. He waited for me to
"'Have you any intelligence?' I inquired. He had been often to the
house before, to ask if we had received any news; and once or twice I
had seen him, but this was the first time he had begged to see me.
"'Yes, madame,' he replied, still standing with his head bent down,
like a child in disgrace.
"'And it is bad!' I exclaimed.
"'It is had.' For a moment I was angry at the cold tone in which my
words were echoed; but directly afterwards I saw the large, slow, heavy
tears of age falling down the old man's cheeks, and on to the sleeves
of his poor, threadbare coat.
"I asked him how he had heard it: it seemed as though I could not
all at once bear to hear what it was. He told me that the night before,
in crossing Long Acre, he had stumbled upon an old acquaintance of his;
one who, like himself, had been a dependent upon the De Crequy family,
but had managed their Paris affairs, while Flechier had taken charge of
their estates in the country. Both were now emigrants, and living on
the proceeds of such small available talents as they possessed.
Flechier, as I knew, earned a very fair livelihood by going about to
dress salads for dinner parties. His compatriot, Le Fbvre, had begun
to give a few lessons as a dancing-master. One of them took the other
home to his lodgings; and there, when their most immediate personal
adventures had been hastily talked over, came the inquiry from Flechier
as to Monsier de Crequy.
"'Clement was dead - guillotined. Virginie was dead - guillotined.'
"When Plechier had told me thus much, he could not speak for
sobbing; and I, myself, could hardly tell how to restrain my tears
sufficiently, until I could go to my own room, and be at liberty to
give way. He asked my leave to bring in his friend Le Fbvre, who was
walking in the square, awaiting a possible summons to tell his story. I
heard afterwards a good many details, which filled up the account, and
made me feel - which brings me back to the point I started from - how
unfit the lower orders are for being trusted indiscriminately with the
dangerous powers of education. I have made a long preamble, but now I
am coming to the moral of my story."
My lady was trying to shake off the emotion which she evidently
felt in recurring to this sad history of Monsieur de Crequy's death.
She came behind me and arranged my pillows, and then, seeing I had been
crying - for, indeed, I was weak-spirited at the time, and a little
served to unloose my tears - she stooped down, and kissed my forehead,
and said "Poor child!" almost as if she thanked me for feeling that old
grief of hers.
"Being once in France, it was no difficult thing for Clement to get
into Paris. The difficulty in those days was to leave, not to enter. He
came in dressed as a Norman peasant, in charge of a load of fruit and
vegetables, with which one of the Seine barges was freighted. He worked
hard with his companions in landing and arranging their produce on the
quays; and then, when they dispersed to get their breakfasts at some of
the estaminets near the old Marche aux Fleurs, he sauntered up a street
which conducted him, by many an odd turn, through the Quartier Latin to
a horrid back-alley, leading out of the Rue l'Ecole de Medecine: some
atrocious place, as I have heard, not far from the shadow of that
terrible Abbaye, where so many of the best blood of France awaited
their deaths. But here some old man lived, on whose fidelity Clement
thought that he might rely. I am not sure if he had not been gardener
in those very gardens behind the H™tel Crequy where Clement and Urian
used to play together years before. But, whatever the old man's
dwelling might be, Clement was only too glad to reach it, you may be
sure. He had been kept in Normandy, in all sorts of disguises, for many
days after landing in Dieppe, through the difficulty of entering Paris
unsuspected by the many ruffians who were always on the look-out for
"The old gardener was, I believe, both faithful and tried, and
sheltered Clement in his garret as well as might be. Before he could
stir out, it was necessary to procure a fresh disguise, and one more in
character with an inhabitant of Paris than that of a Norman carter was
procured; and, after waiting indoors for one or two days, to see if any
suspicion was excited, Clement set off to discover Virginie.
"He found her at the old concierge's dwelling. Madame Babette was
the name of this woman, who must have been a less faithful - or rather,
perhaps, I should say, a more interested - friend to her guest than the
old gardener Jaques was to Clement.
"I have seen a miniature of Virginie, which a French lady of
quality happened to have in her possession at the time of her flight
from Paris, and which she brought with her to England unwittingly; for
it belonged to the Count de Crequy, with whom she was slightly
acquainted. I should fancy from it, that Virginie was taller and of a
more powerful figure for a woman than her cousin Clement was for a man.
Her dark-brown hair was arranged in short curls - the way of dressing
the hair announced the politics of the individual in those days, just
as patches did in my grandmother's time; and Virginie's hair was not to
my taste, or according to my principles: it was too classical. Her
large, black eyes looked out at you steadily. One cannot judge of the
shape of a nose from a full-faced miniature, but the nostrils were
clearly cut and largely opened. I do not fancy her nose could have been
pretty; but her mouth had a character all its own, and which would, I
think, have redeemed a plainer face. It was wide, and deep set into the
cheeks at the corners; the upper lip was very much arched, and hardly
closed over the teeth; so that the whole face looked (from the serious,
intent look in the eyes, and the sweet intelligence of the mouth) as if
she were listening eagerly to something to which her answer was quite
ready, and would come out of those red, opening lips as soon as ever
you had done speaking; and you longed to know what she would say.
"Well: this Virginie de Crequy was living with Madame Babette in
the conciergerie of an old French inn, somewhere to the north of Paris,
so, far enough from Clement's refuge. The inn had been frequented by
farmers from Brittany and such kind of people, in the days when that
sort of intercourse went on between Paris and the provinces, which had
nearly stopped flow. Few Bretons came near it now, and the inn had
fallen into the hands of Madame Babette's brother, as payment for a bad
wine debt of the last proprietor. He put his sister and her child in,
to keep it open, as it were, and sent all the people he could to occupy
the half-furnished rooms of the house. They paid Babette for their
lodging every morning as they went out to breakfast, and returned or
not as they chose, at night. Every three days, the wine-merchant or his
son came to Madame Babette, and she accounted to them for the money she
had received. She and her child occupied the porter's office (in which
the lad slept at nights) and a little miserable bedroom which opened
out of it, and received all the light and air that was admitted through
the door of communication, which was half glass. Madame Babette must
have had a kind of attachment for the De Crequys - her De Crequys, you
understand - Virginie's father, the Count; for, at some risk to
herself, she had warned both him and his daughter of the danger
impending over them. But he, infatuated, would not believe that his
dear Human Race could ever do him harm; and, as long as he did not
fear, Virginie was not afraid. It was by some ruse, the nature of which
I never heard, that Madame Babette induced Virginie to come to her
abode at the very hour in which the Count had been recognised in the
streets, and hurried off to the Lanterne. It was after Babette had got
her there, safe shut up in the little back den, that she told her what
had befallen her father. From that day, Virginie had never stirred out
of the gates, or crossed the threshold of the porter's lodge. I do not
say that Madame Babette was tired of her continual presence, or
regretted the impulse which made her rush to the De Crequy's well-known
house - after being compelled to form one of the mad crowds that saw
the Count de Crequy seized and hung - and hurry his daughter out,
through alleys and backways, until at length she had the orphan safe in
her own dark sleeping-room, and could tell her tale of horror: but
Madame Babette was poorly paid for her porter's work by her avaricious
brother; and it was hard enough to find food for herself and her
growing boy; and, though the poor girl ate little enough, I dare say,
yet there seemed no end to the burthen that Madame Babette had imposed
upon herself; the De Crequys were plundered, ruined, had become an
extinct race, all but a lonely friendless girl, in broken health and
spirits; and, though she lent no positive encouragement to his suit,
yet, at the time when Clement re-appeared in Paris, Madame Babette was
beginning to think that Virginie might do worse than encourage the
attentions of Monsieur Morin Fils, her nephew, and the wine-merchant's
son. Of course, he and his father had the entree into the conciergerie
of the h™tel that belonged to them, in right of being both proprietors
and relations. The son, Morin, had seen Virginie in this manner. He was
fully aware that she was far above him in rank, and guessed from her
whole aspect that she had lost her natural protectors by the terrible
guillotine; but he did not know her exact name or station, nor could he
persuade his aunt to tell him. However, he fell head over ears m love
with her, whether she were princess or peasant; and, though at first
there was something about her which made his passionate love conceal
itself with shy, awkward reserve, and then made it only appear in the
guise of deep, respectful devotion; yet, by-and-by - by the same
process of reasoning, I suppose, that his aunt had gone through even
before him - Jean Morin began to let Hope oust Despair from his heart.
Sometimes he thought - perhaps years hence, that solitary, friendless
lady, pent up in squalor, might turn to him as to a friend and
comforter - and then - and then —. Meanwhile Jean Morin was most
attentive to his aunt, whom he had rather slighted before. He would
linger over the accounts; would bring her little presents; and, above
all, he made a pet and favourite of Pierre, the little cousin, who
could tell him about all the ways of going on of Mam'selle Cannes, as
Virginie was called. Pierre was thoroughly aware of the drift and cause
of his cousin's inquiries; and was his ardent partisan, as I have
heard, even before Jean Morin had exactly acknowledged his wishes to
"It must have required some patience and diplomacy, before Clement
de Crequy found out the exact place where his cousin was hidden. The
old gardener took the cause very much to heart; as, judging from my
recollections, I imagine he would have forwarded any fancy, however
wild, of Monsieur Clement's. (I will tell you afterwards how I came to
know all these particulars so well.)
"After Clement's return, on two succeeding days, from his dangerous
search, without meeting with any good result, Jacques entreated
Monsieur de Crequy to let him take it in hand. He represented that he,
as gardener for the space of twenty years and more at the H™tel de
Crequy, had a right to be acquainted with all the successive concierges
at the Count's house; that he should not go among them as a stranger,
but as an old friend, anxious to renew pleasant intercourse; and that
if the Intendant's story, which he had told Monsieur de Crequy in
England, was true, that mademoiselle was in hiding at the house of a
former concierge, why, something relating to her would surely drop out
in the course of conversation. So he persuaded Clement to remain
indoors, while he set off on his round, with no apparent object but to
"At night he came home, - having seen mademoiselle. He told Clement
much of the story relating to Madame Babette that I have told to you.
Of course, lie had heard nothing of the ambitious hopes of Morin Fils -
hardly of his existence, I should think. Madame Babette. had received
him kindly; although, for some time, she had kept him standing in the
carriage gateway outside her door. But, on his complaining of the
draught and his rheumatism, she had asked him in; first looking round
with some anxiety, to see who was in the room behind her. No one was
there when he entered and sat down. But, in a minute or two, a tall
thin young lady, with great, sad eyes, and pale cheeks, came from the
inner room, and, seeing him, retired. "It is Mademoiselle Cannes," said
Madame Babette, rather unnecessarily; for, if he had not been on the
watch for some sign of Mademoiselle de Crequy, he would hardly have
noticed the entrance and withdrawal.
"Clement and the good old gardener were always rather perplexed by
Madame Babette's evident avoidance of all mention of the De Crequy
family. If she were so much interested in one member as to be willing
to undergo the pains and penalties of a domiciliary visit, it was
strange that she never inquired after the existence of her charge's
friends and relations from one who might very probably have heard
something of them. They settled that Madame Babette must believe that
the Marquise and Clement were dead; and admired her for her reticence
in never speaking of Virginie. The truth was, I suspect, that she was
so desirous of her nephew's success by this time, that she did not like
letting any one into the secret of Virginie's whereabouts who might
interfere with their plan. However, it was arranged between Clement and
his humble friend, that the former, dressed in the peasant's clothes in
which he had entered Paris but smartened up in one or two particulars,
as if, although a countryman, he had money to spare, should go and
engage a sleeping-room in the old Breton Inn, where, as I told you,
accommodation for the night was to be had. This was accordingly done,
without exciting Madame Babette's suspicions, for she was unacquainted
with the Normandy accent, and consequently did not perceive the
exaggeration of it which Monsieur de Crequy adopted in order to
disguise his pure Parisian. But after he had for two nights slept in a
queer dark closet, at the end of one of the numerous short galleries in
the H™tel Duguesclin, and paid his money for such accommodation each
morning at the little bureau under the window of the conciergerie, he
found himself no nearer to his object. He stood outside in the gateway:
Madame Babette opened a pane in her window, counted out the change,
gave polite thanks, and shut to the pane with a clack, before he could
ever find out what to say that might be the means of opening a
conversation. Once m the streets, he was in danger from the
bloodthirsty mob, who were ready in those days to hunt to death every
one who looked like a gentleman, as an aristocrat: and Clement, depend
upon it, looked a gentleman, whatever dress he wore. Yet it was unwise
to traverse Paris to his old friend the gardener's grenier, so he had
to loiter about, where I hardly know. Only he did leave the H™tel
Duguesclin, and he did not go to old Jacques, and there was not another
house in Paris open to him. At the end of two days, he had made out
Pierre's existence; and he began to try to make friends with the lad.
Pierre was too sharp and shrewd not to suspect something from the
confused attempts at friendliness. It was not for nothing that the
Norman farmer lounged in the court and doorway, and brought home
presents of galette. Pierre accepted the galette, reciprocated the
civil speeches, but kept his eyes open. Once, returning home pretty
late at night, he surprised the Norman studying the shadows on the
blind, which was drawn down when Madame Babette's lamp was lighted. On
going in, he found Mademoiselle Cannes with his mother, sitting by the
table, and helping in the family mending.
"Pierre was afraid that the Norman had some view upon the money
which his mother, as concierge, collected for her brother. But the
money was all safe next evening, when his cousin, Monsieur Morin Pus,
came to collect it. Madame Babette asked her nephew to sit down, and
skilfully barred the passage to the inner door, so that Virginie, had
she been ever so much disposed, could not have retreated. She sat
silently sewing. All at once the little party were startled by a very
sweet tenor voice, just close to the street window, singing one of the
airs out of Beaumarchais' operas, which, a few years before, had been
popular all over Paris. But after a few moments of silence, and one or
two remarks, the talking went on again. Pierre, however, noticed an
increased air of abstraction in Virginie, who, I suppose, was recurring
to the last time that she had heard the song, and did not consider, as
her cousin had hoped she would have done, what were the words set to
the air, which he imagined she would remember, and which would have
told her so much. For, only a few years before, Adam's opera of Richard
le Roi had made the story of the minstrel Blondel and our English Coeur
de Lion familiar to all the opera-going part of the Parisian public,
and Clement had bethought him of establishing a communication with
Virginie by some such means.
"'The next night, about the same hour, the same voice was singing
outside the window again. Pierre, who had been irritated by the
proceeding the evening before, as it had diverted Virginie's attention
from his cousin, who had been doing his utmost to make himself
agreeable, rushed out to the door, just as the Norman was ringing the
bell to be admitted for the night. Pierre looked up and down the
street; no one else was to be seen. The next day, the Norman mollified
him somewhat by knocking at the door of the conciergerie, and begging
Monsieur Pierre's acceptance of some knee-buckles, which had taken the
country farmer's fancy the day before, as he had been gazing into the
shops, but, which, being too small for his purpose, he took the liberty
of offering to Monsieur Pierre. Pierre, a French boy, inclined to
foppery, was charmed, ravished by the beauty of the present and with
monsieur's goodness, and be began to adjust them to his breeches
immediately, as well as he could, at least, in his mother's absence.
The Norman, whom Pierre kept carefully on the outside of the threshold,
stood by, as if amused at the boy's eagerness.
"'Take care,' said he, clearly and distinctly; 'take care, my
little friend, lest you become a fop; and, in that case, some day,
years hence, when your heart is devoted to some young lady, she may be
inclined to say to you' - here he raised his voice - 'No, thank you;
when I marry, I marry a man, not a petit-ma”tre; I marry a man, who,
whatever his position may be, will add dignity to the human race by his
virtues.' Farther than that in his quotation Clement dared not go. His
sentiments (so much above the apparent occasion) met with applause from
Pierre, who liked to contemplate himself in the light of a lover, even
though it should he a rejected one, and who hailed the mention of the
words 'virtues' and 'dignity of the human race' as belonging to the
cant of a good citizen.
"But Clement was more anxious to know how the invisible lady took
his speech. There was no sign at the time. But when he returned at
night, he heard a voice, low singing, behind Madame Babette, as she
handed him his candle, the very air he had sung without effect for two
nights past. As if he had caught it up from her murmuring voice, be
sang it loudly and clearly as be crossed the court.
"'Here is our opera-singer!' exclaimed Madame Babette. 'Why, the
Norman grazier sings like Boupre,' naming a favourite singer at the
"Pierre was struck by the remark, and quietly resolved to look
after the Norman; but again, I believe, it was more because of his
mother's deposit of money than with any thought of Virginie.
"However, the next morning, to the wonder of both mother and son,
Mademoiselle Cannes proposed, with much hesitation, to go out and make
some little purchase for herself. A month or two ago, this was what
Madame Babette had been never weary of urging. But now she was as much
surprised as if she had expected Virginie to remain a prisoner in her
rooms all the rest of her life. I suppose she had hoped that her first
time of quitting it would he when she left it for Monsieur Morin's
house as his wife.
"A quick look from Madame Babette towards Pierre was all that was
needed to encourage the boy to follow her. He went out cautiously. She
was at the end of the street. She looked up and down, as if waiting for
some one. No one was there. Back she came, so swiftly that she nearly
caught Pierre before he could retreat through the porte-cochre. There
he looked out again. The neighbourhood was low and wild, and strange;
and some one spoke to Virginie, - nay, laid his hand upon her arm -
whose dress and aspect (he had emerged out of a side-street) Pierre did
not know; but, after a start, and (Pierre could fancy) a little scream
Virginie recognised the stranger, and the two turned up the side street
whence the man had come. Pierre stole swiftly to the corner of this
street; no one was there: they had disappeared up some of the alleys.
Pierre returned home to excite his mother's infinite surprise. But they
had hardly done talking when Virginie returned, with a colour and a
radiance in her face, which they had never seen there since her
"I have told you that I heard much of this story from a friend of
the Intendant of the De Crequys, whom he met with in London. Some years
afterwards - the summer before my lord's death - I was travelling with
him in Devonshire, and we went to see the French prisoners of war on
Dartmoor. We fell into conversation with one of them, whom I found out
to be the very Pierre of whom I had heard before, as having been
involved in the fatal story of Clement and Virginie, and by him I was
told much of their last days, and thus I learnt how to have some
sympathy with all those who were concerned in those terrible events;
yes, even with the younger Morin himself, on whose behalf Pierre spoke
warmly, even after so long a time had elapsed.
"For, when the younger Morin called at the porter's lodge, on the
evening of the day when Virginie had gone out for the first time after
so many months' confinement to the conciergerie, he was struck with the
improvement in her appearance. It seems to have hardly been that he
thought her beauty greater; for, in addition to the fact that she was
not beautiful, Morin had arrived at that point of being enamoured when
it does not signify whether the beloved one is plain or handsome - she
has enchanted one pair of eyes, which henceforward see her through
their own medium. But Morin noticed the faint increase of colour and
light in her countenance. It was as though she had broken through her
thick cloud of hopeless sorrow, and was dawning forth into a happier
life. And so, whereas during her grief he had revered and respected it
even to a point of silent sympathy, now that she was gladdened his
heart rose on the wings of strengthened hopes. Even in the dreary
monotony of this existence in his Aunt Babette's conciergerie Time had
not failed in his work, and now, perhaps, soon he might humbly strive
to help 'Time. The very next day he returned - on some pretence of
business - to the H™tel Duguesclin, and made his aunt's room, rather
than his aunt herself, a present of roses and geraniums tied up in a
bouquet with a tricolour ribbon. Virginie was in the room sitting at
the coarse sewing she liked to do for Madame Babette. He saw her eyes
brighten at the sight of the flowers: she asked his aunt to let her
arrange them; he saw her untie the ribbon, and with a gesture of
dislike, throw it on the ground, and give it a kick with her little
foot, and even in this girlish manner of insulting his dearest
prejudices he found something to admire.
"As he was coming out Pierre stopped him. The lad had been trying
to arrest his cousin's attention by futile grimaces and signs played
off behind Virginie's back; but Monsieur Morin saw nothing but
Mademoiselle Cannes. However, Pierre was not to be baffled, and
Monsieur Morin found him in waiting just outside the threshold. With
his finger on his lips, Pierre walked on tiptoe by his companion's side
till they would have been long past sight or hearing of the
conciergerie, even had the inhabitants devoted themselves to the
purposes of spying or listening.
"'Chut!' said Pierre at last. 'She goes out walking.'
"'Well?' said Monsieur Morin, half curious, half annoyed at being
disturbed in the delicious reverie of the future into which he longed
"'Well! It is not well. It is bad.'
"'Why? I do not ask who she is, but I have my ideas. She is an
aristocrat. Do the people about here begin to suspect her?'
"'No, no!' said Pierre. 'But she goes out walking. She has gone
these two mornings. I have watched her. She meets a man - she is
friends with him, for she talks to him as eagerly as he does to her -
mamma cannot tell who he is.'
"'Has my aunt seen him?'
"'No, not so much as a fly's wing of him. I myself have only seen
his back. It strikes me like a familiar back, and yet I cannot think
who it is. But they separate with sudden darts, like two birds who have
been together to feed their young ones. One moment they are in close
talk, their heads together chuchotting; the next he has turned up some
by-street, and Mademoiselle Cannes is close upon me - has almost caught
"'But she did not see you?' inquired Monsieur Morin, in so altered
a voice that Pierre gave him one of his quick penetrating looks. He was
struck by the way in which his cousin's features - always coarse and
commonplace - had become contracted and pinched; struck, too,. by the
livid look on his sallow complexion. But, as if Morin was conscious of
the manner in which his face belied his feelings, he made an effort,
and smiled, and patted Pierre's head, and thanked him for his
intelligence, and gave him a five-franc piece, and bade him go on with
his observations of Mademoiselle Cannes' movements and report all to
"Pierre returned home with a light heart, tossing up his five-franc
piece as he ran. Just as he was at the conciergerie door, a great tall
man bustled past him, and snatched his money away from him, looking
back with a laugh, which added insult to injury. Pierre had no redress;
no one had witnessed the impudent theft, and, if they had, no one to be
seen in the street was strong enough to give him redress. Besides,
Pierre had seen enough of the state of the streets of Paris at that
time to know that friends, not enemies, were required, and the man had
a bad air about him. But all these considerations did not keep Pierre
from bursting out into a fit of crying when he was once more under his
mother's roof; and Virginie, who was alone there (Madame Babette having
gone out to make her daily purchases), might have imagined him
pommelled to death by the loudness of his sobs.
"'What is the matter?' asked she. 'Speak, my child. What hast thou
"'He has robbed me! he has robbed me!' was all Pierre could gulp
"'Robbed thee! and of what, my poor boy?' said Virginie, stroking
his hair gently.
"'Of my five-franc piece - of a five-franc piece,' said Pierre,
correcting himself, and leaving out the word my, half fearful lest
Virginie should inquire how he became possessed of such a sum, and for
what services it had been given him. But, of course, no such idea came
into her head, for it would have been impertinent, and she was
"'Wait a moment, my lad,' and going to the one small drawer in the
inner apartment, which held all her few possessions, she brought back a
little ring - a ring just with one ruby in it - which she had worn in
the days when she cared to wear jewels. 'Take this,' said she, 'and run
with it to a jeweller's. It is but a poor, valueless thing, but it will
bring you in your five francs, at any rate. Go! I desire you.'
"'But I cannot,' said the boy, hesitating; some dim sense of honour
flitting through his misty morals.
"'Yes, you must ' she continued, urging him with her hand to the
door. 'Run! if it brings in more than five franks, you shall return the
surplus to me.'
"Thus tempted by her urgency, and, I suppose, reasoning with
himself to the effect that be might as well have the money, and then
see whether he thought it right to act as a spy upon her or not - the
one action did not pledge him to the other, nor yet did she make any
conditions with her gift - Pierre went off with her ring; and, after
repaying himself his five francs, he was enabled to bring Virginie back
two more so well had he managed his affairs. But, although the whole
transaction did not leave him bound, in any way, to discover or forward
Virginie's wishes, it did leave him pledged, according to his code, to
act according to her advantage, and he considered himself the judge of
the best course to be pursued to this end. And, moreover, this little
kindness attached him to her personally. He began to think bow pleasant
it would be to have so kind and generous a person for a relation; how
easily his troubles might be borne if he had always such a ready helper
at hand; how much he should like to make her like him, and come to him
for the protection of his masculine power I First of all his duties, as
her self-appointed squire, came the necessity of finding out who her
strange new acquaintance was. Thus, you see, he arrived at the same
end, via supposed duty, that he was previously pledged to via interest.
I fancy a good number of us, when any line of action will promote our
own interest, can make ourselves believe that reasons exist which
compel us to it as a duty.
"In the course of a very few days, Pierre had so circumvented
Virginie as to have discovered that her new friend was no other than
the Norman farmer in a different dress. This was a great piece of
knowledge to impart to Morin. But Pierre was not prepared for the
immediate physical effect it had on his cousin. Morin sat suddenly down
on one of the seats in the Boulevards - it was there Pierre had met
with him accidentally - when he heard who it was that Virginie met. I
do not suppose the man had the faintest idea of any relationship or
even previous acquaintanceship between Clement and Virginie. If he
thought of anything beyond the mere fact presented to him, that his
idol was in communication with another, younger, handsomer man than
himself, it must have been that the Norman farmer had seen her at the
conciergerie, and had been attracted by her, and, as was but natural,
had tried to make her acquaintance, and had succeeded. But, from what
Pierre told me, I should not think that even this much thought passed
through Morin's mind. He seems to have been a man of rare and
concentrated attachments; violent, though restrained and
undemonstrative passions; and, above all, a capability of jealousy, of
which his dark oriental complexion must have been a type. I could fancy
that, if he had married Virginie, he would have coined his life-blood
for luxuries to make her happy; would have watched over and petted her,
at every sacrifice to himself, as long as she would have been content
to live with him alone. But, as Pierre expressed it to me: 'When I saw
what my cousin was, when I learned his nature too late, I perceived
that he would have strangled a bird if she whom he loved was attracted
by it from him.'
"When Pierre had told Morin of his discovery, Morin sat down, as I
said, quite suddenly, as if he had been shot. He found out that the
first meeting between the Norman and Virginie was no accidental,
isolated circumstance. Pierre was torturing him with his accounts of
daily rendezvous if but for a moment, they were seeing each other every
day, sometimes twice a day. And Virginie could speak to this man,
though to himself she was so coy and reserved as hardly to utter a
sentence. Pierre caught these broken words while his cousin's
complexion grew more and more livid, and then purple, as if some great
effect were produced on his circulation by the news he had just heard.
Pierre was so startled by his cousin's wandering, senseless eyes, and
otherwise disordered looks, that he rushed into a neighbouring cabaret
for a glass of absinthe, which he paid for, as he recollected
afterwards, with a portion of Virginie's five francs. By-and-by Morin
recovered his natural appearance; but he was gloomy and silent; and all
that Pierre could get out of him was, that the Norman farmer should not
sleep another night at the H™tel Duguesclin, giving him such
opportunities of passing and repassing by the conciergerie door. He was
too much absorbed in his own thoughts to repay Pierre the half-franc he
had spent on the absinthe, which Pierre perceived, and seems to have
noted down in the ledger of his mind as on Virginie's balance of
"Altogether, he was much disappointed at his cousin's mode of
receiving intelligence, which the lad thought worth another five-franc
piece at least; or, if not paid for in money, to be paid for in
open-mouthed confidence and expression of feeling; and thus he was, for
a time, so far a partisan of Virginie's - unconscious Virginie's -
against his cousin, as to feel regret when the Norman returned no more
to his night's lodging, and when Virginie's eager watch at the crevice
of the close-drawn blind ended only with a sigh of disappointment. If
it had not been for his mother's presence at the time, Pierre thought
he should have told her all. But bow far was his mother in his cousin's
confidence as regarded the dismissal of the Norman?
"In a few days, however, Pierre felt almost sure that they had
established some new means of communication. Virginie went out for a
short time every day; but, though Pierre followed her as closely as he
could without exciting her observation, he was unable to discover what
kind of intercourse she held with the Norman. She went in general, the
same short round among the little shops in the neighbourhood; not
entering any, but stopping at two or three. Pierre afterwards
remembered that she had invariably paused at the nosegays displayed in
a certain window, and studied them long; but, then, she stopped and
looked at caps, hats, fashions, confectionery (all of the humble kind
common in that quarter), so how should he have known that any
particular attraction existed among the flowers? Morin came more
regularly than ever to his aunt's; but Virginie was apparently
unconscious that she was the attraction. She looked healthier and more
hopeful than she had done for months, and her manners to all were
gentler and not so reserved. Almost as if she wished to manifest her
gratitude to Madame Babette for her long continuance of kindness, the
necessity for which was nearly ended, Virginie showed an unusual
alacrity in rendering the old woman any little service in her power,
and evidently tried to respond to Monsieur Morin's civilities, he being
Madame Babette's nephew, with a soft graciousness which must have made
one of her principal charms; for all who knew her speak of the
fascination of her manners, so winning and attentive to others, while
yet her opinions, and often her actions, were of so decided a
character. For, as I have said, her beauty was by no means great; yet
every man who came near her seems to have fallen into the sphere of her
influence. Monsieur Morin was deeper than ever in love with her during
these last few days he was worked up into a state capable of any
sacrifice, either of himself or others, so that he might obtain her at
last. He sat 'devouring her with his eyes' (to use Pierre's expression)
whenever she could not see him; but, if she looked towards him, he
looked to the ground - anywhere - away from her, and almost stammered
in his replies if she addressed any question to him.
"He had been, I should think, ashamed of his extreme agitation on
the Boulevards, for Pierre thought that he absolutely shunned him for
these few succeeding days. He must have believed that he had driven the
Norman (my poor Clement!) off the field, by banishing him from his inn;
and have thought that the intercourse between him and Virginie, which
he had thus interrupted, was of so slight and transient a character as
to be quenched by a little difficulty.
"But he appears to have felt that he had made but little way, and
he awkwardly turned to Pierre for help - not yet confessing his love,
though; he only tried to make friends again with the lad after their
silent estrangement. And Pierre for some time did not choose to
perceive his cousin's advances. He would reply to all the roundabout
questions Morin put to him respecting household conversations when he
was not present, or household occupations and tone of thought, without
mentioning Virginie's name any more than his questioner did. The lad
would seem to suppose that his cousin's strong interest in their
domestic ways of going on was all on account of Madame Babette. At last
he worked his cousin up to the point of making him a confidant; and
then the boy was half frightened at the torrent of vehement words he
had unloosed. The lava came down with a greater rush for having been
pent up so long. Morin cried out his words in a hoarse, passionate
voice, clenched his teeth, his fingers, and seemed almost convulsed, as
he spoke out his terrible love for Virginie, which would lead him to
kill her sooner than see her another's; and if another stepped in
between him and her! - and then he smiled a fierce, triumphant smile,
but did not say any more. v "Pierre was, as I said, half frightened;
but also half admiring. This was really love - a 'grande passion' - a
really fine dramatic thing - like the plays they acted at the little
theatre yonder. He had a dozen times the sympathy with his cousin now
that he had had before, and readily swore by the infernal gods - for
they were far too enlightened to believe in one God, or Christianity,
or anything of the kind - that he would devote himself, body and soul,
to forwarding his cousin's views. Then his cousin took him to a shop,
and bought him a smart second-hand watch, on which they scratched the
word Fidelite and thus was the compact sealed. Pierre settled in his
own mind that, if he were a woman, he should like to be beloved as
Virginie was by his cousin, and that it would be an extremely good
thing for her to be the wife of so rich a citizen as Morin Fils - and
for Pierre himself, too, for doubtless their gratitude would lead them
to give him rings and watches ad infinitum.
"A day or two afterwards, Virginie was taken ill. Madame Babette
said it was because she had persevered in going out in all weathers,
after confining herself to two warm rooms for so long; and very
probably this was really the cause, for, from Pierre's account, she
must have been suffering from a feverish cold, aggravated, no doubt, by
her impatience at Madame Babette's familiar prohibitions of any more
walks until she was better. Every day, in spite of her trembling,
aching limbs, she would fain have arranged her dress for her walk at
the usual time; but Madame Babette was fully prepared to put physical
obstacles in her way, if she was not obedient in remaining tranquil on
the little sofa by the side of the fire. The third day, she called
Pierre to her, when his mother was not attending (having, in fact,
locked up Mademoiselle Cannes' out-of-door things).
"'See, my child,' said Virginie. 'Thou must do me a great favour.
Go to the gardener's shop in the Rue des Bons-Enfans, and look at the
nosegays in the window. I long for pinks; they are my favourite flower.
Here are two francs. If thou seest a nosegay of pinks displayed in the
window, if it be ever so faded, - nay, if thou seest two or three
nosegays of pinks, remember, buy them all, and bring them to me, I have
so great a desire for the smell.' She fell back weak and exhausted.
Pierre hurried out. Now was the time; here was the clue to the long
inspection of the nosegay in this very shop.
"Sure enough, there was a drooping nosegay of pinks in the window.
Pierre went in, and, with all his impatience, he made as good a bargain
as he could, urging that the flowers were faded, and good for nothing.
At last he purchased them at a very moderate price. And now you will
learn the bad consequences of teaching the lower orders anything beyond
what is immediately necessary to enable them to earn their daily bread!
The silly Count de Crequy, - he who had been sent to his bloody rest by
the very canaille of whom he thought so much - he who had made Virginie
(indirectly, it is true) reject such a man as her cousin Clement, by
inflating her mind with his bubbles of theories - this Count de Crequy
had long ago taken a fancy to Pierre, as he saw the bright sharp child
playing about his courtyard. Monsieur de Crequy had even begun to
educate the boy himself, to try to work out certain opinions of his
into practice - but the drudgery of the affair wearied him, and,
besides, Babette had left his employment. Still the Count took a kind
of interest in his former pupil; and made some sort of arrangement by
which Pierre was to be taught reading and writing, and accounts, and
Heaven knows what besides - Latin, I dare say. So Pierre, instead of
being an innocent messenger, as he ought to have been - (as Mr.
Horner's little lad Gregson ought to have been this morning) - could
read writing as well as either you or I. So what does he do, on
obtaining the nosegay, but examine it well. The stalks of the flowers
were tied up with slips of matting in wet moss. Pierre undid the
strings, unwrapped the moss, and out fell a piece of wet paper, with
the writing all blurred with moisture. It was but a torn piece of
writing-paper, apparently, but Pierre's wicked mischievous eyes read
what was written on it - written so as to look like a fragment -
'Ready, every and any night at nine. All is prepared. Have no fright.
Trust one who, whatever hopes he might once have had, is content now to
serve you as a faithful cousin;' and a place was named, which I forget,
but which Pierre did not, as it was evidently the rendezvous. After the
lad had studied every word, till he could say it off by heart, he
placed the paper where he had found it, enveloped it in moss, and tied
the whole up again carefully. Virginie's face coloured scarlet as she
received it. She kept smelling at it, and trembling: but she did not
untie it, although Pierre suggested how much fresher it would be if the
stalks were immediately put into water. But once, after his back had
been turned for a minute, he saw it untied when he looked round again,
and Virginie was blushing, and hiding something in her bosom.
"Pierre was now all impatience to set off and find his cousin. But
his mother seemed to want him for small domestic purposes even more
than usual; and he had chafed over a multitude of errands connected
with the H™tel before he could set off and search for his cousin at his
usual haunts. At last the two met; and Pierre related all the events of
the morning to Morin. He said the note off word by word. (That lad this
morning had something of the magpie look of Pierre - it made me shudder
to see him, and hear him repeat the note by heart.) Then Morin asked
him to tell him all over again. Pierre was struck by Morin's heavy
sighs as he repeated the story. When he came the second time to the
note, Morin tried to write the words down; but either he was not a
good, ready scholar, or his fingers trembled too much. Pierre hardly
remembered, but, at any rate, the lad had to do it, with his wicked
reading and writing. When this was done, Morin sat heavily silent.
Pierre would have preferred the expected outburst, for this
impenetrable gloom perplexed and baffled him. He had even to speak to
his cousin to rouse him; and when he replied, what he said had so
little apparent connection with the subject which Pierre had expected
to find uppermost in his mind, that he was half afraid that his cousin
had lost his wits.
"'My Aunt Babette is out of coffee.'
"'I am sure I do not know,' said Pierre.
"'Yes, she is. I heard her say so. Tell her that a friend of mine
has just opened a shop in the Rue Saint Antoine, and that, if she will
join me there in an hour, I will supply her with a good stock of
coffee, just to give my friend encouragement. His name is Antoine
Meyer, Number One hundred and Fifty, at the sign of the Cap of
"'I could go with you now. I can carry a few pounds of coffee
better than my mother,' said Pierre, all in good faith. He told me he
should never forget the look on his cousin's face, as he turned round,
and bade him begone, and give his mother the message without another
word. It had evidently sent him home promptly to obey his cousin's
command. Morin's message perplexed Madame Babette.
"'How could he know I was out of coffee?' said she. 'I am; but I
only used the last up this morning. How could Victor know about it?'
"'I am sure I can't tell,' said Pierre, who by this time had
recovered his usual self-possession. 'All I know is, that monsieur is
in a pretty temper, and that if you are not sharp to your time at this
Antoine Meyer's you are likely to come in for some of his black looks.'
"'Well, it is very kind of him to offer to give me some coffee, to
be sure! But how could he know I was out?'
"Pierre hurried his mother off impatiently, for he was certain that
the offer of the coffee was only a blind to some hidden purpose on his
cousin's part; and he made no doubt that, when his mother had been
informed of what his cousin's real intention was, he, Pierre, could
extract it from her by coaxing or bullying. But he was mistaken. Madame
Babette returned home, grave, depressed, silent, and loaded with the
best coffee. Some time afterwards he learnt why his cousin had sought
for this interview. It was to extract from her, by promises and
threats, the real name of Mam'selle Cannes, which would give him a clue
to the true appellation of the 'faithful cousin.' He concealed this
second purpose from his aunt, who had been quite unaware of his
jealousy of the Norman farmer, or of his identification of him with any
relation of Virginie's. But Madame Babette instinctively shrank from
giving him any information: she must have felt that, in the lowering
mood in which she found him, his desire for greater knowledge of
Virginie's antecedents boded her no good. And yet he made his aunt his
confidante - told her what she had only suspected before - that he was
deeply enamoured of Mam'selle Cannes, and would gladly marry her. He
spoke to Madame Babette of his father's hoarded riches; and of the
share which he, as partner, had in them at the present time; and of the
prospect of the succession to the whole, which he had, as only child.
He told his aunt of the provision for her (Madame Babette's) life,
which he would make on the day when he married Mam'selle Cannes. And
yet - and yet - Babette saw that in his eye and look which made her
more and more reluctant to confide in him. By-and-by he tried threats.
She should leave the conciergerie, and find employment where she liked.
Still silence. Then he grew angry, and swore that he would inform
against her at the bureau of the Directory, for harbouring an
aristocrat; an aristocrat he knew Mademoiselle was, whatever her real
name might he. His aunt should have a domiciliary visit, and see how
she liked that. The officers of the Government were the people for
finding out secrets. In vain she reminded him that, by so doing, he
would expose to imminent danger the lady whom he had professed to love.
He told her, with a sudden relapse into silence after his vehement
outpouring of passion, never to trouble herself about that. At last he
wearied out the old woman, and, frightened alike of herself, and of
him, she told him all - that Mam'selle Cannes was Mademoiselle Virginie
de Crequy, daughter of the Count of that name. Who was the Count?
Younger brother of the Marquis. Where was the Marquis? Dead long ago,
leaving a widow and child. A son? (eagerly). Yes, a son. Where was he?
Parbleu! how should she know? - for her courage returned a little as
the talk went away from the only person of the De Crequy family that
she cared about. But, by dint of some small glasses out of a bottle of
Antoine Meyer's, she told him more about the De Crequys than she liked
afterwards to remember. For the exhilaration of the brandy lasted but a
very short time, and she came home, as I have said, depressed, with a
presentiment of coming evil. She would not answer Pierre, but cuffed
him about in a manner to which the spoilt boy was quite unaccustomed.
His cousin's short, angry words, and sudden withdrawal of confidence -
his mother's unwonted crossness and fault-finding: all made Virginie's
kind, gentle treatment more than ever charming to the lad. He half
resolved to tell her bow he desire be had done it. But he was afraid of
Morin, and of had been acting as a spy upon her actions, and at whose
the vengeance which he was sure would fall upon him for any breach of
confidence. Towards half-past eight that evening, Pierre, watching, saw
Virginie arrange several little things - she was in the inner room, but
he sat where he could see her through the glazed partition. His mother
sat - apparently sleeping - in the great easy-chair; Virginie moved
about softly, for fear of disturbing her. She made up one or two little
parcels of the few things she could call her own; one packet she
concealed about herself - the others she directed, and left on the
shelf. 'She is going,' thought Pierre, and (as he said in giving me the
account) his heart gave a spring, to think that he should never see her
again. If either his mother or his cousin had been more kind to him, he
might have endeavoured to intercept her; but as it was, he held his
breath, and when she came out he pre tended to read, scarcely knowing
whether he wished her to succeed in the purpose which he was almost
sure she enter tamed, or not. She stopped by him, and passed her hand
over his hair. He told me that his eyes filled with tears at this
caress. Then she stood for a moment, looking at the sleeping Madame
Babette, and stooped down and softly kissed her on the forehead. Pierre
dreaded lest his mother should awake (for by this time the wayward,
vacillating boy must have been quite on Virginie's side), but the
brandy she had drunk made her slumber heavily. Virginie went. Pierre's
heart beat fast. He was sure his cousin would try to intercept her; but
how, he could not imagine. He longed to run out and see the catastrophe
- but he had let the moment slip; he was also afraid of re-awakening
his mother to her unusual state of anger and violence.
"Pierre went on pretending to read, but in reality listening with
acute tension of ear to every little sound. His perceptions became so
sensitive in this respect that he was incapable of measuring time,
every moment had seemed so full of noises, from the beating of his
heart up to the roll of the heavy carts in the distance. He wondered
whether Virginie would have reached the place of rendezvous, and yet he
was unable to compute the passage of minutes. His mother slept soundly:
that was well. By this time Virginie must have met the 'faithful
cousin;' if, indeed, Morin had not made his appearance.
"At length, he felt as if he could no longer sit still, awaiting
the issue, but must run out and see what course events had taken. In
vain his mother, half rousing herself, called after him to ask whither
he was going: he was already out of hearing before she had ended her
sentence, and he ran on until stopped by the sight of Mademoiselle
Cannes walking along at so swift a pace that it was almost a run; while
at her side, resolutely keeping by her, Morin was striding abreast.
Pierre had just turned the corner of the street when he came upon them.
Virginie would have passed him without recognising him, she was in such
passionate agitation, but for Morin's gesture, by which he would fain
have kept Pierre from interrupting them. Then, when Virginie saw the
lad, she caught at his arm, and thanked God, as if in that boy of
twelve or fourteen she held a protector. Pierre felt her tremble from
head to foot, and was afraid lest she would fall, there where she
stood, in the hard rough street.
"'Begone, Pierre!' said Morin.
"'I cannot,' replied Pierre, who indeed was held firmly by
Virginie. 'Besides, I won't,' he added. 'Who has been frightening
mademoiselle in this way?' asked he, very much inclined to brave his
cousin at all hazards.
"'Mademoiselle is not accustomed to walk in the streets alone,'
said Morin sulkily. 'She came upon a crowd attracted by the arrest of
an aristocrat, and their cries alarmed her. I offered to take charge of
her home. Mademoiselle should not walk in these streets alone. We are
not like the cold-blooded people of the Faubourg Saint-Germain.'
"Virginie did not speak. Pierre doubted if she heard a word of what
they were saying. She leant upon him more and more heavily.
"'Will mademoiselle condescend to take my arm?' said Morin, with
sulky, and yet humble, uncouthness. I dare say he would have given
worlds if he might have had that little hand within his arm; but,
though she still kept silence, she shuddered up away from him, as you
shrink from touching a toad. He had said something to her during that
walk, you may be sure, which had made her loathe him. He marked and
understood the gesture. He held himself aloof, while Pierre gave her
all the assistance he could in their slow progress homewards. But Morin
accompanied her all the same. He had played too desperate a game to be
baulked now. He had given information against the ci-devant Marquis do
Crequy, as a returned emigre, to be met with at such a time, in such a
place. Morin had hoped that all sign of the arrest would have been
cleared away before Virginie reached the spot - so swiftly were
terrible deeds done in those days. But Clement defended himself
desperately; Virginie was punctual to a second; and, though the wounded
man was borne off to the Abbaye, amid a crowd of the unsympathising
jeerers who mingled with the armed officials of the Directory, Morin
feared lest Virginie had recognised him; and he would have preferred
that she should have thought that the 'faithful cousin' was faithless,
than that she should have seen him in bloody danger on her account. I
suppose he fancied that, if Virginie never saw or heard more of him,
her imagination would not dwell on his simple disappearance, as it
would do if she knew what he was suffering for her sake.
"At any rate, Pierre saw that his cousin was deeply mortified by
the whole tenor of his behaviour during their walk home. When they
arrived at Madame Babette's, Virginie fell fainting on the floor; her
strength had but just sufficed for this exertion of reaching the
shelter of the house. Her first sign of restoring consciousness
consisted in avoidance of Morin. He had been most assiduous in his
efforts to bring her round; quite tender in his way, Pierre said; and
this marked, instinctive repugnance to him evidently gave him extreme
pain. I suppose Frenchmen are more demonstrative than we are; for
Pierre declared that he saw his cousin's eyes fill with tears, as she
shrank away from his touch if he tried to arrange the shawl they had
laid under her head like a pillow, or as she shut her eyes when he
passed before her. Madame Babette was urgent with her to go and lie
down on the bed in the inner room; but it was some time before she was
strong enough to rise and do this.
"When Madame Babette returned from arranging the girl comfortably,
the three relations sat down in silence: a silence which Pierre thought
would never be broken. He wanted his mother to ask his cousin what had
happened. But Madame Babette was afraid of her nephew, and thought it
more discreet to wait for such crumbs of intelligence as he might think
fit to throw to her. But, after she had twice reported Virginie to be
asleep, without a word being uttered in reply to her whispers by either
of her companions, Morin's powers of self-containment gave way.
"'It is hard!' he said
"'What is hard?' asked Madame Babette, after she had paused for a
time, to enable him to add to, or to finish, his sentence if he
"'It is hard for a man to love a woman as I do,' he went on. 'I did
not seek to love her, it came upon me before I was aware - before I had
ever thought about it at all, I loved her better than all the world
beside. All my life, before I knew her, seems a dull blank. I neither
know nor care for what I did before then. And now there are just two
lives before me. Either I have her, or I have not. That is all, but
that is everything. And what can I do to make her have me? Tell me,
aunt,' and he caught at Madame Babette's arm, and gave it so sharp a
shake, that she half screamed out, Pierre said, and evidently grew
alarmed at her nephew's excitement.
"'Hush, Victor!' said she. 'There are other women in the world, if
this one will not have you.'
"'None other for me,' he said, sinking back as if hopeless. 'I am
plain and coarse, not one of the scented darlings of the aristocrats.
Say that I am ugly, brutish; I did not make myself so, any more than I
made myself love her. It is my fate. But am I to submit to the
consequences of my fate without a struggle? Not I. As strong as my love
is, so strong is my will. It can be no stronger,' continued he
gloomily. 'Aunt Babette, you must help me - you must make her love me.'
He was so fierce here, that Pierre said he did not wonder that his
mother was frightened.
"'I, Victor!' she exclaimed. 'I make her love you? How can I? Ask
me to speak for you to Mademoiselle Didot, or to Mademoiselle Cauchois
even, or to such as they, and I'll do it, and welcome. But to
Mademoiselle de Crequy, why, you don't know the difference! These
people - the old nobility, I mean - why, they don't know a man from a
dog, out of their own rank! And no wonder, for the young gentlemen of
quality are treated differently to us from their very birth. If she had
you to-morrow, you would be miserable. Let me alone for knowing the
aristocracy. I have not been a concierge to a duke and three counts for
nothing. I tell you, all your ways are different to her ways.'
"'I would change my "ways," as you call them.'
"'Be reasonable, Victor.'
"'No, I will not he reasonable, if by that you mean giving her up.
I tell you two lives are before me; one with her, one without her. But
the latter will he but a short career for both of us. You said, aunt,
that the talk went in the conciergerie of her father's h™tel, that she
would have nothing to do with this cousin whom I put out of the way
"'So the servants said. How could I know? All I know is, that he
left off coming to our hotel, and that at one time before then he had
never been two days absent.'
"So much the better for him. He suffers now for having come between
me and my object - in trying to snatch her away out of my sight. Take
you warning, Pierre! I did not like your meddling to-night.' And so he
went off, leaving Madame Babette rocking herself backwards and
forwards, in all the depression of spirits consequent upon the reaction
after the brandy, and upon her knowledge of her nephew's threatened
"In telling you most of this, I have simply repeated Pierre's
account, which I wrote down at the time. But here what he had to say
came to a sudden break; for, the next morning, when Madame Babette
rose, Virginie was missing, and it was some time before either she, or
Pierre, or Morin, could get the slightest clue to the missing girl.
"And now I must take up the story as it was told to the Intendant
Flechier by the old gardener Jacques, with whom Clement had been
lodging on his first arrival in Paris. The old man could not, I dare
say,. remember half as much of what had happened as Pierre did; the
former had the dulled memory of age, while Pierre had evidently thought
over the whole series of events as a story - as a play, if one may call
it so - during the solitary hours in his after-life, wherever they were
passed, whether in lonely camp watches, or in the foreign prison, where
he had to drag out many years. Clement had, as I said, returned to the
gardener's garret after he had been dismissed from the H™tel
Duguesclin. There were several reasons for his thus doubling hack. One
was, that he put nearly the whole breadth of Paris between him and an
enemy; though why Morin was an enemy, and to what extent he carried his
dislike or hatred, Clement could not tell, of course. The next reason
for returning to Jacques was, no doubt, the conviction that, in
multiplying his residences, he multiplied the chances against his being
suspected and recognised. And then, again, the old man was in his
secret, and his ally, although perhaps but a feeble kind of one. It was
through Jacques that the plan of communication, by means of a nosegay
of pinks, had been devised; and it was Jacques who procured him the
last disguise that Clement was to use in Paris - as he hoped and
trusted. It was that of a respectable shopkeeper of no particular
class: a dress that would have seemed perfectly suitable to the young
man who would naturally have worn it; and yet, as Clement put it on,
and adjusted it - giving it a sort of finish and elegance which I
always noticed about his appearance, and which I believe was innate in
the wearer - I have no doubt it seemed like the usual apparel of a
gentleman. No coarseness of texture nor clumsiness of cut could
disguise the nobleman of thirty descents, it appeared; for immediately
on arriving at the place of rendezvous he was recognised by the men
placed there on Morin's information to seize him. Jacques, following at
a little distance, with a bundle under his arm containing articles of
feminine disguise for Virginie, saw four men attempt Clement's arrest -
saw him, quick as lightning, draw a sword hitherto concealed in a
clumsy stick - saw his agile figure spring to his guard - and saw him
defend himself with the rapidity and art of a man skilled in arms. 'But
what good did it do?' as Jacques piteously used to ask, Monsieur
Flechier told me. A great blow from a heavy club on the sword-arm of
Monsieur de Crequy laid it helpless and immovable by his side. Jacques
always thought that that blow came from one of the spectators, who by
this time had collected round the scene of the affray. The next
instant, his master - his little marquis - was down among the feet of
the crowd, and though he was up again before he had received much
damage - so active and light was my poor Clement - it was not before
the old gardener had hobbled forwards, and, with many an old-fashioned
oath and curse, proclaimed himself a partisan of the losing side - a
follower of a ci-devant aristocrat. It was quite enough. He received
one or two good blows, which were, in fact, aimed at his master; and
then, almost before he was aware, he found his arms pinioned behind him
with a woman's garter, which one of the viragos in the crowd had made
no scruple of pulling off in public, as soon as she heard for what
purpose it was wanted. Poor Jacques was stunned and unhappy - his
master was out of sight, on before; and the old gardener scarce knew
whither they were taking him. His bead ached from the blows which had
fallen upon it; it was growing dark - June day though it was - and,
when first he seems to have become exactly aware of what had happened
to him, it was when he was turned into one of the larger rooms of the
Abbaye, in which all were put who had no other allotted place wherein
to sleep. One or two iron lamps hung from the ceiling by chains, giving
a dim light for a little circle. Jacques stumbled forwards over a
sleeping body lying on the ground. The sleeper wakened up enough to
complain; and the apology of the old man in reply caught the ear of his
master, who, until this time, could hardly have been aware of the
straits and difficulties of his faithful Jacques. And there they sat -
against a pillar, the livelong night, holding one another's hands, and
each restraining expressions of pain, for fear of adding to the other's
distress. That night made them intimate friends, in spite of the
difference of age and rank. The disappointed hopes, the acute suffering
of the present, the apprehensions of the future, made them seek solace
in talking of the past. Monsieur de Crequy and the gardener found
themselves disputing with interest in which chimney of the stack the
starling used to build - the starling whose nest Clement sent to Urian,
you remember - and discussing the merits of different espalier-pears
which grew, and may grow still, in the old garden of the H™tel de
Crequy. Towards morning both fell asleep. The old man wakened first.
His frame was deadened to suffering, I suppose, for he felt relieved of
his pain; but Clement moaned and cried in feverish slumber. His broken
arm was beginning to inflame his blood. He was, besides, much injured
by some kicks from the crowd as he fell. As the man looked sadly on the
white, baked lips, and the flushed cheeks, contorted with suffering
even in his sleep, Clement gave a sharp cry, which disturbed his
miserable neighbours, all slumbering around in uneasy attitudes. They
bade him with curses he silent; and then, turning round, tried again to
forget their own misery in sleep. For you see, the bloodthirsty
canaille had not been sated with guillotining and hanging all the
nobility they could find, but were now informing, right and left, even
against each other; and, when Clement and Jacques were in the prison,
there were few of gentle blood in the place, and fewer still of gentle
manners. At the sound of the angry words and threats, Jacques thought
it best to awaken his master from his feverish, uncomfortable sleep,
lest he should provoke more enmity; and, tenderly lifting him up, he
tried to adjust his own body, so that it should serve as a rest and a
pillow for the younger man. The motion aroused Clement, and he began to
talk in a strange, feverish way, of Virginie too - whose name he would
not have breathed in such a place had he been quite himself. But
Jacques had as much delicacy of feeling as any lady in the land,
although, mind you, he knew neither how to read nor write - and bent
his head low down, so that his master might tell him in a whisper what
messages he was to take to Mademoiselle de Crequy, in case — Poor
Clement, he knew it must come to that! No escape for him now, in Norman
disguise or otherwise! Either by gathering fever or guillotine, death
was sure of his prey. Well when that happened, Jacques was to go and
find Mademoiselle de Crequy, and tell her that her cousin loved her at
the last as he had loved her at the first; but that she should never
have heard another word of his attachment from his living lips; that he
knew he was not good enough for her, his queen; and that no thought of
earning her love by his devotion had prompted his return to France,
only that, if possible, he might have the great privilege of serving
her whom he loved. And then he went off into rambling talk about
petit-ma”tres, and such kind of expressions, said Jacques to Flechier,
the Intendant, little knowing what a clue that one word gave to much of
the poor lad's suffering.
"The summer morning came slowly on in that dark prison, and when
Jacques could look round - his master was now sleeping on his shoulder,
still the uneasy, starting sleep of fever - he saw that there were many
women among the prisoners. (I have heard some of those who have escaped
from the prisons say, that the look of despair and agony that came into
the faces of the prisoners on first wakening, as the sense of their
situation grew upon them, was what lasted the longest in the memory of
the survivors. This look, they said, passed away from the women's faces
sooner than it did from those of the men.)
"Poor old Jacques kept falling asleep, and plucking himself up
again, for fear lest, if he did not attend to his master, some harm
might come to the swollen, helpless arm. Yet his weariness grew upon
him in spite of all his efforts, and at last he felt as if he must give
way to the irresistible desire, if only for five minutes. But just then
there was a hustle at the door. Jacques opened his eyes wide to look.
"'The gaoler is early with breakfast,' said some one lazily.
"'It is the darkness of this cursed place that makes us think it
early,' said another.
"All this time a parley was going on at the door. Some one came in;
not the gaoler - a woman. The door was shut to and locked behind her.
She only advanced a step or two, for it was too sudden a change, out of
the light into that dark shadow, for any one to see clearly for the
first few minutes. Jacques had his eyes fairly open now, and was wide
awake. It was Mademoiselle de Crequy, looking bright, clear, and
resolute. The faithful heart of the old man read that look like an open
page. Her cousin should not die there on her behalf, without at least
the comfort of her sweet presence.
"'Here he is,' he whispered, as her gown would have touched him in
passing, without her perceiving him, in the heavy obscurity of the
"'The good God bless you, my friend!' she murmured, as she saw the
attitude of the old man, propped against a pillar, and holding Clement
in his arms, as if the young man had been a helpless baby, while one of
the poor gardener's hands supported the broken limb in the easiest
position. Virginie sat down by the old man, and held out her arms.
Softly she moved Clement'e head to her own shoulder; softly she
transferred the task of holding the arm to herself. Clement lay on the
floor, but she supported him, and Jacques was at liberty to arise and
stretch and shake his stiff, weary old body. He then sat down at a
little distance, and watched the pair until he fell asleep. Clement had
muttered 'Virginie,' as they half-roused him by their movements out of
his stupor; but Jacques thought he was only dreaming; nor did he seem
fully awake when once his eyes opened, and he looked full at Virginie's
face bending over him, and growing crimson under his gaze, though she
never stirred, for fear of hurting him if she moved. Clement looked in
silence, until his heavy eyelids came slowly down, and he fell into his
oppressive slumber again. Either he did not recognise her, or she came
in too completely as a part of his sleeping visions for him to be
disturbed by her appearance there.
"When Jacques awoke it was full daylight - at least as full as it
would ever be in that place. His breakfast - the gaol-allowance of
bread and vin ordinaire - was by his side. He must have slept soundly.
He looked for his master. He and Virginie had recognised each other now
- hearts, as well as appearance. They were smiling into each other's
faces, as if that dull vaulted room in the grim Abbaye were the sunny
gardens of Versailles, with music and festivity all abroad. Apparently
they had much to say to each other; for whispered questions and answers
"Virginie had made a sling for the poor broken arm nay, she had
obtained two splinters of wood in some way, and one of their
fellow-prisoners - having it appeared, some knowledge of surgery - had
set it. Jacques felt more desponding by far than they did, for he was
suffering from the night he had passed, which told upon his aged frame;
while they must have heard some good news, as it seemed to him, so
bright and happy did they look. Yet Clement was still in bodily pain
and suffering, and Virginie, by her own act and deed, was a prisoner in
that dreadful Abbaye, whence the only issue was the guillotine. But
they were together; they loved; they understood each other at length.
"When Virginie saw that Jacques was awake, and languidly munching
his breakfast, she rose from the wooden stool on which she was sitting,
and went to him, holding out both hands, and refusing to allow him to
rise, while she thanked him with pretty eagerness for all his kindness
to Monsieur. Monsieur himself came towards him, following Virginie, but
with tottering steps, as if his head was weak and dizzy, to thank the
poor old man, who, now on his feet, stood between them, ready to cry
while they gave him credit for faithful actions which he felt to have
been almost involuntary on his part - for loyalty was like an instinct
in the good old days, before your educational cant had come up. And so
two days went on. The only event was the morning call for the victims,
a certain number of whom were summoned to trial every day. And to be
tried was to be condemned. Every one of the prisoners became grave, as
the hour for their summons approached. Most of the victims went to
their doom with uncomplaining resignation, and for a while after their
departure there was comparative silence in the prison. But, by-and-by -
so said Jacques - the conversation or amusement began again. Human
nature cannot stand the perpetual pressure of such keen anxiety,
without an effort to relieve itself by thinking of something else.
Jacques said that Monsieur and Mademoiselle were for ever talking
together of the past days - it was 'Do you remember this?' or, 'Do you
remember that?' perpetually. He sometimes thought they forgot where
they were, and what was before them. But Jacques did not, and every day
he trembled more and more as the list was called over.
"The third morning of their incarceration, the gaoler brought in a
man whom Jacques did not recognise, and therefore did not at once
observe; for he was waiting, as in duty bound, upon his master and his
sweet young lady (as he always called her in repeating the story). He
thought that the new introduction was some friend of the gaoler, as the
two seemed well acquainted, and the latter stayed a few minutes talking
with his visitor before leaving him in prison. So Jacques was surprised
when, after a short time had he looked round, and saw the fierce stare
with which the stranger was regarding Monsieur and Mademoiselle de
Crequy, as the pair sat at breakfast - the said breakfast being laid as
well as Jacques knew how, on a bench fastened into the prison wall -
Virginie sitting on her low stool, and Clement half lying on the ground
by her side, and submitting gladly to be fed by her pretty white
fingers; for it was one of her fancies, Jacques said, to do all she
could for him, in consideration of his broken arm. And, indeed, Clement
was wasting away daily; for he had received other injuries, internal
and more serious than that to his arm, during the mlee which had ended
in his capture. The stranger made Jacques conscious of his presence by
a sign, which was almost a groan. All three prisoners looked round at
the sound. Clement's face expressed little but scornful indifference;
but Virginie's face froze into stony hate. Jacques said he never saw
such a look, and hoped that he never should again. Yet after that first
revelation of feeling, her look was steady and fixed in another
direction to that in which the stranger stood - still motionless -
still watching. He came a step nearer at last.
"'Mademoiselle,' he said. Not the quivering of an eyelash showed
that she heard him. 'Mademoiselle!' he said again, with an intensity of
beseeching that made Jacques - not knowing who he was - almost pity
him, when he saw his young lady's obdurate face.
"There was perfect silence for a space of time which Jacques could
not measure. Then again the voice, hesitatingly, saying, 'Monsieur!'
Clement could not bold the same icy countenance as Virginie; he, turned
his head with an impatient gesture of disgust; but even that emboldened
"'Monsieur, do ask mademoiselle to listen to me - just two words.'
"'Mademoiselle de Crequy only listens to whom she chooses.' Very
haughtily my Clement would say that, I am sure.
"'But, mademoiselle,' - lowering his voice, and coming a step or
two nearer. Virginie must have felt his approach, though she did not
see it; for she drew herself a little on one side, so as to put as much
space as possible between him and her - 'Mademoiselle, it is not too
late. I can save you; but to-morrow your name is down on the list. I
can save you, if you will listen.'
"Still no word or sign. Jacques did not understand the affair. Why
was she so obdurate to one who might be ready to Include Clement In the
proposal, as far as Jacques knew?
"The man withdrew a little, but did not offer to leave the prison.
He never took his eyes off Virginie; he seemed to be suffering from
some acute and terrible pain as he watched her.
"Jacques cleared away the breakfast-things as well as he could.
Purposely, as I suspect, he passed near the man.
"'Hist!' said the stranger. 'You are Jacques, the gardener,
arrested for assisting an aristocrat. I know the gaoler. You shall
escape, if you will. Only take this message from me to mademoiselle.
You heard She will not listen to me; I did not want her to come here. I
never knew she was here, and she will die to-morrow. They will put her
beautiful round throat under the guillotine. Tell her, good old man,
tell her how sweet life is; and how I can save her; and how I will not
ask for more than just to see her from time to time. She is so young;
and death is annihilation, you know. Why does she hate me so? I want to
save her; I have done her no harm. Good old man, tell her how terrible
death is; and that she will die to-morrow, unless she listens to me.'
"Jacques saw no harm in repeating this message. Clement listened in
silence, watching Virginie with an air of infinite tenderness.
"'Will you not try him, my cherished one?' he said. 'Towards you he
may mean well' (which makes me think that Virginie had never repeated
to Clement the conversation which she had overheard that last night at
Madame Babette's); 'you would he in no worse a situation than you were
"'No worse, Clement! and I should have known what you were, and
have lost you. My Clement!' said she reproachfully.
"'Ask him,' said she, turning to Jacques suddenly, 'if he can save
Monsieur de Crequy as well, - if he can? - O Clement, we might escape
to England; we are but young.' And she hid her face on his shoulder.
"Jacques returned to the stranger, and asked him Virginie's
question. His eyes were fixed on the cousins; he was very pale, and the
twitchings or contortions, which must have been Involuntary whenever he
was agitated, convulsed his whole body.
"He made a long pause. 'I will save mademoiselle and monsieur if
she will go straight from prison to the mairie, and he my wife.'
"'Your wife!' Jacques could not help exclaiming, 'That she will
never be - never!'
"'Ask her!' said Morin hoarsely.
"But almost before Jacques thought he could have fairly uttered the
words, Clement caught their meaning.
"'Begone!' said he; 'not one word more.' Virginie touched the old
man as he was moving away. 'Tell him he does not know how he makes me
welcome death.' And smiling, as if triumphant, she turned again to
"The stranger did not speak as Jacques gave him the meaning, not
the words, of their replies. He was going away, but stopped. A minute
or two afterwards, he beckoned to Jacques. The old gardener seems to
have thought it undesirable to throw away even the chance of assistance
from such a man as this, for he went forward to speak to him.
"'Listen! I have influence with the gaoler. He shall let thee pass
out with the victims to-morrow. No one will notice it, or miss thee —.
They will be led to trial - even at the last moment, I will save her,
if she sends me word she relents. Speak to her, as the time draws on.
Life is very sweet - tell her how sweet. Speak to him; he will do more
with her than thou canst. Let him urge her to live. Even at the last, I
will be at the Palais de Justice - at the Grve. I have followers - I
have interest. Come among the crowd that follow the victims - I shall
see thee. It will be no worse for him, if she escapes' —
"'Save my master, and I will do all,' said Jacques.
"'Only on my one condition,' said Morin doggedly; and Jacques was
hopeless of that condition ever being fulfilled. But he did not see why
his own life might not be saved. By remaining in prison until the next
day, he should have rendered every service in his power to his master
and the young lady. He, poor fellow, shrank from death; and he agreed
with Morin to escape, if he could, by the means Morin had suggested,
and to bring him word if Mademoiselle de Crequy relented. (Jacques had
no expectation that she would; but I fancy he did not think it
necessary to tell Morin of this conviction of his.) This bargaining
with so base a man for so slight a thing as life, was the only flaw
that I heard of in the old gardener's behaviour. Of course, the mere
re-opening of the subject was enough to stir Virginie to displeasure.
Clement urged her, it is true; but the light he had gained upon Morin's
motions made him rather try to set the case before her in as fair a
manner as possible than use any persuasive arguments. And, even as it
was, what he said on the subject made Virginie shed tears - the first
that had fallen from her since she entered the prison. So, they were
summoned and went together, at the fatal call of the muster-roll of
victims the next morning. He, feeble from his wounds and his injured
health; she, calm and serene, only petitioning to be allowed to walk
next to him, in order that she might hold him up when he turned faint
and giddy from his extreme suffering.
"Together they stood at the bar; together they were condemned. As
the words of judgment were pronounced, Virginie turned to Clement, and
embraced him with passionate fondness. Then, making him lean on her,
they marched out towards the Place de la Grve.
"Jacques was free now. He had told Morin how fruitless his efforts
at persuasion had been; and scarcely caring to note the effect of his
information upon the man, he had devoted himself to watching Monsieur
and Mademoiselle de Crequy. And now he followed them to the Place de la
Grve. He saw them mount the platform; saw them kneel down together
till plucked up by the impatient officials; could see that she was
urging some request to the executioner; the end of which seemed to be,
that Clement advanced first to the guillotine, was executed (and just
at this moment there was a stir among the crowd, as of a man pressing
forward towards the scaffold). Then she, standing with her face to the
guillotine, slowly made the sign of the cross, and knelt down.
"Jacques covered his eyes, blinded with tears. The report of a
pistol made him look up. She was gone - another victim in her place -
and where there had been a little stir in the crowd not five minutes
before, some men were carrying off a dead body. A man had shot himself,
they said. Pierre told me who that man was."
After a pause, I ventured to ask what became of Madame de Crequy,
"She never made any inquiry about him," said my lady. "She must
have known that he was dead; though how, we never could tell. Medlicott
remembered afterwards that it was about, if not on - Medlicott to this
day declares that it was on the very Monday, June the nineteenth, when
her son was executed, that Madame de Crequy left off her rouge and took
to her bed, as one bereaved and hopeless. It certainly was about that
time; and Medlicott - who was deeply impressed by that dream of Madame
de Crequy's (the relation of which I told you had had such an effect on
my lord), in which she had seen the figure of Virginie, as the only
light object amid much surrounding darkness as of night, smiling and
beckoning Clement on - on - till at length the bright phantom stopped,
motionless, and Madame de Crequy's eyes began to penetrate the murky
darkness, and to see closing around her the gloomy dripping walls which
she had once seen and never forgotten - the walls of the vault of the
chapel of the De Crequys in Saint Germain l'Auxerrois; and there the
two last of the Crequys laid them down among their forefathers, and
Madame de Crequy had wakened to the sound of the great door, which led
to the open air, being locked upon her - I say Medlicott, who was
predisposed by this dream to look out for the supernatural, always
declared that Madame de Crequy was made conscious, in some mysterious
way, of her son's death, on the very day and hour when it occurred, and
that after that she had no more anxiety, but was only conscious of a
kind of stupefying despair."
"And what became of her, my lady?" I again asked.
"What could become of her?" replied Lady Ludlow. "She never could
be induced to rise again, though she lived more than a year after her
son's departure. She kept her bed; her room darkened, her face turned
towards the wall, whenever any one besides Medlicott was in the room.
She hardly ever spoke, and would have died of starvation but for
Medlicott's tender care, in putting a morsel to her lips every now and
then, feeding her in fact, just as an old bird feeds her young ones. In
the height of summer my lord and I left London. We would fain have
taken her with us into Scotland, but the doctor (we had the old doctor
from Leicester Square) forbade her removal; and this time he gave such
good reasons against it that I acquiesced. Medlicott and a maid were
left with her. Every care was taken of her. She survived till our
return. Indeed, I thought she was in much the same state as I had left
her in, when I came back to London. But Medlicott spoke of her as much
weaker; and one morning, on awakening, they told me she was dead. I
sent for Medlicott, who was in sad distress, she had become so fond of
her charge. She said that, about two o'clock, she had been awakened by
unusual restlessness on Madame de Crequy's part; that she had gone to
her bedside, and found the poor lady feebly but perpetually moving her
wasted arm up and down - and saying to herself in a wailing voice - "I
did not bless him when he left me - I did not bless him when he left
me!" Medlicott gave her a spoonful or two of jelly, and sat by her,
stroking her hand, and soothing her till she seemed to fall asleep. But
in the morning she was dead."
"It is a sad story, your ladyship," said I, after a while.
"Yes, it is. People seldom arrive at my age without having watched
the beginning, middle, and end of many lives and many fortunes. We do
not talk about them, perhaps; for they are often so sacred to us, from
having touched into the very quick of our own hearts, as it were, or
into those of others who are dead and gone, and veiled over from human
sight, that we cannot tell the tale as if it was a mere story. But
young people should remember that we have had this solemn experience of
life, on which to base our opinions and form our judgments, so that
they are not mere untried theories. I am not alluding to Mr. Horner
just now, for he is nearly as old as I am - within ten years, I dare
say - but I am thinking of Mr. Gray, with his endless plans for some
new thing - schools, education, Sabbaths, and what not. Now he has not
seen what all this leads to."
"It is a pity he has not heard your ladyship tell the story of poor
Monsieur de Crequy."
"Not at all a pity, my dear. A young man like him, who, both by
position and age, must have had his experience confined to a very
narrow circle, ought not to set up his opinion against mine; he ought
not to require reasons from me, nor to need such explanation of my
arguments (if I condescend to argue), as going into relation of the
circumstances on which my arguments are based in my own mind would be."
"But, my lady, it might convince him," I said, with perhaps
"And why should he be convinced?" she asked, with gentle inquiry in
her tone. "He has only to acquiesce. Though he is appointed by Mr.
Croxton, I am the lady of the manor, as he must know. But it is with
Mr. Horner that I must have to do about this unfortunate lad Gregson. I
am afraid there will be no method of making him forget his unlucky
knowledge. His poor brains will be intoxicated with the sense of his
powers, without any counterbalancing principles to guide him. Poor
fellow! I am quite afraid it will end in his being hanged!"
The next day Mr. Horner came to apologise and explain. He was
evidently - as I could tell from his voice, as he spoke to my lady in
the next room - extremely annoyed at her ladyship's discovery of the
education he had been giving to this boy. My lady spoke with great
authority, and with reasonable grounds of complaint. Mr. Horner was
well acquainted with her thoughts on the subject, and had acted in
defiance of her wishes. He acknowledged as much, and should on no
account have done it, in any other Instance, without her leave.
"Which I could never have granted you," said my lady.
But this boy had extraordinary capabilities; would, in fact, have
taught himself much that was bad, if he had not been rescued, and
another direction given to his powers. And in all Mr. Horner had done,
he had had her ladyship's service in view. The business was getting
almost beyond his power, so many letters and so much account-keeping
was required by the complicated state in which things were.
Lady Ludlow felt what was coming - a reference to the mortgage for
the benefit of my lord's Scottish estates, which, she was perfectly
aware, Mr. Horner considered as having been a most unwise proceeding -
and she hastened to observe -
"All this may be very true, Mr. Horner, and I am sure I should be
the last person to wish you to overwork or distress yourself; but of
that we will talk another time. What I am now anxious to remedy is, if
possible, the state of this poor little Gregson's mind. Would not hard
work In the fields be a wholesome and excellent way of enabling him to
"I was in hopes, my lady, that you would have permitted me to bring
him up to act as a kind of clerk," said Mr. Horner, jerking out his
"A what?" asked my lady, in infinite surprise.
"A kind of - of assistant, in the way of copying letters and doing
up accounts. He is already an excellent penman and very quick at
"Mr. Horner," said my lady, with dignity, "the son of a poacher and
vagabond ought never to have been able to copy letters relating to the
Hanbury estates; and, at any rate, he shall not. I wonder how it is
that, knowing the use he has made of his power of reading a letter, you
should venture to propose such an employment for him as would require
his being in your confidence, and you the trusted agent of this family.
Why, every secret (and every ancient and honourable family has its
secrets, as you know, Mr. Horner!) would be learnt off by heart, and
repeated to the first comer!"
"I should have hoped to have trained him, my lady, to understand
the rules of discretion."
"Trained! Train a barn-door fowl to be a pheasant, Mr. Horner! That
would be the easier task. But you did right to speak of discretion
rather than honour. Discretion looks to the consequences of actions -
honour looks to the action itself, and is an instinct rather than a
virtue. After all, it is possible you might have trained him to be
Mr. Horner was silent. My lady was softened by his not replying,
and began, as she always did in such cases, to fear lest she had been
too harsh. I could tell that by her voice and by her next speech, as
well as if I had seen her face.
"But I am sorry you are feeling the pressure of the affairs; I am
quite aware that I have entailed much additional trouble upon you by
some of my measures: I must try and provide you with some suitable
assistance. Copying letters and doing up accounts, I think you said?"
Mr. Horner had certainly had a distant idea of turning the little
boy, in process of time, into a clerk; but he had rather urged this
possibility of future usefulness beyond what he had at first intended,
in speaking of it to my lady as a palliation of his offence; and he
certainly was very much inclined to retract his statement that the
letter-writing, or any other business, had increased, or that he was in
the slightest want of help of any kind, when my lady, after a pause of
consideration, suddenly said -
"I have it. Miss Galindo will, I am sure, he glad to assist you. I
will speak to her myself. The payment we should make to a clerk would
be of real service to her!"
I could hardly help echoing Mr. Horner's tone of surprise as he
For, you must be told who Miss Galindo was; at least, told as much
as I know. Miss Galindo had lived in the village for many years,
keeping house on the smallest possible means, yet always managing to
maintain a servant. And this servant was invariably chosen because she
had some infirmity that made her undesirable to every one else. I
believe Miss Galindo had had lame and blind and humpbacked maids. She
had even at one time taken in a girl hopelessly gone in consumption,
because, if not, she would have had to go to the workhouse, and not
have had enough to eat. Of course the poor creature could not perform a
single duty usually required of a servant, and Miss Galindo herself was
both servant and nurse.
Her present maid was scarcely four feet high, and bore a terrible
character for ill-temper. Nobody but Miss Galindo would have kept her;
but, as it was, mistress and servant squabbled perpetually, and were,
at heart, the best of friends. For it was one of Miss Galindo's
peculiarities to do all manner of kind and self-denying actions, and to
say all manner of provoking things. Lame, blind, deformed, and dwarf,
all came in for scoldings without number; it was only the consumptive
girl that never had heard a sharp won I don't think any of her servants
liked her the worse for her peppery temper, and passionate odd ways,
for they knew her real and beautiful kindness of heart; and, besides,
she had so great a turn for humour, that very often her speeches amused
as much or more than they irritated; and, on the other side, a piece of
witty impudence from her servant would occasionally tickle her so much
and so suddenly, that she would burst out laughing in the middle of her
But the talk about Miss Galindo's choice and management of her
servants was confined to village gossip, and had never reached my Lady
Ludlow's ears, though doubtless Mr. Horner was well acquainted with it.
What my lady knew of her amounted to this. It was the custom in those
days for the wealthy ladies of the county to set on foot a repository,
as it was called, in the assize-town. The ostensible manager of this
repository was generally a decayed gentlewoman, a clergyman's widow, or
so forth. She was, however, controlled by a committee of ladies: and
paid by them in proportion to the amount of goods she sold; and these
goods were the small manufactures of ladies of little or no fortune,
whose names, if they chose it, were only signified by initials.
Poor water-colour drawings, indigo and Indian ink, screens,
ornamented with moss and dried leaves, paintings on velvet, and such
faintly ornamental works, were displayed on one side of the shop. It
was always reckoned a mark of characteristic gentility in the
repository to have only common heavy-framed sash-windows, which
admitted very little light; so I never was quite certain of the merit
of these Works of Art, as they were entitled. But, on the other side,
where the Useful Work placard was put up, there was a great variety of
articles, of whose unusual excellence every one might judge. Such fine
sewing, and stitching, and buttonholing! Such bundles of soft delicate
knitted stockings and socks; and, above all, in Lady Ludlow's eyes,
such banks of the finest spun flaxen thread!
And the most delicate dainty work of all was done by Miss Galindo,
as Lady Ludlow very well knew. Yet, for all their fine sewing, it
sometimes happened that Miss Galindo's patterns were of an
old-fashioned kind; and the dozen night-caps, may be, on the materials
for which she had expended bon‰-fide money, and on the making-up, no
little time and eyesight, would lie for months In a yellow neglected
heap; and at such times, it was said, Miss Galindo was more amusing
than usual, more full of dry drollery and humour just as at the times
when an order came in to X. (the initial she had chosen) for a stock of
well-paying things, she sat and stormed at her servant as she stitched
away. She herself explained her practice in this way -
"When everything goes wrong, one would give up breathing if one
could not lighten one's heart by a joke. But when I've to sit still
from morning till night, I must have something to stir my blood, or I
should go off into an apoplexy; so I set to, and quarrel with Sally."
Such were Miss Galindo's means and manner of living in her own
house. Out of doors, and in the village, she was not popular, although
she would have been sorely missed had she left the place. But she asked
too many home questions (not to say impertinent) respecting the
domestic economies (for even the very poor liked to spend their bit of
money their own way), and would open cupboards to find out hidden
extravagances, and question closely respecting the weekly amount of
butter; till one day she met with what would have been a rebuff to any
other person, but was by her rather enjoyed than otherwise.
She was going into a cottage, and in the doorway met the good woman
chasing out a duck, and apparently unconscious of her visitor.
"Get out, Miss Galindo!" she cried, addressing the duck. "Get out!
Oh, I ask your pardon," she continued, as if seeing the lady for the
first time. "It's only that weary duck will come In. Get out, Miss
Gal—" (to the duck).
"And so you call it after me, do you?" inquired her visitor.
"Oh, yes, ma'am; my master would have it so; for, he said, sure
enough the unlucky bird was always poking herself where she was not
"Ha, ha! very good! And so your master is a wit, is he? Well! tell
him to come up and speak to me to-night about my parlour chimney; for
there is no one like him for chimney doctoring."
And the master went up, and was so won over by Miss Galindo's merry
ways, and sharp insight into the mysteries of his various kinds of
business (he was a mason, chimney-sweeper, and ratcatcher), that he
came home and abused his wife the next time she called the duck the
name by which he himself had christened her.
But, odd as Miss Galindo was in general, she could be as well-bred
a lady as any one when she chose. And choose she always did when my
Lady Ludlow was by. Indeed, I don't know the man, woman, or child, that
did not instinctively turn out its best side to her ladyship. So she
had no notion of the qualities which, I am sure, made Mr. Horner think
that Miss Galindo would be most unmanageable as a clerk, and heartily
wish that the idea had never come Into my lady's head. But there it
was, and he had annoyed her ladyship already more than he liked to-day;
so be could not directly contradict her, but only urge difficulties
which he hoped might prove insuperable. But every one of them Lady
Ludlow knocked down. "Letters to copy?" Doubtless. Miss Galindo could
come up to the Hall; she should have a room to herself; she wrote a
beautiful hand; and writing would save her eyesight. "Capability with
regard to accounts?" My lady would answer for that too; and for more
than Mr. Horner seemed to think it necessary to inquire about. Miss
Galindo was by birth and breeding a lady of the strictest honour, and
would, if possible, forget the substance of any letters that passed
through her hands: at any rate, no one would ever hear of them again
from her. "Remuneration?" Oh! as for that, Lady Ludlow would herself
take care that it was managed in the most delicate manner possible. She
would send to invite Miss Galindo to tea at the Hall that very
afternoon, if Mr. Horner would only give her ladyship the slightest
idea of the average length of time that my lady was to request Miss
Galindo to sacrifice to her daily. "Three hours? Very well." Mr. Horner
looked very grave as he passed the windows of the room where I lay. I
don't think he liked the idea of Miss Galindo as a clerk.
Lady Ludlow's Invitations were like royal commands. Indeed, the
village was too quiet to allow the inhabitants to have many evening
engagements of any kind. Now and then, Mr. and Mrs. Horner gave a tea
and supper to the principal tenants and their wives, to which the
clergyman was invited, and Miss Galindo, Mrs. Medlicott, and one or two
other spinsters and widows. The glory of the supper-table on these
occasions was invariably furnished by her ladyship: it was a cold
roasted peacock, with his tail stuck out as if in life. Mrs. Medlicott
would take up the whole morning arranging the feathers in the proper
semicircle, and was always pleased with the wonder and admiration it
excited. It was considered a due reward and fitting compliment to her
exertions that Mr. Horner always took her in to supper, and placed her
opposite to the magnificent dish, at which she sweetly smiled all the
time they were at table. But since Mrs. Horner had had the paralytic
stroke these parties had been given up; and Miss Galindo wrote a note
to Lady Ludlow in reply to her invitation, saying that she was entirely
disengaged, and would have great pleasure in doing herself the honour
of waiting upon her ladyship.
Whoever visited my lady took their meals with her, sitting on the
dais, in the presence of all my former companions. So I did not see
Miss Galindo until some time after tea; as the young gentlewomen had
had to bring her their sewing and spinning, to hear the remarks of so
competent a judge. At length her ladyship brought her visitor into the
room where I lay - it was one of my bad days, I remember - in order to
have her little bit of private conversation. Miss Galindo was dressed
in her best gown, I am sure, but I had never seen anything like it
except in a picture, it was so old-fashioned. She wore a white muslin
apron, delicately embroidered, and put on a little crookedly, In order,
as she told us, even Lady Ludlow, before the evening was over, to
conceal a spot whence the colour had been discharged by a lemon-stain.
This crookedness had an odd effect, especially when I saw that it was
intentional; indeed, she was so anxious about her apron's right
adjustment in the wrong place, that she told us straight out why she
wore it so, and asked her ladyship if the spot was properly hidden, at
the same time lifting up her apron and showing her how large it was.
"When my father was alive, I always took his right arm, so, and
used to remove any spotted or discoloured breadths to the left side, if
it was a walking-dress. That's the convenience of a gentleman. But
widows and spinsters must do what they can. Ah, my dear!" (to me) "when
you are reckoning up the blessings in your lot - though you may think
it a hard one In some respects - don't forget how little your stockings
want darning, as you are obliged to lie down so much! I would rather
knit two pairs of stockings than darn one, any day."
"Have you been doing any of your beautiful knitting lately?" asked
my lady, who had now arranged Miss Galindo in the pleasantest chair,
and taken her own little wicker-work one, and, having her work In her
hands, was ready to try and open the subject.
"No, and alas! your ladyship. It is partly the hot weather's fault,
for people seem to forget that winter must come; and partly, I suppose,
that every one is stocked who has the money to pay four-and-sixpence a
pair for stockings."
"Then may I ask if you have any time in your active days at
liberty?" said my lady, drawing a little nearer to her proposal, which
I fancy she found it a little awkward to make.
"Why, the village keeps me busy, your ladyship, when I have neither
knitting nor sewing to do. You know I took X. for my letter at the
repository, because it stands for Xantippe, who was a great scold in
old times, as I have learnt. But I'm sure I don't know how the world
would get on without scolding, your ladyship. It would go to sleep, and
the sun would stand still."
"I don't think I could bear to scold, Miss Galindo," said her
"No! because your ladyship has people to do it for you. Begging
your pardon, my lady, it seems to me the generality of people may be
divided into saints, scolds, and sinners. Now, your ladyship is a
saint, because you have a sweet and holy nature, in the first place;
and have people to do your anger and vexation for you, in the second
place. And Jonathan Walker is a sinner, because he is sent to prison.
But here am I, half way, having but a poor kind of disposition at best,
and yet hating sin, and all that leads to it, such as wasting, and
extravagance, and gossiping - and yet all this lies right under my nose
in the village, and I am not saint enough to be vexed at it; and so I
scold. And though I had rather be a saint, yet I think I do good in my
"No doubt you do, dear Miss Galindo," said Lady Ludlow. "But I am
sorry to hear that there is so much that is bad going on in the village
- very sorry.
"Oh, your ladyship! then I am sorry I brought it out. It was only
by way of saying, that when I have no particular work to do at home, I
take a turn abroad, and set my neighbours to rights, just by way of
steering clear of Satan.
'For Satan finds some mischief still For idle hands to do,'
you know, my lady."
There was no leading into the subject by delicate degrees, for Miss
Galindo was evidently so fond of talking that, if asked a question, she
made her answer so long that before she came to an end of it, she had
wandered far away from the original starting-point. So Lady Ludlow
plunged at once into what she had to say.
"Miss Galindo; I have a great favour to ask of you."
"My lady, I wish I could tell you what a pleasure it is to hear you
say so," replied Miss Galindo, almost with tears in her eyes; so glad
were we all to do anything for her ladyship, which could be called a
free service and not merely a duty.
"It is this. Mr. Horner tells me that the business-letters,
relating to the estate, are multiplying so much that he finds it
impossible to copy them all himself; and I therefore require the
services of some confidential and discreet person to copy these
letters, and occasionally to go through certain accounts. Now, there is
a very pleasant little sitting-room very near to Mr. Horner's office
(you know Mr. Horner's office - on the other side of the stone hall?) -
and, if I could prevail upon you to come here to breakfast and
afterwards sit there for three hours every morning, Mr. Horner should
bring or send you the papers" —
Lady Ludlow stopped. Miss Galindo's countenance had fallen. There
was some great obstacle in her mind to her wish for obliging Lady
"What would Sally do?" she asked at length. Lady Ludlow had not a
notion who Sally was. Nor, if she had had a notion, would she have had
a conception of the perplexities that poured into Miss Galindo's mind,
at the idea of leaving her rough, forgetful dwarf, without the
perpetual monitorship of her mistress. Lady Ludlow, accustomed to a
household where everything went on noiselessly, perfectly, and by
clock-work, conducted by a number of highly-paid, well-chosen, and
accomplished servants, had not a conception of the nature of the rough
material from which her servants came. Besides, in her establishment,
so that the result was good, no one inquired if the small economies had
been observed in the production. Whereas every penny - every halfpenny
- was of consequence to Miss Galindo; and visions of squandered drops
of milk and wasted crusts of bread filled her mind with dismay. But she
swallowed all her apprehensions down, out of her regard for Lady
Ludlow, and desire to be of service to her. No one knows how great a
trial it was to her when she thought of Sally, unchecked and unscolded
for three hours every morning. But all she said was -
"'Sally, go to the Deuce.' I beg your pardon, my lady, if I was
talking to myself; it's a habit I have got into of keeping my tongue in
practice, and I am not quite aware when I do it. Three hours every
morning! I shall be only too proud to do what I can for your ladyship;
and I hope Mr. Horner will not be too impatient with me at first. You
know, perhaps, that I was nearly being an authoress once, and that
seems as if I was destined to 'employ my time in writing.'"
''No, indeed; we must return to the subject of the clerkship
afterwards, if you please. An authoress, Miss Galindo! You surprise
"But, indeed, I was. All was quite ready. Doctor Burney used to
teach me music: not that I ever could learn, but it was a fancy of my
poor father's. And his daughter wrote a book, and they said she was but
a very young lady, and nothing but a music-master's daughter; so why
should not I try?"
"Well! I got paper and half-a-hundred good pens, a bottle of ink,
all ready" —
"And then" —
"Oh, it ended in my having nothing to say, when I sat down to
write. But sometimes, when I get hold of a book, I wonder why I let
such a poor reason stop me. It does not others."
"But I think it was very well it did, Miss Galindo," said her
ladyship. "I am extremely against women usurping men's employments, as
they are very apt to do. But perhaps, after all, the notion of writing
a book improved your hand. It is one of the most legible I ever saw."
"I despise z's without tails," said Miss Galindo, with a good deal
of gratified pride at my lady's praise. Presently, my lady took her to
look at a curious old cabinet, which Lord Ludlow had picked up at the
Hague; and, while they were out of the room on this errand, I suppose
the question of remuneration was settled, for I heard no more of it.
When they came back, they were talking of Mr. Gray. Miss Galindo
was unsparing in her expressions of opinion about him: going much
farther than my lady - in her language, at least.
"A little blushing man like him, who can't say be to a goose
without hesitating and colouring, to come to this village - which is as
good a village as ever lived - and cry us down for a set of sinners, as
if we had all committed murder and that other thing! - I have no
patience with him, my lady. And then, how is he to help us to heaven,
by teaching us our a b, ab-b a, ba? And yet, by all accounts, that's to
save poor children's souls. Oh, I knew your ladyship would agree with
me. I am sure my mother was as good a creature as ever breathed the
blessed air; and if she's not gone to heaven I don't want to go there:
and she could not spell a letter decently. And does Mr. Gray think God
took note of that?"
"I was sure you would agree with me, Miss Galindo," said my lady.
"You and I can remember how this talk about education - Rousseau, and
his writings - stirred up the French people to their Reign of Terror,
and all those bloody scenes."
"I'm afraid that Rousseau and Mr. Gray are birds of a feather,"
replied Miss Galindo, shaking her head. "And yet there is some good in
the young man too. He sat up all night with Billy Davis, when his wife
was fairly worn out with nursing him."
"Did he, indeed?" said my lady, her face lighting up, as it always
did when she heard of any kind or generous action, no matter who
performed it. "What a pity he is bitten with these new revolutionary
ideas, and is so much for disturbing the established order of society!"
When Miss Galindo went, she left so favourable an impression of her
visit on my lady, that she said to me with a pleased smile -
"I think I have provided Mr. Horner with a far better clerk than he
would have made of that lad Gregson in twenty years. And I will send
the lad to my lord's grieve, in Scotland, that he may he kept out of
But something happened to the lad before this purpose could be
The next morning, Miss Galindo made her appearance, and, by some
mistake, unusual to my lady's well-trained servants, was shown into the
room where I was trying to walk; for a certain amount of exercise was
prescribed for me, painful although the exertion had become.
She brought a little basket along with her; and, while the footman
was gone to inquire my lady's wishes (for I don't think that Lady
Ludlow expected Miss Galindo so soon to assume her clerkship; nor,
indeed, had Mr. Horner any work of any kind ready for his new assistant
to do), she launched out into conversation with me.
"It was a sudden summons, my dear! However, as I have often said to
myself, ever since an occasion long ago: if Lady Ludlow ever honours me
by asking for my right hand, I'll cut it off, and wrap the stump up so
tidily she shall never find out it bleeds. But, if I had had a little
more time, I could have mended my pens better. You see, I have had to
sit up pretty late to get these sleeves made" - and she took out of her
basket a pair of brown-holland over-sleeves, very much such as a
grocer's apprentice wears - "and I had only time to make seven or eight
pens, out of some quills Father Thomson gave me last autumn. As for
ink, I'm thankful to say, that's always ready: an ounce of steel
filings, an ounce of nut-gall, and a pint of water (tea, if you're
extravagant, which, thank Heaven! I'm not); put all in a bottle, and
hang it up behind the house door, so that the whole gets a good shaking
every time you slam it to - and even if you are in a passion and bang
it, as Sally and I often do, it is all the better for it - and there's
my ink ready for use; ready to write my lady's will with, if need be."
"Oh, Miss Galindo!" said I, "don't talk so; my lady's will! and she
not dead yet."
"And if she were, what would be the use of talking of making her
will? Now, if you were Sally, I should say, 'Answer me that, you
goose!' But, as you're a relation of my lady's, I must be civil, and
only say, 'I can't think how you can talk so like a fool!' To be sure,
poor thing, you're lame!"
I do not know how long she would have gone on; but my lady came in,
and I, released from my duty of entertaining Miss Galindo, made my
limping way into the next room. To tell the truth, I was rather afraid
of Miss Galindo's tongue, for I never knew what she would say next.
After a while my lady came in, and began to look in the bureau for
something: and as she looked she said -
"I think Mr. Horner must have made some mistake, when he said be
had so much work that he almost required a clerk, for this morning he
cannot find anything for Miss Galindo to do; and there she is, sitting
with her pen behind her ear, waiting for something to write. I am come
to find her my mother's letters, for I should like to have a fair copy
made of them. Oh, here they are: don't trouble yourself, my dear
When my lady returned again, she sat down and began to talk of Mr.
"Miss Galindo says she saw him going to hold a prayer-meeting in a
cottage. Now that really makes me unhappy, it is so like what Mr.
Wesley used to do in my younger days; and since then we have had
rebellion in the American colonies and the French Revolution. You may
depend upon it, my dear, making religion and education common -
vulgarising them, as it were - is a bad thing for a nation. A man who
hears prayers read in the cottage where he has just supped on bread and
bacon, forgets the respect due to a church: he begins to think that one
place is as good as another, and, by-and-by, that one person is as good
as another; and, after that, I always find that people begin to talk of
their rights, instead of thinking of their duties. I wish Mr. Gray had
been more tractable, and had left well alone. What do you think I heard
this morning? Why, that the Home Hill estate, which niches into the
Hanbury property, was bought by a Baptist baker from Birmingham!"
"A Baptist baker!" I exclaimed. I had never seen a Dissenter, to my
knowledge; but, having always heard them spoken of with horror, I
looked upon them almost as if they were rhinoceroses. I wanted to see a
live Dissenter, I believe, and yet I wished it were over. I was almost
surprised when I heard that any of them were engaged in such peaceful
occupations as baking.
"Yes! so Mr. Horner tells me. A Mr. Lambe, I believe. But, at any
rate, he is a Baptist, and has been in trade. What with his schismatism
and Mr. Gray's methodism, I am afraid all the primitive character of
this place will vanish."
From what I could hear, Mr. Gray seemed to be taking his own way;
at any rate, more than he had done when he first came to the village,
when his natural timidity had made him defer to my lady, and seek her
consent and sanction before embarking in any new plan. But newness was
a quality Lady Ludlow especially disliked. Even in the fashions of
dress and furniture, she clung to the old, to the modes which had
prevailed when she was young; and, though she had a deep personal
regard for Queen Charlotte (to whom, as I have already said, she had
been maid-of-honour), yet there was a tinge of Jacobitism about her,
such as made her extremely dislike to hear Prince Charles Edward called
the young Pretender, as many loyal people did in those days, and made
her fond of telling of the thorn-tree in my lord's park in Scotland,
which had been planted by bonny Queen Mary herself, and before which
every guest in the Castle of Monkshaven was expected to stand
bare-headed, out of respect to the memory and misfortunes of the royal
We might play at cards, if we chose, on a Sunday; at least, I
suppose we might, for my lady and Mr. Mountford used to do so often
when I first went. But we must neither play cards, nor read, nor sew,
on the fifth of November and on the thirtieth of January, but must go
to church, and meditate all the rest of the day - and very hard work
meditating was. I would far rather have scoured a room. That was the
reason, I suppose, why a passive life was seen to be better discipline
for me than an active one.
But I am wandering away from my lady, and her dislike to all
innovation. Now, it seemed to me, as far as I heard, that Mr. Gray was
full of nothing but new things, and that what he first did was to
attack all our established institutions, both in the village and the
parish, and also in the nation. To be sure, I heard of his ways of
going on principally from Miss Galindo, who was apt to speak more
strongly than accurately.
"There he goes," she said, "clucking up the children just like an
old hen, and trying to teach them about their salvation and their
souls, and I don't know what - things that it is just blasphemy to
speak about out of church. And he potters old people about reading
their Bibles. I am sure I don't want to speak disrespectfully about the
Holy Scriptures, but I found old Job Horton busy reading his Bible
yesterday. Says I, 'What are you reading, and where did you get it, and
who gave it you?' So he made answer, 'That he was reading Susannah and
the Elders, for that he had read Bel and the Dragon till he could
pretty near say it off by heart; and they were two as pretty stories as
ever he had read, and that it was a caution to him what bad old chaps
there were in the world.' Now, as Job is bedridden, I don't think he is
likely to meet with the Elders; and I say that I think repeating his
Creed, the Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer, and, may be, throwing
in a verse of the Psalms, if he wanted a bit of a change, would have
done him far more good than his pretty stories, as he called them. And
what's the next thing our young parson does? Why, he tries to make us
all feel pitiful for the black slaves, and leaves little pictures of
negroes about, with the question printed below, 'Am I not a man and a
brother?' just as if I was to be hail-fellow-well-met with every negro
footman. They do say he takes no sugar in his tea, because be thinks he
sees spots of blood in it. Now I call that superstition."
The next day it was a still worse story.
"Well, my dear! and how are you? My lady sent me in to sit a bit
with you, while Mr. Horner looks out some papers for me to copy.
Between ourselves, Mr. Steward Horner does not like having me for a
clerk. It is all very well he does not; for, if he were decently civil
to me, I might want a chaperon, you know, now poor Mrs. Horner is
dead." This was one of Miss Galindo's grim jokes. "As it is, I try to
make him forget I'm a woman; I do everything as ship-shape as a
masculine man-clerk. I see he can't find a fault - writing good,
spelling correct, sums all right. And then he squints up at me with the
tail of his eye, and looks glummer than ever, just because I'm a woman
- as if I could help that. I have gone good lengths to set his mind at
ease. I have stuck my pen behind my ear; I have made him a bow instead
of a curtsey; I have whistled - not a tune, I can't pipe up that - nay,
if you won't tell my lady, I don't mind telling you that I have said
'Confound it!' and 'Zounds!' I can't get any farther. For all that, Mr.
Horner won't forget I am a lady; and so I am not half the use I might
be, and, if it were not to please my Lady Ludlow, Mr. Horner and his
books might go hang (see how natural that came out!). And there is an
order for a dozen nightcaps for a bride, and I am so afraid I shan't
have time to do them. Worst of all, there's Mr. Gray taking advantage
of my absence to seduce Sally!"
"To seduce Sally! Mr. Gray!"
"Pooh, pooh, child! There's many a kind of seduction. Mr. Gray is
seducing Sally to want to go to church. There has be been twice at my
house, while I have been away in the mornings, talking to Sally about
the state of her soul and that sort of thing. But when I found the meat
all roasted to a cinder, I said, 'Come, Sally, let's have no more
praying when beef is down at the fire. Pray at six o'clock in the
morning and nine at night, and I won't hinder you.' So she sauced me,
and said something about Martha and Mary, implying that, because she
had let the beef get so overdone that I declare I could hardly find a
bit for Nancy Pole's sick grandchild, she had chosen the better part. I
was very much put about, I own, and perhaps you'll be shocked at what I
said - indeed, I don't know if it was right myself - but I told her I
had a soul as well as she, and, if it was to be saved by my sitting
still and thinking about salvation and never doing my duty, I thought I
had as good a right as she had to be Mary, and save my soul. So, that
afternoon, I sat quite still, and it was really a comfort, for I am
often too busy, I know, to pray as I ought. There is first one person
wanting me, and then another, and the house and the food and the
neighbours to see after. So, when tea-time comes, there enters my maid
with her hump on her back, and her soul to be saved. 'Please, ma'am,
did you order the pound of butter?' - 'No, Sally,' I said, shaking my
head, 'this morning I did not go round by Hale's farm, and this
afternoon I have been employed in spiritual things.'
"Now, our Sally likes tea and bread-and-butter above everything,
and dry bread was not to her taste.
"'I'm thankful,' said the impudent hussy, 'that you have taken a
turn towards godliness. It will be my prayers, I trust, that's given it
"I was determined not to give her an opening towards the carnal
subject of butter; so she lingered still, longing to ask leave to run
for it. But I gave her none, and munched my dry bread myself, thinking
what a famous cake I could make for little Ben Pole with the bit of
butter we were saving; and, when Sally had had her butterless tea, and
was in none of the best of tempers because Martha had not bethought
herself of the butter, I just quietly said -
"'Now, Sally, to-morrow we'll try to hash that beef well, and to
remember the butter, and to work out our salvation all at the same
time, for I don't see why it can't all be done, as God has set us to do
it all.' But I heard her at it again about Mary and Martha, and I have
no doubt that Mr. Gray will teach her to consider me a lost sheep."
I had heard so many little speeches about Mr. Gray from one person
or another, all speaking against him, as a mischief-maker, a setter-up
of new doctrines and of a fanciful standard of life (and you may be
sure that, where Lady Ludlow led, Mrs. Medlicott and Adams were certain
to follow, each in their different way showing the influence my lady
had over them), that I believe I had grown to consider him as a very
instrument of evil, and to expect to perceive in his face marks of his
presumption, and arrogance, and impertinent interference. It was now
many weeks since I had seen him, and, when be was one morning shown
into the blue drawing-room (into which I had been removed for a
change), I was quite surprised to see how innocent and awkward a young
man he appeared, confused even more than I was at our unexpected
tte-ˆ-tte. He looked thinner, his eyes more eager, his expression
more anxious, and his colour came and went more than it had done when I
had seen him last. I tried to make a little conversation, as I was, to
my own surprise, more at my ease than he was; but his thoughts were
evidently too much preoccupied for him to do more than answer me with
Presently my lady came in. Mr. Gray twitched and coloured more than
ever; but plunged into the middle of his subject at once.
"My lady, I cannot answer it to my conscience, if I allow the
children of this village to go on any longer the little heathens that
they are. I must do something to alter their condition. I am quite
aware that your ladyship disapproves of many of the plans which have
suggested themselves to me; but nevertheless I must do something, and I
am come now to your ladyship to ask respectfully, but firmly, what you
would advise me to do."
His eyes were dilated, and I could almost have said they were full
of tears with his eagerness. But I am sure it is a bad plan to remind
people of decided opinions which they have once expressed, if you wish
them to modify those opinions. Now, Mr. Gray had done this with my
lady; and, though I do not mean to say she was obstinate, yet she was
not one to retract.
She was silent for a moment or two before she replied.
"You ask me to suggest a remedy for an evil of the existence of
which I am not conscious," was her answer - very coldly, very gently
given. "In Mr. Mountford's time I heard no such complaints; whenever I
see the village children (and they are not unfrequent visitors at this
house, on one pretext or another), they are well and decently behaved."
"Oh, madam, you cannot judge," he broke in. "They are trained to
respect you in word and deed; you are the highest they ever look up to;
they have no notion of a higher."
"Nay, Mr. Gray," said my lady, smiling, "they are as loyally
disposed as any children can be. They come up here every fourth of
June, and drink his Majesty's health, and have buns, and (as Margaret
Dawson can testify) they take a great and respectful interest in all
the pictures I can show them of the royal family."
"But, madam, I think of something higher than any earthly
My lady culoured at the mistake she had made; for she herself was
truly pious. Yet, when she resumed the subject, it seemed to me as if
her tone was a little sharper than before.
"Such want of reverence is, I should say, the clergyman's fault.
You must excuse me, Mr. Gray, if I speak plainly."
"My lady, I want plain-speaking. I myself am not accustomed to
those ceremonies and forms which are, I suppose, the etiquette in your
ladyship's rank of life, and which seem to hedge you in from any power
of mine to touch you. Among those with whom I have passed my life
hitherto, it has been the custom to speak plainly out what we have felt
earnestly. So, instead of needing any apology from your ladyship for
straightforward speaking, I will meet what you say at once, and admit
that it is the clergyman's fault, in a great measure, when the children
of his parish swear, and curse, and are brutal, and ignorant of all
saving grace; nay, some of them of the very name of God. And because
this guilt of mine, as the clergyman of this parish, lies heavy on my
soul, and every day leads but from bad to worse, till I am utterly
bewildered how to do good to children who escape from me as if I were a
monster, and who are growing up to be men fit for and capable of any
crime, but one requiring wit or sense, I come to you, who seem to me
all-powerful as far as material power goes - for your ladyship only
knows the surface of things, and barely that, that pass in your village
- to help me with advice, and such outward help as you can give."
Mr. Gray had stood up and sat down once or twice while he had been
speaking, in an agitated, nervous kind of way; and now he was
interrupted by a violent fit of coughing, after which he trembled all
My lady rang for a glass of water, and looked much distressed.
"Mr. Gray," said she, "I am sure you are not well; and that makes
you exaggerate childish faults into positive evils. It is always the
case with us when we are not strong in health. I hear of your exerting
yourself in every direction: you overwork yourself, and the consequence
is, that you imagine us all worse people than we are."
And my lady smiled very kindly and pleasantly at him, as he sat, a
little panting, a little flushed, trying to recover his breath. I am
sure that, now they were brought face to face, she had quite forgotten
all the offence she had taken at his doings when she heard of them from
others; and, indeed, it was enough to soften any one's heart to see
that young, almost boyish face, looking in such anxiety and distress.
"Oh, my lady, what shall I do?" he asked, as soon as he could
recover breath, and with such an air of humility that I am sure no one
who had seen it could have ever thought him conceited again. "The evil
of this world is too strong for me. I can do so little. It is all in
vain. It was only to-day" — and again the cough and agitation
"My dear Mr. Gray," said my lady (the day before, I could never
have believed she could have called him "my dear"), "you must take the
advice of an old woman about yourself. You are not fit to do anything
just now but attend to your own health: rest, and see a doctor (but,
indeed, I will take care of that); and, when you are pretty strong
again, you will find that you have been magnifying evils to yourself."
"But, my lady, I cannot rest. The evils do exist, and the burden of
their continuance lies on my shoulders. I have no place to gather the
children together in, that I may teach them the things necessary to
salvation. The rooms in my own house are too small; but I have tried
them. I have money of my own; and, as your ladyship knows, I tried to
get a piece of leasehold property on which to build a schoolhouse at my
own expense. Your ladyship's lawyer comes forward, at your
instructions, to enforce some old feudal right, by which no building is
allowed on leasehold property without the sanction of the lady of the
manor. It may be all very true; but it was a cruel thing to do - that
is, if your ladyship had known (which I am sure you do not) the real
moral and spiritual state of my poor parishioners. And now I come to
you to know what I am to do. Rest! I cannot rest, while children whom I
could possibly save are being left in their ignorance, their blasphemy,
their uncleanness their cruelty. It is known through the village that
your ladyship disapproves of my efforts, and opposes all my plans. If
you think them wrong, foolish, ill-digested (I have been a student,
living in a college, and eschewing all society but that of pious men,
until now: I may not judge for the best, in my ignorance of this sinful
human nature), tell me of better plans and wiser projects for
accomplishing my end; but do not bid me rest, with Satan compassing me
round, and stealing souls away."
"Mr. Gray," said my lady, "there may be some truth in what you have
said. I do not deny it, though I think, in your present state of
indisposition and excitement, you exaggerate it much. I believe - nay,
the experience of a pretty long life has convinced me - that education
is a bad thing, if given indiscriminately. It unfits the lower orders
for their duties, the duties to which they are called by God; of
submission to those placed in authority over them; of contentment with
that state of life to which it has pleased God to call them, and of
ordering themselves lowly and reverently to all their betters. I have
made this conviction of mine tolerably evident to you, and have
expressed distinctly my disapprobation of some of your ideas. You may
imagine, then, that I was not well pleased when I found that you had
taken a rood or more of Farmer Hale's land, and were laying the
foundations of a school-house. You had done this without asking for my
permission, which, as Farmer Hale's liege lady, ought to have been
obtained legally, as well as asked for out of courtesy. I put a stop to
what I believed to be calculated to do harm to a village, to a
population, in which, to say the least of it, I may be disposed to take
as much interest as you can do. How can reading, and writing, and the
multiplication-table (if you choose to go so far), prevent blasphemy,
and uncleanness, and cruelty? Really, Mr. Gray, I hardly like to
express myself so strongly on the subject in your present state of
health, as I should do at any other time. It seems to me that books do
little; character much; and character is not formed from books."
"I do not think of character: I think of souls. I must get some
hold upon these children, or what will become of them in the next
world? I must be found to have some power beyond what they have, and
which they are rendered capable of appreciating, before they will
listen to me. At present physical force is all they look up to; and I
"Nay, Mr. Gray, by your own admission, they look up to me."
"They would not do anything your ladyship disliked if it was likely
to come to your knowledge; but, if they could conceal it from you, the
knowledge of your dislike to a particular line of conduct would never
make them cease from pursuing it."
"Mr. Gray" - surprise in her air, and some little indignation -
"they and their fathers have lived on the Hanbury lands for
"I cannot help it, madam. I am telling you the truth, whether you
believe me or not." There was a pause; my lady looked perplexed, and
somewhat ruffled; Mr. Gray as though hopeless and wearied out. "Then,
my lady," said he at last, rising as he spoke, "you can suggest nothing
to ameliorate the state of things which, I do assure you, does exist on
your lands, and among your tenants. Surely, you will not object to my
using Farmer Hale's great barn every Sabbath? He will allow me the use
of it, if your ladyship will grant your permission."
"You are not fit for any extra work at present" (and indeed he had
been coughing very much all through the conversation). "Give me time to
consider of it. Tell me what you wish to teach. You will be able to
take care of your health, and grow stronger while I consider. It shall
not be the worse for you, if you leave it in my hands for a time."
My lady spoke very kindly; but he was in too excited a state to
recognise the kindness, while the idea of delay was evidently a sorry
irritation. I heard him say: "And I have so little time in which to do
my work. Lord! lay not this sin to my charge!"
But my lady was speaking to the old butler, for whom, at her sign,
I had rung the bell some little time before. Now she turned round.
"Mr. Gray, I find I have some bottles of Malmsey, of the vintage of
seventeen hundred and seventy-eight, yet left. as perhaps you know,
used to be considered a specific for coughs arising from weakness. You
must permit me to send you half-a-dozen bottles, and, depend upon it,
you will take a more cheerful view of life and its duties before you
have finished them, especially if you will be so kind as to see Dr.
Trevor, who is coming to see me in the course of the week. By the time
you are strong enough to work, I will try and find some means of
preventing the children from using such bad language, and otherwise
"My lady, it is the sin, and not the annoyance. I wish I could make
you understand!" He spoke with some impatience. Poor fellow! he was too
weak, exhausted, and nervous. "I am perfectly well; I can set to work
to-morrow; I will do anything not to be oppressed with the thought of
how little I am doing. I do not want your wine. Liberty to act in the
manner I think right, will do me far more good. But it is of no use. It
is pre-ordained that I am to be nothing but a cumberer of the ground. I
beg your ladyship's pardon for this call."
He stood up, and then turned dizzy. My lady looked on, deeply hurt,
and not a little offended. He held out his hand to her, and I could see
that she had a little hesitation before she took it. He then saw me, I
almost think, for the first time; and put out his hand once more, drew
it back, as if undecided, put it out again, and finally took hold of
mine for an instant in his damp, listless hand, and was gone.
Lady Ludlow was dissatisfied with both him and herself, I was sure.
Indeed, I was dissatisfied with the result of the interview myself. But
my lady was not one to speak out her feelings on the subject; nor was I
one to forget myself, and begin on a topic which she did not begin. She
came to me, and was very tender with me; so tender, that that, and the
thoughts of Mr. Gray's sick, hopeless, disappointed look, nearly made
"You are tired, little one," said my lady. "Go and lie down in my
room, and hear what Medlicott and I can decide upon in the way of
strengthening dainties for that poor young man, who is killing himself
with his over-sensitive conscientiousness."
"Oh, my lady!" said I, and then I stopped.
"Well. What?" asked she.
"If you would but let him have Farmer Hale's barn at once, it would
do him more good than all."
"Pooh, pooh, child!" though I don't think she was displeased, "he
is not fit for more work just now. I shall go and write for Dr.
And, for the next half-hour, we did nothing but arrange physical
comforts and cures for poor Mr. Gray. At the end of the time, Mrs.
Medlicott said -
"Has your ladyship heard that Harry Gregson has fallen from a tree,
and broken his thigh-bone, and is like to be a cripple for life?"
"Harry Gregson! That black-eyed lad who read my letter? It all
comes from over-education!'
But I don't see how my lady could think it was over-education that
made Harry Gregson break his thigh, for the manner in which he met with
the accident was this -
Mr. Horner, who had fallen sadly out of health since his wife's
death, had attached himself greatly to Harry Gregson. Now, Mr. Horner
had a cold manner to every one, and never spoke more than was
necessary, at the best of times. And, latterly, it had not been the
best of times with him. I dare say, he had had some causes for anxiety
(of which I knew nothing) about my lady's affairs; and he was evidently
annoyed by my lady's whim (as he once inadvertently called it) of
placing Miss Galindo under him in the position of a clerk. Yet he had
always been friends, in his quiet way, with Miss Galindo, and she
devoted herself to her new occupation with diligence and punctuality,
although more than once she had moaned to me over the orders for
needlework which had been sent to her, and which, owing to her
occupation in the service of Lady Ludlow, she had been unable to
The only living creature to whom the staid Mr. Horner could be said
to be attached, was Harry Gregson. To my lady he was a faithful and
devoted servant, looking keenly after her interests, and anxious to
forward them at any cost of trouble to himself. But the more shrewd Mr.
Horner was, the more probability was there of his being annoyed at
certain peculiarities of opinion which my lady held with a quiet,
gentle pertinacity; against which no arguments, based on mere worldly
and business calculations, made any way. This frequent opposition to
views which Mr. Horner entertained, although it did not interfere with
the sincere respect which the lady and the steward felt for each other,
yet prevented any warmer feeling of affection from coming in. It seems
strange to say it, but I must repeat it - the only person for whom,
since his wife's death, Mr. Horner seemed to feel any love, was the
little imp Harry Gregson, with his bright, watchful eyes, his tangled
hair hanging right down to his eyebrows, for all the world like a Skye
terrier. This lad, half gipsy and whole poacher, as many people
esteemed him, hung about the silent, respectable, staid Mr. Horner, and
followed his steps with something of the affectionate fidelity of the
dog which he resembled. I suspect, this demonstration of attachment to
his person on Harry Gregson's part was what won Mr. Horner's regard. In
the first instance, the steward had only chosen the lad out as the
cleverest instrument he could find for his purpose; and I don't mean to
say that, if Harry had not been almost as shrewd as Mr. Horner himself
was, both by original disposition and subsequent experience, the
steward would have taken to him as he did, let the lad have shown ever
so much affection for him.
But even to Harry Mr. Horner was silent. Still, it was pleasant to
find himself in many ways so readily understood; to perceive that the
crumbs of knowledge he let fall were picked up by his little follower,
and hoarded like gold; that here was one to hate the persons and things
whom Mr. Horner coldly disliked, and to reverence and admire all those
for whom he had any regard. Mr. Horner had never had a child, and
unconsciously, I suppose, something of the paternal feeling had begun
to develop itself in him toward Harry Gregson. I heard one or two
things from different people, which have always made me fancy that Mr.
Horner secretly and almost unconsciously hoped that Harry Gregson might
be trained so as to be first his clerk, and next his assistant, and
finally his successor in his stewardship to the Hanbury estates.
Harry's disgrace with my lady, in consequence of his reading the
letter, was a deeper blow to Mr. Horner than his quiet manner would
ever have led any one to suppose, or than Lady Ludlow ever dreamed of
inflicting, I am sure.
Probably Harry had a short, stern rebuke from Mr. Horner at the
time, for his manner was always hard even to those he cared for the
most. But Harry's love was not to be daunted or quelled by a few sharp
words. I dare say, from what I beard of them afterwards, that Harry
accompanied Mr. Horner in his walk over the farm the very day of the
rebuke; his presence apparently unnoticed by the agent, by whom his
absence would have been painfully felt nevertheless. That was the way
of it, as I have been told. Mr. Horner never bade Harry go with him;
never thanked him for going, or being at his heels ready to run on any
errands, straight as the crow flies to his point, and back to heel in
as short a time as possible. Yet, if Harry were away, Mr. Horner never
inquired the reason from any of the men who might be supposed to know
whether he was detained by his father, or otherwise engaged; be never
asked Harry himself where he had been. But Miss Galindo said that those
labourers who knew Mr. Horner well told her that he was always more
quick-eyed to shortcomings, more savage-like in fault-finding, on those
days when the lad was absent.
Miss Galindo, indeed, was my great authority for most of the
village news which I heard. She it was who gave me the particulars of
poor Harry's accident.
"You see, my dear," she said, "the little poacher has taken some
unaccountable fancy to my master." (This was the name by which Miss
Galindo always spoke of Mr. Horner to me, ever since she had been, as
she called it, appointed his clerk.)
"Now, if I had twenty hearts to lose, I never could spare a bit of
one of them for that good, grey, square, severe man. But different
people have different tastes, and here is that little imp of a
gipsy-tinker ready to turn slave for my master; and, odd enough, my
master - who, I should have said beforehand, would have made short work
of imp, and imp's family, and have sent Hall, the Bang-beggar, after
them in no time - my master, as they tell me, is in his way quite fond
of the lad, and, if he could, without vexing my lady too much, he would
have made him what the folks here call a Latiner. However, last night,
it seems that there was a letter of some importance forgotten (I can't
tell you what it was about, my dear, though I know perfectly well, but
'service oblige' as well as 'noblesse,' and you must take my word for
it that it was important, and one that I am surprised my master could
forget), till too late for the post. (The poor, good, orderly man is
not what he was before his wife's death.) Well, it seems that he was
sore annoyed by his forgetfulness, and well he might be. And it was all
the more vexatious, as he had no one to blame but himself. As for that
matter, I always scold somebody else when I'm in fault; but I suppose
my master would never think of doing that, else it's a mighty relief.
However, he could eat no tea, and was altogether put out and gloomy.
And the little faithful imp-lad, perceiving all this, I suppose, got up
like a page in an old ballad, and said he would run for his life across
country to Comberford, and see if he could not get there before the
bags were made up. So my master gave him the letter, and nothing more
was heard of the poor fellow till this morning, for the father thought
his son was sleeping in Mr. Horner's barn, as he does occasionally, it
seems, and my master, as was very natural, that he had gone to his
"And he had fallen down the old stone quarry, had he not?"
"Yes, sure enough. Mr. Gray had been up here fretting my lady with
some of his new-fangled schemes; and, because the young man could not
have it all his own way, from what I understand, he was put out, and
thought he would go home by the back lane, instead of through the
village, where the folks would notice if the parson looked glum. But,
however, it was a mercy, and I don't mind saying so, ay, and meaning it
too, though it may be like Methodism; for, as Mr. Gray walked by the
quarry, he heard a groan; and at first he thought it was a lamb fallen
down; and he stood still, and he heard it again; and then, I suppose,
he looked down and saw Harry. So he let himself down by the boughs of
the trees to the ledge where Harry lay half-dead, and with his poor
thigh broken. There he had lain ever since the night before: he had
been returning to tell the master that he had safely posted the letter,
and the first words he said, when they recovered him from the exhausted
state he was in, were', (Miss Galindo tried hard not to whimper, as she
said it), "'It was in time, sir. I see'd it put in the bag with my own
"But where is he?" asked I. "How did Mr. Gray get him out?"
"Ay! there it is, you see. Why, the old gentleman (I daren't say
Devil in Lady Ludlow's house) is not so black as he is painted; and Mr.
Gray must have a deal of good in him, as I say at times; and then at
others, when he has gone against me, I can't bear him, and think
hanging too good for him. But he lifted the poor lad, as if he had been
a baby, I suppose, and carried him up the great ledges that were
formerly used for steps; and laid him soft and easy on the wayside
grass, and ran home and got help and a door, and had him carried to his
house, and laid on his bed; and then somehow, for the first time either
he or any one else perceived it, he himself was all over blood - his
own blood - he had broken a blood-vessel; and there he lies in the
little dressing-room, as white and as still as if he were dead; and the
little imp in Mr. Gray's own bed, sound asleep, now his leg is set,
just as if linen sheets and a feather bed were his native element, as
one may say. Really, now he is doing so well, I've no patience with
him, lying there where Mr. Gray ought to he. It is just what my lady
always prophesied would come to pass, if there was any confusion of
"Poor Mr. Gray!" said I, thinking of his flushed face, and his
feverish, restless ways, when he had been calling on my lady not an
hour before his exertions on Harry's behalf. And I told Miss Galindo
how ill I had thought him.
"Yes," said she. "And that was the reason my lady had sent for
Doctor Trevor. Well, it has fallen out admirably, for he looked well
after that old donkey of a Prince, and saw that he made no blunders."
Now "that old donkey of a Prince" meant the village surgeon, Mr.
Prince, between whom and Miss Galindo there was war to the knife, as
they often met in the cottages, when there was illness, and she had her
queer, odd recipes, which he, with his grand pharmacopoeia, held in
infinite contempt; and the consequence of their squabbling had been,
not long before this very time, that he had established a kind of rule,
that into whatever sick-room Miss Galindo was admitted, there he
refused to visit. But Miss Galindo's prescriptions and visits cost
nothing, and were often hacked by kitchen-physic; so, though it was
true that she never came but she scolded about something or other, she
was generally preferred as medical attendant to Mr. Prince.
"Yes, the old donkey is obliged to tolerate me, and ho civil to me;
for, you see, I got there first, and bad possession, as it were, and
yet my lord the donkey likes the credit of attending the parson, and
being in consultation with so grand a county-town doctor as Doctor
Trevor. And Doctor Trevor is an old friend of mine "(she sighed a
little, some time I may tell you why), "and treats me with infinite
bowing and respect; so the donkey, not to be out of medical fashion,
bows too, though it is sadly against the grain; and he pulled a face as
if he had heard a slate-pencil gritting against a slate, when I told
Doctor Trevor I meant to sit up with the two lads; for I call Mr. Gray
little more than a lad, and a pretty conceited one, too, at times."
"But why should you sit up, Miss Galindo? It will tire you sadly."
"Not it. You see, there is Gregson's mother to keep quiet: for she
sits by her lad, fretting and sobbing, so that I'm afraid of her
disturbing Mr. Gray; and there's Mr. Gray to keep quiet, for Doctor
Trevor says his life depends on it; and there is medicine to be given
to the one, and bandages to be attended to for the other; and the wild
horde of gipsy brothers and sisters to be turned out, and the father to
be, held in from showing too much gratitude to Mr. Gray, who can't bear
it - and who is to do it all but me? The only servant is old lame
Betty, who once lived with me, and would leave me because she said I
was always bothering - (there was a good deal of truth in what she
said, I grant, but she need not have said it; a good deal of truth is
best let alone at the bottom of the well), and what can she do - deaf
as ever she can be, too?"
So Miss Galindo went her ways; but not the less was she at her post
in the morning; a little crosser and more silent than usual; but the
first was not to be wondered at, and the last was rather a blessing.
Lady Ludlow had been extremely anxious both about Mr. Gray and
Harry Gregson. Kind and thoughtful in any case of illness and accident
she always was; but somehow, in this, the feeling that she was not
quite - what shall I call it? - "friends" seems hardly the right word
to use, as to the possible feeling between the Countess Ludlow and the
little vagabond messenger, who had only once been in her presence -
that she had hardly parted from either as she could have wished to do,
had death been near, made her more than usually anxious. Doctor Trevor
was not to spare obtaining the best medical advice the county could
afford; whatever he ordered in the way of diet, was to be prepared
under Mrs. Medlicott's own eye, and sent down from the Hall to the
Parsonage. As Mr. Horner had given somewhat similar directions, in the
case of Harry Gregson at least, there was rather a multiplicity of
counsellors and dainties than any lack of them. And, the second night,
Mr. Horner insisted on taking the superintendence of the nursing
himself, and sat and snored by Harry's bedside, while the poor,
exhausted mother lay by her child - thinking that she watched him, but
in reality fast asleep, as Miss Galindo told us; for, distrusting any
one's powers of watching and nursing but her own, she had stolen across
the quiet village street in cloak and dressing-gown, and found Mr. Gray
in vain trying to reach the cup of barley-water which Mr. Horner had
placed just beyond his reach.
In consequence of Mr. Gray's illness, we had to have a strange
curate to do duty: a man who dropped his h's, and hurried through the
service, and yet had time enough to stand in my lady's way, bowing to
her as she came out of church, and so subservient in manner that I
believe that, sooner than remain unnoticed by a countess, he would have
preferred being scolded, or even cuffed. Now I found out that, great as
was my lady's liking and approval of respect, nay, even reverence,
being paid to her as a person of quality - a sort of tribute to her
Order, which she had no individual right to remit, or, indeed, not to
exact - yet she, being personally simple, sincere, and holding herself
in low esteem, could not endure anything like the servility of Mr.
Crosse, the temporary curate. She grew absolutely to loathe his
perpetual smiling and bowing; his instant agreement with the slightest
opinion she uttered; his veering round as she blew the wind. I have
often said that my lady did not talk much, as she might have done had
she lived among her equals. But we all loved her so much that we had
learnt to interpret all her little ways pretty truly; and I knew what
particular turns of her head, and contractions of her delicate fingers
meant, as well as if she had expressed herself in words. I began to
suspect that my lady would be very thankful to have Mr. Gray about
again, and doing his duty even with a conscientiousness that might
amount to worrying himself and fidgeting others; and, although Mr. Gray
might hold her opinions in as little esteem as those of any simple
gentlewoman, she was too sensible not to feel how much flavour there
was in his conversation, compared to that of Mr. Crease, who was only
her tasteless echo.
As for Miss Galindo, she was utterly and entirely a partisan of Mr.
Gray's, almost ever since she had begun to nurse him during his
"You know, I never set up for reasonableness, my lady. So I don't
pretend to say, as I might do if I were a sensible woman and all that -
that I am convinced by Mr. Gray's arguments of this thing or t'other.
For one thing, you see, poor fellow! he has never been able to argue,
or hardly indeed to speak, for Doctor Trevor has been very peremptory.
So there's been no scope for arguing! But what I mean is this: When I
see a sick man thinking always of others, and never of himself;
patient, humble - a trifle too much at times, for I've caught him
praying to be forgiven for having neglected his work as a parish
priest" (Miss Galindo was making horrible faces, to keep back tears,
squeezing up her eyes in a way which would have amused me at any other
time but when she was speaking of Mr. Gray); "when I see a downright
good, religious man, I'm apt to think he's got hold of the right clue,
and that I can do no better than hold on by the tails of his coat and
shut my eyes, if we've got to go over doubtful places on our road to
heaven. So, my lady, you must excuse me, if, when he gets about again,
he is all agog about a Sunday-school; for, if he is, I shall be agog
too, and perhaps twice as bad as him; for, you see, I've a strong
constitution compared to his, and strong ways of speaking and acting.
And I tell your ladyship this now, because I think from your rank - and
still more, if I may say so, for all your kindness to me long ago, down
to this very day - you've a right to be first told of anything about
me. Change of opinion I can't exactly call it, for I don't see the good
of schools and teaching A B C, any more than I did before, only Mr.
Gray does, so I'm to shut my eyes, and leap over the ditch to the side
of education. I've told Sally already, that if she does not mind her
work, but stands gossiping with Nelly Mather, I'll teach her her
lessons; and I've never caught her with old Nelly since."
I think Miss Galindo's desertion to Mr. Gray's opinions in this
matter hurt my lady just a little bit; but she only said -
"Of course, if the parishioners wish for it, Mr. Gray must have his
Sunday-school. I shall, in that case, withdraw my opposition. I am
sorry I cannot alter my opinions as easily as you."
My lady made herself smile as she said this. Miss Galindo saw it
was an effort to do so. She thought a minute before she spoke again.
"Your ladyship has not seen Mr. Gray as intimately as I have done.
That's one thing. But, as for the parishioners, they will follow your
ladyship's lead in everything; so there is no chance of their wishing
for a Sunday-school."
"I have never done anything to make them follow my lead, as you
call it, Miss Galindo," said my lady gravely.
"Yes, you have," replied Miss Galindo bluntly. And then, correcting
herself, she said, "Begging your ladyship's pardon, you have. Your
ancestors have lived here time out of mind, and have owned the land on
which their forefathers have lived ever since there were forefathers.
You yourself were born amongst them, and have been like a little queen
to them ever since, I might say, and they've never known your ladyship
do anything but what was kind and gentle; but I'll leave fine speeches
about your ladyship to Mr. Crosse. Only you, my lady, lead the thoughts
of the parish, and save some of them a world of trouble; for they could
never tell what was right if they had to think for themselves. It's all
quite right that they should be guided by you, my lady - if only you
would agree with Mr. Gray."
"Well," said my lady, "I told him only the last day that he was
here, that I would think about it. I do believe I could make up my mind
on certain subjects better if I were left alone, than while being
constantly talked to about them."
My lady said this in her usual soft tones, but the words had a
tinge of impatience about them; indeed, she was more ruffled than I had
often seen her; but, checking herself in an instant, she said -
"You don't know how Mr. Horner drags in this subject of education
ˆ-propos of everything. Not that he says much about it at any time; it
is not his way. But he cannot let the thing alone."
"I know why, my lady," said Miss Galindo. "That poor lad, Harry
Gregson, will never be able to earn his livelihood in any active way,
but will be lame for life. Now, Mr. Horner thinks more of Harry than of
any one else in the world - except, perhaps, your ladyship." Was it not
o pretty companionship for my lady? "And he has schemes of his own for
teaching Harry; and, if Mr. Gray could but have his school, Mr. Horner
and he think Harry might be schoolmaster, as your ladyship would
netlike to have him coming to you as steward's clerk. I wish your
ladyship would fall into this plan; Mr. Gray has it so at heart."
Miss Galindo looked wistfully at my lady, as she said this. But my
lady only said drily, and rising at the same time, as if to end the
"So! Mr. Horner and Mr. Gray seem to have gone a long way in
advance of my consent to their plans."
"There!" exclaimed Miss Galindo, as my lady left the room, with an
apology for going away; "I have gone and done mischief with my long,
stupid tongue. To be sure, people plan a long way ahead of to-day; more
especially when one is a sick man, lying all through the weary day on a
"My lady will soon get over her annoyance," said I, as it were
apologetically. I only stopped Miss Galindo's self-reproaches to draw
down her wrath upon myself.
"And has not she a right to be annoyed with me if she likes, and to
keep annoyed as long as she likes? Am I complaining of her, that you
need tell me that? Let me tell you, I have known my lady these thirty
years; and if she were to take me by the shoulders, and turn me out of
the house, I should only love her the more. So don't you think to come
between us with any little mincing, peacemaking speeches. I have been a
mischief-making parrot, and I like her the better for being vexed with
me. So good-bye to you, Miss; and wait till you know Lady Ludlow as
well as I do, before you next think of telling me she will soon get
over her annoyance!" And off Miss Galindo went.
I could not exactly tell what I had done wrong; but I took care
never again to come in between my lady and her by any remark about the
one to the other; for I saw that some most powerful bond of grateful
affection made Miss Galindo almost worship my lady.
Meanwhile Harry Gregson was limping a little about in the village,
still finding his home in Mr. Gray's house; for there he could most
conveniently be kept under the doctor's eye, and receive the requisite
care, and enjoy the requisite nourishment. As soon as he was a little
better, he was to go to Mr. Horner's house; but, as the steward lived
some distance out of the way, and was much from home, he had agreed to
leave Harry at the house to which he had first been taken, until he was
quite strong again; and the more willingly, I suspect, from what I
heard afterwards, because Mr. Gray gave up all the little strength of
speaking which he had, to teaching Harry in the very manner which Mr.
Horner most desired.
As for Gregson the father, he - wild man of the woods, poacher,
tinker, jack-of-all-trades - was getting tamed by this kindness to his
child. Hitherto his hand had been against every man, as every man's had
been against him. That affair before the justice, which I told you
about, when Mr. Gray and even my lady had interested themselves to get
him released from unjust imprisonment, was the first bit of justice he
had ever met with: it attracted him to the people, and attached him to
the spot on which he had but squatted for a time. I am not sure if any
of the villagers were grateful to him for remaining in their
neighbourhood, instead of decamping as he had often done before, for
good reasons, doubtless, of personal safety. Harry was only one out of
a brood of ten or twelve children, some of whom had earned for
themselves no good character in service: one, indeed, had been actually
transported, for a robbery committed in a distant part of the county;
and the tale was yet told in the village of how Gregson the father came
back from the trial in a state of wild rage, striding through the
place, and uttering oaths of vengeance to himself, his great black eyes
gleaming out of his matted hair, and his arms working by his side, and
now and then tossed up in his impotent despair. As I heard the account,
his wife followed him, child-laden and weeping. After this, they had
vanished from the country for a time, leaving their mud hovel locked
up, and the door-key, as the neighbours said, buried in a hedge-bank.
The Gregsons had re-appeared much about the same time that Mr. Gray
came to Hanbury. He had either never heard of their evil character, or
considered that it gave them all the more claims upon his Christian
care; and the end of it was, that this rough, untamed, strong giant of
a heathen was loyal slave to the weak, hectic, nervous,
self-distrustful parson. Gregson had also a kind of grumbling respect
for Mr. Horner: he did not quite like the steward's monopoly of his
Harry; the mother submitted to that with a better grace, swallowing
down her maternal jealousy in the prospect of her child's advancement
to a better and more respectable position than that in which his
parents had struggled through life. But Mr. Horner, the steward, and
Gregson, the poacher and squatter, had come into disagreeable contact
too often in former days for them to be perfectly cordial at any future
time. Even now, when there was no immediate cause for anything but
gratitude for his child's sake on Gregson's part, he would skulk out of
Mr. Horner's way, if he saw him coming; and it took all Mr. Horner's
natural reserve and acquired self-restraint to keep him from
occasionally holding up his father's life as a warning to Harry. Now,
Gregson had nothing of this desire for avoidance with regard to Mr.
Cray. The poacher had a feeling of physical protection towards the
parson; while the latter had shown the moral courage, without which
Gregson would never have respected him, in coming right down upon him
more than once in the exercise of unlawful pursuits, and simply and
boldly telling him he was doing wrong, with such a quiet reliance upon
Gregson's better feeling, at the same time, that the strong poacher
could not have lifted a finger against Mr. Gray, though it had been to
save himself from being apprehended and taken to the lockups the very
next hour. He had rather listened to the parson's bold words with an
approving smile, much as Mr. Gulliver might have hearkened to a lecture
from a Lilliputian. But when brave words passed into kind deeds,
Gregson's heart mutely acknowledged its master and keeper. And the
beauty of it all was, that Mr. Gray knew nothing of the good work be
had done, or recognised himself as the instrument which God had
employed. He thanked God, it is true, fervently and often, that the
work was done, and loved the wild man for his rough gratitude; but it
never occurred to the poor young clergyman, lying on his sickbed, and
praying, as Miss Galindo had told us he did, to be forgiven for his
unprofitable life, to think of Gregson's reclaimed soul as anything
with which he had had to do. It was now more than three months since
Mr. Gray had been at Hanbury Court. During all that time he had been
confined to his house, if not to his sick-bed, and he and my lady had
never met since their last discussion and difference about Farmer
This was not my dear lady's fault; no one could have been more
attentive in every way to the slightest possible want of either of the
invalids, especially of Mr. Gray. And she would have gone to see him at
his own house, as she sent him word, but that her foot had slipped upon
the polished oak staircase, and her ankle had been sprained.
So we had never seen Mr. Gray since his illness, when one November
day he was announced as wishing to speak to my lady. She was sitting in
her room - the room in which I lay now pretty constantly - and I
remember she looked startled, when word was brought to her of Mr.
Gray's being at the Hall.
She could not go to him, she was too lame for that, so she bade him
be shown into where she sat.
fog which had crept up to the windows, and was sapping the little
remaining life in the brilliant Virginian creeper leaves that draperied
the house on the terrace side.
He came in white, trembling, his large eyes wild and dilated. He
hastened up to Lady Ludlow's chair, and, to my surprise, took one of
her hands and kissed it, without speaking, yet shaking all over.
"Mr. Gray!" said she quickly, with sharp, tremulous apprehension of
some unknown evil. "What is it? There is something unusual about you."
"Something unusual has occurred," replied he, forcing his words to
be calm, as with a great effort. "A gentleman came to my house, not
half-an-hour ago - a Mr. Howard. He came straight from Vienna."
"My son!" said my dear lady, stretching out her arms in dumb
"The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the
But my poor lady could not echo the words. He was the last
remaining child. And once she had been the joyful mother of nine.
I am ashamed to say what feeling became strongest in my mind about
this time; next to the sympathy we all of us felt for my dear lady in
her deep sorrow, I mean; for that was greater and stronger than
anything else, however contradictory you may think it, when you hear
It might arise from my being so far from well at the time, which
produced a diseased mind in a diseased body; but I was absolutely
jealous for my father's memory, when I saw how many signs of grief
there were for my lord's death, he having done next to nothing for the
village and parish, which now changed, as it were, its daily course of
life, because his lordship died in a far-off city. My father had spent
the best years of his manhood in labouring hard, body and soul, for the
people amongst whom he lived. His family, of course, claimed the first
place m his heart; he would have been good for little, even in the way
of benevolence, if they had not. But close after them he cared for his
parishioners, and neighbours. And yet, when he died, though the
church-bells tolled, and smote upon our hearts with hard, fresh pain at
every beat, the sounds of every-day life still went on, close pressing
around us - carts and carriages, street-cries, distant barrel-organs
(the kindly neighbours kept them out of our street) life, active, noisy
life, pressed on our acute consciousness of Death, and jarred upon it
as on a quick nerve.
And when we went to church - my father's own church - though the
pulpit cushions were black, and many of the congregation had put on
some humble sign of mourning, yet it did not alter the whole material
aspect of the place. And yet what was Lord Ludlow's relation to
Hanbury, compared to my father's work and place in —?
Oh! it was very wicked in me! I think if I had seen my lady - if I
had dared to ask to go to her, I should not have felt so miserable, so
discontented. But she sat in her own room, hung with black, all, even
over the shutters. She saw no light but that which was artificial -
candles, lamps, and the like - for more than a month. Only Adams went
near her. Mr. Gray was not admitted, though he called daily. Even Mrs.
Medlicott did not see her for near a fortnight. The sight of my lady's
griefs, or rather the recollection of it, made Mrs. Medlicott talk far
more than was her wont. She told us, with many tears, and much
gesticulation, even speaking German at times, when her English would
not flow, that my lady sat there, a white figure in the middle of a
darkened room; a shaded lamp near her, the light of which fell on an
open Bible - the great family Bible. It was not open at any chapter or
consoling verse, but at the page whereon were registered the births of
her nine children. Five had died in infancy - sacrificed to the cruel
system which forbade the mother to suckle her babies. Four had lived
longer; Urian had been the first to die, Ughtred Mortimer, Earl Ludlow,
My lady did not cry, Mrs. Medlicott said. She was quite composed;
very still, very silent. She put aside everything that savoured of mere
business: sent people to Mr. Horner for that. But she was proudly alive
to every possible form which might do honour to the last of her race.
In those days, expresses were slow things, and forms still slower.
Before my lady's directions could reach Vienna, my lord was buried.
There was some talk (so Mrs. Medlicott said) about taking the body up,
and bringing him to Hanbury. But his executors - connections on the
Ludlow side - demurred to this. If he were removed to England, he must
he carried on to Scotland, and interred with his Monkshaven
forefathers. My lady, deeply hurt, withdrew from the discussion, before
it degenerated to an unseemly contest. But all the more, for this
understood mortification of my lady's, did the whole village and estate
of Hanbury assume every outward sign of mourning. The church bells
tolled morning and evening. The church itself was draped in black
inside. Hatchments were placed everywhere, where hatchments could be
put. All the tenantry spoke in hushed voices for more than a week,
scarcely daring to observe that all flesh, even that of an Earl Ludlow,
and the last of the Hanburys, was but grass after all. The very
Fighting Lion closed its front door - front shutters it had none - and
those who needed drink stole in at the back, and were silent and
maudlin over their cups, instead of riotous and noisy. Miss Galindo's
eyes were swollen up with crying, and she told me, with a fresh burst
of tears, that even hump-backed Sally had been found sobbing over her
Bible, and using a pocket-handkerchief for the first time in her life;
her aprons having hitherto stood her in the necessary stead, but not
being sufficiently in accordance with etiquette to be used when
mourning over an earl's premature decease.
If it was this way out of the Hall, "you might work it by the rule
of three," as Miss Galindo used to say, and judge what it was in the
Hall. We none of us spoke but in a whisper: we tried not to eat; and
indeed the shock had been so really great, and we did really care so
much for my lady, that for some days we had but little appetite. But
after that, I fear our sympathy grew weaker, while our flesh grew
stronger. But we still spoke low, and our hearts ached whenever we
thought of my lady sitting there alone in the darkened room, with the
light ever falling on that one solemn page.
We wished, oh, how I wished that she would see Mr. Gray! But Adams
said, she thought my lady ought to have a bishop come to see her. Still
no one had authority enough to send for one.
Mr. Horner all this time was suffering as much as any one. He was
too faithful a servant of the great Hanbury family, though now the
family had dwindled down to a fragile old lady, not to mourn acutely
over its probable extinction. He had, besides, a deeper sympathy and
reverence with, and for, my lady, in all things than probably he ever
cared to show, for his manners were always measured and cold. He
suffered from sorrow. He also suffered from wrong. My lord's executors
kept writing to him continually. My lady refused to listen to mere
business, saying she intrusted all to him. But the "all" was more
complicated than I ever thoroughly understood. As far as I comprehended
the case, it was something of this kind: - There had been a mortgage
raised on my lady's property of Hanbury, to enable my lord, her
husband, to spend money in cultivating his Scotch estates, after some
new fashion that required capital. As long as my lord, her son, lived,
who was to succeed to both the estates after her death, this did not
signify; so she had said and felt; and she had refused to take any
steps to secure the repayment of capital, or even the payment of the
interest of the mortgage, from the possible representatives and
possessors of the Scotch estates, to the possible owner of the Hanbury
property; saying it ill became her to calculate on the contingency of
her son's death.
But he had died childless, unmarried. The heir of the Monkshaven
property was an Edinburgh advocate, a faraway kinsman of my lord's: the
Hanbury property, at my lady's death, would go to the descendants of a
third son of the Squire Hanbury in the days of Queen Anne.
This complication of affairs was most grievous to Mr. Horner. He
had always been opposed to the mortgage; had hated the payment of the
interest, as obliging my lady to practise certain economies which,
though she took care to make them as personal as possible, he disliked
as derogatory to the family. Poor Mr. Horner! He was so cold and hard
in his manner, so curt and decisive in his speech, that I don't think
we any of us did him justice. Miss Galindo was almost the first, at
this time, to speak a kind word of him, or to take thought of him at
all, any farther than to get out of his way when we saw him
"I don't think Mr. Horner is well," she said one day, about three
weeks after we had heard of my lord's death. He sits resting his head
on his hand, and hardly hears me when I speak to him."
But I thought no more of it, as Miss Galindo did not name it again.
My lady came amongst us once more. From elderly she had become old: a
little, frail, old lady, in heavy black drapery, never speaking about
nor alluding to her great sorrow; quieter, gentler, paler than ever
before; and her eyes dim with much weeping, never witnessed by mortal.
She had seen Mr. Gray at the expiration of the month of deep
retirement. But I do not think that, even to him, she had said one word
of her own particular individual sorrow. All mention of it seemed
buried deep for evermore. One day, Mr. Horner sent word that he was too
much indisposed to attend to his usual business at the Hall; but he
wrote down some directions and requests to Miss Galindo, saying that he
would be at his office early the next morning. The next morning he was
Miss Galindo told my lady. Miss Galindo herself cried plentifully,
but my lady, although very much distressed, could not cry. It seemed a
physical impossibility, as if she had shed all the tears in her power.
Moreover, I almost think her wonder was far greater that she herself
lived than that Mr. Horner died. It was almost natural that so faithful
a servant should break his heart, when the family he belonged to lost
their stay, their heir, and their last hope.
Yes! Mr. Horner was a faithful servant. I do not think there are
many so faithful now; but perhaps that is an old woman's fancy of mine.
When his will came to be examined, it was discovered that, soon after
Harry Gregson's accident, Mr. Horner had left the few thousands (three,
I think) of which he was possessed, in trust for Harry's benefit,
desiring his executors to see that the lad was well educated in certain
things, for which Mr. Horner had thought that he had shown especial
aptitude; and there was a kind of implied apology to my lady in one
sentence, where he stated that Harry's lameness would prevent his being
ever able to gain his living by the exercise of any mere bodily
faculties, "as had been wished by a lady whose wishes" he, the
testator, "was bound to regard."
But there was a codicil in the will, dated since Lord Ludlow's
death - feebly written by Mr. Horner himself, as if in preparation only
for some more formal manner of bequest: or, perhaps, only as a mere
temporary arrangement till he could see a lawyer, and have a fresh will
made. In this he revoked his previous bequest to Harry Gregson. He only
left two hundred pounds to Mr. Gray to be used, as that gentleman
thought best, for Henry Gregson's benefit. With this one exception, he
bequeathed all the rest of his savings to my lady, with a hope that
they might form a nest-egg, as it were, towards the paying off of the
mortgage which had been such a grief to him during his life. I may not
repeat all this in lawyer's phrase; I heard it through Miss Galindo,
and she might make mistakes. Though, indeed, she was very clear-headed,
and soon earned the respect of Mr. Smithson, my lady's lawyer from
Warwick. Mr. Smithson knew Miss Galindo a little before, both
personally and by reputation; but I don't think he was prepared to find
her installed as steward's clerk, and, at first, he was inclined to
treat her, in this capacity, with polite contempt. But Miss Galindo was
both a lady and a spirited, sensible woman, and she could put aside her
self-indulgence in eccentricity of speech and manner whenever she
chose. Nay, more; she was usually so talkative that, if she had not
been amusing and warm-hearted, one might have thought her wearisome
occasionally. But to meet Mr. Smithson she came out daily in her Sunday
gown; she said no more than was required in answer to his questions;
her books and papers were in thorough order, and methodically kept; her
statements of matters of fact accurate, and to be relied on. She was
amusingly conscious of her victory over his contempt of a woman-clerk
and his preconceived opinion of her unpractical eccentricity.
"Let me alone," said she, one day when she came in to sit awhile
with me. "That man is a good man - a sensible man - and I have no doubt
he is a good lawyer; but he can't fathom women yet. I make no doubt
he'll go hack to Warwick, and never give credit again to those people
who made him think me half-cracked to begin with. Oh, my dear, he did!
He showed it twenty times worse than my poor dear master ever did. It
was a form to be gone through to please my lady, and, for her sake, he
would hear my statements and see my books. It was keeping a woman out
of harm's way, at any rate, to let her fancy herself useful. I read the
man. And, I am thankful to say, he cannot read me. At least, only one
side of me. When I see an end to be gained, I can behave myself
accordingly. Here was a man who thought that a woman in a black silk
gown was a respectable, orderly kind of person; and I was a woman in a
black silk gown. He believed that a woman could not write straight
lines, and required a man to tell her that two and two made four. I was
not above ruling my books, and had Cocker a little more at my fingers'
ends than he had. But my greatest triumph has been holding my tongue.
He would have thought nothing of my books, or my sums, or my black silk
gown, if I had spoken unasked. So I have buried more sense in my bosom
these ten days than ever I have uttered in the whole course of my life
before. I have been so curt, so abrupt, so abominably dull, that I'll
answer for it he thinks me worthy to be a man. But I must go back to
him, my dear; so good-bye to conversation and you."
But though Mr. Smithson might be satisfied with Miss Galindo, I am
afraid she was the only part of the affair with which he was content.
Everything else went wrong. I could not say who told me so - but the
conviction of this seemed to pervade the house. I never knew how much
we had all looked up to the silent, gruff Mr. Horner for decisions,
until he was gone. My lady herself was a pretty good woman of business,
as women of business go. Her father, seeing that she would be the
heiress of the Hanbury property, had given her a training which was
thought unusual in those days; and she liked to feel herself queen
regnant, and to have to decide in all cases between herself and her
tenantry. But, perhaps, Mr. Horner would have done it more wisely; not
but what she always attended to him at last. She would begin by saying,
pretty clearly and promptly, what she would have done, and what she
would not have done. If Mr. Horner approved of it, he bowed, and set
about obeying her directly; if he disapproved of it, he bowed, and
lingered so long before he obeyed her, that she forced his opinion out
of him with her "Well, Mr. Horner! and what have you to say against
it?" For she always understood his silence as well as if he had spoken.
But the estate was pressed for ready money, and Mr. Horner had grown
gloomy and languid since the death of his wife, and even his own
personal affairs were not in the order in which they had been a year or
two before, for his old clerk had gradually become superannuated, or,
at any rate, unable by the superfluity of his own energy and wit to
supply the spirit that was wanting in Mr. Horner.
Day after day Mr. Smithson seemed to grow more fidgety, more
annoyed at the state of affairs. Like every one else employed by Lady
Ludlow, as far as I could learn, he had an hereditary tie to the
Hanbury family. As long as the Smithsons had been lawyers, they had
been lawyers to the Hanburys; always coming in on all great family
occasions, and better able to understand the characters, and connect
the links of what had once been a large and scattered family, than any
individual thereof had ever been.
As long as a man was at the head of the Hanburys, the lawyers had
simply acted as servants, and had only given their advice when it was
required. But they had assumed a different position on the memorable
occasion of the mortgage: they had remonstrated against it. My lady had
resented this remonstrance, and a slight, unspoken coolness had existed
between her and the father of this Mr. Smithson ever since.
I was very sorry for my lady. Mr. Smithson was inclined to blame
Mr. Horner for the disorderly state in which he found some of the
outlying farms, and for the deficiencies in the annual payment of
rents. Mr. Smithson had too much good feeling to put his blame into
words; but my lady's quick instinct led her to reply to a thought, the
existence of which she perceived; and she quietly told the troth, and
explained how she had interfered repeatedly to prevent Mr. Horner from
taking certain desirable steps, which were discordant to her hereditary
sense of right and wrong between landlord and tenant. She also spoke of
the want of ready money as a misfortune that could be remedied, by more
economical personal expenditure on her own part; by which individual
saving it was possible that a reduction of fifty pounds a year might
have been accomplished. But as soon as Mr. Smithson touched on larger
economies, such as either affected the welfare of others, or the honour
and standing of the great House of Hanbury, she was inflexible. Her
establishment consisted of somewhere about forty servants, of whom
nearly as many as twenty were unable to perform their work properly,
and yet would have been hurt if they had been dismissed; so they had
the credit of fulfilling duties, while my lady paid and kept their
substitutes. Mr. Smithson made a calculation, and would have saved some
hundreds a year by pensioning off these old servants. But my lady would
not hear of it. Then, again, I know privately that he urged her to
allow some of us to return to our homes. Bitterly we should have
regretted the separation from Lady Ludlow; but we would have gone back
gladly, had we known at the time that her circumstances required it:
but she would not listen to the proposal for a moment.
"If I cannot act justly towards every one, I will give up a plan
which has been a source of much satisfaction; at least, I will not
carry it out to such an extent in future. But to these young ladies,
who do me the favour to live with me at present, I stand pledged. I
cannot go back from my word, Mr. Smithson. We had better talk no more
As she spoke, she entered the room where I lay. She and Mr.
Smithson were coming for some papers contained in the bureau. They did
not know I was there, and Mr. Smithson started a little when he saw me,
as he must have been aware that I had overheard something. But my lady
did not change a muscle of her face. All the world might overhear her
kind, just, pure sayings, and she had no fear of their misconstruction.
She came up to me, and kissed me on the forehead, and then went to
search for the required papers.
"I rode over the Conington farms yesterday, my lady. I must say I
was quite grieved to see the condition they are in; all the land that
is not waste is utterly exhausted with working successive white crops.
Not a pinch of manure laid on the ground for years. I must say that a
greater contrast could never have been presented than that between
Harding's farm and the next fields - fences in perfect order, rotation
crops, sheep eating down the turnips on the waste lands - everything
that could be desired."
"Whose farm is that?" asked my lady.
"Why, I am sorry to say, it was on none of your ladyship's that I
saw such good methods adopted. I hoped it was: I stopped my horse to
inquire. A queer-looking man, sitting on his horse like a tailor,
watching his men with a couple of the sharpest eyes I ever saw, and
dropping his h's at every word, answered my question, and told me it
was his. I could not go on asking him who he was; but I fell into
conversation with him, and I gathered that he had earned some money in
trade in Birmingham, and had bought the estate (five hundred acres, I
think he said), on which he was born, and now was setting himself to
cultivate it in downright earnest, going to Holkham and Woburn, and
half the country over, to get himself up on the subject."
"It would he Brooke, that dissenting baker from Birmingham," said
my lady in her most icy tone. "Mr. Smithson, I am sorry I have been
detaining you so long, but I think these are the letters you wished to
If her ladyship thought by this speech to quench Mr. Smithson she
was mistaken. Mr. Smithson just looked at the letters, and went on with
the old subject.
"Now, my lady, it struck me that if you had such a man to take poor
Horner's place, he would work the rents and the land round most
satisfactorily. I should not despair of inducing this very man to
undertake the work. I should not mind speaking to him myself on the
subject, for we got capital friends over a snack of luncheon that he
asked me to share with him."
Lady Ludlow fixed her eyes on Mr. Smithson as he spoke, and never
took them off his face until he had ended. She was silent a minute
before she answered.
"You are very good, Mr. Smithson, but I need not trouble you with
any such arrangements. I am going to write this afternoon to Captain
James, a friend of one of my sons, who has, I hear, been severely
wounded at Trafalgar, to request him to honour me by accepting Mr.
"A Captain James! a captain in the navy! going to manage your
"If he will be so kind. I shall esteem it a condescension on his
part; but I hear that he will have to resign his profession, his state
of health is so bad, and a country life is especially prescribed for
him. I am in some hopes of tempt mg him here, as I learn he has but
little to depend on if he gives up his profession."
"A Captain James! an invalid captain!"
"You think I am asking too great a favour," continued my lady. (I
never could tell how far it was simplicity, or how far a kind of
innocent malice, that made her misinterpret Mr. Smithson's words and
looks as she did.) "But he is not a post-captain, only a commander, and
his pension will be but small. I may he able, by offering him country
air and a healthy occupation, to restore him to health."
"Occupation! My lady, may I ask how a sailor is to manage land?
Why, your tenants will laugh him to scorn."
"My tenants, I trust, will not behave so ill as to laugh at any one
I choose to set over them. Captain James has had experience in managing
men. He has remarkable practical talents; and great common sense, as I
hear from every one. But, whatever he may be, the affair rests between
him and myself. I can only say I shall esteem myself fortunate if he
There was no more to be said, after my lady spoke in this manner. I
had heard her mention Captain James before, as a middy who had been
very kind to her son Urian. I thought I remembered then, that she had
mentioned that his family circumstances were not very prosperous. But,
I confess that, little as I knew of the management of land, I quite
sided with Mr. Smithson. He, silently prohibited from again speaking to
my lady on the subject, opened his mind to Miss Galindo, from whom I
was pretty sure to hear all the opinions and news of the household and
village. She had taken a great fancy to me, because she said I talked
so agreeably. I believe it was because I listened so well.
"Well, have you heard the news," she began, "about this Captain
James? A sailor - with a wooden leg, I have no doubt. What would the
poor, dear, deceased master have said to it, if he had known who was to
be his successor! My dear, I have often thought of the postman's
bringing me a letter as one of the pleasures I shall miss in heaven.
But, really, I think Mr. Horner may be thankful he has got out of the
reach of news; or else he would hear of Mr. Smithson's having made up
to the Birmingham baker, and of this one-legged captain coming to
dot-and-go-one over the estate. I suppose he will look after the
labourers through a spyglass. I only hope he won't stick in the mud
with his wooden leg; for I, for one, won't help him out. Yes, I would,"
said she, correcting herself; "I would, for my lady's sake."
"But are you sure he has a wooden leg?" asked I. "I heard Lady
Ludlow tell Mr. Smithson about him, and she only spoke of him as
"Well, sailors are almost always wounded in the leg. Look at
Greenwich Hospital I should say there were twenty one-legged pensioners
to one without an arm there. But, say he has got half-a-dozen legs:
what has he to do with managing land? I shall think him very impudent
if he comes, taking advantage of my lady's kind heart."
However, come he did. In a month from that time, the carriage was
sent to meet Captain James; just as three years before it had been sent
to meet me. His coming had been so much talked about that we were all
as curious as possible to see him, and to know how so unusual an
experiment, as it seemed to us, would answer. But, before I tell you
anything about our new agent, I must speak of something quite as
interesting, and I really think quite as important. And this was my
lady's making friends with Harry Gregson. I do believe she did it for
Mr. Horner's sake; but, of course, I can only conjecture why my lady
did anything. But I heard one day, from Mary Legard, that my lady had
sent for Harry to come and see her, if he was well enough to walk so
far; and the next day he was shown into the room he had been in once
before under such unlucky circumstances.
The lad looked pale enough, as he stood propping himself up on his
crutch, and, the instant my lady saw him, she bade John Footman place a
stool for him to sit down upon while she spoke to him. It might be his
paleness that gave his whole face a more refined and gentle look; but I
suspect it was that the boy was apt to take impressions, and that Mr.
Horner's grave, dignified ways, and Mr. Gray's tender and quiet
manners, had altered him; and then the thoughts of illness and death
seem to turn many of us into gentlemen and gentlewomen, as long as such
thoughts are in our minds. We cannot speak loudly or angrily at such
times; we are not apt to be eager about mere worldly things, for our
very awe at our quickened sense of the nearness of the invisible world
makes us calm and serene about the petty trifles of to-day. At least, I
know that was the explanation Mr. Gray once gave me of what we all
thought the great improvement in Harry Gregson's way of behaving.
My lady hesitated so long about what she had best say, that Harry
grew a little frightened at her silence. A few months ago it would have
surprised me more than it did now; but since my lord her son's death
she had seemed altered in many ways - more uncertain and distrustful of
herself, as it were.
At last she said, and I think the tears were in her eyes: "My poor
little fellow, you have had a narrow escape with your life since I saw
To this there was nothing to be said but "Yes"; and again there was
"And you have lost a good, kind friend in Mr. Horner."
The boy's lips worked, and I think he said "Please, don't." But I
can't be sure; at any rate, my lady went on -
"And so have I - a good, kind friend he was to both of us; and to
you he wished to show his kindness in even a more generous way than he
has done. Mr. Gray has told you about his legacy to you, has he not?"
There was no sign of eager joy on the lad's face, as if he realised
the power and pleasure of haying what to him must have seemed like a
"Mr. Gray said as how he had left me a matter of money."
"Yes, he has left you two hundred pounds."
"But I would rather have had him alive, my lady," he burst out,
sobbing as if his heart would break.
"My lad, I believe you. We would rather have had our dead alive,
would we not? and there is nothing in money that can comfort us for
their loss. But you know - Mr. Gray has told you - who has appointed
all our times to die. Mr. Horner was a good, just man; and has done
well and kindly, both by me and you. You perhaps do not know" (and now
I understood what my lady had been making up her mind to say to Harry,
all the time she was hesitating how to begin) "that Mr. Horner, at one
time, meant to leave you a great deal more: probably all he had, with
the exception of a legacy to his old clerk, Morrison. But he knew that
this estate - on which my forefathers had lived for six hundred years -
was in debt, and that I had no immediate chance of paying off this
debt; and yet he felt that it was a very sad thing for an old property
like this to belong in part to those other men, who had lent the money.
You understand me, I think, my little man?" said she, questioning
He had left off crying, and was trying to understand, with all his
might and main; and I think he had got a pretty good general idea of
the state of affairs; though probably he was puzzled by the term "the
estate being in debt." But he was sufficiently interested to want my
lady to go on; and he nodded his head at her, to signify this to her.
"So Mr. Horner took the money which he once meant to be yours, and
has left the greater part of it to me, with the intention of helping me
to pay off this debt I have told you about. It will go a long way, and
I shall try hard to save the rest, and then I shall die happy in
leaving the land free from debt." She paused. "But I shall not die
happy in thinking of you. I do not know if having money, or even having
a great estate and much honour, is a good thing for any of us. But God
sees fit that some of us should be called to this condition, and it is
our duty then to stand to our posts, like brave soldiers. Now, Mr.
Horner intended you to have this money first. I shall only call it
borrowing from you, Harry Gregson, if I take it and use it to pay off
the debt. I shall pay Mr. Gray interest on this money, because he is to
stand as your guardian, as it were, till you come of age; and he must
fix what ought to be done with it, so as to fit you for spending the
principal rightly when the estate can repay it you. I suppose, now, it
will be right for you to be educated. That will be another snare that
will come with your money. But have courage, Harry. Both education and
money may be used rightly, if we only pray against the temptations they
bring with them."
Harry could make no answer, though I am sure he understood it all.
My lady wanted to get him to talk to her a little, by way of becoming
acquainted with what was passing in his mind; and she asked him what he
would like to have done with his money, if he could have part of it
now? To such a simple question, involving no talk about feelings, his
answer came readily enough.
"Build a cottage for father, with stairs in it, and give Mr. Gray a
school-house. Oh, father does so want Mr. Gray for to have his wish!
Father saw all the stones lying quarried and hewn on Farmer Hale's
land; Mr. Gray had paid for them all himself. And father said he would
work night and day, and little Tommy should carry mortar, if the parson
would let him, sooner than that he should be fretted and frabbed as he
was, with no one giving him a helping hand or a kind word."
Harry knew nothing of my lady's part in the affair; that was very
clear. My lady kept silence.
"If I might have a piece of my money, I would buy land from Mr.
Brooke; he has got a bit to sell just at the corner of Hendon Lane, and
I would give it to Mr. Gray; and, perhaps, if your ladyship thinks I
may be learn'd again, I might grow up into the schoolmaster."
"You are a good boy," said my lady. "But there are more things to
be thought of, in carrying out such a plan, than you are aware of.
However, it shall be tried."
"The school, my lady?" I exclaimed, almost thinking she did not
know what she was saying.
"Yes, the school. For Mr. Horner's sake, for Mr. Gray's sake, and
last, not least, for this lad's sake, I will give the new plan a trial.
Ask Mr. Gray to come up to me this afternoon about the land he wants.
He need not go to a Dissenter for it. And tell your father he shall
have a good share in the building of it, and Tommy shall carry the
"And I may be schoolmaster?" asked Harry eagerly.
"We'll see about that," said my lady, amused. "It will be some time
before that plan comes to pass, my little fellow."
And now to return to Captain James. My first account of him was
from Miss Galindo.
"He's not above thirty; and I must just pack up my pens and my
paper, and be off; for it would be the height of impropriety for me to
be staying here as his clerk. It was all very well in the old master's
days. But here am I, not fifty till next May, and this young, unmarried
man, who is not even a widower! Oh, there would be no end of gossip.
Besides, he looks as askance at me as I do at him. My black silk gown
had no effect. He's afraid I shall marry him But I won't, he may feel
himself quite safe from that. And Mr. Smithson has been recommending a
clerk to my lady. She would far rather keep me on; but I can't stop. I
really could not think it proper."
"What sort of a looking man is he?"
"Oh, nothing particular. Short, and brown, and sunburnt. I did not
think it became me to look at him. Well, now for the nightcaps. I
should have grudged any one else doing them, for I have got such a
But when it came to Miss Galindo's leaving, there was a great
misunderstanding between her and my lady. Miss Galindo had imagined
that my lady had asked her as a favour to copy the letters, and enter
the accounts, and had agreed to do the work without the notion of being
paid for so doing. She had, now and then, grieved over a very
profitable order for needlework passing out of her hands on account of
her not having time to do it, because of her occupation at the Hall;
but she had never hinted this to my lady, but gone on cheerfully at her
writing as long as her clerkship was required. My lady was annoyed that
she had not made her intention of paying Miss Galindo more clear, in
the first conversation she had had with her; but I suppose that she had
been too delicate to be very explicit with regard to money matters; and
now Miss Galindo was quite hurt at my lady's wanting to pay her for
what she had done in such right-down good-will.
"No," Miss Galindo said; "my own dear lady, you may be as angry
with me as you like, but don't offer me money. Think of six-and-twenty
years ago, and poor Arthur, and as you were to me then! Besides, I
wanted money - I don't disguise it - for a particular purpose; and when
I found that (God bless you for asking me!) I could do you a service, I
turned it over in my mind, and I gave up one plan, and took up another,
and it's all settled now. Bessy is to leave school and come and live
with me. Don't, please, offer me money again. You don't know how glad I
have been to do anything for you. Have not I, Margaret Dawson? Did you
not hear me say, one day, I would cut off my hand for my lady; for am I
a stock or a stone, that I should forget kindness? Oh, I have been so
glad to work for you And now Bessy is coming here; and no one knows
anything about her - as if she had done anything wrong, poor child!"
"Dear Miss Galindo," replied my lady, "I will never ask you to take
money again. Only I thought it was quite understood between us. And you
know you have taken money for a set of morning wrappers, before now."
"Yes, my lady; but that was not confidential. Now I was so proud to
have something to do for you confidentially."
"But who is Bessy?" asked my lady. "I do not understand who she is,
or why she is to come and live with you. Dear Miss Galindo, you must
honour me by being confidential with me in your turn!"
I had always understood that Miss Galindo had once been in much
better circumstances, but I had never liked to ask any questions
respecting her. But about this time many things came out respecting her
former life, which I will try and arrange: not, however, in the order
in which I heard them, but rather as they occurred.
Miss Galindo was the daughter of a clergyman in Westmoreland. Her
father was the younger brother of a baronet, his ancestor having been
one of those of James the First's creation. This baronet-uncle of Miss
Galindo was one of the queer, out-of-the-way people who were bred at
that time, and in that northern district of England. I never heard much
of him from any one, besides this one great fact; that he had early
disappeared from his family, which indeed only consisted of a brother
and sister who died unmarried, and lived no one knew where - somewhere
on the Continent, it was supposed, for he had never returned from the
grand tour which he had been sent to make, according to the general
fashion of the day, as soon as he had left Oxford. He corresponded
occasionally with his brother the clergyman; but the letters passed
through a banker's hands; the banker being pledged to secrecy, and, as
he told Mr. Galindo, having the penalty, if he broke his pledge, of
losing the whole profitable business, and of having the management of
the baronet's affairs taken out of his hands, without any advantage
accruing to the inquirer; for Sir Lawrence had told Messrs. Graham
that, in case his place of residence was revealed by them, not only
would he cease to bank with them, but instantly take measures to baffle
any future inquiries as to his whereabouts, by removing to some distant
Sir Lawrence paid a certain sum of money to his brother's account
every year; but the time of this payment varied, and it was sometimes
eighteen or nineteen months between the deposits; then, again, it would
not be above a quarter of the time, showing that he intended it to be
annual; but, as this intention was never expressed in words, it was
impossible to rely upon it, and a great deal of this money was
swallowed up by the necessity Mr. Galindo felt himself under of living
in the large, old, rambling family mansion, which had been one of Sir
Lawrence's rarely expressed desires. Mr. and Mrs. Galindo often planned
to live upon their own small fortune and the income derived from the
living (a vicarage, of which the great tithes went to Sir Lawrence as
lay impropriator), so as to put by the payments made by the baronet,
for the benefit of Laurentia - our Miss Galindo. But I suppose they
found it difficult to live economically in a large house, even though
they had it rent free. They had to keep up with hereditary neighbours
and friends, and could hardly help doing it in the hereditary manner.
One of these neighbours, a Mr. Gibson, had a son a few years older
than Laurentia. The families were sufficiently intimate for the young
people to see a good deal of each other; and I was told that this young
Mr. Mark Gibson was an unusually prepossessing man (he seemed to have
impressed every one who spoke of him to me as being a handsome, manly,
kind-hearted fellow), just what a girl would be sure to find most
agreeable. The parents either forgot that their children were growing
up to man's and woman's estate, or thought that the intimacy and
probable attachment would be no bad thing, even if it did lead to a
marriage. Still, nothing was ever said by young Gibson till later on,
when it was too late, as it turned out. He went to and from Oxford; he
shot and fished with Mr. Galindo, or came to the Mere to skate in
winter-time; was asked to accompany Mr. Galindo to the Hall, as the
latter returned to the quiet dinner with his wife and daughter; and so,
and so, it went on, nobody much knew how, until one day, when Mr.
Galindo received a formal letter from his brother's bankers, announcing
Sir Lawrence's death, of malaria fever, at Albano, and congratulating
Sir Hubert on his accession to the estates and the baronetcy. "The king
is dead - Long live the king!" as I have since heard that the French
Sir Hubert and his wife were greatly surprised. Sir Lawrence was
but two years older than his brother; and they had never heard of any
illness till they heard of his death. They were sorry; very much
shocked; but still a little elated at the succession to the baronetcy
and estates. The London bankers had managed everything well. There was
a large sum of ready money in their hands, at Sir Hubert's service,
until he should touch his rents, the rent-roll being eight thousand a
year. And only Laurentia to inherit it all Her mother, a poor
clergyman's daughter, began to plan all sorts of fine marriages for
her; nor was her father much behind his wife in his ambition. They took
her up to London, when they went to buy new carriages, and dresses, and
furniture. And it was then and there she made my lady's acquaintance.
How it was that they came to take a fancy to each other I cannot say.
My lady was of the old nobility - grand, composed, gentle, and stately
in her ways. Miss Galindo must always have been hurried in her manner,
and her energy must have shown itself in inquisitiveness and oddness
even in her youth. But I don't pretend to account for things: I only
narrate them. And the fact was this: - that the elegant, fastidious
countess was attracted to the country girl, who on her part almost
worshipped my lady. My lady's notice of their daughter made her parents
think, I suppose, that there was no match that she might not command:
she, the heiress of eight thousand a year, and visiting about among
earls and dukes. So, when they came back to their old Westmoreland
Hall, and Mark Gibson rode over to offer his hand and his heart, and
prospective estate of nine hundred a year, to his old companion and
playfellow, Laurentia, Sir Hubert and Lady Galindo made very short work
of it. They refused him plumply themselves; and, when he begged to be
allowed to speak to Laurentia, they found some excuse for refusing him
the opportunity of so doing, until they had talked to her themselves,
and brought up every argument and fact in their power to convince her -
a plain girl, and conscious of her plainness - that Mr. Mark Gibson had
never thought of her in the way of marriage till after her father's
accession to his fortune, and that it was the estate - not the young
lady - that he was in love with. I suppose it will never be known in
this world how far this supposition of theirs was true. My Lady Ludlow
had always spoken as if it was; but perhaps events, which came to her
knowledge about this time, altered her opinion. At any rate, the end of
it was, Laurentia refused Mark, and almost broke her heart in doing so.
He discovered the suspicions of Sir Hubert and Lady Galindo, and that
they had persuaded their daughter to share in them. So he flung off
with high words, saying that they did not know a true heart when they
met with one; and that, although he had never offered till after Sir
Lawrence's death, yet his father knew all along that he had been
attached to Laurentia, only that he, being the eldest of five children,
and having as yet no profession, had had to conceal, rather than to
express, an attachment which, in those days, he had believed was
reciprocated. He had always meant to study for the bar, and the end of
all he had hoped for had been to earn a moderate income, which he might
ask Laurentia to share. This, or something like it, was what he said.
But his reference to his father cut two ways. Old Mr. Gibson was known
to be very keen about money. It was just as likely that he would urge
Mark to make love to the heiress, now she was an heiress, as that he
would have restrained him previously, as Mark said he had done. When
this was repeated to Mark, he became proudly reserved, or sullen, and
said that Laurentia, at any rate, might have known him better. He left
the country, and went up to London to study law soon afterwards; and
Sir Hubert and Lady Galindo thought they were well rid of him. But
Laurentia never ceased reproaching herself, and never did to her dying
day, as I believe. The words, "She might have known me better," told to
her by some kind friend or other, rankled in her mind, and were never
forgotten. Her father and mother took her up to London the next year;
but she did not care to visit - dreaded going out even for a drive,
lest she should see Mark Gibson's reproachful eyes - pined and lost her
health. Lady Ludlow saw this change with regret, and was told the cause
by Lady Galindo, who, of course, gave her own version of Mark's conduct
and motives. My lady never spoke to Miss Galindo about it, but tried
constantly to interest and please her. It was at this time that my lady
told Miss Galindo so much about her own early life, and about Hanbury,
that Miss Galindo resolved, if ever she could, she would go and see the
old place which her friend loved so well. The end of it all was, that
she came to live there, as we know.
But a great change was to come first, Before Sir Hubert and Lady
Galindo had left London on this, their second visit, they had a letter
from the lawyer, whom they employed, saying that Sir Lawrence had left
an heir, his legitimate child by an Italian woman of low rank; at least
legal claims to the title and property had been sent in to him on the
boy's behalf. Sir Lawrence had always been a man of adventurous and
artistic, rather than of luxurious tastes; and it was supposed, when
all came to be proved at the trial, that he was captivated by the free,
beautiful life they lead in Italy, and had married this Neapolitan
fisherman's daughter, who had people about her shrewd enough to see
that the ceremony was legally performed. She and her husband had
wandered about the shores of the Mediterranean for years, leading a
happy, careless, irresponsible life, unencumbered by any duties except
those connected with a rather numerous family. It was enough for her
that they never wanted money, and that her husband's love was always
continued to her. She hated the name of England - wicked, cold, heretic
England - and avoided the mention of any subjects connected with her
husband's early life. So that, when he died at Albano, she was almost
roused out of her vehement grief to anger with the Italian doctor, who
declared that he must write to a certain address to announce the death
of Lawrence Galindo. For some time, she feared lest English barbarians
might come down upon her, making a claim to the children. She hid
herself and them in the Abruzzi, living upon the sale of what furniture
and jewels Sir Lawrence had died possessed of. When these failed, she
returned to Naples, which she had not visited since her marriage. Her
father was dead; but her brother inherited some of his keenness. He
interested the priests, who made inquiries and found that the Galindo
succession was worth securing to an heir of the true faith. They
stirred about it, obtained advice at the English Embassy; and hence
that letter to the lawyers, calling upon Sir Hubert to relinquish title
and property, and to refund what money he had expended. He was vehement
in his opposition to this claim. He could not bear to think of his
brother having married a foreigner - a Papist, a fisherman's daughter;
nay, of his having become a Papist himself. He was in despair at the
thought of his ancestral property going to the issue of such a
marriage. He fought tooth and nail, making enemies of his relations,
and losing almost all his own private property; for he would go on
against the lawyer's advice, long after every one was convinced except
himself and his wife. At last he was conquered. He gave up his living
in gloomy despair. He would have changed his name if he could, so
desirous was he to obliterate all tie between himself and the mongrel
Papist baronet and his Italian mother, and all the succession of
children and nurses who came to take possession of the Hall soon after
Mr. Hubert Galindo's departure, stayed there one winter, and then
flitted back to Naples with gladness and delight. Mr. and Mrs. Hubert
Galindo lived in London. He had obtained a curacy somewhere in the
city. They would have been thankful now if Mr. Mark Gibson had renewed
his offer. No one could accuse him of mercenary motives if be had done
so. Because he did not come forward, as they wished, they brought his
silence up as a justification of what they had previously attributed to
him. I don't know what Miss Galindo thought herself; but Lady Ludlow
has told me how she shrank from hearing her parents abuse him. Lady
Ludlow supposed that he was aware that they were living in London. His
father must have known the fact, and it was curious if he had never
named it to his son. Besides, the name was very uncommon; and it was
unlikely that it should never come across him, in the advertisements of
charity sermons which the new and rather eloquent curate of Saint
Mark's East was asked to preach. All this time Lady Ludlow never lost
sight of them, for Miss Galindo's sake. And when the father and mother
died, it was my lady who upheld Miss Galindo in her determination not
to apply for any provision to her cousin, the Italian baronet, but
rather to live upon the hundred a year which had been settled on her
mother and the children of his son Hubert's marriage by the old
grandfather, Sir Lawrence.
Mr. Mark Gibson had risen to some eminence as a barrister on the
Northern Circuit, but had died unmarried in the lifetime of his father,
a victim (so people said) to intemperance. Doctor Trevor, the physician
who had been called in to Mr. Gray and Harry Gregson, had married a
sister of his. And that was all my lady knew about the Gibson family.
But who was Bessy?
That mystery and secret came out, too, in process of time. Miss
Galindo had been to Warwick, some years before I arrived at Hanbury, on
some kind of business or shopping, which can only be transacted in a
county town. There was an old Westmoreland connection between her and
Mrs. Trevor, though I believe the latter was too young to have been
made aware of her brother's offer to Miss Galindo at the time when it
took place; and such affairs, if they are unsuccessful, are seldom
spoken about in the gentleman's family afterwards. But the Gibsons and
Galindos had been county neighbours too long for the connection not to
be kept up between two members settled far away from their early homes.
Miss Galindo always desired her parcels to be sent to Doctor Trevor's,
when she went to Warwick for shopping purposes. If she were going any
journey, and the coach did not come through Warwick as soon as she
arrived (in my lady's coach or otherwise) from Hanbury, she went to
Doctor Trevor's to wait. She was as much expected to sit down to the
household meals as if she had been one of the family; and in after
years it was Mrs. Trevor who managed her repository business for her.
So, on the day I spoke of, she had gone to Doctor Trevor's to rest,
and possibly to dine. The post, in those times, came in at all hours of
the morning; and Doctor Trevor's letters had not arrived until after
his departure on his morning round. Miss Galindo was sitting down to
dinner with Mrs. Trevor and her seven children, when the Doctor came
in. He was flurried and uncomfortable, and hurried the children away as
soon as he decently could. Then (rather feeling Miss Galindo's presence
an advantage, both as a present restraint on the violence of his wife's
grief, and as a consoler when he was absent on his afternoon round), he
told Mrs. Trevor of her brother's death. He had been taken ill on
circuit, and had hurried back to his chambers in London only to die.
She cried terribly; but Doctor Trevor said afterwards, he never noticed
that Miss Galindo cared much about it one way or another. She helped
him to soothe his wife, promised to stay with her all the afternoon
instead of returning to Hanbury, and afterwards offered to remain with
her while the Doctor went to attend the funeral. When they heard of the
old love-story between the dead man and Miss Galindo - brought up by
mutual friends in Westmoreland, in the review which we are all inclined
to take of the events of a man's life when be comes to die - they tried
to remember Miss Galindo's speeches and ways of going on during this
visit. She was a little pale, a little silent; her eyes were sometimes
swollen, and her nose red; but she was at an age when such appearances
are generally attributed to a bad cold in the head, rather than to any
more sentimental reason. They felt towards her as towards an old
friend, a kindly, useful, eccentric old maid. She did not expect more,
or wish them to remember that she might once have had other hopes, and
more youthful feelings. Doctor Trevor thanked her very warmly for
staying with his wife, when he returned home from London (where the
funeral had taken place). He begged Miss Galindo to stay with them,
when the children were gone to bed, and she was preparing to leave the
husband and wife by themselves. He told her and his wife many
particulars - then paused - then went on -
"And Mark has left a child - a little girl" —
"But he never was married!" exclaimed Mrs. Trevor.
"A little girl," continued her husband, "whose mother, I conclude,
is dead. At any rate, the child was in possession of his chambers; she
and an old nurse, who seemed to have the charge of everything, and has
cheated poor Mark, I should fancy, not a little."
"But the child!" asked Mrs. Trevor, still almost breathless with
astonishment. "How do you know it is his?"
"The nurse told me it was, with great appearance of indignation at
my doubting it. I asked the little thing her name, and all I could get
was 'Bessy!' and a cry of 'Me wants papa!' The nurse said the mother
was dead, and she knew no more about it than that Mr. Gibson had
engaged her to take care of the little girl, calling it his child. One
or two of his lawyer friends, whom I met with at the funeral, told me
they were aware of the existence of the child."
"What is to be done with her?" asked Mrs. Gibson.
"Nay, I don't know," replied he. "Mark has hardly left assets
enough to pay his debts, and your father is not inclined to come
That night, as Doctor Trevor sat in his study, after his wife had
gone to bed, Miss Galindo knocked at his door. She and he had a long
conversation. The result was that he accompanied Miss Galindo up to
town the next day; that they took possession of the little Bessy, and
she was brought down, and placed at nurse at a farm in the country near
Warwick; Miss Galindo undertaking to pay one-half of the expense, and
to furnish her with clothes, and Dr. Trevor undertaking that the
remaining half should be furnished by the Gibson family, or by himself
in their default.
Miss Galindo was not fond of children; and I dare say she dreaded
taking this child to live with her for more reasons than one. My Lady
Ludlow could not endure any mention of illegitimate children. It was a
principle of hers that society ought to ignore them. And I believe Miss
Galindo had always agreed with her until now, when the thing came home
to her womanly heart. Still she shrank from having this child of some
strange woman under her roof. She went over to see it from time to
time; she worked at its clothes long after every one thought she was in
bed; and, when the time came for Bessy to be sent to school, Miss
Galindo laboured away more diligently than ever, in order to pay the
increased expense. For the Gibson family had, at first, paid their part
of the compact, but with unwillingness and grudging hearts; then they
had left it off altogether, and it fell hard on Dr. Trevor with his
twelve children; and, latterly, Miss Galindo had taken upon herself
almost all the burden. One can hardly live and labour, and plan and
make sacrifices, for any human creature, without learning to love it.
And Bessy loved Miss Galindo, too, for all the poor girl's scanty
pleasures came from her, and Miss Galindo had always a kind word, and,
latterly, many a hind caress, for Mark Gibson's child; whereas, if she
went to Dr. Trevor's for her holiday, she was overlooked and neglected
in that bustling family, who seemed to think that if she had
comfortable board and lodging under their roof, it was enough.
I am sure, now, that Miss Galindo had often longed to have Bessy to
live with her; but, as long as she could pay for her being at school,
she did not like to take so bold a step as bringing her home, knowing
what the effect of the consequent explanation would be on my lady. And
as the girl was now more than seventeen, and past the age when young
ladies are usually kept at school; and, as there was no great demand
for governesses m those days, and as Bessy had never been taught any
trade by which to earn her own living, why, I don't exactly see what
could have been done but for Miss Galindo to bring her to her own home
in Hanbury. For, although the child had grown up lately, in a kind of
unexpected manner, into a young woman, Miss Galindo might have kept her
at school for a year longer, if she could have afforded it; but this
was impossible when she became Mr. Horner's clerk, and relinquished all
the payment of her repository work; and perhaps, after all, she was not
sorry to be compelled to take the step she was longing for. At any
rate, Bessy came to live with Miss Galindo in a very few weeks from the
time when Captain James set Miss Galindo free to superintend her own
domestic economy again.
For a long time, I knew nothing about this new inhabitant of
Hanbury. My lady never mentioned her in any way. This was in accordance
with Lady Ludlow's well-known principles. She neither saw nor heard,
nor was in any way cognisant of the existence of those who had no legal
right to exist at all. If Miss Galindo had hoped to have an exception
made in Bessy's favour, she was mistaken. My lady sent a note inviting
Miss Galindo herself to tea one evening, about a month after Bessy
came; but Miss Galindo "had a cold and could not come." The next time
she was invited, she "had an engagement at home" - a step nearer to the
absolute truth. And the third time, she "had a young friend staying
with her whom she was unable to leave." My lady accepted every excuse
as bon‰ fide, and took no further notice. I missed Miss Galindo very
much; we all did; for, in the days when she was clerk, she was sure to
come in and find the opportunity of saying something amusing to some of
us before she went away. And I, as an invalid, or perhaps from natural
tendency, was particularly fond of little bits of village gossip. There
was no Mr. Horner - he even had come in, now and then, with formal,
stately pieces of intelligence - and there was no Miss Galindo in these
days. I missed her much. And so did my lady, I am sure. Behind all her
quiet, sedate manner, I am certain her heart ached sometimes for a few
words from Miss Galindo, who seemed to have absented herself altogether
from the Hall now Bessy was come.
Captain James might be very sensible, and all that; but not even my
lady could call him a substitute for the old familiar friends. He was a
thorough sailor, as sailors were in those days - swore a good deal,
drank a good deal (without its ever affecting him in the least), and
was very prompt and kind-hearted in all his actions; but he was not
accustomed to women, as my lady once said, and would judge in all
things for himself. My lady had expected, I think, to find some one who
would take his notions on the management of her estate from her
ladyship's own self; but he spoke as if he were responsible for the
good management of the whole and must, consequently, be allowed full
liberty of action. He had been too long in command over men at sea to
like to be directed by a woman in anything he undertook, even though
that woman was my lady. I suppose this was the common-sense my lady
spoke of; but, when common-sense goes against us, I don't think we
value it quite so much as we ought to do.
Lady Ludlow was proud of her personal superintendence of her own
estate. She liked to tell us how her father used to take her with him
in his rides, and bid her observe this and that, and on no account to
allow such and such things to be done. But I have heard that, the first
time she told all this to Captain James, he told her point-blank that
he had heard from Mr. Smithson that the farms were much neglected and
the rents sadly behind-hand, and that he meant to set to in good
earnest and study agriculture, and see how he could remedy the state of
things. My lady would, I am sure, be greatly surprised; but what could
she do? Here was the very man she had chosen herself, setting to with
all his energy to conquer the defect of ignorance, which was all that
those who had presumed to offer her ladyship advice had ever had to say
against him. Captain James read Arthur Young's "Tours" in all his spare
time, as long as he was an invalid; and shook his head at my lady's
accounts as to how the land had been cropped or left fallow from time
immemorial. Then he set to, and tried too many new experiments at once.
My lady looked on in dignified silence; but all the farmers and tenants
were in an uproar, and prophesied a hundred failures. Perhaps fifty did
occur; they were only half as many as Lady Ludlow had feared; but they
were twice as many - four, eight times as many - as the captain had
anticipated. His openly-expressed disappointment made him popular
again. The rough country-people could not have understood silent and
dignified regret at the failure of his plans; but they sympathised with
a man who swore at his ill success - sympathised, even while they
chuckled over his discomfiture. Mr. Brooke, the retired tradesman, did
not cease blaming him for not succeeding, and for swearing. "But what
could you expect from a sailor?" Mr. Brooke asked, even in my lady's
hearing; though he might have known Captain James was my lady's own
personal choice, from the old friendship Mr. Urian had always shown for
him. I think it was this speech of the Birmingham baker's that made my
lady determine to stand by Captain James, and encourage him to try
again. For she would not allow that her choice had been an unwise one,
at the bidding (as it were) of a dissenting tradesman; the only person
in the neighbourhood, too, who had flaunted about in coloured clothes,
when all the world was in mourning for my lady's only son.
Captain James would have thrown the agency up at once, if my lady
had not felt herself bound to justify the wisdom of her choice, by
urging him to stay. He was much touched by her confidence in him, and
swore a great oath, that the next year he would make the land such as
it had never been before for produce. It was not my lady's way to
repeat anything she had heard, especially to another person's
disadvantage. So, I don't think she ever told Captain James of Mr.
Brooke's speech about a sailor's being likely to mismanage the
property; and the captain was too anxious to succeed in this, the
second, year of his trial, to be above going to the flourishing, shrewd
Mr. Brooke, and asking for his advice as to the best method of working
the estate. I dare say, if Miss Galindo had been as intimate as
formerly at the Hail, we should all of us have heard of this new
acquaintance of the agent's long before we did. As it was, I am sure my
lady never dreamed that the captain, who held opinions that were even
more Church and King than her own, could ever have made friends with a
Baptist baker from Birmingham, even to serve her ladyship's own
interests in the most loyal manner.
We heard of it first from Mr. Gray, who came now often to see my
lady; for neither he nor she could forget the solemn tie which the fact
of his being the person to acquaint her with my lord's death had
created between them. For true and holy words spoken at that time,
though having no reference to aught below the solemn subjects of life
and death, had made her withdraw her opposition to Mr. Gray's wish
about establishing a village school. She had sighed a little, it is
true, and was even yet more apprehensive than hopeful as to the result;
but, almost as if as a memorial to my lord, she had allowed a kind of
rough schoolhouse to be built on the green, just by the church; and had
gently used the power she undoubtedly had, in expressing her strong
wish that the boys might only be taught to read and write, and the
first four rules of arithmetic; while the girls were only to learn to
read, and to add up in their heads, and the rest of the time to work at
mending their own clothes, knitting stockings, and spinning. My lady
presented the school with more spinning-wheels than there were girls,
and requested that there might be a rule that they should have spun so
many hanks of flax, and knitted so many pairs of stockings, before they
ever were taught to read at all. After all, it was but making the best
of a had job with my poor lady - but life was not what it had been to
her. I remember well the day that Mr. Gray pulled some delicately fine
yarn (and I was a good judge of those things) out of his pocket, and
laid it and a capital pair of knitted stockings before my lady, as the
first-fruits, so to say, of his school. I recollect seeing her put on
her spectacles, and carefully examine both productions. Then she passed
them to me.
"This is well, Mr. Gray. I am much pleased. You are fortunate in
your schoolmistress. She has had both proper knowledge of womanly
things and much patience. Who is she? One out of our village?"
"My lady," said Mr. Gray, stammering and colouring in his old
fashion, "Miss Bessy is so very kind as to teach all those sorts of
things - Miss Bessy, and Miss Galindo, sometimes."
My lady looked at him over her spectacles: but she only repeated
the words "Miss Bessy," and paused, as if trying to remember who such a
person could be: and he, if he had then intended to say more, was
quelled by her manner, and dropped the subject. He went on to say that
he had thought it his duty to decline the subscription to his school
offered by Mr. Brooke, because he was a Dissenter; that he (Mr. Gray)
feared that Captain James, through whom Mr. Brooke's offer of money had
been made, was offended at his refusing to accept it from a man who
held heterodox opinions; nay, whom Mr. Gray suspected of being infected
by Dodwell's heresy.
"I think there must be some mistake," said my lady, "or I have
misunderstood you. Captain James would never know enough of a
schismatic to be employed by that man Brooke in distributing his
charities. I should have doubted, until now, if Captain James knew
"Indeed, my lady, he not only knows him, but is intimate with him,
I regret to say. I have repeatedly seen the captain and Mr. Brooke
walking together; going through the fields together; and people do say"
My lady looked up in interrogation at Mr. Gray's pause.
"I disapprove of gossip, and it may be untrue; but people do say
that Captain James is very attentive to Miss Brooke."
"Impossible!" said my lady indignantly. "Captain James is a loyal
and religious man. I beg your pardon, Mr. Gray but it is impossible."
Like many other things which have been declared to be impossible,
this report of Captain James being attentive to Miss Brooke turned out
to be very true.
The mere idea of her agent being on the slightest possible terms of
acquaintance with the Dissenter, the tradesman, the Birmingham
democrat, who had come to settle in our good, orthodox, aristocratic,
and agricultural Hanbury, made my lady very uneasy. Miss Galindo's
misdemeanour in having taken Miss Bessy to live with her, faded into a
mistake, a mere error of judgment, in comparison with Captain James's
intimacy at Yeast House, as the Brookes called their ugly square-built
farm. My lady talked herself quite into complacency with Miss Galindo,
and even Miss Bessy was named by her, the first time I had ever been
aware that my lady recognised her existence; but - I recollect it was a
long rainy afternoon, and I sat with her ladyship, and we had time and
opportunity for a long uninterrupted talk - whenever we had been silent
for a little while she began again, with something like a wonder how it
was that Captain James could ever have commenced an acquaintance with
"that man Brooke." My lady recapitulated all the times she could
remember, that anything had occurred, or been said by Captain James
which she could now understand as throwing light upon the subject.
"He said once that he was anxious to bring in the Norfolk system of
cropping, and spoke a good deal about Mr. Coke of Holkham (who, by the
way, was no more a Coke than I am - collateral in the female line -
which counts for little or nothing among the great old commoners
families of pure blood), and his new ways of cultivation; of course new
men bring in new ways, but it does not follow that either are better
than the old ways. However, Captain James has been very anxious to try
turnips and bone-manure, and he really is a man of such good sense and
energy, and was so sorry last year about the failure, that I consented;
and now I begin to see my error. I have always heard that town bakers
adulterate their flour with bone-dust; and, of course, Captain James
would be aware of this, and go to Brooke to inquire where the article
was to be purchased."
My lady always ignored the fact which had sometimes, suspect, been
brought under her very eyes during her drives, that Mr. Brooke's few
fields were in a state of far higher cultivation than her own; so she
could not, of course, perceive that there was any wisdom to be gained
from asking the advice of the tradesman turned farmer.
But, by-and-by, this fact of her agent's intimacy with the person
whom in the whole world she most disliked (with that sort of dislike in
which a large amount of uncomfortableness is combined - the dislike
which conscientious people sometimes feel to another without knowing
why, and yet which they cannot indulge in with comfort to themselves
without having a moral reason why), came before my lady in many shapes.
For, indeed, I am sure that Captain James was not a man to conceal or
be ashamed of one of his actions. I cannot fancy his ever lowering his
strong loud clear voice, or having a confidential conversation with any
one. When his crops had failed, all the village had known it. He
complained, he regretted, he was angry, or owned himself a — fool, all
down the village street; and the consequence was that, although be was
a far more passionate man than Mr. Horner, all the tenants liked him
far better. People, in general, take a kindlier interest in any one the
workings of whose mind and heart they can watch and understand, than in
a man who only lets you know what he has been thinking about and
feeling by what he does. But Harry Gregson was faithful to the memory
of Mr. Horner. Miss Galindo has told me that she used to watch him
hobble out of the way of Captain James, as if to accept his notice,
however good-naturedly given, would have been a kind of treachery to
his former benefactor. But Gregson (the father) and the new agent
rather took to each other; and one day, much to my surprise, I heard
that the "poaching, tinkering vagabond," as the people used to call
Gregson when I first had come to live at Hanbury, had been appointed
gamekeeper; Mr. Gray standing godfather, as it were, to his
trustworthiness, if he were trusted with anything; which I thought at
the time was rather an experiment - only it answered, as many of Mr.
Gray's deeds of daring did. It was curious how he was growing to be a
kind of autocrat in the village; and how unconscious he was of it. He
was as shy and awkward and nervous as ever in any affair that was not
of some moral consequence to him. But, as soon as he was convinced that
a thing was right, he "shut his eyes and ran and butted at it like a
ram," as Captain James once expressed it, in talking over something Mr.
Gray had done. People in the village said, "they never knew what the
parson would be at next;" or, they might have said, "where his
reverence would next turn up." For I have heard of his marching right
into the middle of a set of poachers, gathered together for some
desperate midnight enterprise, or walking into a public-house that lay
just beyond the bounds of my lady's estate, and in that extra-parochial
piece of ground I named long ago, and which was considered the
rendezvous of all the ne'er-do-weel characters for miles round, and
where a parson and a constable were held in much the same kind of
esteem as unwelcome visitors. And yet Mr. Gray had his long fits of
depression, in which he felt as if he were doing nothing, making no way
in his work, useless and unprofitable, and better out of the world than
in it. In comparison with the work he had set himself to do, what he
did seemed to be nothing. I suppose it was constitutional, those
attacks of lowness of spirits which he had about this time; perhaps a
part of the nervousness which made him always so awkward when he came
to the Hall. . Even Mrs. Medlicott, who almost worshipped the ground he
trod on, as the saying is, owned that Mr. Gray never entered one of my
lady's rooms without knocking down something, and too often breaking
it. He would much sooner have faced a desperate poacher than a young
lady any day. At least so we thought.
I do not know how it was that it came to pass that my lady became
reconciled to Miss Galindo about this time. Whether it was that her
ladyship was weary of the unspoken coolness with her old friend; or
that the specimens of delicate sewing and fine spinning at the school
had mollified her towards Miss Bessy; but I was surprised to learn one
day that Miss Galindo and her young friend were coming that very
evening to tea at the Hall. This information was given me by Mrs.
Medlicott, as a message from my lady, who further went on to desire
that certain little preparations should be made in her own private
sitting-room, in which the greater part of my days were spent. From the
nature of these preparations, I became quite aware that my lady
intended to do honour to her expected visitors. Indeed, Lady Ludlow
never forgave by halves, as I have known some people do. Whoever was
coming as a visitor to my lady, peeress, or poor nameless girl, there
was a certain amount of preparation required in order to do them
fitting honour. I do not. mean to say that the preparation was of the
same degree of importance in each case. I dare say, if a peeress had
come to visit us at the Hall, the covers would have been taken off the
furniture in the white drawing-room (they never were uncovered all the
time I stayed at the Hall), because my lady would wish to offer her the
ornaments and luxuries which this grand visitor (who never came - I
wish she had! I did so want to see that furniture uncovered!) was
accustomed to at home, and to present them to her in the best order in
which my lady could. The same rule, mollified, held good with Miss
Galindo. Certain things, in which my lady knew she took an interest,
were laid out ready for her to examine on this very day; and, what was
more, great books of prints were laid out, such as I remembered my lady
had brought forth to beguile my own early days of illness - Mr.
Hogarth's works, and the like - which I was sure were put out for Miss
No one knows how curious I was to see this mysterious Miss Bessy -
twenty times more mysterious, of course, for want of her surname. And
then again (to try and account for my great curiosity, of which in
recollection I am more than half ashamed), I had been leading the quiet
monotonous life of a crippled invalid for many years - shut up from any
sight of new faces; and this was to be the face of one whom I had
thought about so much and so long - Oh! I think I might be excused.
Of course they drank tea in the great hall, with the four young
gentlewomen, who, with myself, formed the small bevy now under her
ladyship's charge. Of those who were at Hanbury when first I came, none
remained; all were married, or gone once more to live at some home
which could he called their own, whether the ostensible head were
father or brother. I myself was not without some hopes of a similar
kind. My brother Harry was now a curate in Westmoreland, and wanted me
to go and live with him, as eventually I did for a time. But that is
neither here nor there at present. What I am talking about is Miss
After a reasonable time had elapsed, occupied as I well knew by the
meal in the great hall - the measured, yet agreeable conversation
afterwards - and a certain promenade around the ball, and through the
drawing-rooms, with pauses before different pictures, the history or
subject of each of which was invariably told by my lady to every new
visitor - a sort of giving them the freedom of the old family seat, by
describing the kind and nature of the great progenitors who had lived
there before the narrator - I heard the steps approaching my lady's
room, where I lay. I think I was in such a state of nervous expectation
that, if I could have moved easily, I should have got up and run away.
And yet I need not have been, for Miss Galindo was not in the least
altered (her nose a little redder to be sure, but then that might only
have had a temporary cause in the private crying I know she would have
had before coming to see her dear Lady Ludlow once again). But I could
almost have pushed Miss Galindo away, as she intercepted me in my view
of the mysterious Miss Bessy.
Miss Bessy was, as I knew, only about eighteen, but she looked
older. Dark hair, dark eyes, a tall, firm figure, a good, sensible
face, with a serene expression, not in the least disturbed by what I
had been thinking must be such awful circumstances as a first
introduction to my lady, who had so disapproved of her very existence:
those are the clearest impressions I remember of my first interview
with Miss Bessy. She seemed to observe us all, in her quiet manner,
quite as much as I did her; but she spoke very little; occupied
herself, indeed, as my lady had planned, with looking over the great
books of engravings. I think I must have (foolishly) intended to make
her feel at her ease, by my patronage; but she was seated far away from
my sofa, in order to command the light, and really seemed so
unconcerned at her unwonted circumstances, that she did not need my
countenance or kindness. One thing I did like - her watchful look at
Miss Galindo from time to time: it showed that her thoughts and
sympathy were ever at Miss Galindo's service, as indeed they well might
be. When Miss Bessy spoke, her voice was full and clear, and what she
said, to the purpose, though there was a slight provincial accent in
her way of speaking. After a while, my lady set us two to play at
chess, a game which I had lately learnt at Mr. Gray's suggestion. Still
we did not talk much together, though we were becoming attracted
towards each other, I fancy.
"You will play well," said she. "You have only learnt about six
months, have you? And yet you can nearly beat me, who have been at it
as many years."
"I began to learn last November. I remember Mr. Gray's bringing me
'Philidor on Chess,' one very foggy, dismal day."
What made her look up so suddenly, with bright inquiry in her eyes?
What made her silent for a moment as if in thought, and then go on with
something, I know not what, in quite an altered tone?
My lady and Miss Galindo went on talking, while I sat thinking. I
heard Captain James's name mentioned pretty frequently; and at last my
lady put down her work, and said, almost with tears in her eyes -
"I could not - I cannot believe it. He must be aware she is a
schismatic; a baker's daughter; and he is a gentleman by virtue and
feeling, as well as by his profession, though his manners may be at
times a little rough. My dear Miss Galindo, what will this world come
Miss Galindo 'night possibly be aware of her own share in bringing
the world to the pass which now dismayed my lady - for, of course,
though all was now over and forgiven, yet Miss Bessy's being received
into a respectable maiden lady's house, was one of the portents as to
the world's future which alarmed her ladyship; and Miss Galindo knew
this - but, at any rate, she had too lately been forgiven herself not
to plead for mercy for the next offender against my lady's delicate
sense of fitness and propriety - so she replied -
"Indeed, my lady, I have long left off trying to conjecture what
makes Jack fancy Gill, or Gill Jack. It's best to sit down quiet under
the belief that marriages are made for us, somewhere out of this world,
and out of the range of this world's reason and laws. I'm not so sure
that I should settle it down that they were made in heaven; t'other
place seems to me as likely a workshop; but at any rate, I've given up
troubling my head as to why they take place. Captain James is a
gentleman: I make no doubt of that ever since I saw him stop to pick up
old Goody Blake (when she tumbled down on the slide last winter) and
then swear at a little lad who was laughing at her, and cuff him till
be tumbled down crying; but we must have bread somehow, and though I
like it better baked at home in a good sweet brick oven, yet, as some
folks never can get it to rise, I don't see why a man may not be a
baker. You see, my lady, I look upon baking as a simple trade, and as
such lawful. There is no machine comes in to take away a man's or
woman's power of earning their living, like the spinning-jenny (the old
busybody that she is), to knock up all our good old women's livelihood,
and send them to their graves before their time. There's an invention
of the enemy, if you will?"
"That's very true!" said my lady, shaking her head.
"But baking bread is wholesome, straightforward elbow-work. They
have not got to inventing any contrivance for that yet, thank Heaven!
It does not seem to me natural, nor according to Scripture, that iron
and steel (whose brows can't sweat) should he made to do man's work.
And so I say, all those trades where iron and steel do the work
ordained to man at the Fall, are unlawful, and I never stand up for
them. But, say this baker Brooke did knead his bread, and make it rise,
and then that people, who had, perhaps, no good ovens, came to him, and
bought his good light bread, and in this manner he turned an honest
penny and got rich: why, all I say, my lady, is this - I dare say he
would have been born a Hanbury, or a lord if he could; and if he was
not, it is no fault of his, that I can see, that he made good bread
(being a baker by trade), and got money, and bought his land. It was
his misfortune, not his fault, that he was not a person of quality by
"That's very true," said my lady, after a moment's pause for
consideration. "But, although he was a baker, he might have been a
Churchman. Even your eloquence, Miss Galindo, shan't convince me that
that is not his own fault."
"I don't see even that, begging your pardon, my lady," said Miss
Galindo, emboldened by the first success of her eloquence. "When a
Baptist is a baby, if I understand their creed aright, he is not
baptized; and, consequently, he can have no godfathers and godmothers
to do anything for him in his baptism; you agree to that, my lady?"
My lady would rather have known what her acquiescence would lead
to, before acknowledging that she could not dissent from this first
proposition; still she gave her tacit agreement by bowing her head.
"And, you know, our godfathers and godmothers are expected to
promise and vow three things in our name, when we are little babies,
and can do nothing but squall for ourselves. It is a great privilege,
but don't let us be hard upon those who have not had the chance of
godfathers and godmothers. Some people, we know, are born with silver
spoons - that's to say, a godfather to give one things, and teach us
our catechism, and see that we're confirmed into good church-going
Christians - and others with wooden ladles in their mouths. These poor
last folks must just be content to be godfatherless orphans, and
Dissenters, all their lives; and if they are tradespeople into the
bargain, so much the worse for them; but let us be humble Christians,
my dear lady, and not hold our heads too high because we were born
"You go on too fast, Miss Galindo! I can't follow you. Besides, I
do believe dissent to be an invention of the Devil's, Why can't they
believe as we do? It's very wrong. Besides, it's schism and heresy,
and, you know, the Bible says that's as bad as witchcraft."
My lady was not convinced, as I could see. After Miss Galindo had
gone, she sent Mrs. Medlicott for certain books out of the great old
library upstairs, and had them made up into a parcel under her own eye.
"If Captain James comes to-morrow, I will speak to him about these
Brookes. I have not hitherto liked to speak to him, because I did not
wish to hurt him, by supposing there could be any truth in the reports
about his intimacy with them. But now I will try and do my duty by him
and them. Surely, this great body of divinity will bring them back to
the true Church."
I could not tell, for though my lady read me over the titles, I was
not any the wiser as to their contents. Besides, I was much more
anxious to consult my lady as to my own change of place. I showed her
the letter I had that day received from Harry; and we once more talked
over the expediency of my going to live with him, and trying what
entire change of air would do to re-establish my failing health. I
could say anything to my lady, she was so sure to understand me
rightly. For one thing, she never thought of herself, so I had no fear
of hurting her by stating the truth. I told her how happy my years had
been while passed under her roof; but that now I had begun to wonder
whether I had not duties elsewhere, in making a home for Harry - and
whether the fulfilment of these duties, quiet ones they must needs be
in the case of such a cripple as myself, would not prevent my sinking
into the querulous habit of thinking and talking, into which I found
myself occasionally falling. Add to which, there was the prospect of
benefit from the more bracing air of the north.
It was then settled that my departure from Hanbury, my happy home
for so long, was to take place before many weeks had passed. And as,
when one period of life is about to be shut up for ever, we are sure to
look back upon it with fond regret, so I, happy enough in my future
prospects, could not avoid recurring to all the days of my life in the
Hall, from the time when I came to it, a shy awkward girl scarcely past
childhood, to now, when a grown woman - past childhood - almost, from
the very character of my illness, past youth - I was looking forward to
leaving my lady's house (as a residence) for ever. As it has turned
out, I never saw her or it again. Like a piece of sea-wreck, I have
drifted away from those days: quiet, happy, eventless days - very happy
I thought of good, jovial Mr. Mountford, and his regrets that he
might not keep a pack - "a very small pack" - of harriers, and his
merry ways, and his love of good eating; of the first coming of Mr.
Gray, and my lady's attempt to quench his sermons, when they tended to
enforce any duty connected with education. And now we had an absolute
schoolhouse in the village; and, since Miss Bessy's drinking tea at the
Hall, my lady had been twice inside it, to give directions about some
fine yarn she was having spun for table-napery. And her ladyship had so
outgrown her old custom of dispensing with sermon or discourse, that
even during the temporary preaching of Mr. Crosse, she had never had
recourse to it; though I believe she would have had all the
congregation on her side if she had.
And Mr. Horner was dead, and Captain James reigned in his stead.
Good, steady, severe, silent Mr. Horner, with his clock-like
regularity, and his snuff-coloured clothes, and silver buckles! I have
often wondered which one misses most when they are dead and gone - the
bright creatures full of life, who are hither and thither and
everywhere, so that no one can reckon upon their coming and going, with
whom stillness and the long quiet of the grave, seems utterly
irreconcilable, so full are they of vivid motion and passion - or the
slow, serious people, whose movements, nay, whose very words, seem to
go by clockwork; who never appear much to affect the course of our life
while they are with us, but whose methodical ways show themselves, when
they are gone, to have been intertwined with our very roots of daily
existence. I think I miss these last the most, although I may have
loved the former best. Captain James never was to me what Mr. Horner
was, though the latter had hardly exchanged a dozen words with me at
the day of his death. Then Miss Galindo I remembered the time as if it
had been only yesterday, when she was but a name - and a very odd one -
to me; then she was a queer, abrupt, disagreeable, busy old maid. Now I
loved her dearly, and I found out that I was almost jealous of Miss
Mr. Gray I never thought of with love; the feeling was almost
reverence with which I looked upon him. I have not wished to speak much
of myself, or else I could have told you how much he had been to me
during these long, weary years of illness. But be was almost as much to
every one, rich and poor, from my lady down to Miss Galindo's Sally.
The village, too, had a different look about it. I am sure I could
not tell you what caused the change; but there were no more lounging
young men to form a group at the crossroad, at a time of day when young
men ought to be at work. I don't say this was all Mr. Gray's doing, for
there really was so much to do in the fields that there was but little
time for lounging now-a-days. And the children were hushed up in
school, and better behaved out of it, too, than in the days when I used
to be able to go my lady's errands in the village. I went so little
about now that I am sure I can't tell who Miss Galindo found to scold;
and yet she looked so well and so happy that I think she must have had
her accustomed portion of that wholesome exercise.
Before I left Hanbury, the rumour that Captain James was going to
marry Miss Brooke, Baker Brooke's eldest daughter, who had only a
sister to share his property with her, was confirmed. He himself
announced it to my lady; nay more, with a courage, gained, I suppose,
in his former profession, where, as I have heard, he had led his ship
into many a post of danger, he asked her ladyship, the Countess Ludlow,
if he might bring his bride-elect (the Baptist baker's daughter) and
present her to my lady.
I am glad I was not present when he made this request; I should
have felt so much ashamed for him, and I could not have helped being
anxious till I heard my lady's answer, if I had been there. Of course
she acceded; but I can fancy the grave surprise of her look. I wonder
if Captain James noticed it.
I hardly dared ask my lady, after the interview had taken place,
what she thought of the bride-elect; but I hinted my curiosity, and she
told me, that if the young person had applied to Mrs. Medlicott for the
situation of cook, and Mrs. Medlicott had engaged her, she thought that
it would have been a very suitable arrangement. I understood from this
how little she thought a marriage with Captain James, R. N., suitable.
About a year after I left Hanbury, I received a letter from Miss
Galindo; I think I can find it. - Yes, this is it.
"HANBURY, May 4, 1811. "DEAR MARGARET, - You ask for news of us
all. Don't you know there is no news in Hanbury? Did you ever hear of
an event here? Now, if you have answered 'Yes' in your own mind to
these questions, you have fallen into my trap, and never were more
mistaken in your life. Hanbury is full of news; and we have more
events on our hands than we know what to do with. I will take them in
the order of the newspapers - births, deaths, and marriages. In the
matter of births, Jenny Lucas has had twins not a week ago. Sadly too
much of a good thing, you'll say. Very true: but then they died; so
their birth did not much signify. My cat has kittened, too; she has
had three kittens, which again you may observe is too much of a good
thing; and so it would be, if it were not for the next item of
intelligence I shall lay before you. Captain and Mrs. James have taken
the old house next Pearson's; and the house is overrun with mice,
which is just as fortunate for me as the King of Egypt's rat-ridden
kingdom was to Dick Whittington. For my cat's kittening decided me to
go and call on the bride, in hopes she wanted a cat; which she did
like a sensible woman, as I do believe she is, in spite of Baptism,
Bakers, Bread, and Birmingham, and something worse than all, which you
shall hear about, if you'll only be patient. As I had got my best
bonnet on, the one I bought when poor Lord Ludlow was last at Hanbury
in '99 - I thought it a great condescension in myself (always
remembering the date of the Galindo baronetcy) to go and call on the
bride; though I don't think so much of myself in my every-day clothes,
as you know. But who should I find there but my Lady Ludlow! She looks
as frail and delicate as ever, but is, I think, in better heart ever
since that old city merchant of a Hanbury took it into his head that
he was a cadet of the Hanburys of Hanbury, and left her that handsome
legacy. I'll warrant you that the mortgage was paid off pretty fast;
and Mr. Horner's money - or my lady's money, or Harry Gregson's money,
call it which you will - is invested in his name, all right and tight;
and they do talk of his being captain of his school, or Grecian, or
something, and going to college after all! Harry Gregson the poacher's
son! Well! to be sure, we are living in strange times!
"But I have not done with the marriages yet. Captain James's is all
very well, but no one cares for it now, we are so full of Mr. Gray's.
Yes, indeed, Mr. Gray is going to be married, and to nobody else but my
little Bessy! I tell her she will have to nurse him half the days of
her life, he is such a frail little body. But she says she does not
care for that; so that his body holds his soul, it is enough for her.
She has a good spirit and a brave heart, has my Bessy! It is a great
advantage that she won't have to mark her clothes over again; for when
she had knitted herself her last set of stockings, I told her to put G
for Galindo, if she did not choose to put it for Gibson, for she should
be my child if she was no one else's. And now you see it stands for
Gray. So there are two marriages, and what more would you have? And she
promises to take another of my kittens.
"Now, as to deaths, old Farmer Hale is dead - poor old man, I
should think his wife thought it a good riddance, for he beat her every
day that he was drunk, and he was never sober, in spite of Mr. Gray. I
don't think (as I tell him) that Mr. Gray would ever have found courage
to speak to Bessy as long as Farmer Hale lived, he took the old
gentleman's sins so much to heart, and seemed to think it was all his
fault for not being able to make a sinner into a saint. The parish bull
is dead too. I never was so glad in my life. But they say we are to
have a new one in his place. In the meantime I cross the common in
peace, which is very convenient just now, when I have so often to go to
Mr. Gray's to see about furnishing.
"Now you think I have told you all the Hanbury news, don't you? Not
so. The very greatest thing of all is to come. I won't tantalise you,
but just out with it, for you would never guess it. My Lady Ludlow has
given a party, just like any plebeian amongst us. We had tea and toast
in the blue drawing-room, old John Footman waiting with Tom Diggles,
the lad that used to frighten away crows in Farmer Hale's fields,
following in my lady's livery, hair powdered and everything. Mrs.
Medlicott made tea in my lady's own room. My lady looked like a
splendid fairy queen of mature age, in black velvet, and the old lace,
which I have never seen her wear before since my lord's death. But the
company? you'll say. Why, we had the parson of Clover, and the parson
of Headleigh, and the parson of Merribank, and the three parsonesses;
and Farmer Donkin, and two Miss Donkins; and Mr. Gray (of course), and
myself and Bessy; and Captain and Mrs. James; yes, and Mr. and Mrs.
Brooke; think of that! I am not sure the parsons liked it; but he was
there. For he has been helping Captain James to get my lady's land into
order; and then his daughter married the agent; and Mr. Gray (who ought
to know) says that, after all, Baptists are not such bad people; and he
was right against them at one time as you may remember. Mrs. Brooke is
a rough diamond, to be sure. People have said that of me, I know. But,
being a Galindo, I learnt manners in my youth and can take them up when
I choose. But Mrs. Brooke never learnt manners, I'll be bound. When
John Footman banded her the tray with the tea-cups, she looked up at
him as if she were sorely puzzled by that way of going on. I was
sitting next to her, so I pretended not to see her perplexity, and put
her cream and sugar in for her, and was all ready to pop it into her
bands, - when who should come up, but that impudent lad Tom Diggles (I
call him lad, for all his hair is powdered, for you know that it is not
natural grey hair), with his tray full of cakes and what not, all as
good as Mrs. Medlicott could make them. By this time, I should tell you
all the parsonesses were looking at Mrs. Brooke, for she had shown her
want of breeding before; and the parsonesses, who were just a step
above her in manners, were very much inclined to smile at her doings
and sayings. Well! what does she do but pull out a clean Bandana
pocket-handkerchief, all red and yellow silk; spread it over her best
silk gown - it was, like enough, a new one, for I had it from Sally,
who had it from her cousin Molly, who is dairy-woman 'at the Brookes,'
that the Brookes were mighty set-up with an invitation to drink tea at
the Hall. There we were, Tom Diggles even on the grin (I wonder how
long it is since he was own brother to a scarecrow, only not so
decently dressed) and Mrs. Parsoness of Headleigh - I forget her name,
and it's no matter, for she's an ill-bred creature, I hope Bessy will
behave herself better - was right-down bursting with laughter, and as
near a heehaw as ever a donkey was; when what does my lady do? Ay!
there's my own dear Lady Ludlow, God bless her! She takes out her own
pocket-handkerchief, all snowy cambric, and lays it softly down on her
velvet lap, for all the world as if she did it every day of her life,
just like Mrs. Brooke, the baker's wife; and when the one got up to
shake the crumbs into the fireplace, the other did just the same. But
with such a grace! and such a look at us all! Tom Diggles went red all
over; and Mrs. Parsoness of Headleigh scarce spoke for the rest of the
evening; and the tears came into my old silly eyes; and Mr. Gray, who
was before silent and awkward in a way which I tell Bessy she must cure
him of, was made so happy by this pretty action of my lady's that he
talked away all the rest of the evening, and was the life of the
"Oh, Margaret Dawson! I sometimes wonder if you're the better off
for leaving us. To be sure you're with your brother, and blood is
blood. But when I look at my lady and Mr. Gray, for all they're so
different, I would not change places with any in England."
Alas! alas! I never saw my dear lady again. She died in eighteen
hundred and fourteen, and Mr. Gray did not long survive her. As I dare
say you know, the Reverend Henry Gregson is now vicar of Hanbury, and
his wife is the daughter of Mr. Gray and Miss Bessy.
As any one may guess, it had taken Mrs. Dawson several Monday
evenings to narrate all this history of the days of her youth. Miss
Duncan thought it would be a good exercise for me, both in memory and
composition, to write out on Tuesday mornings all that I had heard the
night before; and thus it came to pass that I have the manuscript of
"My Lady Ludlow" now lying by me.
Mr. Dawson had often come in and out of the room during the time
that his sister had been telling us about Lady Ludlow. He would stop,
and listen a little, and smile or sigh as the case might be. The Monday
after the dear old lady had wound up her tale (if tale it could be
called), we felt rather at a loss what to talk about, we had grown so
accustomed to listen to Mrs. Dawson. I remember I was saying, "Oh,
dear! I wish some one would tell us another story!" when her brother
said, as if in answer to my speech, that he had drawn up a paper all
ready for the Philosophical Society, and that perhaps we might care to
hear it before it was sent off: it was in a great measure compiled from
a French book, published by one of the Academies, and rather dry in
itself; but Mr. Dawson's attention had been directed to it, after a
tour he had made in England during the past year, in which he had
noticed small walled-up doors in unusual parts of some old parish
churches, and had been told that they had formerly been appropriated to
the use of some half-heathen race, who, before the days of gipsies,
held the same outcast pariah position in most of the countries of
western Europe. Mr. Dawson had been recommended to the French book
which he named, as containing the fullest and most authentic account of
this mysterious race, the Cagots. I did not think I should like hearing
this paper as much as a story; but, of course, as he meant it kindly,
we were bound to submit, and I found it, on the whole, more interesting
than I anticipated.