The Old Helmet,
V1 by Susan Warner
THE OLD HELMET.
THE AUTHOR OF WIDE, WIDE WORLD.
IN TWO VOLUMES
NOTE TO THE
CHAPTER I. THE
CHAPTER II. AT
CHAPTER III. IN
CHAPTER IV. IN
CHAPTER V. AT
CHAPTER VI. AT
WITH THE FERNS.
CHAPTER VIII. IN
CHAPTER IX. IN
CHAPTER X. AT
CHAPTER XI. AT
CHAPTER XII. AT
CHAPTER XIII. IN
CHAPTER XIV. AT
CHAPTER XV. IN
CHAPTER XVI. AT
CHAPTER XVII. AT
AT MRS. POWLIS'S.
NOTE TO THE READER.
The incidents and testimonies given in this work as matters of fact,
are not drawn from imagination, but reported from excellent
authoritythough I have used my own words. And in the cases of
reported words of third parties, the words stand unchanged, without any
THE OLD HELMET.
CHAPTER I. THE RUINS.
She look'd and saw that all was ruinous,
Here stood a shattered archway plumed with fern;
And here had fall'n a great part of a tower,
Whole, like a crag that tumbles from the cliff,
And like a crag was gay with wilding flowers,
And high above a piece of turret stair,
Worn by the feet that now were silent,
Bare to the sun.
The first thing noticeable is a gleam of white teeth. Now that is a
pleasant thing generally; yet its pleasantness depends, after all, upon
the way the lips part over the ivory. There is a world of character
discoverable in the curve of those soft lines. In the present case,
that of a lady, as it is undoubtedly the very first thing you notice,
the matter must be investigated. The mouth is rather large, with well
cut lips however; and in the smile which comes not infrequently, the
lips part freely and frankly, though not too far, over a wealth of
white, beautiful teeth. So free is the curve of the upper lip, and so
ready its revelation of the treasures beneath, that there is an instant
suspicion of a certain frankness and daring, and perhaps of a little
mischief, on the part of their possessor; so free, at the same time, as
to forbid the least notion of consciousness or design in that beautiful
revelation. But how fine and full and regular are those white treasures
of hers! seeming to speak for a strong and perfect physical
organisation; and if your eye goes further, for her flat hat is on the
ground, you will see in the bountiful rich head of hair another token
of the same thing. Her figure is finely developed; her colour clear and
healthy; not blonde; the full-brown hair and eyes agree with the notion
of a nature more lively than we assign to the other extreme of
complexion. The features are not those of a beauty, though better than
that, perhaps; there is a world of life and sense and spirit in them.
It speaks for her good nature and feeling, that her smile is as
frank as ever just now, and as pleasant as ever; for she is with about
the last one of her party on whom she would have chosen to bestow
herself. The occasion is a visit to some celebrated ruins; a day of
pleasure; and Eleanor would a good deal rather be walking and talking
with another much more interesting member of the company, in whose
society indeed her day had begun; but Mr. Carlisle had been obliged
suddenly to return home for an hour or two; and Eleanor is sitting on a
grassy bank, with a gentleman beside her whom she knows very little and
does not care about at all. That is, she has no idea he can be very
interesting; and he is a grave-looking personage, but we are not
going to describe him at present.
A word must be given to the place where they are. It is a little
paradise. If the view is not very extended, it is rich in its parts;
and the eye and the mind are filled. The grass is shaven smooth on the
bank where the two are sitting; so it is all around, under trees which
stand with wilful wildness of luxuriance, grouped and scattered
apparently as they would. They are very old, in several varieties of
kind, and in the perfect development and thrift of each kind. Among
them are the ruins of an old priory. They peep forth here and there
from the trees. One broken tower stands free, with ivy masking its
sides and crumbling top, and stains of weather and the hues of lichen
and moss enriching what was once its plain grey colour. Other portions
of the ruins are seen by glimpses further on among the trees. Standing
somewhat off by itself, yet encompassed by the congeners of those same
trees, almost swallowed up among them, is a comfortable, picturesque
little building, not in ruins; though it has been built up from the
ruins. It is the parsonage, where the rector of the parish lives.
Beyond this wood and these buildings, old and new, the eye can catch
only bits of hills and woods that promise beauty further on; but nearer
than they, and making a boundary line between the present and the
distant, the flash of a little river is seen, which curves about the
old priory lands. A somewhat doubtful sunlight is struggling over it
all; casting a stray beam on the grass, and a light on the ivy of the
What a queer old place it must have been, said Eleanor.
How old is it?
O I don't knowages! Do you mean really how old? I am sure I can't
tell; I never can keep those things in my head. If Dr. Cairnes would
come out, he could tell you all about it, and more.
Dr. Cairnes, the rector?
Yes. He keeps it all in his head, I know. The ruins are
instead of a family to him.
They must date back pretty far, judging by those Norman arches.
Norman arches?what, those round ones? O, they do. The priory was
founded by some old courtier or soldier in the time of Henry the First,
who got disgusted with the world. That is the beginning of all these
places, isn't it?
Do you mean, that it is the beginning of all religious feeling?
I really think it is. I wouldn't tell Dr. Cairnes so however. How
sweet these violets are. Dear little blue things!
Do you suppose,, said the young man, stooping to pick one or two,
that they are less sweet to me than to you?
Why should they be?
Because, religion is the most precious thing in the world to me;
and by your rule, I must be disgusted with the world, and all sweet
things have lost their savour.
He spoke with quiet gravity, and Eleanor's eye went to his face with
a bright glance of inquiry. It came back with no change of opinion.
You don't convert me, she said. I do not know what you have given
up for religion, so I cannot judge. But all the other people I ever
saw, grew religious only because they had lost all care about
I wonder how that discontented old soldier found himself, when he
got into these solitudes? said the young man, with a smile of his own
then. It was sweet, and a little arch, and withal harmonised completely
with the ordinary gravity of his face, not denying it at all. Eleanor
looked, once and again, with some curiosity, but the smile passed away
as quietly as it had come.
The solitude was not this solitude then.
O no, it was very wild.
These were Augustine canons, were they not?
The monks of this priory.
I am sure I don't know. I forget. What was the difference?
You know there were many orders of religious houses. The Augustines
were less severe in their rule, and more genial in their allowed way of
life, than most of the others?
What was their rule?
Beginning with discontent of the world, you know, they went on with
the principle that nothing worldly was good.
Well, isn't that the principle of all religious people now?
I like violetssaid the young man, smiling again.
But do tell me, what did those old monks do? What was their 'rule?'
I don't know anything about it, nor about them.
Another old discontented soldier, who founded an abbey in Wales, is
said by the historian to have dismissed all his former companions, and
devoted himself to God. For his military belt, he tied a rope about his
waist; instead of fine linen he put on haircloth. And it is recorded of
him, that the massive suit of armour which he had been used to wear in
battle, to protect him against the arrows and spears and axes of the
enemy, he put on now and wore as a defence against the wiles and
assaults of the deviland wore it till it rusted away with age.
Poor old soul! said Eleanor.
Does that meet your ideas of a religious life?
Eleanor laughed, but answered by another question. Was that
the rule of all the Augustine monks?
It gives the key to it. Is that your notion of a religious life?
You don't answer me.
Well, said Eleanor laughing again, it gives the key to it,
as you say. I do not suppose you wear a suit of armour to protect
I beg your pardon. I do.
Armour? said Eleanor, looking incredulous. But her friend
fairly burst into a little laugh at that.
Are you rested? said he.
And Eleanor got up, feeling a little indignant and a little curious.
Strolling towards the ruins, however, there was too much to start
conversation and too much to give delight, to permit either silence or
pique to last.
Isn't it beautiful! burst from both at once.
How exquisite that ivy is, climbing up that old tower!
And what a pity it is crumbling away so! said Eleanor. See that
nearer angleit is breaking down fast. I wish it would stay as it is.
Nothing will do that for you. What is all that collection of
That is where Mr. Carlisle is going to build a cottage for one of
his peoplesomebody to take care of the ruins, I believe.
And he takes the ruins to build it with, and the old priory grounds
Eleanor looked again at her companion.
I think it is better than to have the broken stones lying all
I do not.
Mr. Carlisle thinks so. Now here we are in the body of the
churchthere you see where the roof went, by the slanting lines on the
tower wall; and we are standing where the congregation used to
Not much of a congregation, said her companion. The neighbouring
country furnished few attendants, I fancy; the old monks and their
retainers were about all. The choir would hold most of them; the nave,
where we are standing, would have been of little use except for
Processions? said Eleanor.
On particular days there were processions of the brotherhood, with
lighted candlesround and round in the church. In the church at York
twelve rounds made a mile, and there were twelve holes at the great
door, with a little peg, so that any one curious about the matter might
reckon the miles.
And so they used to go up and down here, burning their fingers with
melted tallow! said Eleanor. Poor creatures! What a melancholy
existence! Are you preparing to renounce the world yourself, Mr. Rhys?
He smiled, but it was a compound smile, light and earnest both at
once, which Eleanor did not comprehend.
Why do you suspect me? he asked.
You seem to be studying the thing. Are you going to be a white or a
black monkor a grey friar?
There is a prior question. It is coming on to rain, Miss Powle.
Rain! It is beginning this minute! And all the umbrellas are nobody
knows whereonly that it is where we ought to be. I was glad just now
that the old roof in gonebut I think I would like a piece of it
You can take shelter at the parsonage.
No, I cannotthey have got fever there.
Then come with me. I believe I can find you a piece of roof
Eleanor smiled to herself that he should think so, as all traces of
beam and rafter had long since disappeared from the priory and its
dependencies. However she followed her conductor, who strode along
among the ruins at a pace which it taxed her powers to keep up with.
Presently he plunged down into a wilderness of bushes and wild thorn
and piled up stones which the crumbling walls had left in confusion
strewn over the ground. It was difficult walking. Eleanor had never
been there; for in that quarter the decay of the buildings was more
entire, and the growth of shrubs and brambles had been allowed to mask
the disorder. As they went on, the footing grew very rough; they were
obliged to go over heaps and layers of the crumbling, moss-grown ruins.
Eleanor's conductor turned and gave her his hand to help; it was a
strong hand and quickened her progress. Presently turning a sharp
corner, through a thicket of thorn and holly bushes, with young larches
and beeches, a small space of clearance was gained, bounded on the
other side by a thick wall, one angle of which was standing. On this
clear spot the rain drops were falling fast. The hand that held
Eleanor's hurried her across it, to where an old window remained sunk
in the wall. The arch over the window was still entire, and as the wall
was one of the outer walls and very thick, the shelter of a piece of
roof was literally afforded. Eleanor's conductor seated her on the
deep window sill, where she was perfectly screened from the rain; and
apologising for the necessity of the occasion, took his place beside
her. The window was narrow as well as deep; and the two, who hardly
knew each other, were brought into very familiar neighbourhood. Eleanor
would have been privately amused, if the first passing consciousness of
amusement had not been immediately chased away by one or two other
thoughts. The first was the extreme beauty of her position as a point
The ruins were all behind them. As they looked out of the window,
nothing was seen but the most exquisite order and the most dainty
perfection of nature. The ground, shaven and smooth, sloped away down
to a fringe of young wood, amidst which peeped out a pretty cottage and
above which a curl of smoke floated. The cottage stood so low, and the
trees were so open, that above and beyond appeared the receding slopes
and hills of the river valley, in their various shades of colour, grass
and foliage. There was no sun on all this now, but a beautiful light
under the rain cloud from the distant horizon. And the dark old stone
window was the frame for this picture. It was very perfect. It was very
rare. Eleanor exclaimed in delight.
But I never was hereI never saw this before! How did you know of
it, Mr. Rhys?
I have studied the ruins, he said lightly.
But you have been at Wiglands only a few months.
I come here very often, he answered. Happily for you.
He might add that well enough, for the clouds poured down their rain
now in torrents, or in sheets; the light which had come from the
horizon a few minutes before was hidden, and the grey gloom of a summer
storm was over everything. The little window seemed dark, with the two
people sitting there. Then there came a blinding flash of lightning.
Eleanor started and cowered, and the thunder rolled its deep tones over
them, and under them, for the earth shook. She raised her head again,
but only to shrink back the second time, when the lightning and the
thunder were repeated. This time her head was not raised again, and she
kept her hand covered over her eyes. Yet whenever the sound of the
thunder came, Eleanor's frame answered it by a start. She said nothing;
it was merely the involuntary answer of the nerves. The storm was a
severe one, and when the severity of it passed a little further off,
the torrents of rain still fell.
You do not like thunder stormsMr. Rhys remarked, when the
lightnings had ceased to be so vivid or so near.
Does anybody like them?
Yes. I like everything.
You are happysaid Eleanor.
Why are not you?
I can't help it, said the girl, lifting up her head, though she
did not let her eyes go out of the window. I cannot bear to see the
lightning. It is foolish, but I cannot help it.
Are you sure it is foolish? Is there not some reason at the bottom
I think there is a reason, though still it is foolish. There was a
man killed by lightning just by our door, oncewhen I was a child. I
saw himI never can forget it, never!
And a sort of shudder ran over Eleanor's shoulders as she spoke.
You want my armour, said her companion. The tone of voice was not
only grave but sympathising. Eleanor looked up at him.
You charged me with wearing armourand I confessed it, he said
with something of a smile. It is a sort of armour that makes people
safe in all circumstances.
He looked so quiet, so grave, so cool, and his eye had such a light
in it, that Eleanor could not throw off his words. He looked
like a man in armour. But no mail of brass was to be seen.
What do you mean? she said.
Did you never hear of the helmet of salvation?
I don't know, said Eleanor wonderingly. I think I have heard the
words. I do not think I ever attached any meaning to them.
Did you never feel, he said, speaking with a peculiar deliberation
of manner, that you were exposed to dangerand to deathfrom which
no effort of yours could free you; and that after death, there is a
great white throne to meet, for which you are not ready?
While he spoke slowly, his eyes were fixed upon Eleanor with a clear
piercing glance which she felt read her through and through; but she
was fascinated instead of angered, and submitted her own eyes to the
reading without wishing to turn them away. Carrying on two trains of
thought at the same time, as the mind will, her inward reflection was,
I had no idea that you were so good-looking!the answer in words was
a sober, I have felt so.
Was the feeling a happy one?
Eleanor's lip suddenly trembled; then she put down that involuntary
natural answer, and said evasively, looking out of the window, I
suppose everybody has such feelings sometimes.
Not with that helmet onsaid her companion.
With all the quietness of his speech, and it was very unimpassioned,
his accent had a clear ring to it, which came from some unsounded
spirit-depth of power; and Eleanor's heart for a moment sunk before it
in a secret convulsion of pain. She concealed this feeling, as she
thought, successfully; but that single ray of light had shewed her the
darkness; it was keen as an arrow, and the arrow rankled. And her
neighbour's next words made her feel that her heart lay bare; so
quietly they touched it.
You feel that you want something, Miss Powle.
Eleanor's head drooped, as well as her heart. She wondered at
herself; but there was a spell of power upon her, and she could by no
means lift up either. It was not only that his words were true, but
that he knew them to be so.
Do you know what you want? her friend went on, in tons that
were tender, along with that deliberate utterance that carried so much
force with it. You know yourself an offender before the Lordand you
want the sense of forgiveness in your heart. You know yourself inclined
to be an offender againand you want the renewing grace of God to make
your heart clean, and set it free from the power of sin. Then you want
also something to make you happy; and the love of Jesus alone can do
What is the use of telling over the things one has not got?said
Eleanor in somewhat smothered tones. The words of her companion came
again clear as a bell
Because you may have them if you want them.
Eleanor struggled with herself, for her self-possession was
endangered, and she was angry at herself for being such a fool; but she
could not help it; yet she would not let her agitation come any more to
the surface. She waited for clearness of voice, and then could not
forbear the question,
How, Mr. Rhys?
Jesus said, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.'
There is all fulness in him. Go to him for lightgo to him for
strengthgo to him for forgiveness, for healing, for sanctification.
'Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.'
'Go to him?' repeated Eleanor vaguely.
Ask Him! It was such a far-off, strange idea to her a heart,
there seemed such a universe of distance between, Eleanor's face grew
visibly shadowed with the thought. She? She could not. She did
not know how. She was silent a little while. The subject was getting
I never had anybody talk to me so before, Mr. Rhys, she said,
thinking to let it pass.
Perhaps you never will again, he said. Hear it now. The Lord
Jesus is not far offas you thinkhe is very near; he can hear the
faintest whisper of a petition that you send to him. It is his message
I bring you to-daya message to you. I am his servant, and he
has given me this charge for you to-dayto tell you that he loves
youthat he has given his life for yoursand that he calls Eleanor
Powle to give him her heart, and then to give him her life, in all the
obedience his service may require.
Eleanor felt her heart strangely bowed, subdued, bent to his words.
I willwas the secret language of her thoughtsbut I must not let
this man see all I am feeling, if I can help it. She held herself
still, looking out of the window, where the rain fell in torrents yet,
though the thunder and the lightning were no longer near. So did he; he
added no more to his last words, and a silence lasted in the old ruined
window as if its chance occupants were gone again. As the silence
lasted, Eleanor felt it grow awkward. She was at a loss how to break
it. It was broken for her then.
What will you do, Miss Powle?
I will think about itshe answered, startled and hesitating.
How long, before you decide?
How can I tell? she said.
You are shrinking from a decision already formed. The answer is
given in your secret thoughts, and something is rising up in the midst
of them to thwart it. Shall I tell my Master that his message is
Mr. Rhys! said Eleanor looking up, I never heard any one talk so
in all my life! You speak as if
As if, what?
You speak as ifI never heard any one speak as you do.
I speak as if I were in the habit of telling my Master how his
message is received? I often do that.
But it seems superfluous to tell what is known already, said
Eleanor, wondering secretly much more than she dared to say at her
Do you never, in speaking to those you love, tell them what is no
Eleanor was now dumb. There was too great a gulf of difference
between her companion and herself, to try to frame any words or
thoughts that might bridge it over. She must remain on one side and he
on the other; yet she went on wondering.
Are you a clergyman, Mr. Rhys? she said after a pause.
I am not what you would call such.
Do you not think the rain is over?
Nearly, for the present; but the grass is as wet as possible.
O, I don't mind that. There is somebody now in the shrubbery
yonder, looking for me.
He will not find you here, said Mr. Rhys. I have this window all
to myself. But we will find him.
The rain-drops fell now but scatteringly, the last of the shower;
the sun was breaking out, and the green world was all in a glitter of
wet leaves. Wet as they were, Eleanor and Mr. Rhys pushed through the
thick bramble and holly bushes, which with honeysuckles, eglantine, and
broom, and bryony, made a sweet wild wilderness. They got plentifully
besprinkled in their way, shook that off as well as they could, and
with quick steps sought to rejoin their companions. The person Eleanor
had seen in the shrubbery was the first one found, as Mr. Rhys had
said. It was Mr. Carlisle. He at once took charge of Eleanor.
What has become of you?
What has become of you, Mr. Carlisle? Eleanor's gleaming
smile was as bright as ever.
Despair, nearly, said he; for I feared business would hold me all
day; but I broke away. Not time enough to protect you from this
Water will wet, said Eleanor, laughing; for the politeness of this
speech was more evident than its plausibility. She was on the point of
speaking of the protection that had been actually found for her, but
thought better of it. Meantime they were joined by a little girl,
bright and rather wild looking, who addressed Eleanor as her sister.
O come! she said,where have you been? We can't go on till you
come. We are going to lunch at Barton's Towerand mamma says she will
make Mr. Carlisle build a fire, so that we may all dry ourselves.
Julia!how you speak!
She did say so, repeated the child. Comemake haste.
Eleanor glanced at her companion, who met the glance with a smile.
I hope Mrs. Powle will always command me, he said, somewhat
meaningly; and Eleanor hurried on.
She was destined to long tête-à-têtes that day; for as soon
as her little party was seen in the distance, the larger company took
up their line of march again. Julia and Mr. Rhys had fallen behind; and
the long walk to Barton's Tower was made with Mr. Carlisle alone, who
was in no haste to abridge it, and seemed to enjoy himself very well.
Eleanor once or twice looked back, and saw her little sister, hand in
hand with her companion of the old window, walking and talking in very
eager and gay style; to judge by Julia's lively movements.
Who is that Mr. Rhys? said Eleanor.
I have hardly the honour to know him. May I ask, why you ask?
He is peculiar, said Eleanor.
He can hardly be worthy your study. And the question was dismissed
with a coolness which reminded Eleanor of Mr. Rhys's own words, that he
was not what she would call a clergyman. She would have asked another
question, but the slight disdain which spoke in Mr. Carlisle's eye and
voice deterred her. She only noticed how well the object of it and her
sister were getting along. However, Eleanor's own walk was pleasant
enough to drive Mr. Rhys out of her head. Mr. Carlisle was polished,
educated, spirited, and had the great additional advantage of being a
known and ascertained somebody; as he was in fact the heir of all the
fine domain whose beauties they were admiring. And a beautiful heirdom
it was. The way taken by the party led up the course of a valley which
followed the windings of a small stream; its sides most romantic and
woody in some places; in others taking the very mould of gentle beauty,
and covered with rich grass, and sweet with broom; in others again,
drawing near together, and assuming a picturesque wildness, rocky and
broken. Sweet flowers grew by the way in profusion, on the banks and
along the sides of the stream; and the birds were very jocund in their
solitudes. Through all this it was very pleasant wandering with the
heir of the land; and neither wet shoes nor wet shoulders were much
remembered by Eleanor till they reached Barton's Tower.
This was a ruin of a different character; one of the old strongholds
of the rough time when men lived by the might of hand. No delicate
arches and graceful mouldings had ever been here; all was, or had been,
grim, stern strength and massiveness. The strength was broken long ago;
and grace, in the shape of clustering ivy, had mantled so much of the
harsh outlines that their original impression was lost. It could be
recalled only by a little abstraction. Within the enclosure of the
thick walls, which in some places gave a sort of crypt-like shelter,
the whole rambling party was now collected.
Shall we have a fire? Mr. Carlisle had asked Eleanor, just before
they entered. And Eleanor could not find in her heart to deny that it
would be good, though not quite prepared to have it made to her
order. However, the word was given. Wood was brought, and presently a
roaring blaze went up within the old walls; not where the old chimney
used to be, for there were no traces of such a thing. The sun had not
shined bright enough to do away the mischief the shower had done; and
now the ladies gathered about the blaze, and declared it was very
comfortable. Eleanor sat down on a stone by the side of the fire,
willing to be less in the foreground for a little while; as well as to
dry her wet shoes. From there she had a view of the scene that would
have pleased a painter.
The blazing fire threw a warm light and colour of its own upon the
dark walls and on the various groups collected within them, and touched
mosses and ferns and greensward with its gypsy glare. The groups were
not all of one character. There was a light-hued gay company of muslins
and scarfs around the burning pile; in a corner a medley of servants
and baskets and hampers; and in another corner Eleanor watched Julia
and Mr. Rhys; the latter of whom was executing some adventurous
climbing, after a flower probably, or a fern, while Julia stood below
eagerly following his progress. Mr. Carlisle was all about. It was a
singularly pretty scene, and to Eleanor's eye it had the sharp painting
which is given by a little secret interest at work. That interest gave
particular relief to the figures of the two gentlemen whose names have
been mentioned; the other figures, the dark walls and ivy, the servants
and the preparing collation, were only a rich mosaic of background for
There was Mr. Powle, a sturdy, well-to-do, country gentleman;
looking it, and looking besides good-natured, which he was if not
crossed. There was Eleanor's mother, good-natured under all
circumstances; fair and handsome; every inch of her, from the close
fair curls on each side of her temples, to the tips of her neat walking
shoes, shewing the ample perfection of abundant means and indulgent
living. There were some friends that formed part of their household
just then, and the young people of a neighbouring family; with the Miss
Broadus's; two elderly ladies from the village who were always in
everything. There was Dr. Cairnes the rector, and his sister, a widow
lady who spent part of every year with him. All these Eleanor's eye
passed over with slight heed, and busied itself furtively with the
remaining two; the great man of the party, and the other, the one
certainly of least consideration in it. Why did she look at him,
Eleanor asked herself? Mr. Carlisle was a mark for everybody's eyes; a
very handsome man, the future lord of the manor, knowing and using
gracefully his advantages of many kinds. What had the other,that
tall, quiet man, gathering flowers with Julia in the angle of the old
tower? He could not be called handsome; a dark thick head of hair, and
somewhat marked features alone distinguished him; except a pair of very
clear keen eyes, the penetrating quality of which Eleanor had felt that
morning. He has a good figure, though, she said to herself, a very
good figureand he moves well and easily; but what is there about him
to make me think of him? What is the difference between his face and
that other face?
That other face made frequent appeals for her attention; yet
Eleanor could not forget the group in the corner, where her sister
seemed to be having a time of more lively enjoyment than any one else
of the company. No other person paid them any attention, even in
thought; and when the collation was spread, Eleanor half wondered that
her morning's friend neither came forward nor was for some moments
asked to do so. She thought indeed she heard Julia ask him, but if so
it was without effect. Mr. Rhys remained in the distant angle, studying
the stones there; till Mr. Powle shouted to him and brought him into
the company. Having done this good action, the squire felt benevolently
disposed towards the object of his care, and entered into conversation
with him. It grew so satisfactory to Mr. Powle, that it absorbed his
attention from all but the meats and wines which were offered him, the
enjoyment of which it probably heightened; the talk was prolonged, and
seemed to grow more interesting as it went on. Eleanor could not hear
what it was about, her own ear was so much engaged with business nearer
at hand. The whole play had not escaped her, however; and between
question and answer of the rattling gaiety going on about her ears, and
indeed on her own tongue, she found time to wonder whether Mr. Rhys
were shy, or kept back by a feeling of inferiority; so marked his
conduct was by the absence of all voluntary self-assertion, She could
not determine that he was either. No look or word favoured the one or
the other supposition. And Eleanor could not look at those keen eyes,
without feeling that it was extremely unlikely they would quail before
anybody or anything. Very different from those fine hazel irids that
were flashing fun and gallantry into hers with every glance. Very
different; but what was the difference? It was something deeper than
colour and contour. Eleanor had no chance to make further discoveries;
for her father engrossed his new acquaintance all the way home, and
only did not bring him to Ivy Lodge to tea because Mr. Rhys refused it;
for the invitation was given.
CHAPTER II. AT THE GARDEN-DOOR.
To dieto sleep.
To sleep! perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
The family at Ivy Lodge gathered round the tea-table with spirits
rather whetted, apparently for both talking and eating. Certainly the
one exercise had been intermitted for some hours; the other however had
gone on without cessation. It went on still. The party was now reduced
to the home party, with the addition of Miss Broadus; which lady, with
her sister, was at home at Ivy Lodge, as she was everywhere else.
Elderly, respectable and respected old ladies they were; and though
they dealt in gossip, would not willingly have hurt a fly. They dealt
in receipts and in jellies too; in fashions, and in many kindnesses,
both received and given by all the neighbourhood. They were daughters
of a former rector of the parish, and poor, and asked nobody to help
them; which indeed they had no need to ask.
You seemed to like your afternoon's acquaintance, papa? said
He is a fine fellow, said the squire. He's a fine fellow. Knows
something. My dear, he teaches a small school at Wiglands, I hear.
Does he. I wonder who goes to it, said Mrs. Powle.
I don't know, said the squire; but I mean to send Alfred.
My dear Mr. Powle! to such a school as that? Nobody can go to it
but some of the farmers' children aroundthere is no one else.
It won't hurt him, for a little while, said the squire. I like
the master, and that's of more importance than the children. Don't you
My dear Mr. Powle! But I never heard of such a thing in my life. I
do not believe Dr. Cairnes will like it at all. He will think it very
strange, your sending your boy to a man that is not a Churchman, and is
not anything, that anybody knows of.
Dr. Cairnes be hanged! said the squire,and mind his own
affairs. He wouldn't want me to send Alfred to him.
My dear Mrs. Powle, said Miss Broadus, I can tell you this for
your comfortthere are two sons of Mr. Churchill, the Independent
minister of Eastcombethat come over to him; besides one or two more
that are quite respectable.
Why does not Mr. Churchill send his boys to school it Eastcombe?
O well, it doesn't suit him, I suppose; and like goes to like, you
know, my dear.
That is what I think, said Mrs. Powle, looking at her
husband,and I wonder Mr. Powle does not think so too.
If you mean me, said the squire, I am not 'like' anybodythat I
can tell you. A good schoolmaster is a good schoolmasterI don't care
what else he calls himself.
And Mr. Rhys is a good schoolmaster, I have no doubt, said Miss
I know what he is, said Julia; he is a nice man, I like him.
I saw he kept you quiet, said Eleanor. How did he manage it?
He didn't manage it. He told me about things, said Julia; and he
got flowers for me, and told me about ferns. You never saw such lovely
ferns as we found; and you would not know where to look for them,
either. I never saw such a nice man as Mr. Rhys in my life.
There, my dear, said her mother, do not encourage Julia in
talking. She is always too ready.
I am going to walk with him again, to get flowers, said the child.
I shall invite him to the Lodge, said the squire. He is a very
sensible man, and knows what he is about.
Do you know anything more about him, Mr. Powle?
He does more than teach three or four boys, said Miss Broadus. He
serves a little Dissenting Chapel of some sort, over at Lily Vale.
Why does he not live there then? said Mrs. Powle. Lily Vale is
two and a half miles off. Not very convenient, I should think.
I don't know, my dear. Perhaps he finds living cheap at Wiglands,
and I am sure he may. Do you know, I get butter for less than one-half
what I paid when I was in Leicester?
It is summer time now, Miss Broadus, said the squire.
Yes, I know, but stillI am sure Wiglands is the nicest, easiest
place for poor people to live, that ever was.
Why you are not poor, Miss Broadus, said the squire.
Miss Broadus chuckled. The fact was, that the Miss Broadus's not
being poor was a standing pleasant joke with them; it being well known
that they were not largely supplied with means, but contrived to make a
little do the apparent work of much more than they had. A way of
achieving respectability upon which they prided themselves.
Eleanor, said her mother as they left the table, you look pale.
Did you get your feet wet?
Yes, mammathere was no helping that.
Then you'll be laid up!
She must not, just now, my dear, said Miss Broadus smilingly.
Eleanor could not laugh off the prophecy, which an internal warning
told her was well founded. She went to bed thinking of Mr. Rhys's
helmet. She did not know why; she was not given to such thoughts;
neither did she comprehend exactly what the helmet might be; yet now
the thought came uneasily across her mind, that just such a cold as she
had taken had been many a one's death; and with that came a strange
feeling of unprotectednessof want of defence. It was very
uncomfortable to go to bed with that slight sensation of sore throat
and feverishness, and to remember that the beginning of multitudes of
last sicknesses had been no other and no greater; and it was most
unlike Eleanor to have such a cause make her uncomfortable. She charged
it upon the conversation of the morning, and supposed herself nervous
or feverish; but this, if an explanation, was no cure; and through the
frequent wakings of a disturbed night, the thought of that piece of
armour which made one of her fellow creatures so blessedly calm, came
up again and again to her mind.
I am feverishthis is nightmare, said Eleanor to herself. But it
must be good to have no such nightmare. And when the broad daylight had
come, and she was pronounced to be very ill, and the doctor was sent
for, Eleanor found her night's visions would not take their departure.
She could not get up; she was a prisoner; would she ever be free?
She was very ill; the fever gained head; and the old doctor, who was
a friend of the family, looked very grave at her. Eleanor saw it. She
knew that a battle was to be fought between the powers of life and
death; and the thought that no one could tell how the victory would be,
came like an ice wind upon flowers. Her spirit shrank and cowered
before it. Hopes and pleasures and plans, of which she was so full
yesterday, were chilled to the ground; and across the cleared pathway
of vision, what appeared? Eleanor would not look.
But the battle must be fought; and it had to be fought amid pain and
fever and weariness and the anxious looks of friends; and it was not
soon decided. And the wish for that helmet of shelter, whatever it
might be, came at times bitterly strong over Eleanor's heart. Many a
heavily drawn sigh, which her mother charged to the body's weariness,
came from the mind's longing. And in the solitude of the night, when
her breath was quick and her pulse was high and she knew everything was
going wrong, the thought came with a sting of agony,if there was such
a helmet, and she could not have it. O to be well and strong, and need
none!or while lying before death's door to see if it would open, O to
have that talisman that would make its opening peace! It was not at
Eleanor's hand, and she did not know where to find it. And when the
daylight came again, and the doctor looked grave, and her mother turned
away the anxious face she did not wish Eleanor to read, the cold chill
of fear crept over Eleanor's heart. She hid it there. No creature in
the house, she knew, could meet or quiet it; if indeed her explanation
of it could have been understood. She banished it as often as it was
possible; but during many days that Eleanor lay on a sick bed, it was
so frequent a visiter that her heart grew sore for its coming.
There were June roses and summer sunshine outside; and sweet breaths
came in at the open windows, telling the time of year. Julia reported
how fine the strawberries were, and went and came with words about
walks and flowers and joyous doings; while Eleanor's room was darkened,
and phials of medicine and glasses stood on the table, and the doctor
went and carne, and Mrs. Powle hardly left her by day, and at night
tile nurse slept, and Eleanor tossed and turned on her pillow and
thought of another night that cometh.
The struggle with fever and pain was over at last. Then came
weakness; and though hope revived, fear would not die. Besides, Eleanor
said to herself, though she should get entirely well of this sickness,
who would guaranty her that another would not come? And must not one
comesome timethat must be final? And how should that be met? Nay,
though getting well again and out of present danger, she would have
liked to have that armour of shelter still!
What are you crying for? said her little sister coming suddenly
into her room one day. Eleanor was so far recovered as to be up.
I am weak and nervous,foolish.
I wouldn't be foolish, said Julia.
I do not think I am foolish, said Eleanor slowly.
Then why do you say you are? But what is the matter with you?
Like all the rest of the world, child,I want something I cannot
get. What have you there?
Ferns, said Julia. Do you know what ferns are?
I suppose I dowhen I see them.
No, but when you don't see them; that's the thing.
Do you, pray.
Yes! A fern is a plant which has its seeds come on the back of the
leaf, and no flower; and it comes up curled like a caterpillar. Aren't
Where did you learn all that?
I know more than that. This leaf is called a frond.
Who told you?
Did you learn it from Mr. Rhys?
Yes, to be sure I did, and a great deal more. He is going to teach
me all about ferns.
Where do you see Mr. Rhys?
Why! wherever I have a mind. Alfred goes walking with him, and the
other boys, and I go too; and he tells us things. I always go along
with Mr. Rhys, and he takes care of me.
Does mamma know?
Yes, but papa lets Mr. Rhys do just what he pleases. Papa says Mr.
Rhys is a wonderful man.
What is he wonderful for? said Eleanor languidly.
Well, I think, because he is making Alfred a good boy.
I wonder how he has done it, said Eleanor.
So do I. He knows how. What do you thinkhe punished Alfred one
day right before papa.
Where? said Eleanor, in astonishment.
Down at the school. Papa was there. Papa told about it. Alfred
thought he wouldn't dare, when papa was there; and Alfred took the
opportunity to be impudent; and Mr. Rhys just took him up by his
waistband and laid him down on the floor at his feet; and Alfred has
behaved himself ever since.
Was not papa angry?
He said he was at first, and I think it is likely; but after that,
he said Mr. Rhys was a great man, and he would not interfere with him.
And how does Alfred like Mr. Rhys?
He likes him said Julia, turning over her ferns. I like him.
Mr. Rhys said he was sorry you were sick. Now, that is a frond.
That is what it is called. Do you see, those are the seeds.
Eleanor sighed. She would have liked to take lessons of Mr. Rhys on
another subject. She half envied Julia's liberty. There seemed a great
wall built up between her and the knowledge she wanted. Must it be so
Julia, when are you going to take a walk with Mr. Rhys again?
To-morrow, was the quick answer.
I will give you something to ask him about.
I don't want it. I always have enough to ask him. We are going
after ferns; we always have enough to talk about.
But there is a question I would like you to ask.
What is it? Why don't you ask him yourself?
Eleanor was silent, watching Julia's uncompromising business-like
air as she turned over her bunch of ferns. The little one was full of
her own affairs; her long locks of hair waving with every turn of her
busy head. Suddenly she looked up.
What is your question, Eleanor?
You must not ask it as if from me.
Just ask itas if you wanted to know yourself; without saying
As if I wanted to know what?
Eleanor hesitated, and Mrs. Powle came into the room.
What, Eleanorwhat? Julia repeated.
Nothing. Study your ferns.
I have studied them. This is the rachisand down here below
this, is the rhizoma; and the little seed places that come on the back
of the frond, are thecae. I forget what Mr. Rhys called the seeds now.
I'll ask him.
What nonsense is that you are talking, Julia?
Sense, mamma. Or rather, it is knowledge.
Mamma, how do you like Mr. Rhys? Julia says he is often
He is a pleasant man, said Mrs. Powle. I have nothing against
himexcept that your father and the children are crazy about him. I
see nothing in him to be crazy about.
Alfred is a good deal less crazy than he used to be, remarked
Julia; and I think papa hasn't lost anything.
You are a saucy girl, said her mother. Mr. Carlisle is very
anxious to know when you will be down stairs again, Eleanor.
Julia ran off with her ferns; Eleanor went into a muse; and the
It happened a few days after this, that the event about which Mr.
Carlisle was anxious came to pass. Eleanor was able to leave her room.
However, feeling yet very wanting in strength, and not quite ready to
face a company of gay talkers, she shunned the drawing-room where such
a company was gathered, and betook herself to a small summer-parlour in
another part of the house. This room she had somewhat appropriated to
her own use. It had once been a school-room. Since the misbehaviour of
one governess, years ago, Mr. Powle had vowed that he would never have
another in the house, come what would. Julia might run wild at home; he
should be satisfied if she learned to read, to ride, and to walk; and
when she was old enough, he would send her to boarding-school. What the
squire considered old enough, did not appear. Julia was a fine child of
eleven, and still practising her accomplishments of riding and walking
to her heart's content at home; with little progress made in the other
branches to which reading is the door. The old schoolroom had long
forgotten even its name, and had been fitted up simply and pleasantly
for summer occupation. It opened on one side by a glass door upon a gay
flower-garden; Eleanor's special pet and concern; where she did a great
deal of work herself. It was after an elaborate geometrical pattern;
and beds of all sorts of angles were filled and bright with different
coloured verbenas, phloxes, geraniums, heliotrope, and other flowers
fit for such work; making a brilliant mosaic of scarlet, purple and
gold, in Eastern gorgeousness, as the whole was seen from the glass
door. Eleanor sat down there to look at it and realise the fact that
she was getting well again; with the dreamy realization that goes along
with present weakness and remembered past pain.
On another side the room opened to a small lawn; it was quite shut
off by its situation and by the plantations of shrubbery, from the
other part of the house; and very rarely visited by the chance comers
who were frequent there. So Eleanor was a good deal surprised this
evening to see a tall strange figure appear at the further side of her
flower garden; then not at all surprised to see that it was Mr. Rhys
accompanied by her sister, Julia. Julia flitted about through the
garden, in very irregular fashion, followed by her friend; till their
wanderings brought them near the open door within which Eleanor sat. To
the door Julia immediately darted, drawing her companion with her; and
as soon as she came up exclaimed, as if she had been armed with a
search warrant and had brought her man,
Here's Mr. Rhys, Eleanor. Now you can ask him yourself whatever you
Eleanor felt startled. But it was with such a pleasant face that Mr.
Rhys came up, such a cordial grasp of the hand greeted her, that the
feeling vanished immediately. Perhaps that hand-clasp was all the
warmer for Eleanor's changed appearance. She was very unlike the girl
of superb health who had wandered over the old priory grounds a few
weeks before. Eleanor's colour was gone; the blue veins shewed
distinctly on the temples; the full lips, instead of their brilliant
gay smile, had a languid and much soberer line. She made quite a
different impression now, of a fair delicate young creature, who had
lost and felt she had lost the proud strength in which she had been so
luxuriant a little while before. Mr. Rhys looked at her attentively.
You have been very ill, Miss Powle.
I suppose I havesome of the time.
I am rejoiced to see you well again.
Julia has been leading me over the garden and grounds. I did not
know where she was bringing me.
How do you like my garden?
For a garden of that sortit seems to me well arranged.
He was very cool, certainly, in giving his opinion, Eleanor thought.
Her gardening pride was touched. This was a pet of her own.
Then you do not fancy gardens of this sort.
I believe I think Nature is the best artist of all.
But would you let Nature have her own way entirely?
No more in the vegetable than I would in the moral world. She would
The quick clear sense and decision, in the eye and accent, were just
what Eleanor did not want to cope with. She was silent. So were her two
companions; for Julia was busy with a nosegay she was making up. Then
Mr. Rhys turned to Eleanor,
Julia said you had a question to ask of me, Miss Powle.
Yes, I had,said Eleanor, colouring slightly and hesitating. But
you cannot answer it standingwill you come in, Mr. Rhys?
Thank youif you will allow me, I will take this instead, said
he, sitting down on one of the steps before the glass door. What was
That was the other day, when she brought in her fernsit was a
wish I had. But she ought not to have troubled you with it.
It will give me great pleasure to answer youif I can.
Eleanor half fancied he knew what the question was; and she
hesitated again, feeling a good deal confused. But when should she have
another chance? She made a bold push.
I felt a curiosity to ask youI did not know any one else who
could tell mewhat that 'helmet' was, you spoke of one day;that day
at the old priory?
Eleanor could not look up. She felt as if the clear eyes opposite
her were reading down in the depth of her heart. They were very
unflinching about it. It was curiously disagreeable and agreeable both
Have you wanted it, these weeks past? said he.
The question was unexpected. It was put with a penetrating sympathy.
Eleanor felt if she opened her lips to speak she could not command
their steadiness. She gave no answer but silence.
A helmet? said Julia looking up. What is a helmet?
The warriors of old time, said Mr. Rhys, used to wear a helmet to
protect their heads from danger. It was a covering of leather and
steel. With this head-piece on, they felt safe; where their lives would
not have been worth a penny without it.
But Eleanorwhat does Eleanor want of a helmet? said Julia. And
she went off into a shout of ringing laughter.
Perhaps you want one, said Mr. Rhys composedly.
No, I don't. What should I want it for? What should I cover my head
with leather and steel for, Mr. Rhys?
You want something stronger than that.
Something stronger? What do I want, Mr. Rhys?
To know that, you must find out first what the danger is.
I am not in any danger.
How do you know that?
Am I, Mr. Rhys?
Let us see. Do you know what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us
Do you know whether God has given us any commandments?
Yes; I know the ten commandments. I have learned them once, but I
don't remember them.
Have you obeyed them?
I never thought about it.
Have you disobeyed them then?
Eleanor breathed more freely, and listened. It was curious to her to
see the wayward, giddy child stand and look into the eyes of her
questioner as if fascinated. The ordinary answer from Julia would have
been a toss and a fling. Now she stood and said sedately, I don't
We can soon tell, said her friend. One of the commandments is, to
remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Have you always done that?
No, said Julia bluntly. I don't think anybody else does.
Never mind anybody else. Have you always honoured the word and wish
of your father and mother? That is another command.
I have done it more than Alfred has.
Let Alfred alone. Have you always done it?
Have you loved the good God all your life, with all your heart?
You have loved to please yourself, rather than anything else?
The nod with which Julia answered this, if not polite, was at least
significant, accompanied with an emphatic Always! Mr. Rhys could not
help smiling at her, but he went on gravely enough.
What is to keep you then from being afraid?
From being afraid?
Yes. You want a helmet.
Afraid? said Julia.
Yes. Afraid of the justice of God. He never lets a sin go
unpunished. He is perfectly just.
But I can't help it, said Julia.
Then what is to become of you? You need a helmet.
A helmet? said Julia again. What sort of a helmet?
You want to know that God has forgiven you; that he is not angry
with you; that he loves you, and has made you his child.
How can I? said the child, pressing closer to the speaker where he
sat on the step of the door. And no wonder, for the words were given
with a sweet earnest utterance which drew the hearts of both bearers.
He went on without looking at Eleanor; or without seeming to look that
How can you what?
How can I have that?
That helmet? There is only one way.
What is it, Mr. Rhys?
They were silent a minute, looking at each other, the man and the
child; the child with her eyes bent on his.
Suppose somebody had taken your punishment for you? borne the
displeasure of God for your sins?
Who would? said Julia. Nobody would.
Who, Mr. Rhys?
One that loved you, and that loved all of us, well enough to pay
the price of saving us.
What price did he pay?
His own life. He gave it up cruellythat ours might be redeemed.
What for, Mr. Rhys? what made him?
Because he loved us. There was no other reason.
Then people will be savedsaid Julia.
Every one who will take the conditions. It depends upon that. There
What conditions, Mr. Rhys?
Do you know who did this for you?
It is the Lord himselfthe Lord Jesus Christthe Lord of glory.
He thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but he made himself of
no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in
the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled
himself and became obedient unto deatheven the death of the cross. So
now he is exalted a Prince and a Saviourable to save all who will
accept his conditions.
What are the conditions, Mr. Rhys?
You must be his servant. And you must trust all your little heart
and life to him.
I must be his servant? said Julia.
Yes, heart and soul, to obey him. And you must trust him to forgive
you and save you for his blood's sake.
Doubtless there had been something in the speaker himself that had
held the child's attention so fast all this while. Her eyes had never
wandered from his face; she had stood in docile wise looking at him and
answering his questions and listening, won by the commentary she read
in his face on what her friend was saying. A strange light kindled in
it as he spoke; there were lines of affection and tenderness that came
in the play of lips and eyes; and when he named his Master, there had
shined in his face as it were the reflection of the glory he alluded
to. Julia's eyes were not the only ones that had been held; though it
was only Julia's tongue that said anything in reply. Standing now and
looking still into the face she had been reading, her words were an
unconscious rendering of what she found there.
Mr. Rhys, I think he was very good.
The water filled those clear eyes at that, but he only returned the
child's gaze and said nothing.
I will take the conditions, Mr. Rhys, Julia went on.
The Lord make it so! he said gravely.
But what is the helmet, Mr. Rhys?
When you have taken the conditions, little one, you will know. He
Mr. Rhys, said Eleanor rising also, I have listened to you, but I
do not quite understand you.
I recommend you to ask better teaching, Miss Powle.
But I would like to know exactly what you mean, and what you meant,
by that 'helmet' you speak of so often?
He looked steadily now at the fair young face beside him, which told
so plainly of the danger lately passed through. Eleanor could not
return, though she suffered the examination. His answer was delayed
while he made it.
Do you ask from a sense of need? he said.
Eleanor looked up then and answered, Yes.
To say, 'I know that my Redeemer liveth'that is it, he said.
Then the head is coveredeven from fear of evil.
It was impossible that Eleanor ever should forget the look that went
with the words, and which had prevented her own gaze from seeking the
ground again. The look of inward rejoicing and outward fearlessness;
the fire and the softness that at once overspread his face. He was
looking at his Master thenwas the secret conclusion of Eleanor's
mind. Even while she thought it, he had turned and was gone again with
Julia. She stood still some minutes, weak as she was. She was not sure
that she perfectly comprehended what that helmet might be, but of its
reality there could be no questioning. She had seen its plumes wave
over one brow!
I know that my Redeemer livethEleanor sat down and mused over
the words. She had heard them before; they were an expression of
somebody's faith, she was not sure whose; but what faith was it? Faith
that the Redeemer lived? Eleanor did not question that. She had
repeated the Apostle's Creed many a time. Yet a vague feeling from the
words she could not analyzeor arising perhaps from the look that had
interpreted themfloated over her mind, disturbing it with an
exceeding sense of want. She felt desolate and forlorn. What was to be
done? Julia and Mr. Rhys were gone. The garden was empty. There was no
more chance of counsel-taking to-night. Eleanor felt in no mood for gay
gossip, and slowly mounted the stairs to her own room, from whence she
declined to come down again that night. She would like to find the
settlement of this question, before she went back into the business of
the world and was swallowed up by it, as she would soon be. Eleanor
locked the door, and took up a Bible, and tried to find some good by
reading in it. Her eyes and head were tired before her mind received
any light. She was weak yet. She found the Bible very unsatisfactory;
and gave it up.
CHAPTER III. IN THE DRAWING-ROOM.
Why, all the souls that were were forfeit once;
And he that might the vantage best have took,
Found out the remedy.
You can come down stairs to-night, Eleanor, said Mrs. Powle the
I was down stairs last nightin the afternoon, I meanmamma.
Yes, but you did not stay. I want you in the drawing-room this
evening. You can bear it now.
I am in no hurry, mamma.
Other people are, however. If you wear a white dress, do put a rose
or some pink ribbands somewhere, to give yourself a little colour.
Have you invited any one for this evening?
No, but people have promised themselves without being asked. Dr.
Cairnes wants to see you; he said he would bring Mrs. Wycherly. Miss
Broadus will be here of course; she declared she would; both of them.
And Mr. Carlisle desired my permission to present himself.
Mr. Rhys is coming, said Julia.
I dare say. Mr. Powle wants him here all the time. It is a mercy
the man has a little considerationor some business to keep him at
homeor he would be the sauce to every dish. As it is, he really is
Are all these people coming with the hope and intent of seeing me,
I can only guess at people's hopes, Eleanor. I am guiltless of
anything but confessing that you were to make your appearance.
Mr. Rhys is not coming to see you, said Julia. He wants to see
the booksthat is what he wants.
There was some promise for Eleanor in the company announced for the
evening. If anybody could be useful to her in the matter of her late
doubts and wishes, it ought to be Dr. Cairnes, the rector. He at least
was the only one she knew whom she could talk to about them; the only
friend. Mr. Rhys was a stranger and her brother's tutor; that was all;
a chance of speaking to him again was possible, but not to be depended
on. Dr. Cairnes was her pastor and old friend; it is true, she knew him
best, out of the pulpit, as an antiquarian; then she had never tried
him on religious questions. Nor he her, she remembered; it was a
doubtful hope altogether; nevertheless the evening offered what another
evening might not in many a day. So Eleanor dressed, and with her slow
languid step made her way down stairs to the scene of the social
gayeties which had been so long interrupted for her.
Ivy Lodge was a respectable, comfortable, old house; pretty by the
combination of those advantages; and pleasant by the fact of making no
pretensions beyond what it was worth. It was not disturbed by the rage
after new fashions, nor the race after distant greatness. Quiet
respectability was the characteristic of the family; Mrs. Powle alone
being burdened with the consciousness of higher birth than belonged to
the name of Powle generally. She fell into her husband's ways, however,
outwardly, well enough; did not dislodge the old furniture, nor
introduce new extravagances; and the Lodge was a pleasant place. A
most enjoyable house, my dear,as Miss Broadus expressed it. So the
gentry of the neighbourhood found it universally.
The drawing-room was a pretty, spacious apartment; light and bright;
opening upon the lawn directly without intervention of piazza or
terrace. Windows, or rather glass doors, in deep recesses, stood open;
the company seemed to be half in and half out. Dr. Cairnes was there,
talking with the squire. In another place Mrs. Powle was engaged with
Mr. Carlisle. Further than those two groups, Eleanor's eye had no
chance to go; those who composed the latter greeted her instantly. Mrs.
Powle's exclamation was of doubtful pleasure at Eleanor's appearance;
there was no question of her companion's gratification. He came forward
to Eleanor, gave her his chair; brought her a cup of tea, and then sat
down to see her drink it; with a manner which bespoke pleasure in every
step of the proceedings. A manner which had rather the effect of a
barrier to Eleanor's vision. It was gratifying certainly; Eleanor felt
it; only she felt it a little too gratifying. Mr. Carlisle was getting
on somewhat too fast for her. She drank her tea and kept very quiet;
while Mrs. Powle sat by and fanned herself, as contentedly as a mother
duck swims that sees all her young ones taking to the water kindly.
Now and then Eleanor's eyes went out of the window. On the lawn at a
little distance was a group of people, sitting close together and
seeming very busy. They were Mr. Rhys, Miss Broadus, Alfred and Julia.
Something interesting was going forward; they were talking and
listening, and looking at something they seemed to be turning over.
Eleanor would have liked to join them; but here was Mr. Carlisle; and
remembering the expression which had once crossed his face at the
mention of Mr. Rhys's name, she would not draw attention to the group
even by her eyes; though they wandered that way stealthily whenever
they could. What a good time those people were having there on the
grass; and she sitting fenced in by Mr. Carlisle. Other members of the
party who had not seen Eleanor, came up one after another to
congratulate and welcome her; but Mr. Carlisle kept his place. Dr.
Cairnes came, and Eleanor wanted a chance to talk to him. None was
given her. Mr. Carlisle left his place for a moment to carry Eleanor's
cup away, and Dr. Cairnes thoughtlessly took the vacated chair; but Mr.
Carlisle stationed himself on the other side in the window; and she was
as far from her opportunity as ever.
Well my dear, said the doctor, you have had a hard time, eh? We
are glad to have you amongst us again.
Hardly, put in Mrs. Powle. She looks like a ghost.
Rather a substantial kind of a ghost, said the doctor, pinching
Eleanor's cheek; some flesh and blood here yetflesh at least;and
now the blood speaks for itself! That's right, my dearyou are better
Mr. Carlisle's smile said so too, as the doctor glanced at him. But
the momentary colour faded again. Eleanor remembered how near she had
come to being a ghost actually. Just then Mr. Carlisle's attention was
forcibly claimed, and Mrs. Powle moved away. Eleanor seized her chance.
Dr. Cairnes, I want your instruction in something.
Well, my dear, said the doctor, lowering his tone in imitation of
Eleanor'sI shall be happy to be your instructor. I have been that,
in some sort, ever since you were five years olda little tot down in
your mother's pew, sitting under my ministrations. What is it, Miss
I am afraid I did not receive much in those days, sir.
Probably not. Hardly to be expected. I have no doubt you received
as much as a child could, from the mysteries which were above its
comprehension. What is it now, Miss Eleanor?
Something in your line, sir. Dr. Cairnes, you remember the helmet
spoken of in the Bible?
Helmet? said the doctor. Goliath's? He had a helmet of brass upon
his head. Must have been heavy, but I suppose he could carry it. The
same thing essentially as those worn by our ancestorsa little
variation in form. What about it, my dear? I am glad to see you smiling
Nothing about that. I am speaking of another sort of helmetdo you
not remember?it is called somewhere the helmet of salvation.
That? O!um! That helmet! Yesit is in, let me
seeit is in the description of Christian armour, in a fine passage in
Ephesians, I think. What about that, Miss Eleanor?
I want to know, sir, what shape that helmet takes.
It was odd, with what difficulty Eleanor brought out her questions.
It was touching, the concealed earnestness which lingered behind her
glance and smile.
Shape? said the doctor, descending into his cravat;um! a fair
question; easier asked than answered. Why my dear, you should read a
I like living commentaries, Dr. Cairnes.
Do you? Ha, ha!well. Living commentaries, eh? and shapes of
helmets. Well. What shape does it take? Why, my dear, you know of
course that those expressions are figurative. I think it takes the
shape of a certain composure and peace of mind which the Christian soul
feels, and justly feels, in regarding the provision made for its
welfare in the gospel. It is spoken of as the helmet of salvation; and
there is the shield of faith; and so forth.
Eleanor felt utterly worried, and did not in the least know how to
frame her next question.
What has put you upon thinking of helmets, Miss Eleanor?
I was curious said Eleanor.
You had some serious thoughts in your illness? said the doctor.
Well, my dearI am glad of it. Serious thoughts do not in the least
interfere with all proper present enjoyments; and with improper ones
you would not wish to have anything to do.
May we not say that serious thoughts are the foundation of
all true present enjoyment? said another voice. It was Mr. Rhys who
spoke. Eleanor started to hear him, and to see him suddenly in the
place where Mr. Carlisle had been, standing in the window.
Eh? Wellno,not just that, said Dr. Cairnes coolly. I have a
good deal of enjoyment in various thingsthis fair day and this fair
company, for example, and Mrs. Powle's excellent cup of teawith which
I apprehend, serious thoughts have nothing to do.
But we are commanded to do everything in the name of the Lord
Wellum! That is to be taken of course in its rational
significance. A cup of tea is a cup of teaand nothing more. There is
nothing at the bottom of itha, ha!but a little sugar. Nothing more
Mr. Rhys's figure standing in the window certainly hindered a part
of the light. To judge by the doctor's face, he was keeping out the
What do you suppose the apostle means, sir, when he says,
'Henceforward know I no man after the flesh?'
Hum!Ah,well, he was an apostle. I am not. Perhaps you are?
There was a degree of covert disdain in this speech, which Eleanor
wondered at in so well-bred a man as Dr. Cairnes. Mr. Rhys answered
with perfect steadiness, with no change of tone or manner.
Without being inspiredI think, in the sense of messenger,
every minister of Christ is his apostle.
Ah! Well!I am not even apostolic, said the doctor, with one or
two contented and discontented grunts. Eleanor understood them; the
content was his own, the discontent referred to the speaker whose words
were so inopportune. The doctor rose and left the ground. Mr. Rhys had
gone even before him; and Eleanor wondered anew whether this man were
indeed shy or not. He was so little seen and heard; yet spoke, when he
spoke, with such clearness and self-possession. He was gone now, and
Mr. Carlisle was still busy. Up came Miss Broadus and took the vacant
It is impossible to describe Miss Broadus's face. It was in a
certain sense fair, and fat, and fresh-coloured; but the windows of
her soul shewed very little light from within; they let out nothing
but a little gleam now and then. However, her tongue was fluent, and
matter for speech never wanting. She was kindly too, in manner at
least; and extremely sociable with all her neighbours, low as well as
high; none of whose affairs wanted interest for her. It was in fact
owing to Miss Broadus's good offices with Mrs. Powle, that Mr. Rhys had
been invited to join the pleasure party with which the adventures of
this book begin. The good lady was as neat as a pink in her dress; and
very fond of being as shewy, in a modest way.
Among us again, Eleanor? she said. We are glad to see you. So is
Mr. Carlisle, I should judge. We have missed you badly. You have been
terribly ill, haven't you? Yes, you shew it. But that will soon
pass away, my dear. I longed to get in to do something for youbut
Mrs. Powle would not let me; and I knew you had the best of everything
all the while. Only I thought I would bring you a pot of my grape
jelly; for Mrs. Powle don't make it; and it is so refreshing.
It was very nice, thank you.
O it was nothing, my dear; only we wanted to do something. I have
been having such an interesting time out there; didn't you see us
sitting on the grass? Mr. Rhys is quite a botanistor a naturalistor
something; and he was quite the centre of our entertainment. He was
shewing us fernsfern leaves, my dear; and talking about them. Do you
know, as I told him, I never looked at a fern leaf before; but now
really it's quite curious; and he has almost made me believe I could
see a certain kind of beauty in them. You know there is a sort of
beauty which some people think they find in a great many things; and
when they are enthusiastic, they almost make you think as they do. I
think there is great power in enthusiasm.
Is Mr. Rhys enthusiastic?
O I don't know, my dear,I don't know what you would call it; I am
not a philosopher; but he is very fond of ferns himself. He is a very
fine man. He is a great deal too good to go and throw himself away.
Is that what he is going to do?
Why yes, my dear; that is what I should call it. It is a great deal
more than that. I never can remember the place; but it is the most
dreadful place, I do suppose, that ever was heard of. I never heard of
such a place. They do every horrible thing theremy dear, the accounts
make your blood creep. I think Mr. Rhys is a great deal too valuable a
man to be lost there, among such a set of creaturesthey are more like
devils than men. And Eleanor, said Miss Broadus, looking round to see
that nobody was within hearing of her communication,you have no idea
what a pleasant man he is. I asked him to tea with Juliana and meyou
know one must be kind and neighbourly at any rateand he has no
friends here; I sometimes wonder if he has any anywhere; but he came to
tea, and he was as agreeable as possible. He was really excellent
company, and very well behaved. I think Juliana quite fell in love with
him; but I tell her it's no use; she never would go off to that
dreadful place with him.
And Miss Broadus laughed a laugh of simple amusement; Miss Juliana
being, though younger than herself, still very near the age of an old
lady. They kept the light-hearted simplicity of young years, however,
in a remarkable degree; and so had contrived to dispense with wrinkles
on their fresh old faces.
Where is that place, Miss Broadus?
My dear, I never can remember the name of it. They do say the
country is beautiful, and the fruit, and all that; it is described to
be a beautiful place, where, as Heber's hymn says, 'only man is vile.'
But he is as vile as he can be, there. And I am sure Mr. Rhys would be
a great loss at Wiglands. My dear, how pleasant it would be, I said to
Juliana this morning, how pleasant it would be, if Mr. Rhys were only
in the Church, and could help good Dr. Cairnes. 'Tisn't likely they
will let him live long out there, if he goes.
When is he going?
O I don't know when, my dear; he is waiting for something. And I
never can remember the name of the place; if a word has many syllables
I cannot keep them together in my memory; only I know the vegetables
there grow to an enormous size, and as if that wasn't enough, men
devour each other. It seems like an abusing the gifts of providence,
don't it? But there is nothing they do not abuse. I am afraid they will
abuse poor Mr. Rhys. And his boys would miss him very much, and I am
sure we all should. I have got quite acquainted with him, seeing him
here; and now Juliana has taken a fancy to ask him to our cottageand
I have come to quite like him. What a different looking man he is from
Mr. Carlislenow look at them talking together!
Where did you learn all this, Miss Broadus? did Mr. Rhys tell you?
No, my dear; he never will talk about it or about himself. He lent
me a pamphlet or something.Mr. Rhys is the tallestbut Mr. Carlisle
is a splendid looking man,don't you think so, Eleanor?
Miss Broadus's energetic whisper Eleanor thought fit to ignore,
though she did not fail to note the contrast which a moment's colloquy
between the two men presented. There was little in common between them;
between the marked features and grave keen expression of the one face,
and the cool, bright, somewhat supercilious eye and smile of the other.
There was power in both faces, Eleanor thought, of different kinds; and
power is attractive. Her eye was held till they parted from each other.
Two very different walks in life claimed the two men; so much Eleanor
could see. For some time after she was obliged to attend exclusively to
that walk of life which Mr. Carlisle represented, and to look at the
views he brought forward for her notice.
They were not so engrossing, however, that Eleanor entirely forgot
the earlier conversation of the afternoon or the question which had
troubled her. The evening had been baffling. She had not had a word
with Mr. Rhys, and he had disappeared long since from the party. So had
Dr. Cairnes. There was no more chance of talk upon that subject
to-night; and Eleanor feeling very feeble still, thought best to cut
short Mr. Carlisle's enjoyment of other subjects for the evening. She
left the company, and slowly passed through the house, from room to
room, to get to her own. In the course of this progress she came to the
library. There, seated at one of the tables and bending over a volume,
was Mr. Rhys. He jumped up as she passed through, and came forward with
extended hand and a word of kindly inquiry. His good night was so
genial, his clasp of her hand so frank and friendly, that instead of
going on, Eleanor stood still.
Are you studying?
Your father has kindly given me liberty to avail myself of his
treasures here. My time is very scantyI was tempted to seize the
moment that offered itself. It is a very precious privilege to me, and
one which I shall not abuse.
Pray do not speak of abusing, said Eleanor; nobody minds the
books here; I am glad they are good to anybody else.I am interrupting
Not at all! said he, bringing up a great chair for her,or only
agreeably. Pray sit downyou are not fit to stand.
Eleanor however remained standing, and hesitating, for a moment.
I wish you would tell me a little more about what we were talking
of, she said with some effort.
Do you feel your want of the helmet? he said gravely.
I feel that I haven't it, said Eleanor.
What is it that you are conscious of wanting?
She hesitated; it was a home question; and very unaccustomed to
speak of her secret thoughts and feelings to any one, especially on
religious subjects, which however had never occupied her before,
Eleanor was hardly ready to answer. Yet in the tones of the question
there was a certain quiet assurance and simplicity before which she
I felta little while agowhen I was sickthat I was not exactly
Eleanor spoke, hesitating between every few words, looking down, and
falling her voice at the end. So she did not see the keen intentness of
the look that was fixed upon her.
You felt that there was something wanting between you and God?
I believe so.
His accent was as deliberately clear as her's was hesitating. Every
word went into Eleanor's soul.
Then you can understand now, that when one can say, joyfully, 'I
know that my Redeemer liveth';when he is no vague abstraction, but
felt to be a Redeemer;when one can say assuredly, he is my
Redeemer; I know he has bought back my soul from sin and from the
punishment of sin, which is death; I feel I am forgiven; and I know he
livethmy Redeemerand according to his promise lives to deliver me
from every evil and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom;do you
see, now, that one who can say this has on his head the covering of an
infinite protectionan infinite shelter from both danger and fear?a
helmet, placed on his head by his Lord's own hand, and of such heavenly
temper that no blows can break through it.
Eleanor was a little time silent, with downcast eyes.
You do not mean to say, that this protection is against all
evil; do you? sickness and pain are evils are they not?
Not to him.
Not to him?
No. The evil of them is gone. They can do him no harm; if they
come, they will do good. He that wears this helmet has absolutely no
evil to fear. All things shall work good to him. There shall no evil
happen to the just. Blessed be the Lord, who only doeth wondrous
Eleanor stood silenced, humbled, convinced; till she recollected she
must not stand there so, and she lifted her eyes to bid good-night.
Then the face she met gave a new turn to her thoughts. It was a changed
face; such a light of pure joy and deep triumph shone over it, not
hiding nor hindering the loving care with which those penetrating eyes
were reading herself. It gave Eleanor a strange compression of heart;
it told her more than his words had done; it shewed her the very
reality of which he spoke. Eleanor went away overwhelmed.
Mr. Rhys is a happy man! she said to herself;happy, happy! I
wish,I wish, I were as happy as he!
CHAPTER IV. IN THE SADDLE.
She has two eyes, so soft and brown,
She gives a side-glance and looks down,
A few days more saw Eleanor restored to all the strength and beauty
of health which she had been accustomed to consider her natural
possession. And thenit is likely to be soshe was so happy in what
mind and body had, that she forgot her wish for what the spirit had
not. Or almost forgot it. Eleanor lived a very full life. It was no
dull languid existence that she dragged on from day to day; time
counted out none but golden pennies into her hand. Every minute was
filled with business or play, both heartily entered into, and pursued
with all the energy of a very energetic nature. Study, when she touched
it, was sweet to her; but Eleanor did not study much. Nature was an
enchanted palace of light and perfume. Bodily exertion, riding and
walking, was as pleasant to her as it is to a bird to use its wings.
Family intercourse, and neighbourly society, were nothing but pleasure.
Benevolent kindness, if it came in her way, was a labour of love; and a
hundred home occupations were greatly delighted in. They were not
generally of an exalted character; Eleanor's training and associations
had not led her into any very dignified path of human action; she had
led only a butterfly's life of content and pleasure, and her character
was not at all matured; but the capabilities were there; and the energy
and will that might have done greater things, wrought beautiful
embroidery, made endless fancy work, ordered well such part of the
household economy as was committed to her, carried her bright smile
into every circle, and made Eleanor's foot familiar with all the
country where she could go alone, and her pony's trot well known in
every lane and roadway where she could go with his company.
All these enjoyments of her life were taken with new relish and zeal
after her weeks of illness had laid her aside from them. Eleanor's
world was brighter than ever. And round about all of these various
enjoyments now, circling them with a kind of halo of expectancy or
possibility, was the consciousness of a prospect that Eleanor knew was
opening before hera brilliant life-possession that she saw Fortune
offering to her with a gracious hand. Would Eleanor take it? That
Eleanor did not quite know. Meanwhile her eyes could not help looking
that way; and her feet, consciously or unconsciously, now and then made
a step towards it.
She and her mother were sitting at work one morningthat is to say,
Eleanor was drawing and Mrs. Powle cutting tissue paper in some very
elaborate way, for some unknown use or purpose; when Julia dashed in.
She threw a bunch of bright blue flowers on the table before her
There, she saiddo you know what that is?
Why certainly, said Eleanor. It is borage.
Well, do you know what it means?
What it means? No. What does any flower mean?
I'll tell you what this meanssaid Julia.
I, borage Bring courage.
That is what people used to think it meant.
How do you know that.
Mr. Rhys says so. This borage grew in Mrs. Williams's garden; and I
dare say she believes it.
Who is Mrs. Williams?
Why!she's the old woman where Mr. Rhys lives; he lives in her
cottage; that's where he has his school. He has a nice little room in
her cottage, and there's nobody else in the cottage but Mrs. Williams.
Do, Julia, carry your flowers off, and do not be so hoydenish,
said Mrs. Powle.
We have not seen Mr. Rhys here in a great while, mamma, said
Eleanor. I wonder what has become of him.
I'll tell you, said Juliahe has become not well. I know Mr.
Rhys is sick, because he is so pale and weak. And I know he is weak,
because he cannot walk as he used to do. We used to walk all over the
hills; and he says he can't go now.
Mamma, it would be right to send down and see what is the matter
with him. There must be something. It is a long timemamma, I think it
is weekssince he was at the Lodge.
Your father will send, I dare say, said Mrs. Powle, cutting her
Mamma, did you hear, said Eleanor as Julia ran off, that Mr. Rhys
was going to leave Wiglands and bury himself in some dreadful place,
I heard so.
What place is it?
I can't tell, I am sure. It is somewhere in the South Seas, I
believethat region of horrors.
Is it true he is going there, mamma?
I am sure I can't tell. Miss Broadus says so; and she says, I
believe, he told her so himself. If he did, I suppose it is true.
Mamma, I think Mr. Rhys is a great deal too fine a man to go and
lose his life in such a place. Miss Broadus says it is horrible. Do you
know anything about it?
I have no taste for horrors, said Mrs. Powle.
I think it is a great pity, Eleanor repeated. I am sorry. There
is enough in England for such a man to do, without going to the South
Seas. I wonder how anybody can leave England!
Mrs. Powle looked up at her daughter and laughed. Eleanor had
suspended her drawing and was sending a loving gaze out of the open
window, where nature and summer were revelling in their conjoined
riches. Art shewed her hand too, stealthily, having drawn out of the
way of the others whatever might encumber the revel. Across a wide
stretch of wooded and cultivated country, the eye caught the umbrageous
heights on the further side of the valley of the Ryth. Eleanor's gaze
was fixed. Mrs. Powle's glance was sly.
I should like to ask your opinion of another place, she
said,which, being in England, is not horrible. You see that bit of
brown mason-work, high away there, peeping out above the trees in the
distance?You know what house that is?
What is it?
It is the Priory. The new Priory, it ought to be called; I am sure
the old one is down there in the valley yetbeneath it. But Eleanor's
What do you think of that place?
Considering that the old priory and its grounds belong to it, I
think it must be one of the loveliest places in England.
I should like to see it in your possession Mrs. Powle remarked,
going on with her tissue paper.
Eleanor also went on assiduously with her drawing, and her colour
remained a rich tint. But she went on frankly with her words too.
I am not sure, mamma, that I like the owner of it well enough to
receive such a valuable gift from him.
He likes you, quite well enough to bestow it on you, without asking
any questions, said Mrs. Powle. He hardly thinks it is worth having,
unless you have it too.
That is inconvenient, said Eleanor.
It strikes me the other way, said her mother.
How do you know this, which you affirm so securely, mamma?
How should I know it? The person in question told me himself.
Told you in so many words?
No, in a great many more, said Mrs. Powle laughing. I have merely
presented a statement. He had a great deal more to do than that.
The tissue paper rustled quietly for some time after this, and
Eleanor's pencil could be heard making quick marks. Neither lady
interrupted the other.
Well, Eleanor,how does it seem to you? began the elder lady, in
a tone of quiet satisfaction.
Inconvenient, mamma,as I said.
But Eleanor did not say how.
Mr. Carlisle will be here for his answer this evening.
I like him very well, mamma, said Eleanor, after another
pause,but I do not like him enough.
Nonsense! You would like to be Lady Rythdale, wouldn't you?
The silence which followed this was longer than that which had been
before. Knife and pencil pursued their work, but Mrs. Powle glancing up
furtively from her tissue paper saw that Eleanor's brow was knitted and
that her pencil was moving under the influence of something besides
Art. So she let her alone for a long time. And Eleanor's fancy saw a
vision of fairy beauty and baronial dignity before her. They lay in the
wide domains and stately appendages of Rythdale Priory. How could she
help seeing it? The vision floated before her with point after point of
entrancing loveliness, old history, present luxury, hereditary rank and
splendour, and modern power. It was like nothing in Eleanor's own home.
Her father, though a comfortable country gentleman, boasted nothing and
had nothing to boast in the way of ancestry, beyond a respectable
descent of several generations. His means, though ample enough for
comfort and reasonable indulgence, could make no pretensions to more.
And Ivy Lodge was indeed a pleasant home, and every field and hedgerow
belonging to it was lovely to Eleanor; but the broad manors of Rythdale
Priory for extent would swallow up many such, and for beauty and
dignity were as a damask rose to a bit of eglantine. Would Eleanor be
He will be here this evening for his answer, Eleanor Mrs. Powle
remarked in a quiet voice the second time.
Then you must give it to him, mamma.
I shall do nothing of the kind. You must see him yourself. I will
have no such shifting of your work upon my shoulders.
I do not wish to see him to-night, mamma.
I choose that you should. Don't talk any nonsense to me, Eleanor.
But, mamma, if I am to give the answer, I am not ready with any
answer to give.
Tell Mr. Carlisle so; and he will draw his own conclusions, and
make you sign them.
I do not want to be made to sign anything.
Do it of free-will then, said Mrs. Powle laughing. It is coming,
Eleanorone way or the other. If I were you, I would do it gracefully.
Is it a hard thing to be Lady Rythdale?
Eleanor did not say, and nothing further passed on the subject; till
as both parties were leaving the room together, Mrs. Powle said
You must give your own answer, Eleanor, and to-night. I will have
It was beyond Mrs. Powle's power, however, to prevent skulking of a
certain sort. Eleanor did not hide herself in her room, but she left it
late in the afternoon, when she knew the company consisted of more than
one, and entered a tolerably well filled drawing-room. Mrs. Powle had
not wished to have it so, but these things do not arrange themselves
for our wishes. Miss Broadus was there, and Dr. Cairnes, and friends
who had come to make him and his sister a visit; and one or two other
neighbours. Eleanor came in without making much use of her eyes, and
sheltered herself immediately under the wing of Miss Broadus, who was
the first person she fell in with. Two pairs of eyes saw her entrance;
with oddly enough the same thought and comment. She will make a lovely
Lady Rythdale. All the baronesses of that house had been famous for
their beauty, and the heir of the house remarked to himself that
this would prove not the least lovely of the race. However, Eleanor
did not even feel sure that he was there, he kept at such a distance;
and she engaged Miss Broadus in a conversation that seemed of
interminable resources. The sole thing that Eleanor was conscious of
concerning it, was its lasting quality; and to maintain that was her
Would Eleanor be Lady Rythdale? she had made up her mind to nothing,
except, that it would be very difficult for her to say either yes or
no. Naturally enough, she dreaded the being obliged to say anything;
and was ready to seize every expedient to stave off the moment of
emergency. As long as she was talking to Miss Broadus, she was safe;
but conversations cannot last always, even when they flow in a stream
so full and copious as that in which the words always poured from that
lady's lips. Eleanor saw signs at last that the fountain was getting
exhausted; and as the next resort proposed a game of chess. Now a game
of chess was the special delight of Miss Broadus; and as it was the
detestation of her sister, Miss Juliana, the delight was seldom
realized. The two sisters were harmonious in everything except a few
tastes, and perhaps their want of harmony in those points gave their
life the variety it needed. At any rate, such an offer as Eleanor's was
rarely refused by the elder sister; and the two ladies were soon deep
in their business. One really, the other seemingly. Though indeed it is
true that Eleanor was heartily engaged to prevent the game coming to a
termination, and therefore played in good earnest, not for conquest but
for time. This had gone on a good while, before she was aware that a
footstep was drawing near the chess table, and then that Mr. Carlisle,
stood beside her chair.
Now don't you come to help! said Miss Broadus, with a
thoughtful face and a piece between her finger and thumb.
I know! said Miss Broadus, never taking her eyes from the board
which held them as by a charm,I can play a sort of a game; but if
you take part against me, I shall be vanquished directly.
Why should I take part against you?
Miss Broadus at that laughed a good-humoured little simple laugh.
Wellshe said, it's the course of events, I suppose. I never find
anybody taking my part now-a-days. There! I am afraid you have made me
place that piece wrong, Mr. Carlisle. I wish you would be still. I
cannot fight against two such clever people.
Do you find Miss Powle clever?
I didn't know she was, so much, before, said Miss Broadus, but
she has been playing like a witch this evening. There Eleanoryou are
Eleanor was equal to that emergency, and relieved her king from
danger with a very skilful move. She could keep her wits, though her
cheek was high-coloured and her hand had a secret desire to be nervous.
Eleanor would not let it; and Mr. Carlisle admired the very pretty
fingers which paused quietly upon the chess-men.
Do not forget a proper regard for the interests of the church, Miss
Broadus, he remarked.
Why, I never do! said Miss Broadus. What do you mean? Oh, my
bishop!Thank you, Mr. Carlisle.
Eleanor did not thank him, for the bishop's move shut up her play in
a corner. She did her best, but her king's resources were cut off; and
after a little shuffling she was obliged to surrender at discretion.
Miss Broadus arose, pleased, and reiterating her thanks to Mr.
Carlisle, and walked away; as conscious that her presence was no more
needed in that quarter.
Will you play with me? said Mr. Carlisle, taking the chair Miss
Broadus had quitted.
Yes, said Eleanor, glad of anything to stave off what she dreaded;
but I am not
I am no match for you, she was going to say. She stopped suddenly
and coloured more deeply.
What are you not? asked the gentleman, slowly setting his pawns.
I am not a very good player. I shall hardly give you amusement.
I am not sorry for thatsupposing it true. I do not like to see
women good chess-players.
Pray why do you not like it?
Chess is a game of planningschemingcontrivingcalculating.
Women ought not to be adepts in those arts. I hate women that are.
He glanced up as he spoke, at the fair, frank lines of the face
opposite him. No art to scheme was shewn in them; there might be
resolution; he liked that. He liked it too that the fringe of the eyes
drooped over them, and that the tint of the cheek was so very rich.
But they say, no one can equal a woman in scheming and planning, if
she takes to it, said Eleanor.
Try your skill, said he. It is your move.
The game began, and Eleanor tried to make good play; but she could
not bring to it the same coolness or the same acumen that had fought
with Miss Broadus. The well-formed, well-knit hand with the coat sleeve
belonging to it, which was all of her adversary that came under her
observation, distracted Eleanor's thoughts; she could not forget whose
it was. Very different from the weak flexile fingers of Miss Broadus,
with their hesitating movement and doubtful pauses, these did their
work and disappeared; with no doubt or hesitancy of action, and with
agile firmness in every line of muscle and play. Eleanor shewed very
poor skill for her part, at planning and contriving on this occasion;
and she had a feeling that her opponent might have ended the game many
a time if he had chosen it. Still the game did not end. It was a very
You are playing with me, Mr. Carlisle, she said at length.
What are you doing with me?
Making no fight at all; but that is because I cannot. Why don't you
conquer me and end the game?
How can I?
I am sure I don't know; but I believe you do. It is all a muddle to
me; and not a very interesting piece of confusion to you, I should
He did not answer that, but moved a piece; Eleanor made the
answering move; and the next step created a lock. The game could go no
further. Eleanor began to put up the pieces, feeling worsted in more
ways than one. She had not dared to raise her eyes higher than that
coat-sleeve; and she knew at the same time that she herself had been
thoroughly overlooked. Those same fingers came now helping her to lay
the chess-men in the box, ordering them better than she did.
I want to shew you some cottages I have been building beyond
Rythdale tower, said the owner of the fingers. Will you ride with me
to-morrow to look at them?
He waited for her answer, which Eleanor hesitated to give. But she
could not say no, and finally she gave a low yes. Her yes was so low,
it was significant; Eleanor knew it; but Mr. Carlisle went on in the
At what hour? At eleven?
That will do, said Eleanor, after hesitating again.
He went on, taking the chess-men from her fingers as fast as she
gathered them up, and bestowing them in the box after a leisurely
manner; then rose and bowed and took his departure. Eleanor saw that he
did not hold any communication with her mother on his way out; and in
dread of Mrs. Powle's visitation of curiosity upon herself, she too
made as quick and as quiet an escape as possible to her own room. There
locked the door and walked the floor to think.
In effect she had given her answer, by agreeing to ride; she knew
it. She knew that Mr. Carlisle had taken it so, even by the slight
freedom with which his fingers touched hers in taking the chess-men
from them. It was a very little thing; and yet Eleanor could never
recall the willing contact of those fingers, repeated and repeated,
without a thrill of feeling that she had committed herself; that she
had given the end of the clue into Mr. Carlisle's hand, which duly
wound up would land her safe enough, mistress of Rythdale Priory. And
was she unwilling to be that? Nonot exactly. And did she dislike
Rythdale Priory's master, or future master? No, not at all;
nevertheless, Eleanor did not feel quite willing to have him hers just
yet; she was not ready for that; and she chafed at feeling that the end
of that clue was in the hand of her chess-playing antagonist, and
alternatives pretty well out of her power. An alternative Eleanor would
have liked. She would have liked the play to have gone on for some time
longer, leaving her her liberty in all kinds; liberty to make up her
mind at leisure, among other things. She was not just now eager to be
mistress of anything but herself.
Eleanor watched for her mother's coming, but Mrs. Powle was wiser.
She had marked the air of both parties on quitting the drawing-room;
and though doubtless she would have liked a little word revelation of
what she desired to know, she was content to leave things in train. She
judged that Mr. Carlisle could manage his own affairs, and went to bed
well satisfied; while Eleanor, finding that her mother was not coming,
at last laid herself also down to rest, with a mixed feeling of
pleasure and pain in her heart, but vexation towering above all. It
would have been vexation still better grown, if she had known the hint
her mother had given Mr. Carlisle, when that evening he had applied to
her for what news she had for him? Mrs. Powle referred him very
smilingly to Eleanor to learn it; at the same time telling him that
Eleanor had been allowed to run wildlike her sister Juliatill now
she was a little wilful and needed taming.
She looked the character sufficiently well when she came down the
next morning. The colour on her cheek was raised yet, and rich; and
Eleanor's beautiful lips did not unbend to their brilliant mischievous
smile. She was somewhat quick and nervous too about her household
arrangements and orders, which yet Eleanor did not neglect. It was time
then to dress for her ride; and Eleanor dressed, not hurriedly but
carefully, between pleasure and irritation. By what impulse she could
not have told, she pulled the feather from her riding cap. It was a
long, jaunty black feather, that somewhat shaded and softened her face
in riding with its floating play. Her cap now, and her whole dress, was
simplicity itself; but if Eleanor had meant to cheat Mr. Carlisle of
some pleasure, she had misjudged and lost her aim; the close little
unadorned cap but shewed the better her beautiful hair and a face and
features which nobody that loved them could wish even shaded from view.
Mrs. Powle had maintained a discreet silence all the morning;
nevertheless Eleanor was still afraid that she might come to ask
questions, and not enduring to answer them, as soon as her toilet was
finished she fled from her room into the garden. This garden, into
which the old schoolroom opened, was Eleanor's particular property. No
other of the family were ever to be found in it. She had arranged its
gay curves and angles, and worked in it and kept it in great part
herself. The dew still hung on the leaves; the air of a glorious summer
morning was sweet with the varied fragrance of the flowers. Eleanor's
heart sprung for the dear old liberty she and the garden had had
together; she went lingeringly and thoughtfully among her petunias and
carnations, remembering how joyous that liberty had been; and yetshe
was not willing to say the word that would secure it to her. She roved
about among the walks, picking carnations in one hand and gathering up
her habit with the other. So her little sister found her.
Why Eleanor!are you going to ride with Mr. Carlisle?
Well he has comehe is waiting for you. He has brought the most
splendid black horse for you that you ever saw; papa says she is
I ordered my ponysaid Eleanor.
Well the pony is there, and so is the black horse. O such a beauty,
Eleanor would not go through the house, to see her mother and father
by the way. Instinctively she sheered off by the shrubbery paths, which
turning and winding at last brought her out upon the front lawn. On the
whole a more marked entrance upon the scene the young lady could not
have contrived. From the green setting of the shrubbery her excellent
figure came out to view, in its dark riding drapery; and carnations in
one hand, her habit in the other, she was a pleasant object to several
pairs of eyes that were watching her; Julia having done them the kind
office to say which way she was coming.
Of them all, however, Eleanor only saw Mr. Carlisle, who was on the
ground to meet her. Perhaps he had as great an objection to eyes as she
had; for his removal of his cap in greeting was as cool as if she had
been a stranger; and so were his words.
I have brought Black Maggie for youwill you do me the honour to
Eleanor did not say she would not, and did not say anything.
Hesitation and embarrassment were the two pleasant feelings which
possessed her and forbade her to speak. She stood before the superb
animal, which shewed blood in every line of its head and beautiful
frame; and looked at it, and looked at the ground. Mr. Carlisle gently
removed the carnations from her hand, taking them into his own, then
gave her the reins of Black Maggie and put her into the saddle. In
another minute they were off, and out of the reach of observation. But
Eleanor had felt again, even in that instant or giving into her fingers
the reins which he had taken from the groom, the same thing that she
had felt last nightthe expression of something new between them. She
was in a very divided state of mind. She had not told him he might take
that tone with her.
There are two ways to the head of the valley, said the subject of
her thoughts. Shall we take the circuit by the old priory, or go by
By the moor, said Eleanor.
There, for miles, was a level plain road; they could ride any pace,
and she could stave off talking. Accordingly, as soon as they got quit
of human habitations, Eleanor gave Black Maggie secretly to understand
that she might go as fast as she liked. Black Maggie apparently
relished the intimation, for she sprang forward at a rate Eleanor by
experience knew nothing of. She had never been quite so well mounted
before. As swiftly and as easily as if Black Maggie's feet had been
wings, they flew over the common. The air was fresh, the motion was
quite sufficient to make it breezy; Eleanor felt exhilarated. All the
more because she felt rebellious, and the stopping Mr. Carlisle's mouth
was at least a gratification, though she could not leave him behind. He
had not mounted her better than himself. Fly as Black Maggie would, her
brown companion was precisely at her side. Eleanor had a constant sense
of that; but however, the ride was so capital, the moor so wild, the
summer air so delicious, that by degrees she began to grow soothed and
come down from rebellion to good humour. By and by, Black Maggie got
excited. It was with nothing but her own spirits and motion; quite
enough though to make hoofs still more emulous of wings. Now she flew
indeed. Eleanor's bridle rein was not sufficient to hold her in, or
make any impression. She could hardly see how they went.
Is not this too much for you? the voice of Mr. Carlisle said
Ratherbut I can't check her, said Eleanor; vexed to make the
admission, and vexed again when a word or two from the rider at her
side, who at the same moment leaned forward and touched Maggie's
bridle, brought the wild creature instantly not only from her mad
gallop but back to a very demure and easy trot. So demure, that there
was no longer any bar to conversation; but then Eleanor reflected she
could not gallop always, and they were almost off the plain road of the
moor. How beautiful the moor had been to her that morning! Now Eleanor
looked at Black Maggie's ears.
How do you like her? said Mr. Carlisle.
Charming! She is perfection. She is delightful.
She must learn to know her mistress, he rejoined, leaning forward
again and drawing Maggie's reins through his fingers. Take her up a
little shorterand speak to her the next time she does not obey you.
The flush rose to Eleanor's cheeks, and over her brow, and reddened
her very temples. She made no sort of answer, yet she knew silence was
answer, and that her blood was speaking for her. It was pretty
speaking, but extremely inconvenient. And what business had Mr.
Carlisle to take things for granted in that way? Eleanor began to feel
Do you always ride with so loose a rein? began Mr. Carlisle again.
I don't knowI never think about it. My pony is perfectly safe.
So is Maggieas to her feet; but in general, it is well to let
everything under you feel your hand.
That is what you do, I have no doubt, thought Eleanor, and bit her
lip. She would have started into another gallop; but they were entering
upon a narrow and rough way where gallopping was inadmissible. It
descended gradually and winding among rocks and broken ground, to a
lower level, the upper part of the valley of the Ryth; a beautiful
clear little stream flowing brightly in a rich meadow ground, with
gently shelving, softly broken sides; the initiation of the wilder
scenery further down the valley. Here were the cottages Mr. Carlisle
had spoken of. They looked very picturesque and very inviting too;
standing on either side the stream, across which a rude rustic bridge
was thrown. Each cottage had its paling enclosure, and built of grey
rough stone, with deep sloping roofs and bright little casements, they
looked the very ideal of humble homes. No smoke rose from the chimneys,
and nobody was visible without or within.
I want some help of you here, said Mr. Carlisle. Do you like the
Most beautiful! said Eleanor heartily. And the houses are just
Will you dismount and look a little closer? We will cross the
They drew bridle before one of the cottages. Eleanor had all the
mind in the world to have thrown herself from Black Maggie's back, as
she was accustomed to do from her own pony; but she did not dare.
Yesterday she would have dared; to-day there was a slight indefinable
change in the manner of Mr. Carlisle towards herself, which cast a
spell over her. He stood beside Black Maggie, the carnations making a
rosy spot in the buttonhole of his white jacket, while he gave some
order to the groomEleanor did not hear what, for her mind was on
something else; then turned to her and took her down, that same
indescribable quality of manner and handling saying to all her senses
that he regarded the horse and the lady with the same ownership.
Eleanor felt proud, and vexed, and ashamed, and pleased; her mind
divided between different feelings; but Mr. Carlisle directed her
attention now to the cottages.
It was impossible not to admire and be pleased with them. The
exterior was exceedingly homelike and pretty; within, there was yet
more to excite admiration. Nicely arranged, neatly and thoroughly
furnished, even to little details, they looked most desirable homes for
any persons of humble means, even though the tastes had not been
equally humble. From one to another Mr. Carlisle took Eleanor;
displaying his arrangements to a very silent observer; for though she
thought all this admiration, she hardly said anything. Between
irritation, and pleasure, and a pretty well-grown shyness, she felt
very tongue-tied. At last, after shewing her the view from the lattice
of a nice little cottage kitchen, Mr. Carlisle asked for her judgment
upon what had been done.
It is thoroughly excellent, said Eleanor. They leave nothing to
wish. I have never seen such nice cottages. There is nobody in them
Is there any improvement to be made?
None to be desired, I think, said Eleanor. They are just perfect
little homes. They only want the people now.
And that is where I want your help. Do you think of any good
families, or poor people you approve of, that you would like to put in
some of these?
Eleanor's thought flew instantly to two or three such families among
her poor friends; for she was a good deal of a Lady Bountiful, as far
as moderate means and large sympathy could go; and knew many of the
lower classes in her neighbourhood; but again she struggled with two
feelings, for the question had been put not in tone of compliment but
with a manner of simple consultation. She flushed and hesitated, until
it was put again.
I know several, I think, that you would not dislike to have here,
and that would be very glad to come, Mr. Carlisle.
Who are they?
One is Mrs. Benson, who lives on nothing with her family of eight
children, and brings them up well.
Mr. Carlisle took out his note-book.
Another is Joe Shepherd and his wife; but they are an old couple;
perhaps you do not want old people here?
He looked up from his note-book with a little smile, which brought
the blood tingling to Eleanor's brow again, and effectually drove away
all her ideas. She was very vexed with herself; she was never used to
be so troubled with blushing. She turned away.
Suppose you sit down, said he, taking her hands and placing her in
a chair by the window. You must have some refreshment, I think, before
we go any further. He left the cottage, and Eleanor looked out of the
open casement, biting her lips. The air came in with such a sweet
breath from the heathery moor, it seemed to blow vexation away. Yet
Eleanor was vexed. Here she was making admissions with every breath,
when she would fain have not made any. She wanted her old liberty, and
to dispose of it at her leisure if at all; and at least not to have it
taken from her. But here was Mr. Carlisle at her elbow again, and one
of his servants bringing dishes and glasses. The meats were spread on
the little table before which Eleanor sat, and Mr. Carlisle took
We will honour the house for once, he said smiling; the future
shall be as the occupants deserve. Is this one to belong to some of
I have not the gift of foresight, said Eleanor.
You have another sort of gift which will do quite as well. If you
have any choice, choose the houses in which Joe Shepherd, and Mrs.
Benson, and anybody else, shall thank youand I will order the doors
marked. Which do you prefer?
Eleanor was forced to speak. I think this is one of the pleasantest
situations, she said flushing deeply again; but the house highest up
What of it? said Mr. Carlisle, smiling at her.
That would be best for Joe Shepherd, because of his business. It is
nearer the common.
Joe Shepherd shall have it. Now will you do me the favour to eat
that, said he putting a piece of cold game on her plate. Do not look
at it, but eat it. Your day's labour is by no means over.
It was easier to eat than to do nothing; and easier to look at her
plate than where her carnations gleamed on that white breast-ground. So
Eleanor eat obediently.
The day is so uncommonly fine, how would you like to walk down the
valley as far as the old priory, and let the horses meet us there?
I am willingsaid Eleanor. Which she was, only because she was
ashamed or afraid to say that she wanted to gallop back by the moor,
the same way she had come. A long walk down the valley would give fine
opportunity for all that she dreaded in the way of conversation.
However, the order was given about the horses, and the walk began.
The way was at first a continuation of the valley in which the
cottages were situated; uncultivated, sweet, and wild. They were a good
distance beyond Barton's tower. The stream of the Ryth, not so large as
it became further down, sparkled along in a narrow meadow, beset with
flowers. Here and there a rude bridge crossed it; and the walkers
passed as they listed from side to side, wandering down the valley at
great leisure, remarking upon all sorts of things except what Eleanor
was dreading. The walk and talk went on without anything formidable.
Mr. Carlisle seemed to have nothing on his mind; and Eleanor, full of
what was on hers, only felt through his quiet demeanour that he was
taking things for granted in a very cool way. She was vexed and
irritated, and at the same time subdued. And then an opposite feeling
would stir, of pleasure and pride, at the place she was taking and the
relations she was assuming to the beautiful domain through which they
wandered. As they went down the valley it grew more and more lovely.
Luxuriant growths of ash and oak mingled with larches, crowned the
rising borders of the valley and crept down their sides, hanging a most
exquisite clothing of vegetation over the banks which had hitherto been
mostly bare. As they went, from point to point and in one after another
region of beauty, her companion's talk, quietly flowing on, called her
attention to one and another observation suggested by what they were
looking at; not as if it were a foreign matter, but with a tacit
intimation that it concerned her or had a right to her interest. It was
a long walk. They were some time before reaching the old tower; then a
long stretch of beautiful scenes lay between them and the old priory
ruins. This part of the valley was in the highest degree picturesque.
The sides drew together, close and rocky and overshadowed with a
thicket of trees. The path of the river became steep and encumbered;
the way along its banks grew comparatively rough and difficult. The day
was delicious, without even a threatening of rain; yet the sun in some
places was completely shut out from the water by the overgrown,
overhanging sides of rock and wood which shut in the dell. Conversation
was broken here, by the pleasant difficulty of pursuing the way. Here
too flowers were sweet and the birds busy. The way was enough to
delight any lover of nature; and it was impossible not to be delighted.
Nevertheless Eleanor hailed for a sake not its own, every bit of broken
ground and rough walking that made connected conversation impossible;
and then was glad to see the grey walls of the priory, where the horses
were to meet them. Once in the saddle againshe would be glad to be
The horses were not in sight yet; they strolled into the ruin. It
was lovely to-day; the sunlight adding its brightening touch to all
that moss and ivy and lichen and fern had done. They sauntered up what
had been an aisle of the church; carpeted now with soft shaven turf,
close and smooth.
The priory was founded a great while ago, said Mr. Carlisle, by
one of the first Lords of Rythdale, on account of the fact that he had
slain his own brother in mortal combat. It troubled his mind, I
suppose, even in those rough times.
And he built the church to soothe it.
Built the church and founded the establishment; gave it all the
lands we have passed through to-day, and much more; and great rights on
hill and dale and moor. We have them nearly all back againby one
happy chance and another.
What was this? said Eleanor, seating herself on a great block of
stone, the surface of which was rough with decay.
This was a tombstonetradition says, of that same slain Lord of
Rythdalebut I think it very hypothetical. However, your fancy can
conjure back his image, if you like, lying where you sit; covered with
the armour he lived his life in, and probably with hands joined to make
the prayers his life had rendered desirable.
He had not the helmet thought Eleanor. She got up to look at the
stone; but it was worn away; no trace of the knight in armour who had
lain there was any longer to be seen. What long ago times those were!
And then the old monks did nothing else but pray, she remarked.
A few other things, said her companion; if report is true. But
they said a great many prayers, it is certain. It was what they were
specially put here forto do masses for that old stone figure that
used to lie there. They were paid well for doing it. I hope they did
The wind stirred gently through the ruin, bringing a sweet scent of
herbs and flowers, and a fern or an ivy leaf here and there just moved
lightly on its stalk.
They must have lived a pleasant sort of life, said Eleanor
musingly,in this beautiful place!
Are you thinking of entering a monastery? said her companion
smiling. It brought back Eleanor's consciousness, which had been for a
moment forgotten, and the deep colour flashed to her face. She stood
confused. Mr. Carlisle did not let her go this time; he took both her
Do you think I am going to be satisfied with only negative answers
from you? said he changing his tone. What have you got to say to me?
Eleanor struggled with herself. Nothing, Mr. Carlisle.
Your mother has conveyed to you my wishes?
Yes, said Eleanor softly.
What are yours?
She hesitated, held at bay, but he waited; and at last with a little
of her frank daring breaking out, she said, still in her former soft
voice, I would let things alone.
Suppose that could not be,would you send me away, or let me come
near to you?
Eleanor could not send him away; but he would not come near. He
stood keeping her hands in a light firm grasp; she felt that he knew
his hold of her; her head bowed in confusion.
Speak, darling, he said. Are you mine?
Eleanor shrank lower and lower from his observation; but she
answered in a whisper,I suppose so.
Her hands were released then, only to have herself taken into more
secure possession. She had given herself up; and Mr. Carlisle's manner
said that to touch her cheek was his right as well as his pleasure.
Eleanor could not dispute it; she knew that Mr. Carlisle loved her, but
the certainly thought the sense of power had great charms for him: so,
she presently thought, had the exercise of it.
You are mine now, he said,you are mine. You are Eleanor
Carlisle. But you have not said a word to me. What is my name?
Your name! stammered Eleanor,Carlisle.
Yes, but the rest?
I know it, said Eleanor.
Speak it, darling?
Now Eleanor had no mind to speak that or anything else upon
compulsion; it should be a grace from her lips, not the compliance with
a requisition; her spirit of resistance sprung up. A frank refusal was
on her tongue, and her head, which had been drooping, was thrown back
with an infinitely pretty air of defiance, to give it. Thus she met Mr.
Carlisle's look; met the bright hazel eyes that were bent upon her,
full of affection and smiling, but with something else in them as well;
there was a calm power of exaction. Eleanor read it, even in the
half-glance which took in incongruously the graceful figure and easy
attitude; she did not feel ready for contention with Mr. Carlisle; the
man's nature was dominant over the woman's. Eleanor's head stooped
again; she spoke obediently the required words.
The kisses which met her lips before the words were well out, seemed
to seal the whole transaction. Perhaps it was Eleanor's fancy, but to
her they spoke unqualified content both with her opposition and her
yielding. She was chafed with the consciousness that she had been
obliged to yield; vexed to feel that she was not her own mistress; even
while the kisses that stopped her lips told her how much love mingled
with her captor's power. There was no questioning that fact; it only
half soothed Eleanor.
Mr. Carlisle bade her sit down and rest, while he went to see if the
horses were there. Eleanor sat down dreamily on the old tombstone, and
in the space of three minutes went over whole fields of thought. Her
mind was in a perverse state. Before her the old tower of the ruined
priory rose in its time-worn beauty, with the young honours of the ivy
clinging all about it; on either side of her stretched the grey, ivied
and mossy, crumbling walls. It was a magnificent place; if not her own
mistress, it was a pleasant thing to be mistress of such as that; and a
vision of gay grandeur floated over her mind. Still, in contrast with
that vision, the quiet, ruined priory tower spoke of a different
lifebrought up a separate vision; of unworldly possessions, aims,
hopes, and occupations; it was not familiar to Eleanor's mind, yet now
somehow it rose upon her, with the feeling of that once-wanted, still
desired,only she had forgotten itarmour of security. Why did she
think of it now? was it because Eleanor's mind was in that disordered
state which lets everything come to the surface by turns; or because
she was still suffering, from vexation, and her spirit chose contraries
with a natural readiness and relish? It was not more than three
minutes, but Eleanor travelled far in dream-land; so far that the
sudden feeling of two hands upon her shoulders, brought her back with
even a visible start. She was rallied and laughed at; then her hand was
put upon Mr. Carlisle's arm and so Eleanor was walked out to where
Black Maggie stood waiting for her. Of course she felt that her
engagement was to be made known to all the world immediately. Mr.
Carlisle's servant must know it now. It seemed to Eleanor that fine
bands of cobwebs had been cast round her, binding her hands and feet,
which loved their liberty. The feeling made one little imprudent burst.
As Mr. Carlisle put Maggie's reins into her hand, he repeated what he
had before said, that Eleanor should use her voice if the bridle failed
to win obedience.
She is not of a rebellious disposition, he added.
Do you read dispositions? said Eleanor, gathering up the reins. He
stood at her saddle-bow.
Do you know mine?
It is what you say Black Maggie's is not.
Is it? Take the reins a little shorter, Eleanor.
It is difficult to say how much there may be in two short words; but
as Mr. Carlisle went round to the other side and mounted, he left his
little lady in a state of fume. Those two words said so plainly to
Eleanor's ear, that her announcement was neither denied nor disliked.
Nay, they expressed pleasure; the sort of pleasure that a man has in a
spirited horse of which he is master. It threw Eleanor's mind into a
tumult, so great that for a minute or two she hardly knew what she was
about. But for the sound, sweet good temper, which in spite of
Eleanor's self-characterising was part of her nature, she would have
been in a rage. As it was, she only handled Black Maggie in a more
stately style than she had cared about at the beginning of the ride;
putting her upon her paces; and so rode through all the village, in a
way that certainly pleased Mr. Carlisle, though he said nothing about
it. He contrived however to aid in the soothing work done by Black
Maggie's steps, so that long before Ivy Lodge was reached Eleanor's
smile came free and sweet again, and her lip lost its ominous curve.
You are a darling! Mr. Carlisle whispered as he took her down from
Eleanor went on into the drawing-room. He followed her. Nobody was
What have you to say to me, Eleanor? he said as he held her hand
Nothing whatever, Mr. Carlisle. Eleanor's frank brilliant smile
gleamed mischievously upon him.
Will you not give me a word of kindness before I go?
No! Mr. Carlisle, if I had my own way, said Eleanor switching her
riding-whip nervously about her habit,I would be my own mistress for
a good while longer.
Shall I give you back your liberty? said he, drawing her into his
arms. Eleanor was silent. Their touch manifested no such intention. He
bent his head lower and said softly, Kiss me, Eleanor.
There was, as before, just that mingling of affection and exaction
which conquered her. She knew all she was giving, but she half dared
not and half cared not to refuse.
You little witch said he as he took possession of the just
permitted lips,I will punish you for your naughtiness, by taking you
home very sooninto my own management.
Mrs. Powle was in Eleanor's room when she entered; waiting there for
Well Eleanor, she began,is it settled? Are you to be Lady
If Mr. Carlisle has his will, ma'am.
And what is your will?
I have none any longer. But if you and he try to hurry on the day,
mamma, it shall never come,never!
Mrs. Powle thought she would leave that matter in more skilful
hands; and went away well satisfied.
CHAPTER V. AT THE COTTAGE.
This floating life hath but this port of rest,
A heart prepared, that fears no ill to come.
The matter was in skilful hands; for the days rolled on, after that
eventful excursion, with great smoothness. Mr. Carlisle kept Eleanor
busy, with some pleasant little excitement, every day varied. She was
made to taste the sweets of her new position, and to depend more and
more upon the hand that introduced her to them. Mr. Carlisle ministered
carefully to her tastes. Eleanor daily was well mounted, generally on
Maggie; and enjoyed her heart's delight of a gallop over the moor, or a
more moderate pace through a more rewarding scenery. Mr. Carlisle
entered into the spirit of her gardening pursuits; took her to his
mother's conservatory; and found that he never pleased Eleanor better
than when he plunged her into the midst of flowers. He took good care
to advance his own interests all the time; and advanced them fast and
surely. He had Eleanor's liking before; and her nature was too sweet
and rich not to incline towards the person whom she had given such a
position with herself, yielding to him more and more of faith and
affection. And that in spite of what sometimes chafed her; the quiet
sway she felt Mr. Carlisle had over her, beneath which she was
powerless. Or rather, perhaps she inclined towards him secretly the
more on account of it; for to women of rich natures there is something
attractive in being obliged to look up; and to women of all natures it
is imposing. So Mr. Carlisle's threat, by Eleanor so stoutly resisted
and resented, was extremely likely to come to pass. Mrs. Powle was too
wise to touch her finger to the game.
Several weeks went by, during which Eleanor had no chance to think
of anything but Mr. Carlisle and the matters he presented for her
notice. At the end of that time he was obliged to go up to London on
sudden business. It made a great lull in the house; and Eleanor began
to sit in her garden parlour again and dream. While dreaming one day,
she heard the voice of her little sister sobbing at the door-step. She
had not observed before that she was sitting there.
Julia! said EleanorWhat is the matter?
Julia would not immediately say, but then faltered out, Mr. Rhys.
Mr. Rhys! What of him?
He's sick. He's going to die, I know.
How do you know he is sick? Come, stop crying, Julia, and speak.
What makes you think he is sick?
Because he just lies on the sofa, and looks so white, and he can't
keep school. He sent away the boys yesterday.
Does he see the doctor?
No. I don't know. No, I know he don't, said Julia; because the
old woman said he ought to see him.
What old woman, child?
His old womanMrs. Williams. And mamma said I might have some
jelly and some sago for himand there is nobody to take it. Foster is
out of the way, and Jack is busy, and I can't get anybody.
Julia's tears were very sincere.
Stop crying, child, and I will go with you myself. I have not had a
walk to-day, or a ride, or anything. Come, get ready, and you and I
will take it.
Julia did not wait even for thanks; she was never given to be
ceremonious; but sprang away to do as her sister had said. In a few
minutes they were off, going through the garden, each with a little
basket in her hand. Julia's tears were exchanged for the most sunshiny
It was a sunshiny day altogether, in the end of summer, and the heat
was sultry. Neither sister minded weather of any sort; nevertheless
they chose the shady side of the road and went very leisurely, along by
the hedgerows and under the elms and beeches with which all the way to
the village was more or less shaded. It was a long walk, even to the
village. The cottage where Mr. Rhys had his abode was yet further on.
The village must be passed on the way to it.
It was a long line of cottages, standing for the most part on one
side the street only; the sweet hedgerow on the other side only here
and there broken by a white wicket gate. The houses were humble enough;
yet in universal neat order on the outside at least; in many instances
grown over with climbing roses and ivy, and overhung with deep thatched
roofs. They stood scatteringly; gardens and sometimes small crofts
intervening; and noble growth of old oaks and young elms shading the
way; the whole as neat, fresh, and picturesque in rural comfort and
beauty, as could be seen almost anywhere in England. The lords of
Rythdale held sway here, and nothing under their rule, of late, was out
of order. But there were poor people in the village, and very poor old
houses, though skilfully turned to the account of beauty in the outward
view. Eleanor was well known in them; and now Mrs. Benson came out to
the gate and told how she was to move to her new home in another
fortnight; and begged the sisters would come in to rest themselves from
the sun. And old Mrs. Shepherd curtsied in her doorway; and Matthew
Grimson's wife, the blacksmith that was, came to stop Eleanor with a
roundabout representation how her husband's business would thrive so
much better in another situation. Eleanor was seldom on foot in the
village now. She passed that as soon as she could and went on. From her
window on the other side of the lane, Miss Broadus nodded, and beckoned
too; but the sisters would not be delayed.
It is good Mr. Carlisle has gone to London, said Julia. He would
not have let you come.
Eleanor felt stung.
Why do you say so, Julia?
Why, you always do what he tells you, said Julia, who was not apt
to soften her communications. He says 'Eleanor'and you go that way;
and he says 'Eleanor'and you go the other way.
And why do you suppose he would have any objection to my going this
I knowsaid Julia. I am glad he is in London. I hope he'll stay
Eleanor made no answer but to switch her dress and the bushes as
they went by, with a little rod in her hand. There was more truth in
the allegation than it pleased her to remember. She did not always feel
her bonds at the time, they were so gently put on and the spell of
another's will was so natural and so irresistible. But it chafed her to
be reminded of it and to feel that it was so openly exerted and her own
subjugation so complete. The switching went on vigorously, taking the
bushes and her muslin dress impartially; and Eleanor's mind was so
engrossed that she did not perceive how suddenly the weather was
changing. They had passed through the village and left it behind, when
Julia exclaimed, There's a storm coming, Eleanor! maybe we can get in
before it rains. It was an undeniable fact; and without further parley
both sisters set off to run, seeing that there were very few minutes to
accomplish Julia's hope. It began sprinkling already.
It's going to be a real storm, said Julia gleefully. Over the
moor it's as black as thunder. I saw it through the trees.
But where are you going?For Julia had left the road, or rather
lane, and dashed down a path through the trees leading off from it.
O this is the bestthis leads round to the other side of the
house, Julia said.
Just as well, to go in at the kitchen, Eleanor thought; and let
Julia find her way with her sago and jelly to Mr. Rhys's room, if she
so inclined. So they ran on, reached a little strip of open ground at
the back of the cottage, and rushed in at the door like a small
tornado; for the rain was by this time coming down merrily.
The first thing Eleanor saw when she had pulled off her flat,was
that she was not in a kitchen. A table with writing implements met her
eye; and turning, she discovered the person one of them at least had
come to see, lying on a sort of settee or rude couch, with a pillow
under his head. He looked pale enough, and changed, and lay wrapped in
a dressing-gown. If Eleanor was astonished, so certainly was he. But he
rose to his feet, albeit scarce able to stand, and received his
visitors with a simplicity and grace of nature which was in singular
contrast with all the dignities of conventional life.
Mr. Rhys! stammered Eleanor, I had no idea we were breaking into
your room. I thought Julia was taking me into Mrs. Williams's part of
I am very glad to see you! he said; and the words were endorsed by
the pleasant grave face and the earnest grasp of the hand. But how ill
and thin he looked! Eleanor was shocked.
It was beginning to rain, she repeated, and I followed where
Julia led me. I thought she was bringing me to Mrs. Williams's
premises. I beg you will excuse me.
I have made Mrs. Williams give me this part of the house because I
think it is the pleasantest. Won't you do me the honour to sit down?
He was bringing a chair for her, but looked so little able for it
that Eleanor took it from his hand.
Please put yourself on the sofa again, Mr. RhysWe will not
interrupt you a moment.
Yes you will, said Julia, unless you want to walk in the rain.
Mr. Rhys, are you better to-day?
I am as well as usual, thank you, Julia.
I am sorry to see that is not very well, Mr. Rhys, said Eleanor.
Not very strong he said with the smile that she remembered, as
he sank back in the corner of the couch and rested his head on his
hand. His look and manner altogether gave her a strange feeling. Ill
and pale and grave as he was, there was something else about him
different from all that she had touched in her own life for weeks. It
was a new atmosphere.
Ladies, I hope you are not wet? he said presently.
Not at all, said Eleanor; nothing to signify. We shall dry
ourselves in the sun walking back.
I think the sun is not going to be out immediately.
He rose and with slow steps made his way to the inner door and spoke
to some one within. Eleanor took a view of her position. The rain was
coming down furiously; no going home just yet was possible. That was
the out-of-door prospect. Within, she was a prisoner. The room was a
plain little room, plain as a room could be; with no adornments or
luxuries. Some books were piled on deal shelves; others covered two
tables. A large portfolio stood in one corner. On one of the tables
were pens, ink and paper, not lying loose, but put up in order; as not
used nor wanted at present. Several boxes of various sorts and sizes
made up the rest of the furniture, with a few chairs of very simple
fashion. It was Mr. Rhys's own room they were in; and all that could be
said of it was its nicety of order. Two little windows with the door
might give view of something in fair weather; at present they shewed
little but grey rain and a dim vision of trees seen through the rain.
Eleanor wanted to get away; but it was impossible. She must talk.
You cannot judge of my prospect now, Mr. Rhys said as she turned
Not in this rain. But I should think you could not see much at any
time, except trees.
'Much' is comparative. No, I do not see much; but there is an
opening from my window, through which the eye goes a long wayacross a
long distance of the moor. It is but a gleam; however it serves a good
purpose for me.
An old woman here came in with a bundle of sticks and began to lay
them for a fire. She was an old crone-looking person. Eleanor observed
her, and thought what it must be to have no nurse or companion but
We have missed you at the Lodge, Mr. Rhys.
Thank you. I am missing from all my old haunts, he answered
gravely. And the thought and the look went to something from which he
was very sorry to be missing.
But you will be soon well againwill you not? and among us again.
I do not know, he said. I am sometimes inclined to think my work
What work, Mr. Rhys? said Julia. Ferns, do you mean?
What work, Mr. Rhys?
I mean the Lord's work, Julia, which he has given me to do.
Do you mean preaching?
That is part of it.
What else is your work, Mr. Rhys? said Julia, hanging about the
couch with an affectionate eye. So affectionate, that her sister's
rebuke of her forwardness was checked.
Doing all I can, Julia, in every way, to tell people of the Lord
Was that the work you were going to that horrid place to do?
Then I am glad you are sick!
That is very unkind of you, said he with a gravity which Eleanor
was not sure was real.
It is better for you to be sick than to go away from England, said
But if I am not well enough to go there, I shall go somewhere
What have you got in that saucer?
Jelly for you. Won't you eat it, Mr. Rhys? There is sago in the
basket. It will do you good.
Will you not offer your sister some?
No. She gets plenty at home. Eat it, Mr. Rhys, won't you?
He took a few spoonfuls, smiled at her, and told her it was very
good. It was a smile worth having. But both sisters saw that he looked
fearfully pale and worn.
I must see if Mrs. Williams has not some berries to offer you, he
Where are you going, Mr. Rhys, if you do not go to that place?
If I do not go there, I think I shall go home.
Where is that? said Julia hanging about him.
I meant my everlasting home, Julia.
O don't, Mr. Rhys! cried the child in a half vexed tone. Eat some
I am very willing to stay, Julia, if my Master has work for me to
You had charge of a chapel at Lily Dale, Mr. Rhys, I am told?
Eleanor said, feeling awkward.
Noat Croydon, beyond.
At Croydon! that is nine miles off. How did you get there?
The question escaped Eleanor. He hesitated, and answered simply, I
had no way but to walk. I found that very pleasant in summer mornings.
Walk to Croydon and back, and preach there! I do not wonder you are
sick, Mr. Rhys.
I did not walk back the same day.
But then where did you go in the evenings to preach? said Julia.
That was not so far off.
Did you serve two chapels on the same day, Mr. Rhys?
No. The evenings Julia speaks of I preached nearer home.
And school all the week! said Eleanor.
It was no hardship, he said with a most pleasant smile at her.
The King's work required hastethere were many people at both places
who had not heard the truth or had not learned to love it. There are
His face grew very grave as he spoke; grave even to sadness as he
added, They are dying without the knowledge of the true life!
Where was the other chapel you went to?
Eleanor hurried on. But Mr. Rhys, will you allow me to ask you a
question that puzzles me?
I beg you will do so!
It is just this. If there are so many in England that want
teachingBut I beg your pardon! I am afraid talking tires you.
I assure you it is very pleasant to me. Will you go on.
If there are so many in England that want teaching, why should you
go to such a place as that Julia talks of?
They are further yet from help.
But is not the work here as good as the work there?
I am cut off from both, he said. I long to go to them. But the
Lord has his own plans. 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art
thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God!'
The grave, sweet, tender, strong intonation of these words, slowly
uttered, moved Eleanor much. Not towards tears; the effect was rather a
great shaking of heart. She saw a glimpse of a life she had never
dreamed of; a power touched her that had never touched her before. This
life was something quite unearthly in its spirit and aims; the power
was the power of holiness.
It is difficult or impossible to say in words how this influence
made itself felt. In the writing of the lines of the face, in the
motion of the lips, in the indefinable tones of voice, in the air and
manner, there comes out constantly in all characters an atmosphere of
the truth, which the words spoken, whether intended or not intended, do
not convey. Even unintentional feigning fails here, and even
self-deception is belied. The truth of a character will make itself
felt and influential, for good or evil, through all disguises. So it
was, that though the words of Mr. Rhys might have been said by anybody,
the impression they produced belonged to him alone, of all the people
Eleanor had ever seen in her life. The helmet of salvation was on
this man's head, and gave it a dignity more than that of a kingly
crown. She sat thinking so, and recalling her lost wishes of the early
summer; forgetting to carry on the conversation.
Meanwhile the old woman of the cottage came in again with a fresh
supply of sticks, and a blaze began to brighten in the chimney. Julia
exclaimed in delight. Eleanor looked at the window. The rain still came
down heavily. She remembered the thunderstorm in June, and her fears.
Then Mr. Rhys begged her to go to the fire and dry herself, and again
spoke some unintelligible words to the old attendant.
What is that, Mr. Rhys? said Julia, who seldom refrained from
asking anything she wished to know.
I was enquiring of Mrs. Williams whether she had not some
fresh-gathered berries she could bring for your refreshment.
But I mean, what language did you speak to her?
Are you Welsh?
No, said he smiling; but I have Welsh blood; and I had a Welsh
I do not want any refreshment, Mr. Rhys; but I would like some
I hope you would like to ask pardon of Mr. Rhys for your freedom,
said Eleanor. I am sure you need it.
Why Mrs. Williams very often gives me berries, said Julia; and
they always taste better than ours. I mean, Mr. Rhys gives me some.
Eleanor busied herself over the fire, in drying her muslin dress.
That did very well instead of talking. Mrs. Williams presently came in
again, bearing a little tray with berries and a pot of cream. Julia
eagerly played hostess and dealt them out. The service was most homely;
nevertheless the wild berries deserved her commendation. The girls sat
by the fire and eat, and their host from the corner of his couch
watched them with his keen eyes. It was rather a romantic adventure
altogether, Eleanor thought, in the midst of much graver thoughts. But
Julia had quite got her spirits up.
Aren't they good, Eleanor? They are better berries than those that
came from the Priory. Mr. Rhys, do you know that after Eleanor is Mrs.
Carlisle, she will be Lady Rythdale?
This shot drove Eleanor into desperation. She would have started
aside, to hide her cheeks, but it was no use. Mr. Rhys had risen to add
some more cream to her saucerperhaps on purpose.
I understand, he said simply. Has she made arrangements to secure
an everlasting crown, after the earthly coronet shall have faded away?
The question was fairly put to Eleanor. It gave a turn to her
confusion, yet hardly more manageable; for the gentle, winning tones in
which it was made found their way down to some very deep and unguarded
spot in her consciousness. No one had ever probed her as this man dared
to do. Eleanor could hardly sit still. The berries had no more any
taste to her after that. Yet the question demanded an answer; and after
hesitating long she found none better than to say, as she set down her
No, Mr. Rhys.
Doubtless he read deeper than the words of her answer, but he made
no remark. She would have been glad he had.
The shower seemed to be slackening; and while Julia entered into
lively conversation over her berries, Eleanor went to the window. She
was doubtfully conscious of anything but discomfort; however she did
perceive that the rain was falling less thickly and light beginning to
break through the clouds. As she turned from the window she forced
herself to speak.
What is there we can do for you at home, Mr. Rhys? Mrs. Williams'
resources, I am sure, must be very insufficient.
I am very much obliged to you! he said heartily. There is nothing
that I know of. I have all that I require.
You are better than you were? you are gaining strength?
No, I think not. I am quite useless now.
But you will get better soon, and be useful again.
If it pleases my Master;but I think not.
Do you consider yourself so seriously ill, Mr. Rhys? said Eleanor
Do not take it so seriously, said he smiling at her. No harm can
come to me any way. It is far worse than death for me, to be cut off
from doing my work; and a while ago the thought of this troubled me; it
gave me some dark hours. But at last I rested myself on that word, 'Why
art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope thou in God!' and now I am content
about it. Life or deathneither can bring but good to me; for my
Father sends it. You know, he said, again with a smile at her, but
with a keen observant eye,they who are the Lord's wear an invisible
casque, which preserves them from all fear.
He saw that Eleanor's face was grave and troubled; he saw that at
this last word there was a sort of avoidance of feature, as if it
reached a spot of feeling somewhere that was sensitive. He added
nothing more, except the friendly grasp of the hand, which drove the
The rain had ceased; the sun was out; and the two girls set forward
on their return. They hurried at first, for the afternoon had worn
away. The rain drops lay thick and sparkling on every blade of grass,
and dripped upon them from the trees.
Now you will get your feet wet again, said Julia; and then you
will have another sickness; and Mr. Carlisle will be angry.
Do let Mr. Carlisle's anger alone! said Eleanor. I shall not sit
down in wet shoes, so I shall not get hurt. Did you ever see him
No, said Julia; and I am glad he won't be angry with me?
In spite of her words, the wet grass gave Eleanor a disagreeable
reminder of what wet grass had done for her some months before. The
remembrance of her sickness came up with the immediate possibility of
its returning again; the little feeling of danger and exposure gave
power to the things she had just heard. She could not banish them; she
recalled freshly the miserable fear and longing of those days when she
lay ill and knew not how her illness would turn; the fearful want of a
shelter; the comparative littleness of all things under the sun.
Rythdale Priory had not been worth a feather in that day; all the gay
pleasures and hopes of the summer could have found no entrance into her
heart then. And as she was then, so Eleanor knew herself
nowdefenceless, if danger came. And the wet grass into which every
footstep plunged said that danger might be at any time very near.
Eleanor wished bitterly that she had not come this walk with Julia. It
was strange, how utterly shaken, miserable, forlorn, her innermost
spirit felt, at this possible approach of evil to her shelterless head.
And with double force, though they had been forcible at the time, Mr.
Rhys's words recurred to herthe words that he had spoken half to
himself as it wereHope thou in God. Eleanor had heard those words,
read by different lips, at different times; they were not new; but the
meaning of them had never struck her before. Now for the first time, as
she heard the low, sweet, confident utterance of a soul fleeing to its
stronghold, of a spirit absolutely secure there, she had an idea of
what hope in God meant; and every time she remembered the tones of
those words, spoken by failing lips too, it gave a blow to her heart.
There was something she wanted. What else could be precious like that?
And with them belonged in this instance, Eleanor felt, a purity of
character till now unimagined. Thoughts and footsteps hurrying along
together, they were past the village and far on their way towards home,
the two sisters, before much was said between them.
I wish Mr. Rhys would get well and stay here, said Julia. It is
nice to go to see him, isn't it, Eleanor? He is so good.
I don't know whether it is nice, said Eleanor. I wish almost I
had not gone with you. I have not thought of disagreeable things before
in a great while.
But isn't he good?
Good! said Eleanor. He makes me feel as black as night.
Well, you aren't black, said Julia, pleased; and I'll tell Mr.
Carlisle what you say. He won't be angry that time.
Julia! said Eleanor. Do if you dare! You shall repeat no words of
mine to Mr. Carlisle.
Julia only laughed; and Eleanor hoped that the gentleman would stay
in London till her purpose, whatever it might be, was forgotten. He did
stay some days; the Lodge had a comparatively quiet time. Perhaps
Eleanor missed the constant excitement of the weeks past. She was very
restless, and her thoughts would not be diverted from the train into
which the visit to Mr. Rhys had thrown them. Obstinately the idea kept
before her, that a defence was wanting to her which she had not, and
might have. She wanted some security greater than dry shoes could
afford. Yea, she could not forget, that beyond that earthly coronet
which of necessity must some time fade, she might want something that
would endure in the air of eternity. Her musings troubled Eleanor. As
Black Maggie did not wait upon her, these days, she ordered up her own
little pony, and went off upon long rides by herself. It soothed her to
be alone. She let no servant attend her; she took the comfort of good
stirring gallops all over the moor; and then when she and the pony were
both tired she let him walk and her thoughts take up their train. But
it did not do her any good. Eleanor grew only more uneasy from day to
day. The more she thought, the deeper her thoughts went; and still the
contrast of purity and high Christian hope rose up to shame her own
heart and life. Eleanor felt her danger as a sinner; her exposure as
guilty; and the insufficiency of all she had or hoped for, to meet
future and coming contingencies. So far she got; there she stopped;
except that her sense of these things grew more keen and deep day by
day; it did not fade out. Friends she had none to help her. She wanted
to see Dr. Cairnes and attack him in private and bring him to a point
on the subjects which agitated her; but she could not. Dr. Cairnes too
was absent from Wiglands at this time; and Eleanor had to think and
wait all by herself. She had her Bible, it is true; but she did not
know how to consult it. She took care not to go near Mr. Rhys again;
though she was sorry to hear through Julia that he was not mending. She
wished herself a little girl, to have Julia's liberty; but she must do
without it. And what would Mr. Carlisle say to her thoughts? She must
not ask him. He could do nothing with them. She half feared, half
wished for his influence to overthrow them.
He came; but Eleanor did not find that he could remove the trouble,
the existence of which he did not suspect. His presence did not remove
it. In all her renewed engagements and gaieties, there remained a
secret core of discomfort in her heart, whatever she might be about.
They were taking tea one evening, half in and half out of the open
window, when Julia came up.
Mr. Carlisle, said she, I am going to pay you my forfeit. He had
caught her in some game of forfeits the day before. I am going to give
you something you will like very much.
What can it be, Julia?
You don't believe me. Now you do not deserve to have it. I am going
to give you something Eleanor said.
Eleanor's hand was on her lips immediately, and her voice forbade
the promised forfeit; but there were two words to that bargain. Mr.
Carlisle captured the hand and gave a counter order.
Now you don't believe me, but you believe Eleanor, said the
lawless child. She said,she said it when you went away,that she
had not thought of anything disagreeable in a long while!
Mr. Carlisle looked delighted, as well he might. Eleanor's temples
flushed a painful scarlet.
Dear me, how interesting these goings away and comings home are, I
suppose! exclaimed Miss Broadus, coming up to the group. I see! there
is no need to say anything. Mr. Carlisle, we are all rejoiced to see
you back at Wiglands. Or at the Lodgefor you do not honour Wiglands
much, except when I see you riding through it on that beautiful brown
horse of yours. The black and the brown; I never saw such a pair. And
you do ride! I should think you would be afraid that creature would
lose a more precious head than its own.
I take better care than that, Miss Broadus.
Well, I suppose you do; though for my part I cannot see how a
person on one horse can take care of a person on another horse; it is
something I do not understand. I never did ride myself; I suppose that
is the reason. Mr. Carlisle, what do you say to this lady riding all
alone by herselfwithout any one to take care of her?
Mr. Carlisle's eyes rather opened at this question, as if he did not
fully take in the idea.
She does ityou should see her going by as I didas straight as a
grenadier, and her pony on such a jump! I thought to myself, Mr.
Carlisle is in London, sure enough. But it was a pretty sight to see.
My dear, how sorry we are to miss some one else from our circle, and he
did honour us at Wiglandsmy sister and me. How sorry I am poor Mr.
Rhys is so ill. Have you heard from him to-day, Eleanor?
You should ask Julia, Miss Broadus. Is he much more ill than he
was? Julia hears of him every day, I believe.
Ah, the children all love him. I see Julia and Alfred going by very
often; and the other boys come to see him constantly, I believe. And my
dear Eleanor, how kind it was of you to go yourself with something for
him! I saw you and Julia go past with your basketdon't you
remember?that day before the rain; and I said to myselfno, I said
to Juliana, some very complimentary things about you. Benevolence has
flourished in your absence, Mr. Carlisle. Here was this lady, taking
jelly with her own hands to a sick man. Now I call that beautiful.
Mr. Carlisle preferred to make his own compliments; for he did not
echo those of the talkative lady.
But I am afraid he is very ill, my dear, Miss Broadus went on,
turning to Eleanor again. He looked dreadfully when I saw him; and he
is so feeble, I think there is very little hope of his life left. I
think he has just worked himself to death. But I do not believe,
Eleanor, he is any more afraid of death, than I am of going to sleep. I
don't believe he is so much.
Miss Broadus was called off; Mr. Carlisle had left the window;
Eleanor sat sadly thinking. The last words had struck a deeper note
than all the vexations of Miss Broadus's previous talk. No more afraid
of death than of going to sleep. Ay! for his head was covered from
danger. Eleanor knew itsaw itfelt it; and felt it to be blessed. Oh
how should she make that same covering her own? There was an engagement
to spend the next afternoon at the Priorythe whole family. Dr.
Cairnes would most probably be there to meet them. Perhaps she might
catch or make an opportunity of speaking to him in private and asking
him what she wanted to know. Not very likely, but she would try. Dr.
Cairnes was her pastor; it ought to be in his power to resolve her
difficulties; it must be. At any rate, Eleanor would apply to him and
see. She had no one else to apply to. Unless Mr. Rhys would get well.
Eleanor wished that might be. He could help her, she knew,
without a peradventure.
Mr. Carlisle appeared again, and the musings were banished. He took
her hand and put it upon his arm, and drew her out into the lawn. The
action was caressingly done; nevertheless Eleanor felt that an inquiry
into her behaviour would surely be the next thing. So half shrinking
and half rebellious, she suffered herself to be led on into the winding
walks of the shrubbery. The evening was delicious; nothing could be
more natural or pleasant than sauntering there.
I am going to have Julia at the Priory to-morrow, as a reward for
her good gift to me, was Mr. Carlisle's opening remark.
I am sure she does not deserve it, said Eleanor very sincerely.
What do you deserve?
Nothingin the way of rewards.
Mr. Carlisle did not think so, or else regarded the matter in the
light of a reward to himself.
Have you been good since I have been away?
No! said Eleanor bluntly.
Do you always speak truth after this fashion?
I speak it as you will find it, Mr. Carlisle.
The questions were put between caresses; but in all his manner
nevertheless, in kisses and questions alike, there was that indefinable
air of calm possession and power, before which Eleanor always felt
unable to offer any resistance. He made her now change Mr. Carlisle
for a more familiar name, before he would go on. Eleanor felt as a colt
may be supposed to feel, which is getting a skilful breaking in;
yielding obedience at every step, and at every step secretly wishing to
refuse obedience, to refuse which is becoming more and more impossible.
Haven't you been a little too good to somebody else, while I have
No! said Eleanor. I never am.
Darling, I do not wish you to honour any one so far as that woman
reports you to have done.
That! said Eleanor. That was the merest act of common
kindnessJulia wanted some one to go with her to take some things to a
sick man; and I wanted a walk, and I went.
You were too kind. I must unlearn you a little of your kindness.
You are mine, now, darling; and I want all of you for myself.
But the better I am, said Eleanor, I am sure the more there is to
Be good for me, said he kissing her,and in my way. I
will dispense with other goodness. I am in no danger of not having
enough in you.
Eleanor walked back to the house, feeling as if an additional
barrier were somehow placed between her and the light her mind wanted
and the relief her heart sought after.
CHAPTER VI. AT THE PRIORY.
Here he lives in state and bounty,
Lord of Burleigh, fair and free;
Not a lord in all the county
Is so great a lord as he.
Lady Rythdale abhorred dinner-parties, in general and in particular.
She dined early herself, and begged that the family from Ivy Lodge
would come to tea. It was the first occasion of the kind; and the first
time they had ever been there otherwise than as strangers visiting the
grounds. Lady Rythdale was infirm and unwell, and never saw her country
neighbours or interchanged civilities with them. Of course this was
laid to something more than infirmity, by the surrounding gentry who
were less in consequence than herself; but however it were, few of them
ever saw the inside of the Priory House for anything but a ceremonious
morning visit. Now the family at the Lodge were to go on a different
footing. It was a great time, of curiosity, pleasure, and pride.
What are you going to wear this evening, Eleanor? her mother
I suppose, my habit, mamma.
I cannot very well ride in anything else.
Are you going to ride?
So it is arranged, ma'am. It will be infinitely less tiresome than
going in any other way.
Tiresome! echoed Mrs. Powle. But what will Lady Rythdale say to
you in a riding-habit.
Mamma, I have very little notion what she would say to me in
I will tell you what you must do, Eleanor. You must change your
dress after you get there.
No, mammaI cannot. Mr. Carlisle has arranged to have me go in a
riding-habit. It is his responsibility. I will not have any fuss of
changing, nor pay anybody so much of a compliment.
It will not be liked, Eleanor.
It will follow my fate, mamma, whatever that is.
You are a wilful girl. You are fallen into just the right hands.
You will be managed now, for once.
Mamma, said Eleanor colouring all over, it is extremely unwise in
you to say that; for it rouses all the fight there is in me; and some
Some day it will not break out, said Mrs. Powle.
Well, I should not like to fight with Mr. Carlisle, said Julia. I
am glad I am going, at any rate.
Eleanor bit her lip. Nevertheless, when the afternoon came and Mr.
Carlisle appeared to summon her, nothing was left of the morning's
irritation but a little loftiness of head and brow. It was very
becoming, no more; and Mr. Carlisle's evident pleasure and satisfaction
soon soothed the feeling away. The party in the carriage had gone on
before; the riders followed the same route, passing through the village
of Wiglands, then a couple of miles or more beyond through the village
of Rythdale. Further on, crossing a bridge they entered upon the old
priory grounds; the grey tower rose before them, and the horses' feet
swept through the beautiful wilderness of ruined art and flourishing
nature. As the cavalcade wound alongfor the carriage was just before
them nowthrough the dale and past the ruins, and as it had gone in
state through the village, Eleanor could not help a little throbbing of
heart at the sense of the place she was holding and about to hold; at
the feeling of the relation all these beauties and dignities now held
to her. If she had been inclined to forget it, her companion's look
would have reminded her. She had no leisure to analyze her thoughts,
but these stirred her pulses. It was beautiful, as the horses wound
through the dale and by the little river Ryth, where all the ground was
kept like a garden. It was beautiful, as they left the valley and went
up a slow, gentle, ascending road, through thick trees, to the higher
land where the new Priory stood. It stood on the brow of the height,
looking down over the valley and over the further plain where the
village nestled among its trees. Yes, and it was fine when the first
sight of the house opened upon her, not coming now as a stranger, but
as future mistress; for whom every window and gable and chimney had the
mysterious interest of a future home. Would old Lady Rythdale like to
see her there? Eleanor did not know; but felt easy in the assurance
that Mr. Carlisle, who could manage everything, could manage that also.
It was his affair.
The house shewed well as they drew towards it, among fine old trees.
It was a new house; that is, it did not date further back than three
generations. Like everything else about the whole domain, it gave the
idea of perfect order and management. It was a spacious building,
spreading out amply upon the ground, not rising to a great height; and
built in a simple style of no particular name or pretensions; but
massive, stately, and elegant. No unfinished or half realized idea;
what had been attempted had been done, and done well. The house was
built on three sides of a quadrangle. The side of approach by which the
cavalcade had come, winding up from the valley, led them round past the
front of the left wing. Mr. Carlisle made her draw bridle and fall a
little behind the carriage.
Do you like this view? said he.
Very much. I have never seen it before.
He smiled at her, and again extending his hand drew Black Maggie's
rein till he brought her to a slow walk. The carriage passed on out of
sight. Eleanor would have remonstrated, but the view before her was
lovely. Three gables, of unequal height, rose over that façade; the
only ornamental part was in their fanciful but not elaborate mouldings.
The lower story, stretching along the spread of a smooth little lawn,
was almost masked with ivy. It embedded the large but perfectly plain
windows, which reached so near the ground that one might step out from
them; their clear amplitude was set in a frame of massive green. One
angle especially looked as if the room within must be a nest of
verdurous beauty. The ivy encased all the doorways or entrances on that
side of the house; and climbing higher threatened to do for the story
above what it had accomplished below; but perhaps some order had been
taken about that, for in the main its course had been stayed at a
certain stone moulding that separated the stories, and only a branch
here and there had been permitted to shew what more it would like to
do. One of the upper windows was partly encased; while its lace
curtains gave an assurance that all its garnishing had not been left to
nature. Eleanor could not help thinking it was a very lovely looking
place for any woman to be placed in as her home; and her heart beat a
Do you not like it? said Mr. Carlisle.
What are you considering so attentively in Black Maggie's ears?
Eleanor caused Maggie to prick up the said ears, by a smart touch of
her whip. The horses started forward to overtake the carriage. Perhaps
however Mr. Carlisle was fascinatedhe might well beby the present
view he had of his charge; there was a blushing shy grace observable
about her which it was pretty to see and not common; and maybe he
wanted the view to be prolonged. He certainly did not follow the
nearest road, but turned off instead to a path which went winding up
and down the hill and through plantations of wood, giving Eleanor views
also, of a different sort; and so did not come out upon the front of
the house till long after the carriage party had been safely housed.
Eleanor found she was alone and was not to be sheltered under her
mother's wing or any other; and her conductor's face was much too
satisfied to invite comments. He swung her down from the saddle,
allowed her to remove her cap, and putting her hand on his arm walked
her into the drawing-room and the presence of his mother.
Eleanor had seen Lady Rythdale once before, in a stately visit which
had been made at the Lodge; never except that one time. The old
baroness was a dignified looking person, and gave her a stately
reception now; rather stiff and cold, Eleanor thought; or careless and
My dear, said the old lady, have you come in a riding-habit? That
will be very uncomfortable. Go to my dressing-room, and let Arles
change it for something else. She can fit you. Macintosh, you shew her
No questions were asked. Mr. Carlisle obeyed, putting Eleanor's hand
on his arm again, and walked her off out of the room and through a
gallery and up the stairs, and along another gallery. He walked fast.
Eleanor felt exceedingly abashed and displeased and discomfited at this
extraordinary proceeding, but she did not know how to resist it. Her
compliance was taken for granted, and Mr. Carlisle was laughing at her
discomfiture, which was easy enough to be seen. Eleanor's cheeks were
glowing magnificently. I suppose he feels he has me in his own
dominions now,she thought; and the thought made her very rebellious.
Lady Rythdale too!
Mr. Carlisle, she began, there is really no occasion for all
this. I am perfectly comfortable. I do not wish to alter my dress.
What do you call me? said he stopping short.
Call me something else.
The steady bright hazel eyes which were looking at her asserted
their power. In spite of her irritation and vexation she obeyed his
wish, and asked him somewhat loftily, to take her back again to the
Against my mother's commands? Do you not think they are binding on
No, I do not!
You will allow they are on me. My darling, said he, laughing and
kissing her, you must submit to be displeased for your good. And he
walked on again. Eleanor was conquered; she felt it, and chafed under
it. Mr. Carlisle opened a door and walked her into an apartment, large
and luxurious, the one evidently that his mother had designated. He
rang the bell.
Arles, said he, find this lady something that will fit her. She
wishes to change her dress. Do your best.
He went out and left Eleanor in the hands of the tire-woman. Eleanor
felt utterly out of countenance, but powerless; though she longed to
defy the maid and the mistress and say, I will wear my own and nothing
else. Why could she not say it? She did not like to defy the master.
So Arles had her way, and after one or two rapid glances at the
subject of her cares and a moment's reflection on her introduction
there, she took her cue. Blushes like that are not for nothing,
thought Arles; and when Mr. Macintosh says 'Do your best'why, it is
easy to see!
She was quick and skilful and silent; but Eleanor felt like a wild
creature in harness. Her riding-dress went offher hair received a
touch, all it wanted, as the waiting maid said; and after one or two
journeys to wardrobes, Mrs. Arles brought out and proceeded to array
Eleanor in a robe of white lawn, very flowing and full of laces. Yet it
was simple in style, and Eleanor thought it useless to ask for a
change; although when the robing was completed she was dressed more
elegantly than she had ever been in her life. She was sadly ashamed,
greatly indignant, and mortified at herself; that she should be so
facile to the will of a person who had no right to command her. But if
she was dissatisfied, Arles was not; the deep colour in Eleanor's
cheeks only relieved her white drapery to perfection; and her beautiful
hair and faultless figure harmonized with flowing folds and soft laces
which can do so much for outlines that are not soft. Eleanor was not
without a consciousness of this; nevertheless, vanity was not her
foible; and her state of mind was anything but enviable when she left
the dressing-room for the gallery. But Mr. Carlisle was there, to meet
her and her mood too; and Eleanor found herself taken in hand at once.
He had a way of mixing affection with his power over her, in such a way
as to soothe and overawe at the same time; and before they reached the
drawing-room now Eleanor was caressed and laughed into good order;
leaving nevertheless a little root of opposition in her secret heart,
which might grow fast upon occasion.
She was taken into the drawing-room, set down and left, under Lady
Rythdale's wing. Eleanor felt her position much more conspicuous than
agreeable. The old baroness turned and surveyed her; went on with the
conversation pending, then turned and surveyed her again; looked her
well over; finally gave Eleanor some worsted to hold for her, which she
wound; nor would she accept any substitute offered by the gentlemen for
her promised daughter-in-law's pretty hands and arms. Worse and worse.
Eleanor saw herself now not only a mark for people's eyes, but put in
an attitude as it were to be looked at. She bore it bravely; with
steady outward calmness and grace, though her cheeks remonstrated. No
movement of Eleanor's did that. She played worsted reel with admirable
good sense and skill, wisely keeping her own eyes on the business in
hand, till it was finished; and Lady Rythdale winding up the last end
of the ball, bestowed a pat of her hand, half commendation and half
raillery, upon Eleanor's red cheek; as if it had been a child's. That
was a little hard to bear; Eleanor felt for a moment as if she could
have burst into tears. She would have left her place if she had dared;
but she was in a corner of a sofa by Lady Rythdale, and nobody else
near; and she felt shy. She could use her eyes now upon the company.
Lady Rythdale was busied in conversation with one or two elderly
ladies, of stately presence like herself, who were, as Eleanor
gathered, friends of long date, staying at the Priory. They did not
invite curiosity. She saw her mother with Mrs. Wycherly, the rector's
sister, in another group, conversing with Dr. Cairnes and a gentleman
unknown. Mr. Powle had found congeniality in a second stranger. Mr.
Carlisle, far off in a window, one of those beautiful deep large
windows, was very much engaged with some ladies and gentlemen likewise
strange to Eleanor. Nobody was occupied with her; and from her sofa
corner she went to musing. The room and its treasures she had time to
look at quietly; she had leisure to notice how fine it was in
proportions and adornments, and what luxurious abundance of everything
that wealth buys and cultivation takes pleasure in, had space to abound
without the seeming of multiplicity. The house was as stately within as
on the outside. The magnificence was new to Eleanor, and drove her
somehow to musings of a very opposite character. Perhaps her unallayed
spirit of opposition might have been with other causes at the bottom of
this. However that were, her thoughts went off in a perverse train upon
the former baronesses of Rythdale; the ladies lovely and stately who
had inhabited this noble abode. Eleanor would soon be one of the line,
moving in their place, where they had moved; lovely and admired in her
turn; but their turn was over. What when hers should be?could she
keep this heritage for ever? It was a very impertinent thought; it had
clearly no business with either place or time; but there it was,
staring at Eleanor out of the rich cornices, and looking in at her from
the magnificent plantations seen through the window. Eleanor did not
welcome the thought; it was an intruder. The fact was that having once
made entrance in her mind, the idea only seized opportunities to start
up and assert its claims to notice. It was always lying in wait for her
now; and on this occasion held its ground with great perverseness.
Eleanor glanced again at Dr. Cairnes; no hope of him at present; he was
busily engaged with a clever gentleman, a friend of Mr. Carlisle's and
an Oxford man, and with Mr. Carlisle himself. Eleanor grew impatient of
her thoughts; she wondered if anybody else had such, in all that
company. Nobody seemed to notice her; and she meditated an escape both
from her sofa corner and from herself to a portfolio near by, which
promised a resource in the shape of engravings; but just as she was
moving, Lady Rythdale laid a hand upon her lap.
Sit still, my dear, she said turning partly towards her,I want
you by me. I have a skein of silk here I want wound for my worka
skein of green silkhere it is; it has tangled itself, I fear; will
you prepare it for me?
Eleanor took the silk, which was in pretty thorough confusion, and
began the task of unravelling and untieing, preparatory to its being
wound. This time Lady Rythdale did not turn away; she sat considering
Eleanor, on whose white drapery and white fingers the green silk
threads made a pretty contrast, while they left her helplessly exposed
to that examining gaze. Eleanor felt it going all over her; taking in
all the details of her dress, figure and face. She could not help the
blood mounting, though she angrily tried to prevent it. The green silk
was in a great snarl. Eleanor bent her head over her task.
My dear, are you near-sighted?
No, madam! said the girl, giving the old lady a moment's view of
the orbs in question.
You have very good eyesuncommon colour, said Lady Rythdale.
Macintosh thinks he will have a good little wife in you;is it true?
I do not know, ma'am, said Eleanor haughtily.
I think it is true. Look up here and let me see. And putting her
hand under Eleanor's chin, she chucked up her face as if she were
something to be examined for purchase. Eleanor felt in no amiable mood
certainly, and her cheeks were flaming; nevertheless the old lady
coolly held her under consideration and even with a smile on her lips
which seemed of satisfaction. Eleanor did not see it, for her eyes
could not look up; but she felt through all her nerves the kiss with
which the examination was dismissed.
I think it is true, the old baroness repeated. I hope it is true;
for my son would not be an easy man to live with on any other terms, my
I suppose its truth depends in a high degree upon himself, madam,
said Eleanor, very much incensed. Does your ladyship choose to wind
this silk now?
You may hold it. I see you have got it into order. That shews you
possessed of the old qualification of patience.Your hands a little
higher. My dear, I would not advise you to regulate your behaviour by
anything in other people. Macintosh will make you a kind husband if you
do not displease him; but he is one of those men who must obeyed.
Eleanor had no escape; she must sit holding the silk, a mark for
Lady Rythdale's eyes and tongue. She sat drooping a little with
indignation and shame, when Mr. Carlisle came up. He had seen from a
distance the tint of his lady's cheeks, and judged that she was going
through some sort of an ordeal. But though he came to protect, he stood
still to enjoy. The picture was so very pretty. The mother and son
I think you can make her do, said the baroness contentedly.
Not as a permanent winding reel! exclaimed Eleanor jumping up.
Mr. Carlisle, I am tired;have the goodness to take this silk from my
And slipping it over the gentleman's astonished hands, before he had
time quite to know what she was about, Eleanor left the pair to arrange
the rest of the business between them, and herself walked off to one of
the deep windows. She was engaged there immediately by Lord Rythdale,
in civil conversation enough; then he introduced other gentlemen; and
it was not till after a series of talks with one and another, that
Eleanor had a minute to herself. She was sitting in the window, where
an encroaching branch of ivy at one side reminded her of the elegant
work it was doing round the corner. Eleanor would have liked to go
through the houseor the groundsif she might have got away alone and
indulged herself in a good musing fit. How beautiful the shaven turf
looked under the soft sun's light! how stately stood old oaks and
beeches here and there! how rich the thicker border of vegetation
beyond the lawn! What beauty of order and keeping everywhere. Nothing
had been attempted here but what the resources of the proprietors were
fully equal to; the impression was of ample power to do more. While
musing, Eleanor's attention was attracted by Mr. Carlisle, who had
stepped out upon the lawn with one or two of his guests, and she looked
at the place and its master together. He suited it very well. He was an
undeniably handsome man; his bearing graceful and good. Eleanor liked
Mr. Carlisle, not the less perhaps that she feared him a little. She
only felt a little wilful rebellion against the way in which she had
come to occupy her present position. If but she might have been
permitted to take her own time, and say yea for herself, without having
it said for her, she would have been content. As it was, Eleanor was
not very discontented. Her heart swelled with a secret satisfaction and
some pride, as without seeing her the group passed the window and she
was left with the sunlit lawn and beautiful old trees again. Close upon
that feeling of pride came another thought. What when this earthly
coronet should fade?
Dr. Cairnes, said Eleanor seizing an opportunity,come here and
sit down by me. I have not seen you in a great while.
You have not missed me, my dear lady, said the doctor blandly.
Yes I have, said Eleanor. I want to talk to you. I want you to
tell me something.
How soon I am to make you happy? or help you to make somebody else
happy? Well I shall be at your service any time about Christmas.
No, no! said Eleanor colouring, I want something very different.
I am talking seriously, Dr. Cairnes. I want you to tell me something. I
want to know how I may be happyfor I am unhappy now.
You unhappy! said the doctor. I must talk to my friend Mr.
Carlisle about that. We must call him in for counsel. What would he
say, to your being unhappy? hey?
He was there to speak for himself; there with a slight cloud on his
brow too, Eleanor thought. He had come from within the room; she
thought he was safe away in the grounds with his guests.
Shall I break up this interesting conversation? said he.
It was growing very interesting, said the doctor; for this lady
was just acknowledging to me that she is not happy. I give her over to
youthis is a case beyond my knowledge and resources. Only, when I can
do anything, I shall be most gratified at being called upon.
The doctor rose up, shook himself, and left the field to Mr.
Carlisle. Eleanor felt vexed beyond description, and very little
inclined to call again upon Dr. Cairnes for anything whatever in any
line of assistance. Her face burned. Mr. Carlisle took no notice; only
laid his hand upon hers and said Come!and walked her out of the
room and on the lawn, and sauntered with her down to some of the
thickly planted shrubbery beyond the house. There went round about upon
the soft turf, calling Eleanor's attention to this or that shrub or
tree, and finding her very pleasant amusement; till the question in her
mind, of what was coming now, had almost faded away. The lights and
shadows stretched in long lines between the trees, and lay witchingly
over the lawn. An opening in the plantations brought a fair view of it,
and of the left wing of the house which Eleanor had admired, dark and
rich in its mantle of ivy, while the light gleamed on the edges of the
ornamented gables above. It was a beautiful view. Mr. Carlisle paused.
How do you like the house? said he.
I think I prefer the ruined old priory down yonder, said Eleanor.
Do you still feel your attraction for a monastic life?
Yes! said Eleanor, colouring,I think they must have had
peaceable old lives there, with nothing to trouble them. And they could
plant gardens as well as you can.
As the old ruins are rather uninhabitable, what do you think of
entering a modern Priory?
It pleased him to see the deep rich glow on Eleanor's cheek, and the
droop of her saucy eyelids. No wonder it pleased him; it was a pretty
thing to see; and he enjoyed it.
You shall be Lady Abbess, he went on presently, and make your own
rules. I only stipulate that there shall be no Father Confessor except
I doubt your qualifications for that office, said Eleanor.
Suppose you try me. What were you confessing to Dr. Cairnes just
now in the window?
Nonsense, Robert! said Eleanor. I was talking of something you
would not understand.
You underrate me, said he coolly. My powers of understanding are
equal to the old gentleman's, unless I am mistaken in myself. What are
you unhappy about, darling?
Nothing that you could make anything of, said Eleanor. I was
talking to Dr. Cairnes in a language that you do not understand. Do let
Did he report you truly, to have used the English word 'unhappy'?
Yes, said Eleanor; but Mr. Carlisle, you do not know what you are
I am coming to it. Darling, do you think you would be unhappy at
I did not say that said Eleanor, confused.
Do you think I could make you happy there?Speak, Eleanorspeak!
Yesif I could be happy anywhere.
What makes you unhappy? My wife must not hide her heart from me.
Yes, but I am not that yet, said Eleanor with spirit, rousing up
to assert herself.
He laughed and kissed her. How long first, Eleanor?
I am sure I don't know. Very long.
What is very long?
I do not know. A year or two at least.
Do you suppose I will agree to that?
Eleanor knew he would not; and further saw a quiet purpose in his
face. She was sure he had fixed upon the time, if not the day. She felt
those cobweb bands all around her. Here she was, almost in bridal
attire, at his side already. She made no answer.
Divide by twelve, and get a quotient, Eleanor.
What do you mean?
I mean to have a merry Christmasby your leave.
Christmas! that was what the doctor had said. Was it so far without
her leave? Eleanor felt angry. That did not hinder her feeling
You cannot have it in the way you propose, Mr. Carlisle. I am not
ready for that.
You will be, he said coolly. I shall be obliged to go up to
London after Christmas; then I mean to instal you in Berkeley Square;
and in the summer you shall go to Switzerland with me. Now tell me, my
darling, what you are unhappy about?
Eleanor felt tongue-tied and powerless. The last words had been said
very affectionately, and as she was silent they were repeated.
It is nothing you would understand.
It is nothing that would interest you at all.
Not interest me! said he; and if his manner had been self-willed,
it was also now as tender and gentle as it was possible to be. He
folded Eleanor in his arms caressingly and waited for her words. Not
interest me! Do you know that from your riding-cap to the very gloves
you pull on and off, there is nothing that touches you that does not
interest me. And now I hear my wifeshe is almost that, Eleanor,tell
Dr. Cairnes that she is not happy. I must know why.
I wish you would not think about it, Mr. Carlisle! It is nothing to
care about at all. I was speaking to Dr. Cairnes as a clergyman.
You shall not call me Mr. Carlisle. Say that over again, Eleanor.
It is nothing to think twice about, Mr. Macintosh.
You were speaking to Dr. Cairnes as a clergyman? he said laughing.
How was that? I can think but of one way in which Dr. Cairnes'
profession concerns you and mewas it on that subject,
No, no. It was onlyI was only going to ask him a religious
question that interested me.
A religious question! Was it that which made you unhappy?
Yes, if you will have it. I knew you would not like it.
I don't like it; and I will not have it, said he. You, my
little Eleanor, getting up a religious uneasiness! that will never do.
You, who are as sound as a nut, and as sweet as a Cape jessamine! I
shall prove your best counsellor. You have not had rides enough over
the moor lately. We will have an extra gallop to-morrow;and after
Christmas I will take care of you. What were you uneasy about?
Don't Robert! said Eleanor,do not ask me any more about it. I
do not want you to laugh at me.
Laugh at you! he said. I should like to see anybody else do that!
but I will, as much as I like. Do you know you are a darling? and just
as lovely in mind as you are in person. Do not you have any questions
with the old priest; I do not like it; come to me with your
difficulties, and I will manage them for you. Was that all, Eleanor?
Then we are all rightor we soon shall be.
They strolled a little longer over the soft turf, in the soft light.
We are not quite all right, said Eleanor; for you think I will
dowhat I will not.
What is that?
I have not agreed to your arrangements.
Do not think it, Macintosh. I will not.
He looked down at her, smiling, not in the least disconcerted. She
had spoken no otherwise than gently, and with more secret effort than
she would have liked him to know.
You shall say that for half the time between now and Christmas, he
said; and after that you will adopt another form of expression.
If I say it at all, I shall hold to it, Macintosh.
Then do not say it at all, my little Eleanor, said he lightly; I
shall make you give it up. I think I will make you give it up now.
You are not generous, Robert.
NoI suppose I am not, he said contentedly. I am forced to go to
London after Christmas, and I cannot go without you. Do you not love me
well enough to give me that, Eleanor?
Eleanor was silent. She was not willing to say no; she could not
with truth say yes. Mr. Carlisle bent down to look into her face.
What have you to say to me?
Nothing said Eleanor avoiding his eye.
Kiss me, Nellie, and promise that you will be my good little wife
His mother's very phrase. Eleanor rebelled secretly, but felt
powerless under those commanding eyes. Perhaps he was aware of her
latent obstinacy; if he was, he also knew himself able to master it;
for the eyes were sparkling with pleasure as well as with wilfulness.
The occasion was not sufficient to justify a contest with Mr. Carlisle;
Eleanor was not ready to brave one; she hesitated long enough to shew
her rebellion, and then yielded, ingloriously she felt, though on the
whole wisely. She met her punishment. The offered permission was not
only taken; she was laughed at and rejoiced over triumphantly, to Mr.
Carlisle's content. Eleanor bore it as well at she could; wishing that
she had not tried to assert herself in such vain fashion, and feeling
her discomfiture complete.
It was more than time to return to the company. Eleanor knew what a
mark she was for people's eyes, and would gladly have screened herself
behind somebody in a corner; but Mr. Carlisle kept full possession of
her. He walked her into the room, and gently retained her hand in its
place while he went from one to another, obliging her to stand and talk
or to be talked to with him through the whole company. Eleanor winced;
nevertheless bore herself well and a little proudly until the evening
The weather had changed, and the ride home was begun under a cloudy
sky. It grew very dark as they went on; impossible in many places to
see the path. Mr. Carlisle was riding with her and the roads were well
known to him and to the horses, and Eleanor did not mind it. She went
on gayly with him, rather delighting in the novelty and adventure; till
she heard a muttering of thunder. It was the only thing Eleanor's
nerves dreaded. Her spirits were checked; she became silent and quiet,
and hardly heard enough to respond to her companion's talk. She was
looking incessantly for that which came at last as they were nearing
the old ruins in the valley; a flash of lightning. It lit up the
beautiful tower with its clinging ivy, revealed for an instant some
bits of wall and the thick clustering trees; then left a blank
darkness. The same illumination had entered the hidden places of
memory, and startled into vivid life the scenes and the thoughts of a
few months ago. All Eleanor's latent uneasiness was aroused. Her
attention was absorbed now, from this point until they got home, in
watching for flashes of lightning. They came frequently, but the storm
was after all a slight one. The lightning lit up the way beautifully
for the other members of the party. To Eleanor it revealed something
Mr. Carlisle's leave-taking at the door bespoke him well satisfied
with the results of the evening. Eleanor shunned the questions and
remarks of her family and went to her own room. There she sat down, in
her riding habit and with her head in her hands. What use was it for
her to be baroness of Rythdale, to be mistress of the Priory, to be Mr.
Carlisle's petted and favoured wife, while there was no shield between
her head and the stroke that any day and any moment might bring? And
what after all availed an earthly coronet, ever so bright, which had
nothing to replace it when its fading time should come? Eleanor wanted
CHAPTER VII. WITH THE FERNS.
It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute.
It was impossible for Eleanor to shake off the feeling. It rose
fresh with her the next day, and neither her own nor Mr. Carlisle's
efforts could dispose of it. To do Eleanor justice, she did not herself
wish to lose it, unless by the supply of her want; while she took
special care to hide her trouble from Mr. Carlisle. They took great
gallops on the moor, and long rides all about the country; the rides
were delightful; the talks were gay; but in them all, or at the end of
them certainly, Eleanor's secret cry was for some shelter for her
unprotected head. The thought would come up in every possible
connexion, till it haunted her. Not her approaching marriage, nor the
preparations which were even beginning for it, nor her involuntary
subjection to all Mr. Carlisle's pleasure, so much dwelt with Eleanor
now as the question,how she should meet the storm which must break
upon her some day; or rather the sense that she could not meet it. The
fairest and sweetest scene, or condition of things, seemed but to bring
up this thought more vividly by very force of contrast.
Eleanor hid the whole within her own heart, and the fire burned
there all the more. Not a sign of it must Mr. Carlisle see; and as for
Dr. Cairnes, Eleanor could never get a chance for a safe talk with him.
Somebody was always near, or might be near. The very effort to hide her
thoughts grew sometimes irksome; and the whirl of engagements and
occupations in which she lived gave her a stifled feeling. She could
not even indulge herself in solitary consideration of that which there
was nobody to help her consider.
She hailed one day the announcement that Mr. Carlisle must let the
next day go by without riding or seeing her. He would be kept away at a
town some miles off, on county business. Mr. Carlisle had a good deal
to do with county politics and county business generally; made himself
both important and popular, and lost no thread of influence he had once
gathered into his hand. So Brompton would have him all the next day,
and Eleanor would have her time to herself.
That she might secure full possession of it, she ordered her pony
and went out alone after luncheon. She could not get free earlier. Now
she took no servant to follow her, and started off alone to the moors.
It was a delicious autumn day, mild and still and mellow. Eleanor got
out of sight or hearing of human habitations; then let her pony please
himself in his paces while she dropped the reins and thought. It was
hardly in Eleanor's nature to have bitter thoughts; they came as near
it on this occasion as they were apt to do; they were very dissatisfied
thoughts. She was on the whole dissatisfied with everybody; herself
most of all, it is true; but her mother and Mr. Carlisle had a share.
She did not want to be married at Christmas; she did not even care
about going to Switzerland, unless by her own good leave asked and
obtained; she was not willing to be managed as a child; yet Eleanor was
conscious that she was no better in Mr. Carlisle's hands. I wonder
what sort of a master he will make, she thought, when he has me
entirely in his power? I have no sort of liberty now. It humbled her;
it was her own fault; yet Eleanor liked Mr. Carlisle, and thought that
she loved him. She was young yet and very inexperienced. She also liked
all the splendour of the position he gave her. Yet above the
gratification of this, through the dazzle of wealth and pleasure and
power, Eleanor discerned now a want these could not fill. What should
she do when they failed? there was no provision in them for the want of
them. Eleanor forgot her loss of independence, and pondered these
thoughts till they grew bitter with pain. By turns she wished she had
never seen Mr. Rhys, who she remembered first started them; or wished
she could see him again.
In the stillness and freedom and peace of the wide moor, Eleanor had
fearlessly given herself up to her musings, without thinking or caring
which way she went. The pony, finding the choice left to him, had
naturally enough turned off into a track leading over some wild hills
where he had been bred; the locality had pleasant associations for him.
But it had none of any kind for Eleanor; and when she roused herself to
think of it, she found she was in a distant part of the moor and
drawing near to the hills aforesaid; a bleak and dreary looking region,
and very far from home. Neither was she very sure by which way she
might soonest regain a neighbourhood that she knew. To follow the path
she was on and turn off into the first track that branched in the right
direction, seemed the best to do; and she roused up her pony to an
energetic little gallop. It seemed little after the long bounds Black
Maggie would take through the air; but it was brisk work for the pony.
Eleanor kept him at his speed. It was luxurious, to be alone; ride as
she liked, slow or fast, and think as she liked, even forbidden
thoughts. Her own mistress once more. Eleanor exulted, all the more
because she was a rebel. The wild moor was delicious; the freedom was
delicious; only she was far from home and the afternoon was on the
wane. She kept the pony to his speed.
By the base of the hills near to which the road led her, stood a
miserable little house. It needed but a look at the place, to decide
that the people who lived in it must be also miserable, and probably in
more ways than one. Eleanor who had intended asking there for some news
of her whereabouts and the roads, changed her mind as she drew near and
resolved to pass the house at a gallop. So much for wise resolves. The
miserable children who dwelt in the house had been that day making a
bonfire for their amusement right on her track. The hot ashes were
still there; the pony set his feet in them, reared high, and threw his
rider, who had never known the pony do such a thing before and had no
reason to expect it of him. Eleanor was thrown clean off on the ground,
and fell stunned.
She picked herself up after a few minutes, to find no bones broken,
the miserable hut close by, and two children and an old crone looking
at her. The pony had concluded it a dangerous neighbourhood and
departed, shewing a clean pair of heels. Eleanor gathered her dress in
her hand and looked at the people who were staring at her. Such faces!
What place is this? she asked, forcing herself to be bold. The
answer was utterly unintelligible. All Eleanor could make out was the
hoarsely or thickly put question, Be you hurted?
No, thank younot at all, I believe, she said breathlessly, for
she had not got over the shock of her fall. How far am I from the
village of Wiglands?
Again the words that were spoken in reply gave no meaning to her
Boys, will one of you shew me the nearest way there? I will give
you something as soon as I get home.
The children stared, at her and at each other; but Eleanor was more
comprehensible to them than they to her. The old woman said some hoarse
words to the children; and then one of them stepped forth and said
strangely, I 'ze go wiz ye.
I'll reward him for it, said Eleanor, nodding to the old
grandmother; and set off, very glad to be walking away. She did not
breathe freely till a good many yards of distance were between her and
the hut, where the crone and the other child still remained watching
her. There might be others of the family coming home; and Eleanor
walked at a brave pace until she had well left the little hut behind,
out of all fear of pursuit. Then she began to feel that she was
somewhat shattered by her fall, and getting tired, and she went more
gently. But it was a long, long way; the reach of moor seemed endless;
for it was a very different thing to go over it on Black Maggie's feet
from going over it on her own. Eleanor was exceedingly weary, and still
the brown common stretched away on all sides of her; and the distant
tuft of vegetation which announced the village of Wiglands, stood afar
off, and seemed to be scarcely nearer after miles of walking. Before
they reached it Eleanor's feet were dragging after one another in
weariest style. She could not possibly go on to the Lodge without
stopping to rest. How should she reward and send back her guide? As she
was thinking of this, Eleanor saw the smoke curling up from a stray
cottage hid among the trees; it was Mrs. Williams's cottage. Her heart
sprang with a sudden temptationdoubted, balanced, and resolved. She
had excuse enough; she would do a rebellious thing. She would go there
and rest. It might give her a chance to see Mr. Rhys and hear him talk;
it might not. If the chance came, why she would be very glad of it.
Eleanor had no money about her; she hastily detached a gold pencil case
from her watch chain, and put it into the ragged creature's hand who
had guided her; saw him turn his back, then went with a sort of
stealthy joy to the front of Mrs. Williams's cottage, pushed the door
open softly and went in.
Nobody was there; not a cat; it was all still. An inner door stood
ajar; within there was a sound of voices, low and pleasant. Eleanor
supposed Mrs. Williams would make her appearance in a minute, and sank
down on the first chair that offered; sank even her head in her hands,
for very weariness and the very sense of rest and security gained. The
chair was one standing by the fire and near the open inner door; the
voices came quite plainly through; and the next minute let Eleanor know
that one of them was the voice of her little sister Julia; she heard
one of Julia's joyous utterances. The other voice belonged to Mr. Rhys.
No sound of Mrs. Williams. Eleanor sat still, her head bowed in her
hands, and listened.
It seemed that Julia was looking at somethingor some collection of
things. Eleanor could hear the slight rustling of paper handledthen a
pause and talk. Julia had a great deal to say. Eleanor presently made
out that they were looking at a collection of plants. She felt so tired
that she had no inclination to move a single muscle. Mind and body sat
still to listen.
And what is that? she heard Julia say.
Isn't it beautiful! O that's as pretty as a feather.
If you saw them growing, dozens of them springing from the same
root, you would think them beautiful. Then those brown edgings are
black as jet and glossy.
Are those the thecoe, Mr. Rhys?
Yes. The Lastraeas, and all their family, have the fruit in those
little round spots, each with its own covering; that is their mark.
It is so funny that plants should have families, said Julia. Now
is this one of the family, Mr. Rhys?
Certainly; that is a Cystopteris.
It's a dear little thing! Where did you get it, Mr. Rhys?
I do not remember. They grow pretty nearly all over; you find them
on rocks, and walls.
I don't find them, said Julia. I wish I could. Now what is
Another of the family, but not a Cystopteris. That is the Holly
fern. Do you see how stiff and prickly it is? That was a troublesome
one to manage. I gathered it on a high mountain in Wales, I think.
Are high mountains good places?
For the mountain ferns. That is another Lastraea you have now; that
is very elegant. That grows on mountains too, but also on many other
places; shoots up in elegant tufts almost a yard high. I have seen it
very beautiful. When the fruit is ripe, the indusium is something of a
lilac colour, spotting the frond in double rowsas you see it there. I
have seen these Lastraeas and others, growing in great profusion on a
wild place in Devonshire, in the neighbourhood of the rushing torrent
of a river. The spray flew up on the rocks and stones along its banks,
keeping them moist, and sometimes overflowed them; and there in the
vegetable matter that had by little and little collected, there was
such a shew of ferns as I have not often seen. Another Lastraea grew, I
should think, five feet high; and this one, and the Lady fern. Turn the
next sheetthere it is. That is the Lady fern.
How perfectly beautiful! Julia exclaimed. Is that a Lastraea
Mr. Rhys laughed a little as he answered No. Until then his voice
had kept the quiet even tone of feeble strength.
Why is it called Lady fern?
I do not know. Perhaps because it is so delicate in its
structureperhaps because it is so tender. It does not bear being
broken from its root.
But I think Eleanor is as strong as anybody, said Julia.
Don't you remember how ill she was, only from having wetted her
feet, last summer? said Mr. Rhys with perfect gravity.
Well, what is that? said Julia, not liking the inference they were
That is a little fern that loves the wet. It grows by
waterfallsthose are its homes. It grows close to the fall, where it
will be constantly watered by the spray from it; sometimes this little
half-brother it has, the Oak fern, is found there along with it. They
are elegant species.
It must be nice to go to the waterfalls and climb up to get them,
said Julia. What do you call these little wet beauties, Mr. Rhys?
Polypodies! Now, Mr. Rhys,O what is this? This is prettiest of
Yes, one of the very prettiest. I found that in a cave, a wet cave,
by the sea. That is the sort of home it likes.
In Wales I have found it, and elsewhere; in the south of England;
but always by the sea; in places where I have seen a great many other
By the sea, Mr. Rhys? Why I have been there, and I did not see
anything but the waves and the sand and the rocks.
You did not know where to look.
Where did you look?
Under the rocks;and in them.
In the rocks, sir?
In their clefts and hollows and caves. In caves which I could only
reach in a boat, or by going in at low tide; then I saw things more
beautiful than a fairy palace, Julia.
What sort of things?
Well I wish you would take me with you, Mr. Rhys. I would not mind
wetting my feet. I will be a Hard fernnot a Lady fern. Eleanor shall
be the lady. O Mr. Rhys, won't you hate to leave England?
There are plenty of beautiful things where I am going, Juliaif I
But the people are so bad!
That is why I want to go to them.
But what can you do to them?
I can tell them of the Lord Jesus, Julia. They have never heard of
him; that is why they are so evil.
Maybe they won't believe you, Mr. Rhys.
Maybe they will. But the Lord has commanded me to go, all the
How, Mr. Rhys?
He answered in the beautiful words of PaulHow shall they believe
on him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a
preacher? There was a sorrowful depth in his tones, speaking to
himself rather than to his little listener.
Mr. Rhys, they are such dreadfully bad people, they might kill you,
and eat you.
Are you not afraid?
There is strangely much sometimes expressed, one can hardly say how,
in the tone of a single word. So it was with this word, even to the
ears of Eleanor in the next room. It was round and sweet, untrembling,
with something like a vibration of joy in its low utterance. It was but
a word, said in answer to a child's idle question; it pierced like a
barbed arrow through all the involutions of another heart, down into
the core. It was an accent of strength and quiet and fearless security,
though spoken by lips that were very uncertain of their tenure of life.
It gave the chord that Eleanor wanted sounded in her own soul; where
now there was no harmony at all, but sometimes a jarring clang, and
sometimes an echo of fear.
But Mr. Rhys, aren't they very dreadful, over there where
you want to go? Julia said.
Very dreadful; more than you can possibly imagine, or than I can,
Well I hope you won't go. Mr. Rhys, I think Mrs. Williams stays a
great whileit is time the kettle was on for your tea.
Eleanor had hardly time to be astonished at this most novel display
of careful housewifery on her little sister's part, whom indeed she
would have supposed to be ignorant that such a thing as a kettle
existed; when Julia came bounding into the outer room to look after the
article, or after the old dame who should take charge of it. She
stopped short, and Eleanor raised her head. Julia's exclamation was
Hush! whispered Eleanor.
What should I hush for? there's nobody here but Mr. Rhys in the
other room; and he was saying the other day that he wanted to see you.
Back she bounded. Mr. Rhys, here's Eleanor in the other room, and
no Mrs. Williams.
Eleanor heard the quiet answerTell your sister, that as I cannot
walk out to see her, perhaps she will do me the favour to come in
There was nothing better, in the circumstances; indeed Eleanor felt
she must go in to explain herself; she only waited for Julia's brisk
summonsEleanor, Mr. Rhys wants to see you!and gathering up her
habit she walked into the other room as steadily as if she had all the
right in the world to be there; bearing herself a little proudly, for a
sudden thought of Mr. Carlisle came over her. Mr. Rhys was lying on the
couch, as she had seen him before; but she was startled at the paleness
of his face, made more startling by the very dark eyebrows and bushy
hair. He raised himself on his elbow as she came in, and Eleanor could
not refuse to give him her hand.
I ought to apologise for not rising to receive you, he said,but
you see I cannot help it.
I am very sorry, Mr. Rhys. Are you less strong than you were a few
I seem to have no strength at all now, he answered with a half
laugh. Will you not sit down? Julia, suppose you coax the fire to burn
a little brighter, for your sister's welcome?
She can do it herself, said Julia. I am going to see to the fire
in the other room.
No, that would be inhospitable, Mr. Rhys said with a smile; and I
do not believe your sister knows how, Julia. She has not learned as
many things as you have.
Julia gave her friend a very loving look and went at the fire
without more words. Eleanor sat under a strange spell. She hardly knew
her sister in that look; and there was about the pale pure face that
lay on the couch, with its shining eyes, an atmosphere of influence
that subdued and enthralled her. It was with an effort that she roused
herself to give the intended explanation of her being in that place.
Mr. Rhys heard her throughout.
I am very glad you were thrown, he said; since it has procured me
the pleasure of seeing you.
Mr. Carlisle will never let you ride alone againthat is one
thing! said Julia. And having finished the fire and her exclamatory
comments together, she ran off into the other room. Her last words had
called up a deep flush on Eleanor's face. Mr. Rhys waited till it had
passed quite away, then he asked very calmly, and putting the question
also with his bright eyes,
How have you been, since I saw you last?
The eyes were bright, not with the specular brightness of many eyes,
but with a sort of fulness of light and keenness of intelligent vision.
Eleanor knew perfectly well to what they referred. She shrank within
herself, cowered, and hesitated. Then made a brave effort and threw
back the question.
How have you been, Mr. Rhys?
I have been well, he said. You know it is the privilege of the
children of God, to glory in tribulations. That is what I am doing.
Have you been so very ill? asked Eleanor.
My illness gives me no pain, he answered; it only incapacitates
me for doing anything. And at first that was more grievous to me than
you can understand. With so much to do, and with my heart in the work,
it seemed as if my Master had laid me aside and said, 'You shall do no
more; you shall lie there and not speak my name to men any longer.' It
gave me great pain at firstI was tempted to rebel; but now I know
that patience worketh experience. I thank him for the lessons he has
taught me. I am willing to go out and be useful, or to lie here and be
comparatively useless,just as my Lord will!
The slow deliberate utterance, which testified at once of physical
weakness and mental power; the absolute repose of the bright face,
touched Eleanor profoundly. She sat spell-bound, forgetting her
overthrow and her fatigue and everything else; only conscious of her
struggling thoughts and cares of the weeks past and of the presence and
influence of the one person she knew who had the key to them.
Having so few opportunities, he went on, you will not be
surprised that I hail every one that offers, of speaking in my Mater's
name. I know that he has summoned you to his service, Miss Powleis he
your Master yet?
Eleanor pushed her chair round, grating it on the floor, so as to
turn her face a little away, and answered, No.
You have heard his call to you?
Eleanor felt her whole heart convulsed in the struggle to answer or
not answer this question. With great difficulty she kept herself
outwardly perfectly quiet; and at last said hoarsely, looking away from
Mr. Rhys into the fire,
How do you know anything about it?
Have you yielded obedience to his commands? he said, disregarding
I do not know what they are Eleanor answered.
Have you sought to find them out?
She hesitated, and said no. Her face was completely turned away
from him now; but the tender intonation of the next words thrilled
through every nerve of her heart and brain.
Then your head is uncovered yet by that helmet of security which
you were anxious about a little time ago?
It was the speech of somebody who saw right into her heart and knew
all that was going on there; what was the use of holding out and trying
to maintain appearances? Eleanor's head sank; her heart gave way; she
burst into tears. Now was her chance, she thought; the ice was broken;
she would ask of Mr. Rhys all she wanted to know, for he could tell
her. Before another word was spoken, in rushed Julia.
I've got that going, she said; you shall have some tea directly,
Mr. Rhys. I hope Mrs. Williams will stay away till I get through. Now
it will take a little whilecome here, Eleanor, and look at these
Eleanor was sitting upright again; she had driven the tears back.
She hoped for another chance of speaking, when Julia should go to get
her tea ready. In the mean while she moved her seat, as her sister
desired her, to look over the ferns. This brought her into the
neighbourhood of the couch, where Julia sat on a low bench, turning the
great sheets of paper on the floor before her. It brought Eleanor's
face into full view, too, she knew; but now she did not care for that.
Julia went on rapturously with the ferns, asking information as before;
and in Mr. Rhys's answers there was a grave tone of preoccupation which
thrilled on Eleanor's ear and kept her own mind to the point where it
Are there ferns out there where you are going if you get well, Mr.
Rhys? new ones?
I have no doubt of it.
Then you will gather them and dry them, won't you?
I think it is very possible I may.
I wish you wouldn't go! O Mr. Rhys, tell Eleanor about that place;
she don't know about it. Tell her what you told me.
He did; perhaps to fill up the time and take Eleanor's attention
from herself for the moment. He gave a short account of the people in
question; a people of fine physical and even fine mental development,
for savages; inhabiting a country of great beauty and rich natural
resources; but at the same time sunk in the most abject depths of moral
debasement. A country where the works of the devil had reached their
utmost vigour; where men lived but for vile ends, and took the lives of
their fellow-men and each other with the utmost ruthlessness and
carelessness and horrible cruelty; and more than that, where they
dishonoured human life by abusing, and even eating, the forms in which
human life had residence. It was a terrible picture Mr. Rhys drew, in a
few words; so terrible, that it did take Eleanor's attention from all
else for the time.
Is other life safe there? she asked. Do the white people who go
there feel themselves secure?
I presume they do not.
Then why go to such a horrible place?
Why not? he asked. The darker they are, the more they want
But it is to jeopardize the very life you wish to use for them.
Mr. Rhys was silent for a moment, and when he spoke it was only to
make a remark about the fern which lay displayed on the floor before
That Hart's-tongue, said he, I gathered from a cavern on the
sea-coastwhere it grew hanging down from the roof,quantities of
In a dark cavern, Mr. Rhys? said Julia.
Not in a dark part of the cavern. No, it grew only where it could
have the light.Miss Powle, I am of David's mind'In God I have put
my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me.'
He looked up at Eleanor as he spoke. The slight smile, the look, in
Eleanor's mood of mind, were like a coal of fire dropped into her
heart. It burned. She said nothing; sat still and looked at the fern on
But will you not feel afraid, Mr. Rhys? said Julia.
Why no, Julia. I shall have nothing to be afraid of. You forget who
will be with me.
Julia with that jumped up and ran off to see about her fire and
kettle in the other room. Eleanor and Mr. Rhys were left alone. The
latter did not speak. Eleanor longed to hear more, and made a great
I do not understand you, she said hoarsely, for in the stir of her
feelings she could not command a clear voice. You say, He will be with
you. What do you mean? We cannot see him now. How will he be with you?
She had raised her eyes, and she saw a strange softness and light
pass over the face she was looking at. Indefinable, unaccountable, she
yet saw it; a shining from the spiritual glory within, which Eleanor
recognized, though she had never seen it before. Fire and water were in
those bright eyes at once; and Eleanor guessed the latter evidence of
emotion was for his ignorant questioner. She had no heart left. By such
a flash of revelation the light from one spirit shewed the other its
darkness; dimly known to her before; but now, once and forever, she
knew where she stood and where he stood, and what the
want of her life must be, till she should stand there too. Her face
shewed but a little of the work going on with heavings and strugglings
in her mind; yet doubtless it was as readable to her companion as his
had been to her. She could only hear at the timeafterwards she
ponderedthe words of his reply.
I cannot shew him to you;but he will shew himself to you, if you
There was no chance for more words; Julia came in again; and was
thereafter bustling in and out, getting her cup of tea ready. Eleanor
could not meet her little sister's looks and probable words; she turned
hastily from the ferns and the couch and put herself at the window with
her back to everybody. There was a wild cry in her heartWhat shall I
do! what shall I do! One thing she must have, or be miserable; how was
she to make it her own. As soon as she turned her face from that
cottage room and what was in it, she must meet the full blast of
opposing currents; unfavourable, adverse, overwhelming. Her light was
not strong enough to stand that blast, Eleanor knew; it would be blown
out directly;and she left in darkness. In a desperate sense of this,
a desperate resolve to overcome it somehow, a despairing powerlessness
to contend, she sat at the window seeing nothing. She was brought to
herself at last by Julia's, EleanorMr. Rhys wants you to take a cup
of tea. Eleanor turned round mechanically, took the cup, and changed
her place for one near the fire.
She never forgot that scene. Julia's part in it gave it a most
strange air to Eleanor; so did her own. Julia was moving about, quite
at home, preparing cups of tea for everybody, herself included; and
waiting upon Mr. Rhys with a steady care and affectionateness which
evidently met with an affectionate return. The cottage room with its
plain furniturethe little common blue cups in which the tea was
servedthe fire in the chimney on the coarse iron fire-dogsthe
reclining figure on the couch, and her own riding-habit in the middle
of the room; were all stereotyped on Eleanor's memory for ever. The tea
refreshed her very much.
How are you going to get home, Miss Powle? asked her host. Have
you sent for a carriage?
NoI saw nobody to sendI can walk it quite well now, said
Eleanor. And feeling that the time was come, she set down her tea-cup
and came to bid her host good-bye; though she shrank from doing it. She
gave him her hand again, but she had no words to speak.
Good-bye, said he. I am sorry I am not well enough to come and
see you; I would take that liberty.
And so I shall never see him again, thought Eleanor as she went
out of the cottage; and nobody will ever speak any more words to me of
what I want to hear; and what will become of me! What chance shall I
have very soonwhat chance have I nowto attend to these things? to
get right? and what chance would all these things have with Mr.
Carlisle? I could manage my mother. What will become of me!
Eleanor walked and thought, both hard, till she got past the
village; finding herself alone, thought got the better of haste, and
she threw herself down under a tree to collect some order and
steadiness in her mind if possible before other interests and
distractions broke in. She sat with her face buried in her hands a good
while. And one conclusion Eleanor's thoughts came to; that there was a
thing more needful than other things; and that she would hold that one
thing first in her mind, and keep it first in her endeavours, and make
all her arrangements accordingly. Eleanor was young and untried, but
her mind had a tolerable back-bone of stiffness when once aroused to
take action; her conclusion meant something. She rose up, then; looked
to see how far down the sun was; and turning to pursue her walk
vigorouslyfound Mr. Carlisle at her side. He was as much surprised as
Why Eleanor! what are you doing here?
Trying to get home. I have been thrown from my pony.
Away on the moorI don't know where. I never was there before. I
am not hurt.
Then how come you here?
Walked here, sir.
And where are your servants?
You forget. I am only Eleanor PowleI do not go with a train after
But she was obliged to give an account of the whole affair.
You must not go alone in that way again, said he decidedly. Sit
Look where the sun is. I am going home, said Eleanor.
Sit down. I am going to send for a carriage.
Eleanor protested, in vain. Mr. Carlisle sent his groom on to the
Lodge with the message, and the heels of the horses were presently
clattering in the distance. Eleanor stood still.
I do not want rest, she insisted. I am ready to walk home, and
able. I have been resting.
A long while. I went into Mrs. Williams's cottage and rested there.
I would rather go on.
He put her hand upon his arm and turned towards the Lodge, but
permitted her after all to move only at the gentlest of rates.
You will not go out in this way again? he said; and the words were
more an expression of his own will than an enquiry as to hers.
There is no reason why I should not, Eleanor answered.
I do not like that you should be walking over moors and taking
shelter in cottages, without protection.
I can protect myself. I know what is due to me.
You must remember what is due to me, he said laughing, and
stopping her lips when she would have replied. Eleanor walked along,
silenced, and for the moment subdued. The wish was in her heart, to
have let Mr. Carlisle know in some degree what bent her spirit was
taking; to have given him some hint of what he must expect in her when
she became his wife; she could not find how to do it. She could not see
the way to begin. So far was Mr. Carlisle from the whole world of
religious interests and concerns, that to introduce it to him seemed
like bringing opposite poles together. She walked by his side very
silent and doubtful. He thought she was tired; put her into the
carriage with great tenderness when it came; and at parting from her in
the evening desired her to go early to rest.
Eleanor was very little likely to do it. The bodily adventures of
the day had left little trace, or little that was regarded; the mental
journey had been much more lasting in its effects. That night there was
a young moon, and Eleanor sat at her window, looking out into the
shadowy indistinctness of the outer world, while she tried to resolve
the confusion of her mind into something like visible order and
definiteness. Two points were clear, and seemed to loom up larger and
clearer the longer she thought about them; her supreme need of that
which she had not, the faith and deliverance of religion; and the
adverse influence and opposition of Mr. Carlisle in all the efforts she
might make to secure or maintain it. And under all this lurked a
thought that was like a serpent for its unrecognized coming and going
and for the sting it left,a wish that she could put off her marriage.
No new thing in one way; Eleanor had never been willing it should be
fixed for so early a day; nevertheless she had accepted and submitted
to it, and become accustomed to the thought of it. Now repugnance
started up anew and with fresh energy. She could hardly understand
herself; her thoughts were a great turmoil; they went over and over
some of the experiences of the day, with an aimless dwelling upon them;
yet Eleanor was in general no dreamer. The words of Mr. Rhys, that had
pierced her with a sense of duty and needthe looks, that even in the
remembrance wrung her heart with their silent lesson-bearingthe
sympathy testified for herself, which intensified all her own
emotions,and in contrast, the very tender and affectionate but
supreme manner of Mr. Carlisle, in whose power she felt she was,the
alternation of these images and the thoughts they gave rise to, kept
Eleanor at her window, until the young moon went down behind the
western horizon and the night was dark with only stars. So dark she
felt, and miserable; and over and over and over again her cry of that
afternoon was re-echoed,What shall I do! what will become of me!
Upon one thing she fixed. That Mr. Carlisle should know that he was
not going to find a gay wife in her, but one whose mind was set upon
somewhat else and upon another way of life. This would be very
distasteful to him; and he should know it. How she would manage to let
him know, Eleanor left to circumstances; but she went to bed with that
CHAPTER VIII. IN THE BARN.
It hath been the longest night
That e'er I watched, and the most heaviest.
Good resolutions are sometimes excellent things, but they are
susceptible of overturns. Eleanor's met with one.
She was sitting with Mr. Carlisle the very next day, in a disturbed
mood of mind; for he and her mother had been laying plans and making
dispositions with reference to her approaching marriage; plans and
dispositions in which her voice was not asked, and in which matters
were carried rapidly forward towards their consummation. Eleanor felt
that bands and chains were getting multiplied round her, fastening her
more and more in the possession of her captor, while her own mind was
preparing what would be considered resistance to the authority thus
secured. The sooner she spoke the better; but how to begin? She bent
over her embroidery frame with cheeks that gradually grew burning hot.
The soft wind that blew in from the open window at her side would not
cool them. Mr. Carlisle came and sat down beside her.
What does all this mean? said he laughingly, drawing his finger
softly over Eleanor's rich cheek.
It's hot! said Eleanor.
Is it? I have the advantage of you. It is the perfection of a day
Eleanor, cried Julia, bounding in through the window, Mr. Rhys is
better to-day. He says so.
Is he? said Eleanor.
Yes; you know how weak he was yesterday; he is not quite so weak
Who is Mr. Rhys? said Mr. Carlisle.
O he is nice! Eleanor says nice rhymes to Rhys. Wasn't my tea nice,
Eleanor? We had Miss Broadus to tea this afternoon. We had you
yesterday and Miss Broadus to-day. I wonder who will come next.
Is this a sick friend you have been visiting? said Mr. Carlisle,
as Julia ran off, having accomplished the discomfiture of her sister.
No, not at allonly I stopped at Mrs. Williams' cottage to rest
yesterday; and he lives there.
You saw him?
Yes; Julia found me, and I could not help seeing him.
But you took tea there, Eleanor? With whom?
I took tea with Julia and her sick friend. Why not? She was making
a cup of tea for him and gave me one. I was very glad of it. There was
no one else in the house.
How is your sister allowed to do such things?
For a sick friend, Mr. Carlisle? I think it is well anybody's part
to do such things.
I think I will forbid embroidery frames at the Priory, if they are
to keep me from seeing your eyes, said he, with one arm drawing her
back from the frame and with the other hand taking her fingers from it,
and looking into her face, but kissing her. Now tell me, who is this
Eleanor was irritated; yet the assumption of authority, calm and
proud as it was, had a mixture of tenderness which partly soothed her.
The demand however was imperious. Eleanor answered.
He was Alfred's tutoryou have seen himhe has been very ill all
summer. He is a sick man, staying in the village.
And what have you to do with such a person?
Nothing in the world! I stopped there to rest myself, because I was
too tired to walk home.
He smiled at her kindling indignation, and gave her a kiss by way of
forgiveness for it; then went on gravely.
You have been to that cottage before, Eleanor?
How was that?
I went with Julia when she was carrying some refreshments to her
sick friend. I will do that for anybody, Mr. Carlisle.
Say that over again, he said calmly, but with a manner that shewed
he would have it. And Eleanor could not resist.
I would do that for anybody, Macintosh, she said gently, laying
her hand upon his arm.
No, darling. You shall send nurses and supplies to all the folk in
the kingdomif you willbut you shall pay such honour as this to
nobody but me.
Mr. Carlisle, said Eleanor rousing again, if I am not worthy your
trust, I am not fit to do either you or anybody else honour.
She had straightened herself up to face him as she said this, but it
was mortifying to feel how little she could rouse him. He only drew her
back into his arms, folding her close and kissing her again and again.
You are naughty, he said, but you are good. You are as sweet as a
rose, Eleanor. My wife will obey me, in a few things, and she shall
command me in all others. Darling, I wish you not to be seen in the
village again alone. Let some one attend you, if I am not at hand.
He suffered her to return to her embroidery; but though Eleanor's
heart beat and her cheek was flushed with contending feelings, she
could not find a word to say. Her heart rebelled against the authority
held over her; nevertheless it subdued her; she dared not bring her
rebellion into open light. She shrank from that; and hid now in her own
thoughts all the new revelations she had meant to draw forth for Mr.
Carlisle's entertainment. Now was no time. In fact Eleanor's
consciousness made her afraid that if she mentioned her religious
purposes and uneasiness, this man's acuteness would catch at the
connecting link between the new dereliction of duty and the former
which had been just rebuked. That would lay her open to imputations and
suspicions too dishonouring to be risked, and impossible to disprove,
however false. She must hold her tongue for the present; and Eleanor
worked on at her embroidery, her fingers pulling at it energetically,
while feeling herself much more completely in another's power than it
suited her nature to be. Somehow at this time the vision of Rythdale
Priory was not the indemnification it had seemed to her before. Eleanor
liked Mr. Carlisle, but she did not like to be governed by him;
although with an odd inconsistency, it was that very power of
government which formed part of his attraction. Certainly women are
strange creatures. Meanwhile she tugged on at her work with a hot cheek
and a divided mind, and a wisely silent tongue; and M. Carlisle sat by
and made himself very busy with her, finding out ways of being both
pleasant and useful. Finally he put a stop to the embroidery and
engaged Eleanor in a game of chess with him; began to teach her how to
play it, and succeeded in getting her thoroughly interested and
diverted from her troublesome thoughts. They returned as soon as he
I can never speak to him about my religious feelings, mused
Eleanor as she walked slowly to her own room,never! I almost think,
if I did, he would find means to cheat me out of them, in spite of all
my determinationsuntil it would be too late. What is to become of me?
What a double part I shall play nowmy heart all one way, my outer
life all another. It must be so. I can shew these thoughts to no one.
Will they live, shut up in the dark so?
Mr. Rhys's words about seeking recurred to her. Eleanor did not
know how, and felt strange. I could follow his prayers, if I heard
them, she said to herself;I do not know how to set about it. I
suppose reading the Bible is goodthat and good books.
And that Eleanor tried. Good books however were by and by given up;
none that she had in the least suited her wants; only the Bible proved
both a light and a power to her. It had a great fascination for
Eleanor, and it sometimes made her hopeful; at any rate she persevered
in reading it, through gloom and cheer; and her mind when she was alone
knew much more of the former condition than of the latter. When not
alone, she was in a whirl of other occupations and interests. The
preparations for her marriage went on diligently; Eleanor saw it and
knew it, and would not help though she could not hinder. But she was
very far from happy. The style and title of Lady Rythdale had faded in
her imagination; other honour and glory, though dimly seen, seemed more
desirable to Eleanor now, and seemed endangered by this. She was very
uneasy. She struggled between the remaining sense of pride, which
sometimes arose to life, and this thought of something better; at other
times she felt as if her marriage with Mr. Carlisle would doom her
forever to go without any treasure but what an earthly coronet well
lined with ermine might symbolize and ensure. Meanwhile weeks flew by;
while Eleanor studied the Bible and sought for light in her solitary
hours at night, and joined in all Mr. Carlisle's plans of gayety by
day. September and October were both gone. November's short days begun.
And when the days should be at the shortestThen, thought Eleanor,
my fate will be settled. Mr. Carlisle will have me; and I can never
disobey him. I cannot now.
November reached the middle, and there wanted but little more than a
month to the wedding-day. Eleanor sat one morning in her garden
parlour, which a mild day made pleasant; working by the glass door. The
old thought, What will become of me! was in her heart. A shadow
darkened the door. Eleanor looked up, fearing to see Mr. Carlisle; it
was her little sister Julia.
Julia opened the door and came in. It is nice in the garden,
Eleanor, she said. The chrysanthemums are so beautiful as I never saw
themwhite and yellow and orange and rose-colour, and a hundred
colours. They are beautiful, Eleanor.
May I have a great bunch of them to take to Mr. Rhys?
Have what you like. I thought you used to take them without
Julia looked serious.
I wish I could go down to the village to-night, I knowshe said.
To-night! What do you wish that for?
Because, Mr. Rhys is going to preach; and I do want to go so much;
but I can't.
Going to preach!why is he so well as that?
He isn't well at all, said Julia,not what you would call well.
But he says he is well. He is white and weak enough yet; and I don't
think that is being well. He can't go to Lily Dale nor to Rythdale; so
some of the people are coming to Wiglands.
Where is he going to preach?
Where do you think? In Mr. Brooks's barn. They won't let him preach
at the inn, and he can't have the church; and I do want to see
how he can preach in the barn!
Mr. Brooks was a well-to-do farmer, a tenant of the Rythdale estate,
living near the road to the old priory and half a mile from the village
of Wiglands. A consuming desire seized Eleanor to do as her little
sister had saidhear Mr. Rhys preach. The desire was so violent that
it half frightened her with the possibility of its fulfilment.
She told Julia that it was an absurd wish, and impracticable, and
dismissed her; and then her whole mind focussed itself on Mr. Brooks's
barn. Eleanor saw nothing else through the morning, whatever she was
doing. It was impossible! yet it was a first, last, and only chance,
perhaps in her life, of hearing the words of truth so spoken as she
knew they would be in that place that night. Besides, she had a craving
curiosity to know how they would be spoken. One month more,
Eleanor once securely lodged in Rythdale Priory, and her chance of
hearing any words whatever spoken in a barn, was over for ever; unless
indeed she condescended to become an inspector of agricultural
proceedings. Yet she said to herself over and over that she had no
chance now; that her being present was a matter of wild impossibility;
she said it and re-said it, and with every time a growing consciousness
that impossibility should not stop her. At last impossibility shaped
itself into a plan.
I am going down to see Jane Lewis, mamma, was Eleanor's
announcement at luncheon.
To day, Eleanor?
But Mr. Carlisle will be here, and he will not like it.
He will have enough of me by and by, ma'am. I shall may be never
have another chance of taking care of Jane. I know she wants to see me,
and I am going to-day. And if she wants me very much, I shall stay all
night; so you need not send.
What will Mr. Carlisle say to all that?
He will say nothing to it, if you do not give him an opportunity,
mamma. I am going, at all events.
Eleanor, I am afraid you have almost too much independence, for one
who is almost a married woman.
Is independence a quality entirely given up, ma'am, when 'the ring
Certainly! I thought you knew that. You must make up your mind to
it. You are a noble creature, Eleanor; but my comfort is that Mr.
Carlisle will know how to manage you. I never could, to my
satisfaction. I observe he has brought you in pretty well.
Eleanor left the room; and if the tide of her independence could
have run higher, her mother's words would have furnished the necessary
Jane Lewis was a poor girl in the village; the daughter of one who
had been Eleanor's nurse, and who now old and infirm, and unable to do
much for herself or others, watched the declining days of her child
without the power to give them much relief. Jane was dying with
consumption. The other member of the family was the old father, still
more helpless; past work and dependent on another child for all but the
house they lived in. That, in earlier days, had been made their own.
Eleanor was their best friend, and many a day, and night too, had been
a sunbeam of comfort in the poor house. She now, when the day was far
enough on its wane, provided herself with a little basket of grapes,
ordered her pony, and rode swiftly down to the village; not without
attendance this time, though confessing bitterly to herself the truth
of her mother's allegations. At the cottage door she took the basket;
ordered the pony should come for her next morning at eight o'clock, and
went into the cottage; feeling as if she had for a little space turned
her back upon troublesome people and things and made herself free. She
went in softly, and was garrulously welcomed by her old nurse and her
husband. It was so long since they had seen her! and she was going to
be such a great lady! and they knew she would not forget them
nevertheless. It was not flattery. It was true speech. Eleanor asked
for Jane, and with her basket went on into the upper little room where
the sick girl lay. There felt, when she had got above the ground floor,
as if she was tolerably safe.
It was a little low room under the thatch, in which Eleanor now hid
herself. A mere large closet of a room, though it boasted of a
fireplace, happily. A small lattice under the shelving roof let in what
it could of the light of a dying November day. The bed with its sick
occupant, two chairs, a little table, and a bit of carpet on the floor,
were all the light revealed. Eleanor's welcome here was also most
sincere; less talkative, it was yet more glad than that given by the
old couple down stairs; a light shone all over the pale face of the
sick girl, and the weary eye kindled, at sight of her friend.
Extreme neatness was not the characteristic of this little low room,
simply for want of able hands to ensure it. Eleanor's first work was to
set Jane to eating grapes; her next, to put the place in tidy order.
Lady Rythdale shall be useful once more in her life, she thought. She
brushed up the floor, swept the hearth, demolished cobwebs on the
walls, and rubbed down the chairs. She had borrowed an apron and cap
from old Mrs. Lewis. The sick girl watched her with eager eyes.
I can't bear to see you a doing of that, Miss Eleanor, she
Hush, Jane! Eat your grapes.
You've a kind heart, said the girl sighing; and it's good when
them that has the power has the feelings.
How are your nights now, Jane?
They're tediousI lie awake so; and then I get coughing. I am
always so glad to see the light come in the mornings! but it's long a
coming now. I can't get nobody to hear me at night if I want anything.
Do you often want something?
Times, I do. Times, I get out of wanting, because I can't haveand
times I only want worse.
What do you want, Jane?
Well, Miss Eleanor,I conceit I want to see somebody. The nights
is very longand in the dark and by myselfI gets feared.
To Eleanor's dismay she perceived Jane was weeping.
What in the world are you afraid of, Jane? I never saw you so
'Tisn't of anything in this world, Miss Eleanor, said Jane.
Her face was still covered with her hands, and the grapes neglected.
Eleanor was utterly confounded. Had Jane caught her feeling? or was
this something else?
Are you afraid of spirits, Jane?
No, Miss Eleanor.
What is it, then? Jane, this is something new. I never saw you
feeling so before.
No, ma'amand I didn't. But there come a gentleman to see me,
A gentleman to see you? What gentleman?
I don't know, Miss Eleanor; only he was tall, and pale-like, and
black hair. He asked me if I was ready to dieand I said I didn't know
what it was I wanted if I wasn't; and he told meOh, I know I'll
never have rest no more!
A burst of weeping followed these words. Eleanor felt as if a
thunderbolt had broken at her feet; so terrible to her, in her own
mood, was this revelation of a kindred feeling. She stood by the
bedside, dismayed, shocked, a little disposed to echo Jane's despairing
prophecy in her own case.
Did he say no more to you, Jane?
Yes, Miss Eleanor, he did; and every word he said made me feel
worser. His two eyes was like two swords going through me; and they
went through me so softly, ma'am, I couldn't abear it. They killed me.
But, Jane, he did not mean to kill you. What did he say?
I don't know, Miss Eleanorhe said a many things; but they only
made me feelhow I ain't fit
There was no more talking. The words were broken off by sobs.
Eleanor turned aside to the fire-place and began to make up the fire,
in a blank confusion and distress; feeling, to use an Arabic phrase, as
if the sky had fallen. She could give no comfort; she wanted it
herself. The best she could think of, was the suggestion that the
gentleman would come again, and that then he would make all things
plain. Would he come while Eleanor was there, that afternoon? What a
chance! But she remembered it was very unlikely. He was to preach in
the evening; he would want to keep all his strength for that. And now
the question arose, how should she get to the barn.
The first thing was to soothe Jane. Eleanor succeeded in doing that
after a while. She made her a cup of tea and a piece of toast, and took
some herself; and sat in the darkening light musing how she should do.
One good thing was secure. She had not been followed up this afternoon,
nor sent for home; both which disagreeables she had feared. Jane dozed,
and she thought; and the twilight fell deeper and deeper.
There was after all only one way in which Eleanor could accomplish
her desire; though she turned the matter all round in her head before
she would see it, or determine upon adopting it. No mortal that she
knew could be trusted with the secretif she meant to have it remain a
secret: and that at all costs was Eleanor's desire. Julia might have
been trusted, but Julia could not have been brought along. Eleanor was
alone. She thought, and trembled, and made up her mind.
The hour must be waited for when people from the village would be
setting forth to go to Brooks' farm. It was dark then, except some
light from the stars. Eleanor got out a bonnet of Jane's, which the
owner would never use again; a close little straw bonnet; and tied over
it a veil she had taken the precaution to bring. Her own hat and mantle
she laid away out of sight, and wrapped round her instead a thick
camlet cloak of the sick girl's, which enveloped her from head to feet.
Pretty good disguisethought Eleanor to herself. Mr. Carlisle would
not find her out in this. But there was no danger of his seeing
her. She was all ready to steal out; when she suddenly recollected that
she might be missed, and the old people in terror make a hue and cry
after her. That would not do. She stripped off the bonnet again and
awoke the sleeping girl.
Jane, she said bending over her, I have somebody else to seeI
am going out for a little while. I will be back and spend the night
with you. Tell your mother to leave the door open for me, if she wishes
to go to bed; and I will look after you. Now go to sleep again.
Without waiting for Jane to think about it, Eleanor slipped out,
bonnet in hand, and went softly down stairs. The old man was already
gone to bed in a little inner chamber; the old mother sat dozing by the
fire. Standing behind her Eleanor put on the bonnet, and then gently
opening the house door, with one step was in the road. A moment stood
still; but the next moment set off with quick, hasty steps.
It was damp and dark; the stars were shining indeed, yet they shed
but a glimmering and doubtful light upon Eleanor's doubtful proceeding.
She knew it was such; her feet trembled and stumbled in her way, though
that was as much with the fever of determination as with the hinderings
of doubt. There was little occasion for bodily fear. People, she knew,
would be going to the preaching, all along the way; she would not be
alone either going or coming. Nevertheless it was dark, and she was
where she had no business to be; and she hurried along rather nervously
till she caught sight of one or two groups before her, evidently bent
for the same place with herself. She slackened her footsteps then, so
as to keep at a proper distance behind them, and felt that for the
present she was secure. Yet, it was a wild, strange walk to Eleanor.
Secure from personal harm she might be, and was, no doubt; but who
could say what moral consequences might follow her proceeding. What if
her mother knew it? what if Mr. Carlisle? Eleanor felt she was doing a
very questionable thing; but the desire to do it on her part amounted
to a necessity. She must hear these words that would be spoken in the
barn to-night. They would be on the subject that of all others
interested her, and spoken by the lips that of all others could alone
speak to the purpose. So Eleanor felt; so was in some measure for her
the truth; and amid all her sense of doubt and danger and inward
trembling, there was a wild thrill of delight at accomplishing her
object. She would hearyes, she would hearwhat Mr. Rhys had to say
to the people that night. Nobody should ever know it; neither he nor
others; but if they did, she would run all risks rather than be
It was a walk never to be forgotten. Alone, though near people that
knew not she was near; in the darkness of night; the stars shewing only
the black forms of trees and hedgerows, and a line of what could not be
called light, where the road ran; keeping in the shadow of the hedge
and hurrying along over the undiscerned footway;it was a novel
experience for one who had been all her life so tended and sheltered as
she. It was strange and disagreeable. Waymarks did not seem familiar;
distances seemed long. Eleanor wished the walk would come to an end.
It did at last. The people,there was a stream of them now pouring
along the road, indeed so many that Eleanor was greatly surprised at
them,turned off into a field, within which at a few rods from the
road stood the barn in question; at the door of which one or two lamps
hung out shewed that something unusual was going on there. Mr. Brooks
had several barns, the gables and roofs of which looked like a little
settlement in the starlight, not far off; but this particular barn
stood alone, and was probably known to the country people from former
occasions; for they streamed towards it and filed in without any
wavering or question. So Eleanor followed, trembling and wondering at
herself; passed the curtain that hung at the door, and went in with the
The place that received them was a great threshing-floor, of noble
proportions, for a threshing-floor. Perhaps Mr. Brooks had an eye to
contingencies when he built it. On two sides it was lined with grain,
rising in walls of cereal sweetness to a great height; and certainly,
if Eleanor had been in many a statelier church, she had never been in
one better ventilated or where the air was more fragrantly scented. But
a new doubt struck her. Could it be right to hold divine service in
such a place? Was this a fit or decorous temple, for uses of such high
and awful dignity? The floor was a bare plank floor; footfalls echoed
over it. The roof was high indeed; but no architect's groining of beams
reminded one that the place was set apart to noble if not sacred
purposes. Nothing but common carpenter's joinery was over her head, in
the roof of the barn. The heads of wheat ears instead of carved
cornices and pendents; and if the lights were dim, which they certainly
were, it did not seem at all a religious light. Only at the further
end, where a table and chair stood ready for the preacher, some tall
wax candles threw a sufficient illumination for all present to see him
well. Was that his pulpit? What sort of preaching could possibly be had
Eleanor looked round the place. There was no really lighted part of
it except about that table and chair. It was impossible for people to
see each other well from a little distance off, unless thoroughly well
Eleanor felt there was very little danger indeed that anybody should
recognize her identity, in Jane's bonnet and cloak. That was so much
comfort. Another comfort was, that the night was mild. It was not like
November. A happy circumstance for everybody there; but most of all for
the convalescent preacher, whose appearance Eleanor looked for now with
a kind of fearful anxiety. If he should have been hindered from coming,
after all! Her heart beat hard. She stood far back behind most of the
people, near the door by which she had entered. A few benches and
chairs were in the floor, given up to the use of the women and the aged
people. Eleanor marvelled much to see that there were some quite old
people among the company. The barn was getting very full.
There is a seat yonder, said some one touching her on the elbow.
Won't you have it?
Eleanor shook her head.
You had better, he said kindly; there's a seat with nobody in it;
there's plenty of room up there. Come this way.
Eleanor was unwilling to go further forward, yet did not like to
trust her voice to speak, nor choose to draw attention to herself in
any way. She was needlessly afraid. However, she yielded to the
instance of her kind neighbour and followed him among the crowd to the
spot he had picked out for her. She would have resisted further, if she
had known where this spot was; for it was far forward in the barn, more
than half way between the door and the candle-lighted table, and in the
very midst of the assembly. There was no help for it now; she could not
go back; and Eleanor was thankful for the support the seat gave her.
She was trembling all over. A vague queer feeling of her being about
something wrong, not merely in the circumstances of her getting there,
but in the occasion itself, haunted her with a sort of superstition.
Could such an assembly be rightfully gathered for such a purpose in
such a place? Could it be right, to speak publicly of sacred things
with such an absence of any public recognition of their sacredness? In
a bare barn? an unconsecrated building, with no beauty or dignity of
observance to give homage to the work and the occasion? Eleanor was a
compound of strange feelings; till she suddenly became conscious of a
stir in the gathered throng, and then heard on the plank floor a step
that she intuitively knew. As the step and the tall figure that it bore
passed close by her on the way to the table, an instant sense of quiet
and security settled down on her. Nervousness died away. There was one
person there now that she knew; the question of his coming was settled,
and her coming was not for nothing; and moreover, whatever business he
was concerned in was right, in all its parts! She was sure of that. She
watched him, with a great bound of exultation in her heart; watched him
kneel down for prayer as he reached his place; and wondered, while awe
mixed with her wonder, how he could do it, before and amongst all those
people as he was; not shut off in a distant chancel alone by himself,
but there with everybody crowding upon him. Her wonder had but little
space to exercise itself. After a few minutes Mr. Rhys rose and gave
out a hymn; and every thought of Eleanor's was concentrated on the
business and on the speaker.
She knew nothing about hymns except that they were sung in church;
all such lyrics were unfamiliar to her, though the music of them was
not. It was always stately music, with an organ, in the swell of which
the words were lost. There could be no organ in a barn. Instead of
that, the whole assembly rose to their feet and struck out together
into a sweet air which they sung with a vast deal of spirit. No
difficulty about hearing the words now; the music was not at a
distance; the words were coming from every lip near Eleanor, and were
sung as if they were a personal matter. Perhaps she was in a mood to be
easily touched; but the singing did reach her and move her profoundly.
When I can read my title clear To mansions in the skies, I'll bid
farewell to every fear, And wipe my weeping eyes.
The sense of this, Eleanor did not thoroughly understand, yet the
general spirit of it was not to be mistaken. And the soft repetition of
the last line struck her heart sorrowfully. Here was her want breathed
out again. And wipe my weeping eyes.I'll bid farewell to every fear,
and wipe my weeping eyes. Eleanor was perhaps the only one who did not
sing; nobody paid better attention.
The hymn was followed by a prayer. If the one had touched Eleanor,
the other prostrated her in the dust. She heard a child of God speaking
to his Father; with a simplicity of utterance, a freedom of access, and
a glow of happy affections, evident in every quietly spoken word, that
testified to his possession of the heavenly treasures that were on his
tongue; and made Eleanor feel humbled and poor with an extreme and
bitter sense of want. Her heart felt as empty as a deep well that had
gone dry. This man only had ever shewed her what a Christian might be;
she saw him standing in a glory of heavenly relationships and
privileges and character, that were a sort of transfiguration. And
although Eleanor comprehended but very imperfectly wherein this glory
might lie, she yet saw the light, and mourned her own darkness.
Eleanor's mind went a great way during the minutes of that prayer;
according to the strange fashion in which the work of many days is
sometimes done in one. She was sorry when it ended; however, every part
of the services had a vivid new interest for her. Another hymn, and
reading, during which her head was bowed on her breast in still
listening; it was curious, how she had forgot all about being in a
barn; and then the sermon began. She had to raise up her head when that
began; and after a while Eleanor could not bear her veil, and threw it
back, trusting that the dim light would secure her from being known.
But she felt that she must see as well as hear, this one time.
Of all subjects in the world to fall in with Eleanor's mood, the
sermon to-night was on peace. The peace that the Lord Jesus left
as his parting gift to his people; the peace that is not as the world
giveth. How the world gives, Mr. Rhys briefly set forth; with one hand,
to take away with the otheras a handful of gold, what proves but a
clutch of ashesas the will-o'-the-wisp gives, promise but never
possession. Eleanor would not have much regarded these words from any
other lips; they accorded with her old theory of disgust with the
world. From Mr. Rhys she did regard them, because no word of his fell
unheeded by her. But when he went on from that to speak of Christ's
gift, and how that is bestowedhis speech was as bitter in her heart
as it was sweet in his mouth. The peace he held up to her view,the
joy in which a child of God lives and walksand dies; the security of
every movement, the confidence in every action, the rest in all
turmoil, the fearlessness in all danger; the riches in the midst of
poverty, the rejoicing even in time of sorrow; the victory over sin and
death, wrought in him as well as for him;Eleanor's heart seemed to
die within her, and at the same time started in a struggle for life.
Had the words been said coldly, or as matter of speculative belief, or
as privilege not actually entered into, it would have been a different
thing. Eleanor might have sat back in her chair and listened and
sorrowed for herself in outward quiet. But there was unconscious
testimony from every tone and look of the speaker that he told the
people but of what he knew. The pale face was illumined by a high grave
light, that looked like a halo from the unseen world; it was nothing
less to Eleanor; and the mouth in its general set so sober, broke
occasionally into a smile so sweet, that it straitened Eleanor's heart
with its unconscious tale-telling. As the time went on, the speaker
began to illustrate his words by instances; instances of the peace
which Christians have shewn to be theirs in all sorts of circumstances
where the world would have given them none, or would have surely
withdrawn the gift once made. In povertyin painin lonelinessin
the want of all thingsin the close prospect of suffering, and in the
presence of death. Wonderful instances they were! glorious to the power
of that Redeemer, who had declared, Not as the world giveth, give I
unto you. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world. How the speaker's eye flushed and fired;
flushed with tears, and fired with triumph; what a tint rose on the
pale cheek, testifying to the exultation he felt; with what tremulous
distinctness the words were sometimes givenand heard in the
breathless stillness to the furthest corner of the place. It was too
much at last. Feeling was wrought too high. Eleanor could not bear it.
She bowed her head on her hand to hide the tears that would come, and
only struggled to keep her sobs quiet that she might not lose a word.
There were other sobs in the assembly that were less well controlled;
they were audible; Eleanor could not endure to hear them, for she
feared her excitement would become unmanageable. Nevertheless by strong
effort she succeeded in keeping perfectly still; though she dared not
raise her head again till the last hymn and prayers were over, and the
people made a general stir all round her. Then she too rose up and
turned her face in the direction whither they were all turning, towards
She made her way out with the crowd blindly, conscious that it was
all overthat was the prominent thoughtand yet that work was done
which would never be over for her. So conscious of this, that she had
no care either of her whereabouts or of her walk home, except in an
incidental sort of way. She got out into the starlight, and stepped
over the grassy sward of the field in a maze; she hardly felt the
ground; it was not till she reached the fence and found herself in the
road, that Eleanor really roused up. Then it was necessary to turn in
one direction or the other; and Eleanor could not tell which to take.
She stood still and tried to collect herself. Which side of the road
was the barn? She could not remember; she was completely confused and
turned about; and in the starlight she could be sure of no tree or
fence or other landmark. She stood still, while the people poured past
her and in groups or in pairs took the one direction or the opposite.
Part went one way and part went the other, to Wiglands and to Rythdale.
Eleanor longed to ask which way somebody was going, but she was afraid
of betraying herself. She did not dare. Yet if she took the wrong
turning, she might find herself in the Rythdale valley, a great
distance from Wiglands, and with a lone road to traverse all the way
back again. Her heart beat. What should she do? The people poured past
her, dividing off right and left; they would be all scattered soon to
their several homes, and she would be left alone. She must do something
quickly. Yet she shrank very much from speaking, and still stood by the
fence trembling and hesitating.
Are you alone? said a voice at her shoulder that she knew very
well. If a cannon had gone off at her feet, it would not have startled
Eleanor more. The tone of the question implied that she was
known. She was too startled to answer. The words were repeated. Are
Eleanor's yes got out, with nothing distinguishable except the
I have a waggon here, said he. Come with me.
The speaker waited for no answer to the words which were not a
request; and acting as decidedly as he had spoken, took hold of
Eleanor's arm and led her forward to a little vehicle which had just
drawn up. He helped her into it, took his place beside her, and drove
away; but he said not another word.
It was Mr. Rhys, and Eleanor knew that he had recognized her. She
sat in a stupor of confusion and shame. What would he think of her! and
what could she make him think? Must she be a bold, wild girl in his
estimation for ever? Why would he not speak? He drove on in perfect
silence. Eleanor must say something to break it. And it was extremely
difficult, and she had to be bold to do that.
I see you recognize me, Mr. Rhys, she said.
I recognized you in the meeting, he answered in perfect gravity.
Eleanor felt it. She was checked. She was punished.
Where are you taking me? she asked after a little more time.
I will take you wherever you tell me you desire.
Grave and short. Eleanor could not bear it.
You think very hardly of me, Mr. Rhys, she said; but I was
spending the night at a poor girl's house in the villageshe is ill,
and I was going to sit up with herand I knew you were to preach at
that placeand Eleanor's voice choked and faltered.
And what could prompt you to go alone, Miss Powle?
I wanted to go faltered Eleanor. I knew it would be my last
chance. I felt I must go. And I could go no way but alone.
May I ask what you mean by 'your last chance?'
My last chance of hearing what I wanted to hearwhat I can't help
thinking about lately. Mr. Rhys, I am not happy.
Did you understand what you heard to-night?
In part I didI understood, Mr. Rhys, that you have something I
have not,and that I want. Eleanor spoke with great emotion.
The Lord bless you! he said, with a tenderness of tone that broke
her down at once. Trust Jesus, Miss Powle. He can give it to you. He
only can. Go to him for what you want, and for understanding of what
you do not understand. Trust the Lord! Make your requests known to him,
and believe that he will hear your prayers and answer them, and more
than fulfil them. Now where shall I set you down?
Anywhere Eleanor said as well as she could. Here, if you
Here is no house. We are just at the entrance of the village.
This is a good place then, said Eleanor. I do not want anybody to
Miss Powle, said her guardian, and he spoke with such extreme
gravity that Eleanor was half frightened,did you come without the
knowledge of your friends at home?
Yes, to the place we have come from. Mamma knew I was going to
spend the night with a sick girl in the villageshe did not know any
It was very dangerous! he said in the same tone.
I knew it. I risked that. I felt I must come.
You did very wrong, said her companion. It hurt her that he should
say it, and have cause; but she was so miserable before, that it could
be felt only in the dull way in which pain added to pain sometimes
makes itself known. She was subdued, humbled, ashamed. She said nothing
more, nor did he, until after passing two or three houses they arrived
at a spot where the trees and the road were the only village
representatives; a clear space, with no house very near, and no person
in sight. Mr. Rhys drew up by the side of the road, and helped Eleanor
out of the waggon. He said only Good night, but it was said kindly
and sympathizingly, and with the earnest grasp of the hand that Eleanor
remembered. He got into the waggon again, but did not drive away as she
expected; she found he was walking his horse and keeping abreast of her
as she walked. Eleanor hurried on, reached Mrs. Lewis's cottage, paused
a second at the door to let him see that she had reached her stopping
place, and went in.
All still; the embers dying on the hearth, a cricket chirrupping
under it. Mrs. Lewis was gone to bed, but had not covered up the fire
for fear her young lady might want it. Eleanor did not dare sit down
there. She drew the bolt of the house door; then softly went up the
stairs to Jane's room. Jane was asleep. Eleanor felt thankful, and
moved about like a shadow. She put the brands together in a sort of
mechanical way; for she knew she was chilly and needed fire bodily,
though her spirit was in a fever. The night had turned raw, and the
ride home had been not so cheering mentally as to do away with the
physical influence of a cold fog. Eleanor put off bonnet and cloak,
softly piled the brands together and coaxed up a flame; and sat down on
a low stool on the hearth to spread her hands over it, to catch all the
comfort she could.
Comfort was not near, however. Jane waked up in a violent fit of
coughing; and when that was subdued or died away, as difficult a fit of
restlessness was left behind. She was nervous and uneasy; Eleanor had
only too much sympathy with both moods, nevertheless she acted the part
of a kind and delicate nurse; soothed Jane and ministered to her, even
spoke cheerful words; until the poor girl's exhausted mind and body
sank away again into slumber, and Eleanor was free to sit down on the
hearth and fold her hands.
Then she began to think. Not till then. Indeed what she did then at
first was not to think, but to recall in musing all the scenes and as
far as possible all the words of that evening; with a consciousness
behind this all the while that there was hard thinking coming. Eleanor
went dreamily over the last few hours, looking in turn at each image so
stamped upon her memory; felt over again the sermon, the hymns, the
prayers; then suddenly broke from her musings to face this
consciousness that was menacing her. Set herself to think in earnest.
What was it all about? Eleanor might well have shunned it, might
well grasp it in desperation with a sudden inability to put it off any
longer. Down in her heart, as strong as the keep of an old castle, and
as obstinate-looking, was the feelingI do not want to marry Mr.
Carlisle. Eleanor did not immediately discern its full outline and
proportions, in the dim confusion which filled her heart; but a little
steady looking revealed it, revealed it firm and clear and established
there. I do not want to marry himI will not marry himshe found
the words surging up from this stronghold. Pride and ambition cowering
somewhere said, Not ever? Do you mean, not at all? not ever?Not
ever!was the uncompromising answer; and Eleanor's head dropped in
agony. Why? was the next question. And the answer was clear and
strong and ready. I am bent upon another sort of life than his lifeI
am going another wayI must live for aims and objects which he
will hate and thwart and maybe hinderI will not walk with him
in his wayI cannot walk with him in mineI cannot, oh, I do not
wish, to walk with him at all! Eleanor sat face to face with this
blank consciousness, staring at it, and feeling as if the life was
gradually ebbing out of her. What was she to do? The different life and
temper and character, and even the face, of Mr. Rhys, came up to her as
so much nobler, so much better, so much more what a man should be, so
much more worthy of being liked. But Eleanor strove to put that image
away, as having very truly, she said to herself, nothing to do with the
present question. However, she thought she could not marry Mr.
Carlisle; and intrenched herself a little while in that position, until
the next subject came up for consideration; how she could escape from
it? What reason could be assigned? Only this religious one could be
givenand it might be, it might well be, that Mr. Carlisle would not
on his part consider that reason enough. He would certainly hope to
overcome the foundation on which it stood; and if he could not, Eleanor
was obliged to confess to herself that she believed he loved her to
that degree that he would rather have her a religious wife than not his
wife at all. What should Eleanor do? Was she not bound? had she not
herself given him claims over her which she had no right to disallow?
had he not a right to all her fulfilment of them? Eleanor did not love
him as he loved her; she saw that with singular and sudden
distinctness; but there again, when she thought of that as a reason for
not fulfilling her contract, she was obliged to own that it would be no
reason to Mr. Carlisle. He never had had ground to suppose that Eleanor
gave him more than she had expressed; but he was entirely content with
what he had and his own confidence that he could cultivate it into what
he pleased. There was no shaking loose from him in that way. As Eleanor
sat on the hearth and looked at the ashes, in reality looking at Mr.
Carlisle, her own face grew wan at what she saw there. She could give
him no reason for changing their relations to each other, that would
make him hold her a bit the less closely, no, nor the less fondly. What
could Eleanor do? To go on and be Mr. Carlisle's wife, if necessary;
give him all the observance and regard that she could, that she owed
him, for having put herself in a false position where she could not
give him more;Eleanor saw nothing else before her. But one thing
beside she would do. She would make Mr. Carlisle clearly and fully
understand what sort of a woman he must expect in her. She would
explain thoroughly what sort of a life she meant to lead. Justly
stated, what would that be?
Eleanor thought; and found herself determined, heart and soul, to
follow the path of life laid before her that evening. Whether peace
could visit her, in the course that seemed to lie through her future
prospects, Eleanor much doubted; but at any rate she would have the
rest of a satisfied conscience. She would take the Bible for her rule.
Mr. Rhys's God should be her God, and with all she had of power and
ability she would serve him. Dim as religious things still were to her
vision, one thing was not dim, but shiningly clear; the duty of every
creature to live the devoted servant of that Lord to whom he belongs by
creation and redemption both. Here Eleanor's heart fixed, if it had a
fixed point that tumultuous night; but long before it settled anywhere
her thoughts were bathed in bitter tears; in floods of weeping that
seemed fit to wash her very heart away. It occurred to Eleanor, if they
could, how much trouble would be saved! She saw plenty before her. But
there was the gripe of a fear and a wish upon her heart, that
overmastered all others. The people had sung a hymn that evening, after
the first one; a hymn of Christian gladness and strength, to an air as
spirited as the words. Both words and air rang in her mind, through all
the multifarious thoughts she was thinking; they floated through and
sounded behind them like a strain of the blessed. Eleanor had taken one
glance at Mr. Rhys while it was singing; and the remembrance of his
face stung her as the sight of an angel might have done. The counter
recollection of her own misery in the summer at the time she was ill;
the longing want of that security and hope and consequent rest of mind,
was vividly with her too. Pushed by fear and desire, Eleanor's
resolution was taken. She saw not the way clear, she did not know yet
the wicket-gate towards which Bunyan's Pilgrim was directed; like him
however she resolved to keep the light in her eye, and run.
The fire had died all out; the grey ashes were cold; she was very
cold herself, but did not know it. The night had waned away, and a
light had sprung in at the window which Eleanor thought must be the
dawn. It was not; it was the old moon just risen, and struggling
through the fog. But the moon was the herald of dawn; and Eleanor got
up from the hearth, feeling old and stiff; as if she had suddenly put
on twenty years of age more than she came to the village with. The room
was quite too cold for Jane, she remembered; and softly she went up and
down for kindling and lighted up the fire again. Till she had done
that, she felt grey and stern, like the November morning; but when the
fire crackled and sparkled before her, and gave its cheery look and
comforting warmth to her chilled senses, some curious sympathy with
times that were gone and that she dared not hope to see again, smote
Eleanor with a softer sorrow; and she wept a very rain of new tears.
These did her good; they washed some of the bitterness out of her; and
after that she sat thinking how she should manage; when Mr. Rhys's
parting words suddenly recurred to her. A blanker ignorance how they
should be followed, can scarcely be imagined, in a person of general
sense and knowledge. Nevertheless, she bowed herself on the hearth,
surely not more in form than in feeling, and besought of that One whose
aid she knew not how to ask, that he would yet give it to her and
fulfil all her desires. Eleanor was exhausted then. She sat in a stupor
of resting, till the faint illumination of the moon was really replaced
by a growing and broadening light of day. The night was gone.
CHAPTER IX. IN PERPLEXITIES.
Look, a horse at the door,
And little King Charles is snarling;
Go back, my lord, across the moor,
You are not her darling.
Eleanor set out early to go home. She would not wait to be sent for.
The walk might set her pulses in motion again perhaps. The fog was
breaking away under the sun's rays, but it had left everything wet; the
morning was excessively chill. There was no grass in her way however,
and Eleanor's thick shoes did not fear the road, nor her feet the three
miles of way. The walk was good. It could not be said to be pleasant;
yet action of any kind was grateful and helpful. She saw not a creature
till she got home.
Home struck her with new sorrow, in the sense of the disappointment
she was going to bring to so many there. She made her own room without
having to speak to anybody; bathed and dressed for breakfast. How grave
her face was, this morning! She could not help that. And she felt that
it grew graver, when entering the breakfast room she found Mr. Carlisle
What have you done to yourself? said he after they were seated at
the breakfast table.
Taken a walk this morning.
Judicious! in this air, which is like a suspended shower-bath!
Where did you go?
On the Wiglands road.
If I had come in time, I should have taken you up before me, and
cut short such a proceeding. Mrs. Powle, you do not make use of your
Seems hardly worth while, when it is on the point of expiring,
said Mrs. Powle blandly, with a smiling face.
Why Eleanor had to come home, said Julia; she spent the night in
the village. She could not help walkingunless mamma had sent the
carriage or something for her.
Spent the night in the village! said Mr. Carlisle.
Eleanor took it into her head that she must go to take care of a
sick girl therethe daughter of her nurse. It is great foolishness, I
think, but Eleanor will do it.
It don't agree with her very well, said Julia. How you do look,
Eleanor, this morning!
She looks very well, said the Squirefor all I see. Walking
won't hurt her.
What Mr. Carlisle thought he did not say. When breakfast was over he
drew Eleanor off into the library.
How do you do this morning? said he stopping to look at her.
Not very well.
I came early, to give you a great gallop to the other end of the
moorwhere you wished to go the other day. You are not fit for it
Did you sit up with that girl last night?
I sat up. She did not want much done for her. My being there was a
great comfort to her.
Far too great a comfort. You are a naughty child. Do you fancy,
Eleanor, your husband will allow you to do such things?
I must try to do what is right, Macintosh.
Do you not think it will be right that you should pleasure me in
what I ask of you? he said very gently and with a caressing action
which took away the edge of the words.
Yesin things that are right, said Eleanor, who felt that she
owed him all gentleness because of the wrong she had done.
I shall not ask you anything that is not right; but if I
should,the responsibility of your doing wrong will rest on me. Now do
you feel inclined to practise obedience a little to day?
No, not at all, said Eleanor honestly, her blood rousing.
It will be all the better practice. You must go and lie down and
rest carefully, and get ready to ride with me this afternoon, if the
weather will do. Eh, Eleanor?
I do not think I shall want to ride to-day.
Kiss me, and say you will do as I bid you.
Eleanor obeyed, and went to her room feeling wretched. She must find
some way quickly to alter this state of thingsif she could alter
them. In the mean time she had promised to rest. It was a comfort to
lock the door and feel that for hours at any rate she was alone from
all the world. But Eleanor's heart fainted. She lay down, and for a
long time remained in motionless passive dismay; then nature asserted
her rights and she slept.
If sleep did not quite knit up the ravelled sleeve of care for
her, Eleanor yet felt much less ragged when she came out of her
slumber. There was some physical force now to meet the mental demand.
The first thing demanded was a letter to Mr. Carlisle. It was in vain
to think to tell him in spoken words what she wanted him to know; he
would cut them short or turn them aside as soon as he perceived their
drift, before she could at all possess him with the facts of the case.
Eleanor sat down before dressing, to write her letter, so that no call
might break her off until it was done.
It was a weary, anxious, sorrowful writing; done with some tears and
some mute prayers for help; with images constantly starting into her
mind that she had to put aside together with the hot drops they called
forth. The letter was finished, when Eleanor was informed that Mr.
Carlisle waited for her.
To ride, I suppose, she thought. I will not go. She put on a
house dress and went down to the library, where her mother and Mr.
Carlisle were together; looking both of them so well pleased!
You are not dressed for riding! he said, taking her into his arms.
As you see, returned Eleanor.
I have brought a new horse for you. Will you change your dress?
I think not. I am not equal to anything new.
Have you slept?
Yes, but I have not eaten; and it takes both to make muscle. I
cannot even talk to you till after tea.
Have you had no luncheon?
I was asleep.
Mrs. Powle, said the gentleman, you do not take care of my
interests here. May I request you to have this want suppliedI am
going to take Eleanor a great gallop presently; she must have something
first. He put Eleanor in an easy chair as he spoke, and stood looking
at her. Probably he saw some unusual lines of thought or care about the
face, but it was by no means less fine for that. Mr. Carlisle liked
what he saw. Refreshments came; and he poured out chocolate for her and
served her with an affectionate supervision that watched every item.
But when after a very moderate meal Eleanor's hand was stretched out
for another piece of bread, he stopped her.
No, he said; no more now. Now go and put on your habit.
But I am very hungry, said Eleanor.
No matteryou will forget it in five minutes. Go and put on your
Eleanor hesitated; thought that perhaps after all the ride would be
the easiest way of passing the afternoon; and went.
Well you do understand the art of command, said Mrs. Powle
admiringly. She would never have done that for me.
Mr. Carlisle did not look surprised, nor gratified, nor in fact shew
anything whatever in his looks. Unless it were, that the difference of
effects produced by himself and his future mother-in-law, was very much
a matter of course. He stood before the fire, with no change at all in
his clear hazel eyes, until Eleanor appeared. Then they sparkled.
Eleanor was for some reason or other particularly lovely in his eyes
The horse he had brought for her was a superb Arabian, shewing nerve
and fire in every line of his form and starting muscle, from the tips
of the ears down to the long fetlock and beautiful hoof. Shewing fire
in the bright eye too. A brown creature, with luxuriant flowing mane
He is not quite so quiet as Black Maggie, Mr. Carlisle said as he
put Eleanor upon his back; and you must not curb him, Eleanor, or he
They went to the moor; and by degrees getting wonted to her fiery
charger and letting him display his fine paces and increase his speed,
Eleanor found the sensation very inspiriting. Even Black Maggie was not
an animal like this; every motion was instinct with life and power, and
not a little indication of headstrongness and irritability gave a great
additional interest and excitement to the pleasure of managing him. Mr.
Carlisle watched her carefully, Eleanor knew; he praised her handling.
He himself was mounted on a quiet, powerful creature that did not make
If this fellowwhat is his name?
If he were by any chance to runwould that horse you are riding
keep up with him?
I hope you will not try.
I don't mean itbut I am curious. There, Mr. Carlisle, there is
the place where I was thrown.
A villainous looking place. I wish it was mine. How do you like
Oh, he is delightful!
Mr. Carlisle looked satisfied, as he might; for Eleanor's colour had
become brilliant, and her face had changed greatly since setting out.
Strength and courage and hope seemed to come to her on Tippoo's back,
facing the wind on the moor and gallopping over the wild, free way.
They took in part the route Eleanor had followed that day alone, coming
back through the village by a still wider circuit. As they rode more
moderately along the little street, if it could be called sothe
houses were all on one sideEleanor saw Mr. Rhys standing at Mrs.
Lewis's door; he saw her. Involuntarily her bow in return to his
salutation was very low. At the same instant Tippoo started, on a run
to which all his former gallopping had been a gentle amble. This was
not ungentle; the motion had nothing rough; only Eleanor was going in a
straight line over the ground at a rate that took away her breath. She
had presence of mind not to draw the curb rein, but she felt that she
could hardly endure long the sort of progress she was making through
the air. It did not seem to be on the ground. Her curiosity was
gratified on one point; for after the first instant she found Mr.
Carlisle's powerful grey straining close beside her. Nevertheless
Tippoo was so entirely in earnest that it was some little timeit
seemed a very long onebefore the grey could get so close to the brown
and so far up with him that Mr. Carlisle could lay his hand upon the
thick brown mane of Tippoo and stoop forward to speak to him. As soon
as that was done once or twice, Tippoo's speed gradually relaxed; and a
perseverance in his master's appeals to his reason and sense of duty,
brought the wild creature back to a moderate pace and the air of a
civilized horse. Mr. Carlisle transferred his grasp from the mane to
Eleanor, what did you do that for?
Do what? I did nothing.
You curbed him. You drew the rein, and he considered himself
insulted. I told you he would not bear it.
He has had nothing to bear from me. I have not drawn the curb at
I must contradict you. I saw you do it. That started him.
Eleanor remained silent and a little pale. Was Mr. Carlisle right?
The ride had until then done her a great deal of good; roused up her
energies and restored in some degree her spirit; the involuntary race
together with the sudden sight of Mr. Rhys, had the effect to bring
back all the soberness which for the moment the delight and stir of the
exercise had dissipated. She went on pondering various things.
Eleanor's letter to Mr. Carlisle was in the pocket of her habit, ready
for use; she determined to give it him when he left her that evening;
that was one of her subjects of thought. Accordingly he found her very
abstracted and cold the rest of the way; grave and uninterested. He
fancied she might have been startled by her run on Tippoo's back,
though it was not very like her; but he did not know what to fancy. And
true it is, that a remembrance of fear had come up to Eleanor after
that gallop. Afraid she was not, at the time; but she felt that
she had been in a condition of some peril from which her own forces
could not have extricated her; that brought up other considerations,
and sadly in Eleanor's mind some words of the hymn they had sung last
night in the barn floated over among her thoughts:
When I can read my title clear, To mansions in the skies, I'll bid
farewell to every fear, And wipe my weeping eyes.
Very simple words; words that to some ears have become trite with
repetition; but thoughts that went down into the depths of Eleanor's
heart and garrisoned themselves there, beyond the power of any attacks
to dislodge. Her gravity and indifference piqued Mr. Carlisle,
curiosity and affection both. He spent the evening in trying to
overcome them; with very partial success. When he was leaving her,
Eleanor drew the letter from her pocket.
What is this? said he taking it.
Only a letter for you.
From you! The consideration of that must not be postponed. He
broke the seal. Come, sit down again. I will read it here.
Not now! Take it home, Macintosh, and read it there. Let it wait so
Never mind why. Do! Because I ask you.
I don't believe I can understand it without you beside me, said he
smiling, and drawing the letter from its envelope while he looked at
But there is everybody here, said Eleanor glancing at another part
of the room where the rest of the family were congregated. I would
rather you took it home with you.
It is something that requires serious treatment?
You are a wise little thing, said he, and I will take your
advice. He put the letter in his pocket; then took Eleanor's hand upon
his arm and walked her off to the library. Nobody was there; lamplight
and firelight were warm and bright. Mr. Carlisle placed his charge in
an easy chair by the library table, much to her disappointment; drew
another close beside it, and sat down with his arm over the back of
hers to read the letter. Thus it ran:
It is right you should know a change which has taken place in me
since the time when I first became known to you. I have changed very
much, though it is a change perhaps which you will not believe in; yet
I feel that it makes me very different from my old self, and alters
entirely my views of almost everything. Life and life's affairsand
aimsdo not look to me as they looked a few months ago; if indeed I
could be said to have taken any view at all of them then. They were
little more than names to me, I believe. They are great realities now.
I do not know how to tell you in what this change in me consists,
for I doubt you will neither like it nor believe in it. Yet you must
believe in it; for I am not the woman I was a little while ago; not the
woman you think me now. If I suffered you to go on as you are, in
ignorance of it, I should be deceiving you. I have opened my eyes to
the fact that this life is not the end of life. I see another
beyond,much more lasting, unknown, strange, perhaps not very distant.
The thought of it presses upon me like a cloud. I want to be ready for
itI feel I am not readyand that before I can be ready, not only my
views but my character must be changed. I am determined it shall. For,
Mr. Carlisle, there is a Ruler whose government extends over this life
and that, whose requisitions I have never met, whose commands I have
never obeyed, whom consequently I fear; and until this fear is changed
for another feeling I cannot be happy. I will not live the life I have
been leading; careless and thoughtless; I will be the servant of this
Ruler whom hitherto I have disregarded. Whatever his commands are,
those I will follow; at all costs, at any sacrifice; whatever I have or
possess shall be used for his service. One thing I desire; to be a true
servant of God, and not fear his face in displeasure. To secure that, I
will let everything else in the world go.
I wish you to understand this thoroughly. It will draw on
consequences that you would not like. It will make me such a woman as
you would not, I feel, wish your wife to be. I shall follow a course of
life and action that in many things, I know, would be extremely
distasteful to you. Yet I must follow themI can do no otherI dare
do no other. I cannot live as I have lived. No, not for any reward or
consideration that could be offered me. Nor to avoid any human anger.
I think you would probably choose never to see me at the Priory,
rather than to see me there such a woman as I shall be. In that case I
shall be very sorry for all the disagreeable consequences which would
to you attend the annulling of the contract formed between us. My own
part of them I am ready to bear.
The letter was read through almost under Eleanor's own eyes. She
looked furtively, as she could, to see how Mr. Carlisle took it. He did
not seem to take it at all; she could find no change in his face. If
the brow slightly bent before her did slightly knit itself in sterner
lines than common, she could not be sure of it, bent as it was; and
when he looked up, there was no such expression there. He looked as
pleasant as possible.
Do you want me to laugh at you? he said.
That was not the precise object I had in writing, said Eleanor
I do not suppose it, and yet I feel very much like laughing at you
a little. So you think you can make yourself a woman I would not
like,eh, my darling?
He had drawn Eleanor's head down to his shoulder, within easy reach
of his lips, but he did not kiss her. His right hand smoothed back the
masses of her beautiful hair, and then rested on her cheek while he
looked into the face thus held for near inspection; much as one handles
a child. The touch was light and caressing, and calm as power too.
Eleanor breathed quick. She could not bear it. She forced herself back
where she could look at him.
You are taking it lightly, but I mean it very seriously, she said.
I think I couldI think I shall. I did not write you such a letter
without very deep reason.
He still retained his hold of her, and in his right hand had
captured one of hers. This hand he now brought to his lips, kissing and
I do not think I understand it yet, he said. What are you going
to do with yourself? Is it your old passion for a monastic life come up
again? do you want the old Priory built up, and me for a Father
Did he mean ever to loose his hold of the little hand he held so
lightly and firmly? Never! Eleanor's head drooped.
What is it, Eleanor?
It is serious work, Mr. Carlisle; and you will not believe me.
Make me serious too. Tell me a little more definitely what dreadful
thing I am to expect. What sort of a woman is my wife going to be?
Such a one as you would not have, if you knew it;such a one as
you never would have sought, if I had known it myself earlier; I feel
sure. Eleanor's colour glowed all over her face and brow; nevertheless
she spoke steadily.
Enigmatical! said Mr. Carlisle. The only thing I understand is
thisand this and he kissed alternately her cheek and lips.
Here is my wifehere is what I wish her to be. It will be
all right the twenty-first of next month. What will you do after that,
Eleanor was silent, mortified, troubled, silenced. What was the use
of trying to explain herself?
What do you want to do, Eleanor? Give all your money to the poor? I
believe that is your pet fancy. Is that what you mean to do?
Eleanor's cheeks burnt again. You know I have very little money to
give, Mr. Carlisle. But I have determined to give myself.
No, no. I mean, to duties and commands higher than any human
obligation. And they may, and probably will, oblige me to live in a way
that would not please you.
Let us see. What is the novelty?
I am going to liveit is right I should tell you, whether you will
believe me or not,I am going to live henceforth not for this world
but the other.
How? said he, looking at her with his clear brilliant eyes.
I do not know, in detail. But you know, in the Church service, the
pomps and vanities of the world are renounced; whatever that involves,
it will find me obedient.
What has put this fancy in your head, Eleanor?
A sense of danger, first, I think.
A sense of danger! Danger of what?
Yes. A feeling of being unready for that other life to which I
might at any time go;that other world, I mean. I cannot be happy so.
She was agitated; her colour was high; her nerves trembled.
How came this 'sense of danger' into your head? what brought it, or
When I was ill last summerI felt it then. I have felt it since. I
feel my head uncovered to meet the storm that may at any time break
upon it. I am going to live, if I can, as people live whom you would
laugh at; you would call them fanatics and fools. It is the only way
for me to be happy; but you would not like it in one near you.
Go in a black dress, Eleanor?
She was silent. She very nearly burst into tears, but prevented
You can't terrify me, said Mr. Carlisle, lazily throwing himself
back in his chair. I don't get up a 'sense of danger' as easily as you
do, darling. One look in your face puts all that to flight at once. I
am safe. You may do what you like.
You would not say that by and by, said Eleanor.
Would I not? said he, rousing up and drawing her tenderly but
irresistibly to his arms again. But make proper amends to me for
breaking rules to-night, and you shall have carte blanche for
this new fancy, Eleanor. How are you going to ask my forgiveness?
You ought to ask minefor you will not attend to me.
Contumacious? said he lightly, touching her lips as if they were a
goblet and he were taking sips of the wine;then I shall take my own
amends. You shall live as you please, darling, only take me along with
You will not go.
How do you know?
Neither your feeling nor your taste agree with it.
What are you going to do! said he half laughing, holding
her fast and looking down into her face. My little Eleanor! Make
yourself a grey nun, or a blue Puritan? Grey becomes you, darling; it
makes a duchess of you; and blue is set off by this magnificent brown
head of yours. I will answer for my taste in either event; and I think
you could bear, and consequently I could, all the other colours in the
rainbow. As for your idea, of making yourself a woman that I would not
like, I do not think you can compass it. You may try. I will not let
you go too far.
You cannot hinder it, Macintosh, said Eleanor in a low voice.
Kiss me! said he laughingly.
Eleanor slowly raised her head from his shoulder and obeyed, so far
as a very dainty and shyly given permission went; feeling bitterly that
she had brought herself into bonds from which only Mr. Carlisle's hand
could release her. She could not break them herself. What possible
reason could she assign? And so she was in his power.
Cheeks hot, and hands cold, said Mr. Carlisle to himself as he
walked away through the rooms. I wish the twenty-first were
to-morrow! He stopped in the drawing-room to hold a consultation of
some length with Mrs. Powle; in which however he confided to her no
more than that the last night's attention to her nurse's daughter had
been quite too much for Eleanor, and he should think it extremely
injudicious to allow it again. Which Mrs. Powle had no idea of doing.
Neither had Eleanor any idea of attempting it. But she spent half
that night in heart-ache and in baffled searchings for a path out of
her difficulties. What could she do? If Mr. Carlisle would marry
her, she saw no help for it; and to disgust him with her would be a
difficult matter. For oh, Eleanor knew, that though he would not like a
religious wife, he had good reason to trust his own power of regulating
any tendency of that sort which might offend him. Once his wife, once
let that strong arm have a right to be round her permanently; and
Eleanor knew it would be an effectual bar against whatever he wished to
keep at a distance.
Eleanor was armed with no Christian armour; no helmet or shield of
protection had she; all she had was the strength of fear, and the
resolute determination to seek until she should find that panoply in
which she would be safe and strong. Once married to Mr. Carlisle, and
she felt that her determination would be in danger, and her resolution
meet another resolution with which it might have hard fighting to do.
Ay, and who knew whether hers would overcome! She must not finish this
marriage; yet how induce Mr. Carlisle to think of her as she wished?
I declare, said Mrs. Powle coming into her room the next day,
that one night's sitting up, has done the work of a week's illness
upon you, Eleanor! Mr. Carlisle is right.
He said you must not go again.
I think he is somewhat premature in arranging my movements.
Don't you like it? said Mrs. Powle laughing a little. You must
learn to submit to that. I am glad there is somebody that can control
you, Eleanor, at last. It does me good. It was just a happiness that
you never took anything desperate into your head, for your father and
you together were more than a match for me; and it's just the same with
Julia. But Julia really is growing tame and more reasonable, I think,
Good reason why, thought Eleanor moodily. But that is a better
sort of control she is under.
I am charged with a commission to you, Eleanor.
What is it, ma'am?
To find out what particular kind of jewels you prefer. I really
don't know, so am obliged to ask youwhich was not in my commission.
Jewels, my lady.
O mamma! don't talk to me of jewels!
Nor of weddings, I suppose; but really I do not see how things are
to be done unless they are to be talked about. For instance, this
matter of your liking in jewelleryI think rubies become you, Eleanor;
though to be sure there is nothing I like so well as diamonds. What is
For Eleanor's brown head had gone down on the table before her and
her face was hidden in her hands. She slowly raised it at her mother's
Mamma, Mr. Carlisle does not know what he is doing!
Pray what do you mean?
He thinks he is marrying a person who will be gay and live for and
in the world, as he livesand as he would wish me. Mamma, I will not!
I never will. I never shall be what he likes in that respect. I mean to
live a religious life.
A religious life! What sort of a life is that?
It is what you do not likenor he.
A religious life! Eleanor, you do not suppose Mr. Carlisle would
wish his wife to lead an irreligious life?
I should not like you to tell him that, said Mrs. Powle
colouring with anger. How dare you say it? What sort of a religious
life do you want to live?
Such a one as the Bible bids, mamma, Eleanor said in a low voice
and drooping her head. Such a one as the Prayer Book recommends, over
And you think Mr. Carlisle would not like that? What insinuations
you are making against us all, Eleanor. For of course, I, your mother,
have wished you also to live this irreligious life. We are a set of
heathens together. Dr. Cairnes too. He was delighted with it.
It changes nothing, mamma, said Eleanor. I am resolved to live in
a different way; and Mr. Carlisle would not like it; and if he only
knew it, he would not wish to marry me; and I cannot make him believe
You have tried, have you?
Yes, I have tried. It was only honest.
Well I did not think you were such a fool, Eleanor! and I am sure
he did not. Believe you, you little fool? he knows better. He knows
that he will not have had you a week at the Priory before you will be
too happy to live what life he pleases. He is just the man to bring you
into order. I only wish the wedding-day was to-morrow.
Eleanor drew herself up, and her face changed from soft and
sorrowful to stubborn. She kept silence.
In this present matter of jewels, said Mrs. Powle returning to the
charge, I suppose I am to tell him that a plain set of jet is as much
as you can fancy; or that, as it would be rather uncommon to be married
in black, you will take bugles. What he will say I am sure I don't
You had better not try, mamma, said Eleanor. If the words you
last said are true, and I should be unable to follow my conscience at
Rythdale Priory, then I shall never go there; and in that case the
jewels will not be wanted, except for somebody else whose taste neither
bugles nor jet would suit.
Now you have got one of your obstinate fits on, said Mrs. Powle,
and I will go. I shall be a better friend to you than to tell Mr.
Carlisle a word of all this, which I know will be vanished in another
month or two; and if you value your good fortune, Eleanor, I recommend
you to keep a wise tongue between your teeth in talking to him. I know
one thingI wish Dr. Cairnes, or the Government, or the Church, or
whoever has it in hand, would keep all dissenting fools from coming to
Wiglands to preach their pestiferous notions here! and that your father
would not bring them to his house! That is what I wish. Will you be
reasonable, and give me an answer about the jewels, Eleanor?
I cannot think about jewels, mamma.
Mrs. Powle departed. Eleanor sat with her head bowed in her hands;
her mind in dim confusion, through which loomed the one thought, that
she must break this marriage. Her mother's words had roused the evil as
well as the good of Eleanor's nature; and along with bitter
self-reproaches and longings for good, she already by foretaste champed
the bit of an authority that she did not love. So, while her mind was
in a sea of turmoil, there came suddenly, like a sun-blink upon the
confusion, a soft question from her little sister Julia. Neither mother
nor daughter had taken notice of her being in the room. The question
came strangely soft, for Julia.
Eleanor, do you love Jesus?
Eleanor raised her head in unspeakable astonishment, startled and
even shocked, as one is at an unheard-of thing. Julia's face was close
beside her, looking wistful and anxious, and tender also. The look
struck Eleanor's heart. But she only stared.
Do you? said Julia wistfully.
It wrought the most unaccountable convulsion in Eleanor's mind, this
little dove's feather of a question, touching the sore and angry
feelings that wrestled there. She flung herself off her chair, and on
her knees by the table sobbed dreadfully. Julia stood by, looking as
sober as if she had been a ministering angel.
Eleanor knew what the question meantthat was all. She had heard
Mr. Rhys speak of it; she had heard him speak of it with a quiver on
his lip and a flush in his face, which shewed her that there was
something in religion that she had never fathomed, nor ever before
suspected; there was a hidden region of joy the entrance to which was
veiled from her. To Eleanor the thing would have been a mere mystery,
but that she had seen it to be a reality; once seen, that was never to
be forgotten. And now, in the midst of her struggles of passion and
pain, Julia's question came innocently asking whether she were a sharer
in that unearthly wonderful joy which seemed to put its possessor
beyond the reach of struggles. Eleanor's sobs were the hard sobs of
pain. As wisely as if she had really been a ministering angel, her
little sister stood by silent; and said not another word until Eleanor
had risen and taken her seat again. Nor then either. It was Eleanor
What do you know about it, Julia?
Not much, said the child. I love the Lord Jesusthat is
all,and I thought, perhaps, from the way you spoke, that you did. Mr.
Rhys would be so glad.
He? Glad? what do you mean, Julia?
I know he would; because I have heard him pray for you a great many
Nono, said Eleanor turning away,I know nothing but fear. I do
not feel anything better. And they want me to think of everything else
in the world but this one thing!
But you will think of it, Eleanor, won't you?
Eleanor was silent and abstracted. Her sister watched her with
strange eyes for Julia, anxiously observant. The silence lasted some
When does Mr. RhysIs he going to preach again, Julia, that you
I guess not. He was very tired after he preached the other night;
he lay on the couch and did not move the whole next day. He is better
You have seen him this morning?
O yes. I see him every day; and he teaches me a great many things.
But he always prays for you.
Eleanor did not wish to keep up the conversation, and it dropped.
And after that, things went on their train.
It was a very fast train, too; and growing in importance and
thickening in its urgency of speed. Every day the preparations
converged more nearly towards their great focus, the twenty-first of
December. Eleanor felt the whirl of circumstances, felt borne off her
feet and carried away with them; and felt it hopelessly. She knew not
what to urge that should be considered sufficient reason either by her
mother or Mr. Carlisle for even delaying, much less breaking off the
match. She was grave and proud, and unsatisfactory, as much as it was
in her nature to be, partly on purpose; and Mr. Carlisle was not
satisfied, and hurried on things all the more. He kept his temper
perfectly, whatever thoughts he had; he rode and walked with Eleanor,
when she would go, with the same cool and faultless manner; when she
would not, he sometimes let it pass and sometimes made her go; but once
or twice he failed in doing this; and recognized the possibility of
Eleanor's ability to give him trouble. He knew his own power however;
on the whole he liked her quite as well for it.
What is the matter with you, my darling? he said one day. You are
not like yourself.
I am not happy, said Eleanor. I told you I had a doubt unsettled
upon my mind; and till that doubt is put at rest I cannot be happy; I
cannot have peace; you will take no pleasure in me.
Why do you not settle it then? said Mr. Carlisle, quietly.
Because I have no chance. I have not a moment to think, in this
whirl where I am living. If you would put off the twenty-first of next
month to the twenty-first of some month in the springor summerI
might have a breathing place, and get myself in order. I cannot, now.
You will have time to think, love, when you get to the Priory, Mr.
Carlisle observed in the same tonean absolute tone.
Yes. I know how that would be! Eleanor answered bitterly. But I
can take no pleasure in anything,I cannot have any rest or
comfort,as long as I know that if anything happened to meif death
came suddenlyI am utterly unready. I cannot be happy so.
I think I had better send Dr. Cairnes to see you, said Mr.
Carlisle. He is in duty bound to be the family physician in all things
spiritual where they need him. But this is morbid, Eleanor. I know how
it is. These are only whims, my darling, that will never outlive that
day you dread so much.
He had drawn her into his arms as he spoke; but in his touch and his
kiss Eleanor felt or fancied something masterful, which irritated her.
If I thought that, Mr. Carlisle, she said,if I knew it was
true,that day would never come!
Mr. Carlisle's self-control was perfect; so was his tact. He made no
answer at all to this speech; only gave Eleanor two or three more of
those quiet ownership kisses. No appearance of discomposure in his
manner or in his voice when he spoke; still holding her in his arms.
I shall know how to punish you one of these days for this, he
said. You may expect to be laughed at a little, my darling, when you
turn penitent. Which will not hinder the moment from coming.
And so, dismissing the matter and her with another light touch of
her lips, he left her.
Will it be so? thought Eleanor. Shall I be so within his control,
that I shall even sue to him to forget and pardon this word of my true
indignation? Once his wifeonce let the twenty-first of December
comeand there will be no more help for me. What shall I do?
She was desperate, but she saw no opening. She saw however the next
day that Mr. Carlisle was coldly displeased with her. She was afraid to
have him remain so; and made conciliations. These were accepted
immediately and frankly, but so at the same time as made her feel she
had lost ground and given Mr. Carlisle an advantage; every inch of
which he knew and took. Nobody had seen the tokens of any part of all
this passage of arms; in three days all was just as it had been, except
Eleanor's lost ground. And three days more were gone before the
twenty-first of December.
CHAPTER X. AT LUNCHEON.
And, once wed,
So just a man and gentle, could not choose
But make my life as smooth as marriage-ring.
Macintosh, do you ever condescend to do such a thing as walk?take
a walk, I mean?
You may command me, he answered somewhat lazily.
May I? For the walk; but I want further to make a visit in the
You may make twenty, if you feel inclined. I will order the horses
to meet us thereshall I? or do you not wish to do anything but walk
O yes. After my visit is paid, I shall be ready.
But it will be very inconvenient to walk so far in your habit. Can
you manage that?
I expect to enlighten you a good deal as to a woman's power of
managing, said Eleanor.
Is that a warning? said he, making her turn her face towards him.
Eleanor gratified him with one of her full mischievous smiles.
Did anybody ever tell you, said he continuing the inspection,
that you were handsome?
It never was worth anybody's while.
How was that?
Simply, that he would have gained nothing by it.
Then I suppose I should not, or you think so?
Nothing in the world. Mr. Carlisle, if you please, I will go and
put on my hat.
The day was November in a mild mood; pleasant enough for a walk; and
so one at least of the two found it. For Eleanor, she was in a divided
mood; yet even to her the exercise was grateful, and brought some glow
and stir of spirits through the body to the mind. At times, too, now,
she almost bent before what seemed her fate, in hopelessness of
escaping from it; and at those times she strove to accommodate herself
to it, and tried to propitiate her captor. She did this from a twofold
motive. She did fear him, and feared to have him anything but pleased
with her; half slumbering that feeling lay; another feeling she was
keenly conscious of. The love that he had for her; a gift that no woman
can receive and be wholly unmoved by it; the affection she herself had
allowed him to bestow, in full faith that it would not be thrown away;
that stung Eleanor with grief and self-reproach; and made her at times
question whether her duty did not lie where she had formally engaged it
should. At such times she was very subdued in gentleness and in
observance of Mr. Carlisle's pleasure; subdued to a meekness foreign to
her natural mood, and which generally, to tell the truth, was
accompanied by a very unwonted sedateness of spirits also; something
very like the sedateness of despair.
She walked now silently the first half of the way; managing her long
habit in a way that she knew Mr. Carlisle knew, though he took no open
notice of it. The day was quite still, the road footing good. A slight
rime hung about the distance, veiled faintly the Rythdale woods,
enshrouded the far-off village, as they now and then caught glimpses of
it, in its tuft of surrounding trees. Yet near at hand, the air seemed
clear and mellow; there was no November chill. It was a brown world,
however, through which the two walked; life and freshness all gone from
vegetation; the leaves in most cases fallen from the trees, and where
they still hung looking as sear and withered as frost and decay could
Do you abhor all compliments? said Mr. Carlisle, breaking a
silence that for some time had been broken only by the quick ring of
their footsteps upon the ground.
That is frank; yet I am half afraid to present the one which is on
Perhaps it is not worth while, said Eleanor, with a gleam of a
smile which was very alluring. You are going to tell me, possibly,
that I am a good walker.
I do not know why I should let you silence me. No, I was not going
to tell you that you are a good walker; you know it already. The
compliment of beauty, that you scorned, was also perhaps no news to
you. What I admire in you now, is something you do not know you
haveand I do not mean you shall, by my means.
Eleanor's glance of amused curiosity, rewarded him.
Are you expecting now, that I shall ask for it?
No; it would not be like you. You do not ask me for anythingthat
you can help, Eleanor. I shall have to make myself cunning in inventing
situations of need that will drive you to it. It is pleasanter to me
than you can imagine, to have your eyes seek mine with a request in
There are the fieldfares! she exclaimed presently.
What is there melancholy in that? said Mr. Carlisle laughingly.
You made the announcement as if you found it so.
I was thinking of the time I saw the fieldfares last,when they
were gathering together preparing for their taking flight; and now here
they are back again! It seems so little whileand yet it seems a long
while too. The summer has gone.
I am glad it has! said Mr. Carlisle. And I am glad Autumn has had
the discretion to follow it. I make my bow to the fieldfares.
You will not expect me to echo that, said Eleanor.
No. Not now. I will make you do it by and by.
He thought a good deal of his power, Eleanor said to herself as she
glanced at him; and sighed as she remembered that she did so too. She
was afraid to say anything more. It had not been so pleasant a summer
to her that she would have wished to live it over again; yet was she
very sorry to know it gone, for more reasons than it would do to let
Mr. Carlisle see.
You do not believe that? he said, coming with his brilliant eyes
to find her out where her thoughts had plunged her. Eleanor came forth
of them immediately and answered.
No more, than that one of those fieldfares, if you should catch it
and fasten a leash round its neck, would say it was well done that its
time of free flying was over.
My bird shall soar higher from the perch where I will place her,
than ever she ventured before.
Ay, and stoop to your lure, Mr. Carlisle!
He laughed at this flash, and took instant tribute of the lips whose
sauciness tempted him.
Do you wonder, he said softly, that I want to have my
tassel-gentle on my hand?
Eleanor coloured again, and was wisely silent.
I am afraid you are not ambitious, Eleanor.
Is that such a favourite vice, that you wish I were?
Vice! It is a virtue, say rather; but not for a woman, he added in
a different tone. No, I do not wish you any more of it, Nellie, than a
little education will give.
You are mistaken, though, Macintosh. I am very ambitious, Eleanor
Pray in what line? Of being able to govern Tippoo without my help?
Is it Tippoo that I am to ride to-day?
Yes. I will give you a lesson. What line does your ambition take,
I have a great ambitionhigher and deeper than you can thinkto
be a great deal better than myself.
She said it lowly and seriously, in a way that sufficiently spoke
her earnestness. It was just as well to let Mr. Carlisle know now and
then which way her thoughts travelled. She did not look up till the
consciousness of his examining eyes upon her made her raise her own.
His look was intent and silent, at first grave, and then changing into
a very sunny smile with the words
My little Saint Eleanor?
They were inimitably spoken; it is difficult to say how. The
graciousness, and affection, and only a very little tender raillery
discernible with them, at once smote and won Eleanor. What could she do
to make amends to this man for letting him love her, but to be his wife
and give him all the good she could? She answered his smile, and if
hers was shy and slight it was also so gentle that Mr. Carlisle was
more than content.
If you have no other ambition than that, he said, then the wise
man is proved wrong who said that moderation is the sloth of the soul,
as ambition is its activity.
Who said that?
Rochefoucauld, I believe.
Like him said Eleanor.
How is that? wise?
No indeed; false.
He was a philosopher, and you are not even a student in that
He was not a true man; and that I know by the lights he never
He told the time of day by the world's clock, Eleanor. You go by a
private sun-dial of your own.
The sun is right, Mr. Carlisle! He was a vile old maligner of human
Where did you learn to know him so well? said Mr. Carlisle,
You may well ask. I used to study French sentences out of him;
because they were in nice little detached bits; and when I came to
understand him I judged him accordingly.
By the sun. Few men will stand that, Eleanor. Give an instance.
We are in the village.
I see it.
I told you I wanted to make a visit, Macintosh.
May I go too?
Why certainly; but I am afraid you will not know what to do with
yourself. It is at the house of Mrs. Lewis,my old nurse.
Do you think I never go into cottages? said he smiling.
Eleanor did not know what to make of him; however, it was plain he
would go with her into this one; so she took him in, and then had to
tell who he was, and blushed for shame and vexation to see her old
nurse's delighted and deep curtseys at the honour done her. She made
her escape to see Jane; and leaving Mr. Carlisle to his own devices,
gladly shut herself into the little stairway which led up from the
kitchen to Jane's room. The door closed behind her, Eleanor let fall
the spirit-mask she wore before Mr. Carlisle,wore consciously for him
and half unconsciously for herself,and her feet went slowly and
heavily up the stair. A short stairway it was, and she had short time
to linger; she did not linger; she went into Jane's room. Eleanor had
not been there since the night of her watch.
It was like coming out of the woods upon an open champaign, as she
stood by the side of the sick girl. Jane was lying bolstered up, as
usual; disease shewed no stay of its ravages since Eleanor had been
there last; all that was as it had been. The thin cheek with its
feverish hue; the unnaturally bright eyes; the attitude of feebleness.
But the mouth was quiet and at rest to-day; and that mysterious region
of expression around the eyes had lost all its seams and lines of care
and anxiety; and the eyes themselves looked at Eleanor with that calm
full simplicity that one sees in an infant's eyes, before care or doubt
has ever visited them. Eleanor was silent with surprise, and Jane spoke
I am glad to see you, Miss Eleanor.
You are better, Jane, to-day.
I thinkI am almost well, said Jane, pausing for breath as she
spoke, and smiling at the same time.
What has happened to you since I was here last? You do not look
like the same.
Ma'am, I am not the same. The Lord's messenger has comeand I've
heard the messageand O, Miss Eleanor, I'm happy!
What do you mean, Jane? said Eleanor; though it struck coldly
through all her senses what it did mean.
Dear Miss Eleanor, said Jane, looking at her lovinglyI wish you
was as happy as I be!
What makes you happy?
O ma'am, because I love Jesus. I love Jesus!
You must tell me more, Jane. I do not understand you. The other
night, when I was here, you were not happy.
Miss Eleanor, I didn't know him then. Since then I've seen how good
he isand how beautifuland what he has done for me;and I'm happy!
Can't you tell me more, Jane? I want to understand it.
Miss Eleanor, it's hard to tell. I'm thinking, one can't tell
anotherbut the Lord must just shew himself.
What has he shewn to you? said Eleanor gloomily. The girl lifted
her eyes with a placid light in them, as she answered,
He has showed me how he loves meand that he has forgiven meO
how good he is, Miss Eleanor!and how he will take me home. And now I
don't want for to stayno more now.
You were afraid of dying, the other night, Jane.
That's gone,said the girl expressively.
But how did it go?
I can't say, ma'am. I just saw how Jesus loves meand I felt I
loved himand then how could I be feared, Miss Eleanor? when all's in
Eleanor stood still, looking at the transformed face before her, and
feeling ready to sink on the floor and cry out for very sorrow of
heart. Had this poor creature put on the invisible panoply which made
her dare to go among the angels, while Eleanor's own hand was
emptycould not reach itcould not grasp it? She stood still with a
cold brow and dark face.
Jane, I wish you could give me what you have gotso as not to lose
Jesus will give it to you, Miss Eleanor, said the girl with a
brightening eye and smile. I know he will.
I do not know of him, Jane, as you do, Eleanor said gravely. What
did you do to gain this knowledge?
I? I did nought, ma'amwhat could I do? I just laid and cried in
my bitterness of heartlike the night you was here, ma'am; till the
day that Mr. Rhys came again and talkedand prayedO he prayed!and
my trouble went away and the light came. O Miss Eleanor, if you would
hear Mr. Rhys speak! I don't know how;but if you'd hear him, you'd
know all that man can tell.
Eleanor stood silent. Jane looked at her with eyes of wistful
regard, but panting already from the exertion of talking.
But how are you different to-day, Jane, from what you were the
other night?except in being happy.
Ma'am, said the girl speaking with difficulty, for she was
excited,then I was blind. Now I see. I ain't different no waysonly
I have seen what the Lord has done for meand I know he loves meand
he's forgiven me my sins. He's forgiven me!And now I go singing to
myself, like, all the day and the night too, 'I love the Lord, and my
Lord loves me.'
The water had slowly gathered in Jane's eyes, and the cheek flushed;
but her sweet happy regard never varied except to brighten.
Jane, you must talk no more, said Eleanor. What can I do for you?
only tell me that.
Would Miss Eleanor read a bit?
What would become of Mr. Carlisle's patience? Eleanor desperately
resolved to let it take care of itself, and sat down to read to Jane at
the open page where the girl's look and finger had indicated that she
wished her to begin. And the very first words were, Let not your heart
Eleanor felt her voice choke; then clearing it with a determined
effort she read on to the end of the chapter. But if she had been
reading the passage in its original Greek, she herself would hardly
have received less intelligence from it. She had a dim perception of
the words of love and words of glory of which it is full; she saw that
Mr. Rhys's helmet was at the beginning of it, and the peace he had
preached of, at the end of it; yet those words which ever since the day
they were spoken have been a bed of rest to every heart that has loved
their Author, only straitened Eleanor's heart with a vision of rest
I must go now, dear Jane, she said as soon as the reading was
ended. What else would you like, that I can do for you?
I'm thinking I want nothing, Miss Eleanor, said the girl calmly,
without moving the eyes which had looked at Eleanor all through the
But what? speak out.
Mother says you can do anything, ma'am.
Well, go on.
Dolly's in trouble, ma'am.
Dolly? why she was to have been married to that young Earle?
Yes, ma'am, butmother'll tell you, Miss Eleanorit tires me. He
has been disappointed of his money, has James; and Dolly, she couldn't
lay up none, 'cause of home;and she's got to go back to service at
Tenby; and they don't know when they'll come together now.
A fit of coughing punished Jane for the exertion she had made, and
put a stop to her communication. Eleanor staid by her till it was over,
would not let her say another word, kissed her, and ran down to the
lower room in a divided state of spirits. There she learnt from Mrs.
Lewis the details of Jane's confused story. The young couple wanted
means to furnish a house; the money hoarded for the purpose had been
lent by James in some stress of his parents' affairs and could not now
be got back again; and the secret hope of the family, Eleanor found,
was that James might be advanced to the gamekeeper's place at Rythdale,
which they took care to inform her was vacant; and which would put the
young man in possession of better wages and enable him to marry at
once. Eleanor just heard all this, and hurried out to the gate where
Mr. Carlisle was waiting for her. Her interview with Jane had left her
with a desperate feeling of being cut off from the peace and light her
heart longed for; and yet she was glad to see somebody else happy. She
stood by Mr. Carlisle's side in a sort of subdued mood. There also
stood Miss Broadus.
Now Eleanor! here you are. Won't you help me? I want you two to
come in and take luncheon with us. I shall never get over it if you
doI shall be so pleased. So will Juliana. Now do persuade this
gentleman!will you? We'll have luncheon in a little whileand then
you can go on your ride. You'll never do it if you dc not to-day.
It is hardly time, Miss Broadus, said Mr. Carlisle We must ride
some miles before luncheon.
I think it must be very near time, said Miss Broadus Do, Eleanor,
look and tell us what it is. Now you are here, it would be such a good
chance. Well, Eleanor? And the horses can wait.
It is half past twelve by me, Miss Broadus. I do not know how it is
by the world's clock.
You can not take her word, said Mr. Carlisle, preparing to mount
Eleanor. She goes by an old-fashioned thing, that is always behind the
timeor in advance of it.
Well, I declare! said Miss Broadus. That beautiful little watch
Mr. Powle gave her! Then you will come in after your ride?
If they were near enough at luncheon time, Mr. Carlisle promised
that should be done; and leaving Miss Broadus in startled admiration of
their horses, the riders set forth. A new ride was promised Eleanor;
they struck forward beyond Wiglands, leaving the road to Rythdale on
the left hand. Eleanor was busily meditating on the question of making
suit to Mr. Carlisle in James Earle's favour; but not as a question to
be decided; she had resolved she would not do it, and was thinking
rather how very unwilling she should be to do it; sensible at the same
time that much power was in her hands to do good and give relief, of
many kinds; but fixed in the mind that so long as she had not the
absolute right and duty of Mr. Carlisle's wife, she would not assume
it. Yet between pride and benevolence Eleanor's ride was likely to be
scarce a pleasant one. It was extremely silent, for which Tippoo's
behaviour on this occasion gave no excuse. He was as gentle as the day.
What did you find in that cottage to give your thoughts so profound
a turn? said Mr. Carlisle at last.
A sick girl.
Cottages do not seem to agree with you, Eleanor.
That would be unfortunate, said Eleanor rousing up, for the
people in them seem to want me very much.
Do not let that impose on you, said Mr. Carlisle smiling.
Speaking of cottagestwo of my cottages at Rythmoor are empty still.
O are they! Eleanor exclaimed with sudden life.
Is there anybody you mean to put in them, Mr. Carlisle?
No. Is there anybody you mean to put in them?
I know just who would like to have one.
Then I know just who shall have itor I shall know, when you have
Did he smile to himself that his bait had taken? He did not smile
outwardly. Riding close up to her, he listened with a bright face to
the story which Eleanor gave with a brighter. She had a private smile
at herself. Where were her scruples now? There was no help for it.
It is one of yourone of the under gardeners at Rythdale; his name
is James Earle. I believe he is a good fellow.
We will suppose that. What has he done to enlist your sympathy?
He wants to marry a sister of this girl I have been to see. They
have been long betrothed; and James has been laying up money to set up
housekeeping. They were to have been married this autumn,now;but
James had lent all his earnings to get his old father out of some
distress, and they are not forthcoming; and all Dolly's earnings go to
And what would you like to do for them, Eleanor?
Eleanor coloured now, but she could not go back. If you think well
of Earle, and would like to have him in one of the empty cottages at
Rythmoor, I should be glad.
They shall go in, the day we are married; and I wish you would find
somebody for the other. Now having made a pair of people happy and
established a house, would you like a gallop?
Eleanor's cheeks were hot, and she would very much; but she
answered, One of Tippoo's gallops?
You do not know them yet. You have tried only a mad gallop.
Tippoo! said Mr. Carlisle stooping and striking his riding glove
against the horse's shoulder,I am going a race with you, do you
His own charger at the same time sprang forward, and Tippoo to
match! But such a cradling flight through the air, Eleanor never knew
until now. There seemed no exertion; there was no jar; a smooth, swift,
arrowy passage over the ground, like what birds take under the clouds.
This was the gentlest of gallops, certainly, and yet it was at a rare
speed that cleared the miles very fast and left striving grooms in the
distance. Eleanor paid no attention to anything but the delight of
motion; she did not care where or how far she was carried on such
magical hoofs; but indeed the ride was beyond her beat and she did not
know the waymarks if she had observed them. A gradual slackening of
this pace of delight brought her back to the earth and her senses
How was that? said Mr. Carlisle. It has done you no harm.
I do not know how it was, said Eleanor, caressing the head and
neck of the magnificent animal she rodebut I think this creature has
come out of the Arabian Nights. Tippoo is certainly an enchanted
I'll take care he is not disenchanted, then, said Mr. Carlisle.
That gallop did us some service. Do you know where we are?
Not in the least.
You will know presently.
And accordingly, a few minutes of fast riding brought them to a
lodge and a gate.
Is this Rythdale? said Eleanor, who had noticed the manner of the
Yes, and this entrance is near the house. You will see it in a
moment or two.
It appeared presently, stately and lovely, on the other side of an
extensive lawn; a grove of spruce firs making a beautiful setting for
it on one side. The riders passed round the lawn, through a part of the
plantations, and came up to the house at the before-mentioned left
wing. Mr. Carlisle threw himself off his horse and came to Eleanor.
What now, Macintosh?
O, I do not want any luncheon.
I do. And so do you, love. Come!
Macintosh, said Eleanor, bending down with her hand resting on his
shoulder to enforce her request, I do not want to go in!
I cannot take you any further without rest and refreshment; and we
are too far from Miss Broadus's now. Come, Eleanor!
He took her down, and then observing the discomposed colour of
Eleanor's cheek, he went on affectionately, as he was leading her
in,What is there formidable in it, Nellie? Nothing but my mother and
luncheon; and she will be much pleased to see you.
Eleanor made no answer; she doubted it; at all events the pleasure
would be all on one side. But the reception she got justified Mr.
Carlisle. Lady Rythdale was pleased. She was even gracious. She sent
Eleanor to her dressing-room to refresh herself, not to change her
dress this time; and received her when she came into her presence again
with a look that was even benign.
Bound, bound,Eleanor felt it in everything her eye lit upon; she
had thought it all over in the dressing-room, while she was putting in
order the masses of hair which had been somewhat shaken down by the
gallop. She was irritated, and proud, and afraid of displeasing Mr.
Carlisle; and above all this and keeping it down, was the sense that
she was bound to him. He did love her, if he also loved to command her;
and he would do the latter, and it was better not to hinder his doing
the other. But higher than this consideration rose the feeling of
right. She had given him leave to love her; and now it seemed that
his love demanded of her all she had, if it was not all he wanted; duty
and observance and her own sweet self, if not her heart's absorbing
affection. And this would satisfy Mr. Carlisle, Eleanor knew; she could
not ease her conscience with the thought that it would not. And here
she was in his mother's dressing-room putting up her hair, and down
stairs he and his mother were waiting for her; she was almost in the
family already. Eleanor put several feelings in bonds, along with the
abundant tresses of brown hair which made her hands full, and went
She looked lovely as she came in; for the pride and irritation and
struggling rebellion which had all been at work, were smothered or at
least kept under by her subdued feeling, and her brow wore an air of
almost shy modesty. She did not see the two faces which were turned
towards her as soon as she appeared, though she saw Mr. Carlisle rise.
She came forward and stood before Lady Rythdale.
The feeling of shyness and of being bound were both rather increased
by all she saw and felt around her. The place was a winter parlour or
sitting-room, luxuriously hung and furnished with red, which made a
rich glow in the air. At one side a glass door revealed a glow of
another sort from the hues of tropical flowers gorgeously blooming in a
small conservatory; on another side of the room, where Lady Rythdale
sat and her son stood, a fire of noble logs softly burned in an ample
chimney. All around the evidences of wealth and a certain sort of power
were multiplied; not newly there but native; in a style of things very
different from Eleanor's own simple household. She stood before the
fire, feeling all this without looking up, her eye resting on the
exquisite mat of Berlin wool on which Lady Rythdale's foot rested. That
lady surveyed her.
So you have come, she said. Macintosh said he would bring you.
Eleanor answered for the moment with tact and temper almost equal to
her lover's, Madamyou know Mr. Carlisle.
How satisfied they both looked, she did not see; but she felt it,
through every nerve, as Mr. Carlisle took her hands and placed her in a
great chair, that she had pleased him thoroughly. He remained standing
beside her, leaning on her chair, watching her varying colour no doubt.
A few commonplaces followed, and then the talk fell to the mother and
son who had some affairs to speak about. Eleanor's eye went to the
glass door beyond which the flowers beckoned her; she longed to go to
them; but though feeling that bands were all round her which were
drawing her and would draw her to be at home in that house, she would
not of her own will take one step that way; she would assume nothing,
not even the right of a stranger. So she only looked at the distant
flowers, and thought, and ceased to hear the conversation she did not
understand. But all this while Lady Rythdale was taking note of her. A
pause came, and Eleanor became conscious that she was a subject of
You will have a very pretty wife, Macintosh, said the baroness
bluntly and benignly.
The rush of colour to her face Eleanor felt as if she could hardly
bear. She had much ado not to put up her hands like a child.
You must have mercy on her, mamma, said Mr. Carlisle, walking off
to a bookcase. She has the uncommon grace of modesty.
It is no use, said Lady Rythdale. She may as well get accustomed
to it. Others will tell her, if you do not.
There was silence. Eleanor felt displeased.
Is she as good as she is pretty? enquired Lady Rythdale.
No, ma'am, said Eleanor in a low voice. The baroness laughed. Her
son smiled. Eleanor was vexed at herself for speaking.
Mamma, is not Rochefoucauld here somewhere?
Rochefoucauld? what do you want of him?
I want to call this lady to account for some of her opinions. Here
he is. Now Eleanor, said he tossing the book into her lap and sitting
down beside her,justify yourself.
Eleanor guessed he wanted to draw her out. She was not very ready.
She turned over slowly the leaves of the book. Meanwhile Lady Rythdale
again engaged her son in conversation which entirely overlooked her;
and Eleanor thought her own thoughts; till Mr. Carlisle said with a
little tone of triumph, Well, Eleanor?
What is it? said Lady Rythdale.
Human nature, ma'am; that is the question.
Only Rochefoucauld's exposition of it, said Eleanor.
Well, go on. Prove him false.
But when I have done it by the sun-dial, you will make me wrong by
Instance! instance! said Mr. Carlisle laughing.
Take this. 'La magnanimité est assez bien définie par son nom même;
néanmoins on pourroit dire que c'est le bon sens de l'orgueil, et la
voie la plus noble pour recevoir des louanges.' Could anything be
further from the truth than that?
What is your idea of magnanimity? You do not think 'the good sense
of pride' expresses it?
It is not a matter of calculation at all; and I do not think it is
beholden to anything so low as pride for its origin.
I am afraid we should not agree in our estimation of pride, said
Mr. Carlisle, amused; you had better go on to something else. The want
of ambition may indicate a deficiency in that qualityor an excess of
it. Which, Eleanor?
Rochefoucauld says, 'La modération est comme la sobriété: on
voudroit bien manger davantage, mais on craint de se faire mal.'
What have you to say against that?
Nothing. It speaks for itself. And these two sayings alone prove
that he had no knowledge of what is really noble in men.
Very few have, said Mr. Carlisle dryly.
But you do not agree with him?
Not in these two instances. I have a living confutation at my
Her accent is not perfect by any means, said Lady Rythdale.
You are right, madam, said Eleanor, with a moment's hesitation and
a little colour. I had good advantages at school, but I did not avail
myself of them fully.
I know whose temper is perfect, said Mr. Carlisle, drawing the
book from her hand and whispering, Do you want to see the flowers?
He was not pleased, Eleanor saw; he carried her off to the
conservatory and walked about with her there, watching her pleasure.
She wished she could have been alone. The flowers were quite a
different society from Lady Rythdale's, and drew off her thoughts into
a different channel. The roses looked sweetness at her; the Dendrobium
shone in purity; myrtles and ferns and some exquisite foreign plants
that she knew not by name, were the very prime of elegant refinement
and refreshing suggestion. Eleanor plucked a geranium leaf and bruised
it and thoughts together under her finger. Mr. Carlisle was called in
and for a moment she was left to herself. When he came back his first
action was to gather a very superb rose and fasten it in her hair.
Eleanor tried to arrest his hand, but he prevented her.
I do not like it, Macintosh. Lady Rythdale does not know me. Do not
adorn me here!
Your appearance here is my affair, said he coolly. Eleanor, I
have a request to make. My mother would like to hear you sing.
Sing! I am afraid I should not please Lady Rythdale.
Will you please me?
Eleanor quitted his hand and went to the door of communication with
the red parlour, which was by two or three steps, on which she sat
down. Her eyes were on the floor, where the object they encountered was
Mr. Carlisle's spurs. That would not do; she buried them in the depths
of a wonderful white lily, and so sang the old ballad of Sir Patrick
Spence. And so sweet and pure, so natural and wild, was her giving of
the wild old song, as if it could have come out of the throat of the
flower. The thrill of her voice was as a leaf trembles on its stem. No
art there; it was unadulterated nature. A very delicious voice had been
spoiled by no master; the soul of the singer rendered the soul of the
song. The listeners did both of them, to do them justice, hold their
breath till she had done. Then Mr. Carlisle brought her in, to
luncheon, in triumph; rose and all.
You have a very remarkable voice, my dear! said Lady Rythdale. Do
you always sing such melancholy things?
You must take my mother's compliments, Nellie, as you would
olivesit takes a little while to get accustomed to them.
Eleanor thought so.
Do not you spoil her with sweet things, said the baroness. Come
here, childlet me look at you. You have certainly as pretty a head of
hair as ever I saw. Did you put in that rose?
No, ma'am, said Eleanor, blushing with somewhat besides pleasure.
Much to her amazement, the next thing was Lady Rythdale's taking her
in her arms and kissing her. Nor was Eleanor immediately released; not
until she had been held and looked over and caressed to the content of
the old baroness, and Eleanor's cheeks were in a state of furious
protestation. She was dismissed at last with the assurance to Mr.
Carlisle that she was an innocent little thing.
But she is not one of those people who are good because they have
not force to be anything else, Macintosh.
I hope not.
After this, however, Eleanor was spared further discussion. Luncheon
came in; and during the whole discussion of that she was well petted,
both by the mother and son. She felt that she could never break the
nets that enclosed her; this day thoroughly achieved that conclusion to
Eleanor's mind. Yet with a proud sort of mental reservation, she
shunned the delicacies that belonged to Rythdale House, and would have
made her luncheon with the simplicity of an anchorite on honey and
bread, as she might at home. She was very gently overruled, and made to
do as she would not at home. Eleanor was not insensible to this sort of
petting and care; the charm of it stole over her, even while it made
her hopeless. And hopelessness said, she had better make the most of
all the good that fell to her lot. To be seated in the heart of
Rythdale House and in the heart of its master, involved a worldly lot
as fair at least as imagination could picture. Eleanor was made to
taste it to-day, all luncheon time, and when after luncheon Mr.
Carlisle pleased himself with making his mother and her quarrel over
Rochefoucauld; in a leisurely sort of enjoyment that spoke him in no
haste to put an end to the day. At last, and not till the afternoon was
waning, he ordered the horses. Eleanor was put on Black Maggie and
taken home at a gentle pace.
I do not understand, said Eleanor as they passed through the
ruins, why the House is called 'the Priory.' The priory buildings are
There too, said Mr. Carlisle. The oldest foundations are really
up there; and part of the superstructure is still hidden within the
modern walls. After they had established themselves up there, the monks
became possessed of the richer sheltered lands of the valley and moved
themselves and their headquarters accordingly.
The gloom of the afternoon was already gathering over the old tower
of the priory church. The influence of the place and time went to swell
the under current of Eleanor's thoughts and bring it nearer to the
surface. It would have driven her into silence, but that she did not
choose that it should. She met Mr. Carlisle's conversation, all the
way, with the sort of subdued gentleness that had been upon her and
which the day's work had deepened. Nevertheless, when Eleanor went in
at home, and the day's work lay behind her, and Rythdale's master was
gone, and all the fascinations the day had presented to her presented
themselves anew to her imagination, Eleanor thought with sinking of
heartthat what Jane Lewis had was better than all. So she went to bed
CHAPTER XI. AT BROMPTON.
Why, and I trust, and I may go too. May I not?
What, shall I be appointed hours: as though, belike,
I know not what to take and what to leave? Ha!
Eleanor, what is the matter? said Julia one day. For Eleanor was
found in her room in tears.
NothingI am going to ruin only;that is all.
Going to what? Why Eleanorwhat is the matter?
Nothingif not that.
Why Eleanor! said the little one in growing astonishment, for
Eleanor's distress was evidently great, and jumping at conclusions with
a child's recklessness,Eleanor!don't you want to be married?
Hush! hush! exclaimed Eleanor rousing herself up. How dare you
talk so, I did not say anything about being married.
No, but you don't seem glad, said Julia.
Glad! I don't know that I ever shall feel glad againunless I get
insensibleand that would be worse.
Oh Eleanor! what is it? do tell me!
I have made a mistake, that is all, Julia, her sister said with
forced calmness. I want time to think and to get right, and to be
goodthen I could be in peace, I think; but I am in such a confusion
of everything, I only know I am drifting on like a ship to the rocks. I
can't catch my breath.
Don't you want to go to the Priory? said the little one, in a low,
I want something else first, said Eleanor evasively. I am not
ready to go anywhere, or do anything, till I feel better.
I wish you could see Mr. Rhys, said Julia. He would help you to
feel better, I know.
Eleanor was silent, shedding tears quietly.
Couldn't you come down and see him, Eleanor?
Child, how absurdly you talk! Do not speak of Mr. Rhys to me or to
any one elseunless you want him sent out of the village.
Why, who would send him? said Julia. But he is going without
anybody's sending him. He is going as soon as he gets well, and he says
that will be very soon. Julia spoke very sorrowfully. He is well
enough to preach again. He is going to preach at Brompton. I wish I
could hear him.
Next Monday evening.
I shall want to purchase things at Brompton Monday, said Eleanor
to herself, her heart leaping up light. I shall take the carriage and
Where will he preach in Brompton, Julia? Is it anything of an
No. I don't know. O, he will be in theI don't know! You know what
Mr. Rhys is. He is somethinghe isn't like what we are.
Now if I go to the Methodist Chapel at Brompton, thought Eleanor,
it will raise a storm that will either break me on the rocks, or land
me on shore. I will do it. This is my very last chance.
She sat before the fire, pondering over her arrangements. Julia
nestled up beside her, affectionate but mute, and laid her head
caressingly against her sister's arm. Eleanor felt the action, though
she took no notice of it. Both remained still for some little time.
What would you like, Julia? her sister began slowly. What shall I
do to please you, before I leave home? What would you choose I should
Give me? Are you going to give me anything?
I would like to please you before I go awayif I knew how. Do you
know how I can?
O Eleanor! Mr. Rhys wants something very muchIf I could give it
What is it?
He has nothing to write onnothing but an old portfolio; and that
don't keep his pens and ink; and for travelling, you know, when he goes
away, if he had a writing case like yourswouldn't it be nice? O
Eleanor, I thought of that the other day, but I had no money. What do
Excellent, said Eleanor. Keep your own counsel, Julia; and you
and I will go some day soon, and see what we can find.
Where will you go? to Brompton?
Of course. There is no other place to go to. But keep your own
If Julia kept her own counsel, she did not so well know how to keep
her sister's; for the very next day, when she was at Mrs. Williams's
cottage, the sight of the old portfolio brought up her talk with
Eleanor and all that had led to it; and Julia out and spoke.
Mr. Rhys, I don't believe that Eleanor wants to be married and go
to Rythdale Priory.
Mr. Rhys's first movement was to rise and see that the door of
communication with the next room was securely shut; then as he sat down
to his writing again he said gravely,
You ought to be very careful how you make such remarks, Julia. You
might without knowing it, do great harm. You are probably very much
I am careful, Mr. Rhys. I only said it to you.
You had better not say it to me. And I hope you will say it to
But I want to speak to somebody, said Julia; and she was crying
in her room yesterday as hard as she could. I do not believe, she wants
to go to Rythdale!
Julia spoke the last words with slow enunciation, like an oracle.
Mr. Rhys looked up from his writing and smiled at her a little, though
he answered very seriously.
You ought to remember, Julia, that there might be many things to
trouble your sister on leaving home for the last time, without going to
any such extravagant supposition as that she does not want to leave it.
Miss Eleanor may have other cause for sorrow, quite unconnected with
I know she has, too, said Julia. I think Eleanor wants to be a
He looked up again with one of his grave keen glances.
What makes you think it, Julia?
She said she wanted to be good, and that she was not ready for
anything till she felt better; and I know that was what she
meant. Do you think Mr. Carlisle is good, Mr. Rhys?
I have hardly an acquaintance with Mr. Carlisle. Pray for your
sister, Julia, but do not talk about her; and now let me write.
The days rolled on quietly at Ivy Lodge, until Monday came. Eleanor
had kept herself in order and given general satisfaction. When Monday
came she announced boldly that she was going to give the afternoon of
that day to her little sister. It should be spent for Julia's pleasure,
and so they two would take the carriage and go to Brompton and be
alone. It was a purpose that could not very well be interfered with.
Mr. Carlisle grumbled a little, not ill-humouredly, but withdrew
opposition; and Mrs. Powle made none. However the day turned very
disagreeable by afternoon, and she proposed a postponement.
It is my last chance, said Eleanor. Julia shall have this
afternoon, if I never do it again. So they went.
The little one full of joy and anticipation; the elder grave,
abstracted, unhappy. The day was gloomy and cloudy and windy. Eleanor
looked out upon the driving grey clouds, and wondered if she was
driving to her fate, at Brompton. She could not help wishing the sun
would shine on her fate, whatever it was; but the chill gloom that
enveloped the fields and the roads was all in keeping with the piece of
her life she was traversing then. Too much, too much. She could not
rouse herself from extreme depression; and Julia, felling it, could
only remark over and over that it was a nasty day.
It was better when they got to the town. Brompton was a quaint old
town, where comparatively little modernising had come, except in the
contents of the shops, and the exteriors of a few buildings. The tower
of a very beautiful old church lifted its head above the mass of
house-roofs as they drew near the place; in the town the streets were
irregular and narrow and of ancient fashion in great part. Here however
the gloom of the day was much lost. What light there was, was broken
and shadowed by many a jutting out stone in the old mason-work, many,
many a recess and projecting house-front or roof or doorway; the broad
grey uniformity of dulness that brooded over the open landscape, was
not here to be felt. Quaint interest, quaint beauty, the savour of
things old and quiet and stable, had a stimulating and a soothing
effect too. Eleanor roused up to business, and business gave its usual
meed of refreshment and strength. She and Julia had a good shopping
time. It was a burden of love with the little one to see that
everything about the proposed purchase was precisely and entirely what
it should be; and Eleanor seconded her and gave her her heart's content
of pleasure; going from shop to shop, patiently looking for all they
wanted, till it was found. Julia's joy was complete, and shone in her
face. The face of the other grew dark and anxious. They had got into
the carriage to go to another shop for some trifle Eleanor wanted.
Julia, would you like to stay and hear Mr. Rhys speak to-night?
O wouldn't I! But we can't, you know.
I am going to stay.
And going to hear him?
O Eleanor! Does mamma know?
But she will be frightened, if we are not come home.
Then you can take the carriage home and tell her; and send the
little waggon or my pony for me.
Couldn't you send one of the men?
Yes, and then I should have Mr. Carlisle come after me. No, if I
send, you must go.
Wouldn't he like it?
It is no matter whether he would like it or no. I am going to stay.
You can do as you please.
I would like to stay! said Julia eagerly. O Eleanor, I want to
stay! But mamma would be so frightened. Eleanor, do you think it is
It is right for me, said Eleanor. It is the only thing I can do.
If it displeased all the world, I should stay. You may choose what you
will do. If the horses go home, they cannot come back again; the waggon
and old Roger, or my pony, would have to come for mewith Thomas.
Julia debated, sighed, shewed great anxiety for Eleanor, great
difficulty of deciding, but finally concluded even with tears that it
would not be right for her to stay. The carriage went home with
her and her purchases; Thomas, the old coachman, having answered with
surprised alacrity to the question, whether he knew where the Wesleyan
chapel in Brompton was. He was to come back for Eleanor and be with the
waggon there. Eleanor herself went to spend the intermediate time
before the hour of service, and take tea, at the house of a little
lawyer in the town whom her father employed, and whose wife she knew
would be overjoyed at the honour thus done her. It was not perhaps the
best choice of a resting-place that Eleanor could have made; for it was
a sure and certain fountain head of gossip; but she was in no mood to
care for that just now, and desired above all things, not to take
shelter in any house where a message or an emissary from the Lodge or
the Priory would be likely to find her; nor in one where her
proceedings would be gravely looked into. At Mrs. Pinchbeck's
hospitable tea-table she was very secure from both. There was nothing
but sweetmeats there!
Mrs. Pinchbeck was a lively lady, in a profusion of little fair
curls all over her head and a piece of flannel round her throat. She
was very voluble, though her voice was very hoarse. Indeed she left
nothing untold that there was time to tell. She gave Eleanor an account
of all Brompton's doings; of her own; of Mr. Pinchbeck's; and of the
doings of young Master Pinchbeck, who was happily in bed, and who she
declared, when not in bed was too much for her. Meanwhile Mr.
Pinchbeck, who was a black-haired, ordinarily somewhat grim looking
man, now with his grimness all gilded in smiles, pressed the
sweetmeats; and looked his beaming delight at the occasion. Eleanor
felt miserably out of place; even Mrs. Pinchbeck's flannel round her
throat helped her to question whether she were not altogether wrong and
mistaken in her present undertaking. But though she felt miserable, and
even trembled with a sort of speculative doubt that came over her, she
did not in the least hesitate in her course. Eleanor was not made of
that stuff. Certainly she was where she had no business to be, at Mrs.
Pinchbeck's tea-table, and Mr. Pinchbeck had no business to be offering
her sweetmeats; but it was a miserable necessity of the straits to
which she found herself driven. She must go to the Wesleyan chapel that
evening; she would, coûte que coûte. There she dared
public opinion; the opinion of the Priory and the Lodge. Here,
she confessed said opinion was right.
One good effect of the vocal entertainment to which she was
subjected, was that Eleanor herself was not called upon for many words.
She listened, and tasted sweetmeats; that was enough, and the
Pinchbecks were satisfied. When the time of durance was over, for she
was nervously impatient, and the hour of the chapel service was come,
Eleanor had not a little difficulty to escape from the offers of
attendance and of service which both her host and hostess pressed upon
her. If her carriage was to meet her at a little distance, let Mr.
Pinchbeck by all means see her into it; and if it was not yet come, at
least let her wait where she was while Mr. P. went to make inquiries.
Or stay all night! Mrs. Pinchbeck would be delighted. By steady
determination Eleanor at last succeeded in getting out of the house and
into the street alone. Her heart beat then, fast and hard; it had been
giving premonitory starts all the evening. In a very sombre mood of
mind, she made her way in the chill wind along the streets, feeling
herself a wanderer, every way. The chapel she sought was not far off;
lights were blazing there, though the streets were gloomy. Eleanor made
a quiet entrance into the warm house, and sat down; feeling as if the
crisis of her fate had come. She did not care now about hiding herself;
she went straight up the centre aisle and took a seat about half way in
the building, at the end of a pew already filled all but that one
place. The house was going to be crowded and a great many people were
already there, though it was still very early.
The warmth after the cold streets, and the silence, and the
solitude, after being exposed to Mrs. Pinchbeck's tongue and to her
observation, made a lull in Eleanor's mind for a moment. Then, with the
waywardness of action which thought and feeling often take in unwonted
situations, she began to wonder whether it could be right to be
therenot only for her, but for anybody. That large, light, plain
apartment, looking not half so stately as the saloon of a country
house; could that be a proper place for people to meet for divine
service? It was better than a barn, still was that a fit church?
The windows blank and staring with white glass; the woodwork unadorned
and merely painted; a little stir of feet coming in and garments
rustling, the only sound. She missed the full swell of the organ, which
itself might have seemed to clothe even bare boards. Nothing of all
that; nothing of what she esteemed dignified, or noble, or sacred; a
mere business-looking house, with that simple raised platform and
little deskwas Eleanor right to be there? Was anybody else? Poor
child, she felt wrong every way, there or not there; but these thoughts
tormented her. They tormented her only till Mr. Rhys came in. When she
saw him, as it had been that evening in the barn, they quieted
instantly. To her mind he was a guaranty for the righteousness of all
in which he was concerned; different as it might be from all to which
she had been accustomed. Such a guaranty, that Eleanor's mind was
almost ready to leap to the other conclusion, and account wrong
whatever the difference put on another side from him. She watched him
now, as he went with a quick step to the pulpit, or platform as she
called it, and mounting it, kneeled down beside one of the chairs that
stood there. Eleanor was accustomed to that action; she had seen
clergymen a million of times come into the pulpit, and always kneel;
but it was not like this. Always an ample cushion lay ready for the
knees that sank upon it; the step was measured; the movement slow;
every line was of grace and propriety; the full-robed form bowed
reverently, and the face was buried in a white cloud of cambric. Here,
a tall figure, attired only in his ordinary dress, went with quick,
decided step up to the place; there dropped upon one knee, hiding his
face with his hand; without seeming to care where, and certainly
without remembering that there was nothing but an ingrain carpet
between his knee and the floor. But Eleanor knew what this man was
about; and an instant sense of sacredness and awe stole over her,
beyond what any organ-peals or richness of Gothic work had ever
brought. Then she rejoiced that she was where she was. To be there,
could not be wrong.
The house was full and still. The beginning of the service again was
the singing; here richer and fuller voiced than it had been in the
barn. Somebody else made the prayers; to her sorrow; but then Mr. Rhys
rose, and her eye and ear were all for him. She threw back her veil
now. She was quite willing that he should see her; quite willing that
if he had any message of help or warning for her in the course of his
sermon, he should deliver it. He saw her, she knew, immediately. She
rather fancied that he saw everybody.
It was to be a missionary sermon, Eleanor had understood; but she
thought it was a very strange one. The text was, Render to Caesar the
things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's.
The question was, What are the Lord's things?
Mr. Rhys seemed to be only talking to the people, as his bright eye
went round the house and he went on to answer this question. Or rather
to suggest answers.
Jacob's offering of devotion and gratitude was a tenth part of his
possessions. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me,
and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat,
and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in
peace; then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set
for a pillar, shall be God's house; and of all that thou shalt give me,
I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Mr. Rhys announced this. He did not comment upon it at all. He went
on to say, that the commandment given by Moses appointed the same
And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or
of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord. And
if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto
the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the
flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be
holy unto the Lord. He shall not search whether it be good or bad,
neither shall he change it; and if he change it at all, then both it
and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
So that it appeared, that the least the Lord would receive as a due
offering to him from his people, was a fair and full tenth part of all
they possessed. This was required, from those that were only nominally
his people. How about those that render to him heart-service?
David's declaration, when laying up provision for the building of
the temple, was that all was the Lord's. Who am I, and what is
my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this
sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given
thee... O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build
thee an house for thy holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine
own. And God himself, in the fiftieth psalm, claims to be the one sole
owner and proprietor, when he says, Every beast of the forest is mine,
and the cattle upon a thousand hills.
But some people may think, that is a sort of natural and
providential right, which the Creator exercises over the works of his
hands. Come a little closer.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of
Hosts.So it was declared by his prophet Haggai. And by another of
his servants, the Lord told the people that their own prospering in the
various goods of this world, would be according to their faithfulness
in serving him with them.
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have
we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse;
for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat
in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I
will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing,
that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
So that it is not grace nor bounty the Lord receives at our hands in
such offerings; it is simply his own.
Then it must be considered that those were the times of the old
dispensation; of an expensive system of sacrifices and temple worship;
with a great body of the priesthood to be maintained and supplied in
all their services and private household wants. We live in changed
times, under a different rule. What do the Lord's servants owe him now?
The speaker had gone on with the utmost quietness of manner from one
of these instances to another; using hardly any gestures; uttering only
with slow distinctness and deliberation his sentences one after the
other; his face and eye meanwhile commanding the whole assembly. He
went on now with the same quietness, perhaps with a little more
deliberateness of accentuation, and an additional spark of fire now and
then in his glance.
There was a widow woman once, who threw into the Lord's treasury two
mites, which make a farthing; but it was all her living. Again,
we read that among the first Christians, all that believed were
together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and
goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. The
multitude of them that believed were of one heart, and of one soul;
neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed
was his own; but they had all things common.
Were these people extravagant? They overwent the judgment of the
present day. By what rule shall we try them?
Christ's rule is, Freely ye have received; freely give. What have
Friends, you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though
he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his
poverty might be rich. And the judgment of the old Christian church
accorded with this; for they said,The love of Christ constraineth
us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all
dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not
henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and
rose again. Were they extravagant?
But Christ has given us a closer rule to try the question by. He
told his disciples, This is my commandment, That ye love one another,
as I have loved you. Does any one ask how that was? The Lord tells
us in the next breath. It was no theoretical feeling. Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I
have loved you, that ye also love one another.
Pausing there in his course, with fire and tenderness breaking out
in his face and manner, that gave him a kind of seraphic look, the
speaker burst forth into a description of the love of Christ, that
before long bowed the heads and hearts of his audience as one man. Sobs
and whispers and smothered cries, murmured from all parts of the
church; the whole assembly was broken down, while the preacher stood
like some heavenly messenger and spoke his Master's name. When he
ceased, the suppressed noise of sobs was alone to be heard all over the
house. He paused a little, and began again very quietly, but with an
added tenderness in his voice,
He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk,
even as he walked.Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he
laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the
He paused again; every one there knew that he was ready to act on
the principle he enounced; that he was speaking only of what he had
proved; and the heads of the assembly bent lower still.
Does any one ask, What shall we do now? there is no temple to be
maintained, nor course of sacrifices to be kept up, nor ceremonial
worship, nor Levitical body of priests to be supported and fed. What
shall we give our lives and our fortunes to now, if we give them?
Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them. Is the gospel dear to you? Is salvation worth having? Think of
those who know nothing of it; and then think of Christ's command, Feed
my sheep. They are scattered upon all lands, the sheep that he died
for; who shall gather them in? In China they worship a heap of ashes;
in India they adore monsters; in Fiji they live to kill and eat one
another; in Africa they sit in the darkness of centuries, till almost
the spark of humanity is quenched out. Whosoever shall call upon the
name of the Lord shall be saved. But how shall they call on him in
whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom
they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and
how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How
beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and
bring glad tidings of good things!
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high
mountain: O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice
with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah,
Behold your God!
The Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say,
come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him
take the water of life freely.
It was in the midst of the deepest stillness, and in low kept-under
tones, that the last words were spoken. And when they ceased, a great
hush still remained upon the assembly. It was broken by prayer; sweet,
solemn, rapt, such as some there had never heard before; such as some
there knew well. When Mr. Rhys had stopped, another began. The whole
house was still with tears.
There was one bowed heart there, which had divided subjects of
consideration; there was one hidden face which had a double motive for
being hid. Eleanor had been absorbed in the entrancing interest of the
time, listening with moveless eyes, and borne away from all her own
subjects of care and difficulty on the swelling tide of thought and
emotion which heaved the whole assembly. Till her own head was bent
beneath its power, and her tears sought to be covered from view. She
did not move from that attitude; until, lifting her head near the close
of the sermon, as soon as she could get it up in fact, that she might
see as much as possible of those wonderful looks she might never see
again; a slight chance turn of her head brought another idea into her
mind. A little behind her in the aisle, standing but a pace or two off,
was a figure that for one instant made all Eleanor's blood stand still.
She could not see it distinctly; she did not see the face of the person
at all; it was only the merest glimpse of some outlines, the least line
of a coat and vision of an arm and hand resting on a pew door. But if
that arm and hand did not belong to somebody she knew, in Eleanor's
belief it belonged to nobody living. It was not the colour of cloth nor
the cut of a dress; it was the indefinable character of that arm and
man's glove, seen with but half an eye. But it made her sure that Mr.
Carlisle, in living flesh and blood, stood there, in the Wesleyan
chapel though it was. Eleanor cared curiously little about it, after
the first start. She felt set free, in the deep high engagement of her
thoughts at the time, and the roused and determined state of feeling
they had produced. She did not fear Mr. Carlisle. She was quite willing
he should have seen her there. It was what she wished, that he should
know of her doing. And his neighbourhood in that place did not hinder
her full attention and enjoyment of every word that was spoken. It did
not check her tears, nor stifle the swelling of her heart under the
preaching and under the prayers. Nevertheless Eleanor was conscious of
it all the time; and became conscious too that the service would before
very long come to a close; and then without doubt that quiet glove
would have something to do with her. Eleanor did not reason nor stop to
think about it. Her heart was full, full, under the appeals made and
the working of conscience with them; conscience and tenderer feelings,
which strove together and yet found no rest; and this action the sight
of Mr. Carlisle rather intensified. Were her head but covered by that
helmet of salvation, under which others lived and walked so royally
secure,and she could bid defiance to any disturbing force that could
meet her, she thought, in this world.
It was while Eleanor's head was yet bowed, and her heart busy with
these struggling feelings, that she heard an invitation given to all
people who were not at peace in their hearts and who desired that
Christians should pray for them,to come forward and so signify their
wish. Eleanor did not understand what this could mean; and hearing a
stir in the church, she looked up, if perhaps her eyes might give her
information. To her surprise she saw that numbers of people were
leaving their seats, and going forward to what she would have called
the chancel rails, where they all knelt down. All these persons, then,
were in like condition with her; unhappy in the consciousness of their
wants, and not knowing how to supply them. So many! And so many willing
openly to confess it. Eleanor's heart moved strangely towards them. And
then darted into her head an impulse, quick as lightning and almost as
startling, that she should join herself to them and go forward as they
were doing. Was not her heart mourning for the very same want that they
felt? She had reason enough. No one in that room sought the forgiveness
of God and peace with him more earnestly than she, nor with a sorer
heart; nor felt more ignorant how to gain it. Together with that
another thought, both of them acting with the swiftness and power of a
lightning flash, moved Eleanor. Would it not utterly disgust Mr.
Carlisle, if she took this step? would he wish to have any more to do
with her, after she should have gone forward publicly to ask for
prayers in a Wesleyan chapel? It would prove to him at least how far
apart they were in all their views and feelings. It would clear her way
for her; and the next moment, doing it cunningly that she might not be
intercepted, Eleanor Powle slipped out of her seat with a quick
movement, just before some one else who was coming up the aisle, and so
put that person for that one second of danger between her and the
waiting figure whom she knew without looking at. That second was
gained, and she went trembling with agitation, yet exultingly, up the
aisle and knelt on the low bench where the others were.
Mr. Carlisle and escape from him, had been Eleanor's one thought
till she got there. But as her knees sank upon the cushion and her head
bowed upon the rails, a flood of other feeling swept over her and Mr.
Carlisle was forgotten. The sense of what she was committing herself
toof the open stand she was taking as a sinner, and one who desired
to be a forgiven sinner,overwhelmed her; and her heart's great cry
for peace and purity broke forth to the exclusion of everything else.
In the confusion of Eleanor's mind, she did not know in the least
what was going on around her in the church. She did not hear if they
were praying or singing. She tried to pray for herself; she knew not
what others were doing; till she heard some low whispered words near
her. That sound startled her into attention; for she knew the accent of
one voice that spoke. The other, if one answered, she could not
discern; but she found with a start of mingled fear and pleasure that
Mr. Rhys was speaking separately with the persons kneeling around the
rails. She had only time to clear her voice from tears, before that
same low whisper came beside her.
What is your difficulty?
DarknessconfusionI do not see what way to go.
Go no way, said the whisper impressively, until you see
clearly. Then do what is right. That is the first point. You know that
Christ is the fountain of light?
But I see none.
Seek him trustingly, and obediently; and then look for the light to
come, as you would for the dawning after a dark night. It is sure, if
you will trust the Lord. His going forth is prepared as the morning. It
is sure to come, to all that seek him, trust him, and obey him. Seek
him in prayer constantly, and in studying your Bible; and what you find
to be your duty, do; and the Lord be with you!
He passed away from Eleanor; and presently the whole assembly struck
up a hymn. It sounded like a sweet shout of melody at the time; but
Eleanor could never recall a note of it afterwards. She knew the
service was nearly ended, and that in a few minutes she must quit her
kneeling, sheltered position, and go out into the world again. She bent
her heart to catch all the sweetness of the place and the time; for
strange and confused as she felt, there was nevertheless an atmosphere
fragrant with peace about both. The hymn came to an end; the
congregation were dismissed, and Eleanor perforce turned her face to go
down the aisle again.
Her veil was down and she did not look, but she knew without looking
just when she reached the spot where Mr. Carlisle stood. He stood there
yet; he had only stepped a little aside to let the stream of people go
past him; and now as Eleanor came up he assumed his place by her side
and put her hand upon his arm as quietly as if he had been waiting
there for her by appointment all along. So he led her out to the
carriage in waiting for her, helped her into it, and took his place
beside her; in silence, but with the utmost gentleness of demeanour.
The carriage door was closed, they drove off; Eleanor's evening was
over, and she was alone with Mr. Carlisle.
CHAPTER XII. AT SUPPER.
Mar. Marry, sir, sometimes he is a kind of Puritan.
Sir And. O, if I thought that, I'd beat him like a dog.
Sir Tob. What, for being a Puritan? thy exquisite reason,
Sir And. I have no exquisite reason for't, but I have
What was to come now; as in darkness and silence the carriage rolled
over the road towards Wiglands? Eleanor did not greatly care. She felt
set free; outwardly, by her own daring act of separation; inwardly and
more effectually perhaps, by the influence of the evening upon her own
mind. In her own settled and matured conclusions, she felt that Mr.
Carlisle's power over her was gone. It was a little of an annoyance to
have him sitting there; nevertheless Eleanor's mind did not trouble
itself much with him. Leaning back in the carriage, she gave herself up
to the impressions of the scene she had been through. Her companion was
quiet and made no demands upon her attention. She recalled over and
over the words, and looks, of the sermon;the swell of the musicit
had been like angel's melody; and the soft words which had been so
energetic in their whispered strength as she knelt at the railing. She
remembered with fresh wonder and admiration, with what effect the Bible
words in the first part of the sermon had come upon the audience
through that extreme quietness of voice and delivery; and then with
what sudden fire and life, as if he had become another man, the speaker
had burst out to speak of his Master; and how it had swayed and bent
the assembly. It was an entirely new view of Mr. Rhys, and Eleanor
could not forget it. In general, as she had always seen him, though
perfectly at ease in his manners he was very simple and
undemonstrative. She had not guessed there was such might in him. It
awed her; it delighted her. To live such a life and to do such work as
that man lived for,that was living indeed! That was noble, high,
pure; unlike and O how far above all the manner of lives Eleanor had
ever seen before. And such, in so far as the little may resemble the
great, such at least so far as in her sphere and abilities and sadly
inferior moral qualities it might liesuch in aim and direction at
least, her own life should be. What had she to do with Mr. Carlisle?
Eleanor never spoke to him during the long drive, forgetting as far
as she could, though a little uneasiness grew upon her by degrees, that
he was even present. And he did not speak to her, nor remind her of his
presence otherwise than by pulling up the glass on her side when the
wind blew in too chill. It was his carriage they were in,
Eleanor then perceived; and she wanted to ask a question; but on the
whole concluded it safe to be still; according to the proverb, Let
sleeping dogs lie. One other time he drew her shawl round her which
she had let slip off.
Mr. Carlisle was possessed of large self-control and had great
perfection of tact; and he never shewed either more consummately than
this night. What he underwent while standing in the aisle of the
Chapel, was known to himself; he made it known to nobody else. He was
certainly silent during the drive; that shewed him displeased; but
every movement was calm as ordinary; his care of Eleanor was the same,
in its mixture of gentle observance and authority. He had laid down
neither. Eleanor could have wished he had been unable to keep one or
the other. Would he keep her too, and everything else that he chose?
Nothing is more subduing in its effect upon others, than evident power
of self-command. Eleanor could not help feeling it, as she stepped out
of the carriage at home, and was led into the house.
Will you give me a few minutes, when you have changed your dress?
her conductor asked.
It must come, thought Eleanor, and as well now as ever; and she
assented. Mr. Carlisle led her in. Nobody was in waiting but Mrs.
Powle; and she waited with devouring anxiety. The Squire and Julia she
had carefully disposed of in good time.
Eleanor is tired, Mrs. Powle, and so am I, said Mr. Carlisle.
Will you let us have some supper here, by this fireand I think
Eleanor had better have a cup of tea; as I cannot find out the wine
that she likes. And as Eleanor moved away, he added,And let me beg
you not to keep yourself from your rest any longerI will take care of
my charge; at least I will try.
Devoutly hoping that he might succeed to his wishes, and not daring
to shew the anxiety he did not move to gratify, Mrs. Powle took the
hint of his gentle dismission; ordered the supper and withdrew.
Meanwhile Eleanor went to her room, relieved at the quiet entrance that
had been secured her, where she had looked for a storm; and a little
puzzled what to make of Mr. Carlisle. A little afraid too, if the truth
must be known; but she fell back upon Mr. Rhys's words of counselGo
no way, till you see clearly; and then do what is right. She took off
her bonnet and smoothed her hair; and was about to go down, when she
was checked by the remembrance of Mr. Carlisle's words, when you have
changed your dress. She told herself it was absurd; why should she
change her dress for that half hour that she would be up; why should
she mind that word of intimation; she called herself a fool for it;
nevertheless, while saying these things Eleanor did the very thing she
scouted at. She put off her riding dress, which the streets of Brompton
and the Chapel aisles had seen that day, and changed it for a light
grey drapery that fell about her in very graceful folds. She looked
very lovely when she reëntered the drawing-room; the medium tint set
off her own rich colours, and the laces at throat and wrist were just
simple enough to aid the whole effect. Mr. Carlisle was a judge of
dress; he was standing before the fire and surveyed her as she came in;
and as Eleanor's foot faltered half way in the room, he came forward,
took both her hands and led her to the fire, where he set her in a
great chair by the supper-table; and then before he let her go, did
what he had not meant to do; gave a very frank kiss to the lips that
were so rich and pure and so near him. Eleanor's heart had sunk a
little at perceiving that her mother was not in the room; and this
action was far from reassuring. She would rather Mr. Carlisle had been
angry. He was far more difficult to meet in this mood.
Meanwhile Mr. Carlisle brought her chair into more convenient
neighbourhood to the table, and set a plate before her on which he went
on to place whatever he thought fit. I know what you are wanting, he
said;but you shall not have a cup of tea unless I see you eat. And
Eleanor eat, feeling the need of it, and the necessity of doing
Mr. Carlisle poured himself out a glass of wine and slowly drank it,
watching her. Midway set it down; and himself made and poured out and
sugared and creamed a cup of tea which he set beside Eleanor. It was
done in the nicest way possible, with a manner that any woman would
like to have wait on her. Eleanor tasted, and could not hold her tongue
I did not know this was one of your accomplishments,she said
without raising her eyes.
For yousaid Mr. Carlisle. I believe it will never be exercised
for anybody else.
He slowly finished his wine while he watched her. He eat nothing
himself, though Eleanor asked him, till she turned from her plate, and
did what she had not done till then but could no longer withhold; let
her eyes meet his.
Now, said he throwing himself into an opposite chair,I will
take a cup of tea, if you will make it for me.
Eleanor blushedwhat made her?as she set about performing this
office. The tea was cold; she had to make fresh, and wait till it was
ready; and she stood by the table watching and preparing it, while Mr.
Carlisle sat in his chair observing her. Eleanor's cheeks flushed more
and more. There was something about this little piece of domesticity,
and her becoming the servitor in her turn, that brought up things she
did not wish to think of. But her neighbour liked what she did not
like, for he sat as quiet as a mouse until Eleanor's trembling hand
offered him the cup. She had to take a step or two for it, but he never
stirred to abridge them. Eleanor sat down again, and Mr. Carlisle
sipped his tea with an appearance of gratification.
That is a young man of uncommon abilitieshe remarked
composedly,whom we heard this evening. Do you know who he is,
Eleanor felt as if the sky was falling. It is Mr. RhysAlfred's
old tutor she answered, in a voice which she felt was dry and
embarrassed to the quick ears that heard her. You have seen him.
I thought I had, somewhere. But that man has power. It is a pity he
could not be induced to come into the Churchhe would draw better
houses than Dr. Cairnes. Do you think we could win him over, Eleanor?
I believeI have heardsaid Eleanor, that he is going away from
England. He is going a missionary to some very far away region. She
was quite willing Mr. Carlisle should understand this.
Just as well, he answered. If he would not come into his right
place, such a man would only work to draw other persons out of theirs.
There is a sort of popular power of speech which wins with the common
and uneducated mind. I saw it won upon you, Nellie; how was that?
The light tone, in which a smile seemed but half concealed,
disconcerted Eleanor. She was not ashamed, she thought she was not, but
she did not know how to answer.
You are a little tête-montée, he said. If I had been a
little nearer to you to-night, I would have saved you from taking one
step; but I did not fancy that you could be so suddenly wrought upon.
Pray how happened you to be in that place to-night?'
I told you, said Eleanor after some hesitation, that I had an
unsatisfied wish of heart which made me uneasyand you would not
If you knew how this man could speak, I do not wonder at your
wanting to hear him. Did you ever hear him before?
Yes, said Eleanor, feeling that she was getting in a wrong
position before her questioner. I have heard him onceI wanted to
hear him again.
Why did you not tell me your wish, that you might gratify it
I supposedif I didI should lose my chance of gratifying it at
You are a real tête-montée, he said, standing now before
her and taking hold lightly and caressingly of Eleanor's chin as he
spoke. It was well nobody saw you to-night but me. Does my little wife
think she can safely gratify many of her wishes without her husband's
Eleanor coloured brightly and drew herself back. That is the very
thing, she said; now you are coming to the point. I told you I had
wishes with which yours would not agree, and it was better for you to
know it before it was too late.
Too late for what?
To remedy a great evil.
There is generally a remedy for everything, said Mr. Carlisle
coolly; and this sort of imaginative fervour which is upon you is sure
to find a cold bath of its own in good time. My purpose is simply in
future, whenever you wish to hear another specimen of the kind of
oratory we have listened to this evening, to be with you that I may
Protect me from what?
From going too far, further than you know, in your present
exaltée state. The Lady of Rythdale must not do anything unworthy
of herself, or of me.
What do you mean, Mr. Carlisle? Eleanor exclaimed with burning
cheeks. But he stood before her quite cool, his arms folded, looking
down at her.
Do you wish me to speak?
Certainly! I do.
I will tell you then. It would not accord with my wishes to have my
wife grant whispered consultations in public to any man; especially a
young man and one of insinuating talents, which this one well may be. I
could have shot that man, as he was talking to you to-night, Eleanor.
Eleanor put up her hands to her face to hide its colour for a
moment. Shame and anger and confusion struggled together. Had
she done anything unworthy of her? Others did the same, but they
belonged to a different class of persons; had she been where Eleanor
Powle, or even Eleanor Carlisle, would be out of place? And then there
was the contrasted consciousness, how very pleasant and precious that
whispered consultation had been to her. Mr. Carlisle stooped and took
away her hands from her face, holding them in his own.
Eleanorhad that young man anything to do with those unmanageable
wishes you expressed to me?
So far as his words and example set me upon thinking, said
Eleanor. But there was nothing in what was said to-night that all the
world might not hear. She rose, for it was an uncomfortable position
in which her hands were held.
All the world did not hear it, you will remember. Eleanor, you are
honest, and I am jealouswill you tell me that you have no regard for
this young man more than my wife ought to have?
Mr. Carlisle, I have never asked myself the question! exclaimed
Eleanor with indignant eyes. If you doubt me, you cannot wish to have
anything more to do with me.
Call me Macintosh, said he drawing her within his arm.
Eleanor would not. She would have freed herself, but she could not
without exerting too much force. She stood silent.
Will you tell me, he said in a gentle changed tone, what words
did pass between you and that young man,that you said all the world
Eleanor hesitated. Her head was almost on Mr. Carlisle's shoulder;
his lips were almost at her downcast brow; the brilliant hazel eyes
were looking with their powerful light into her face. And she was his
affianced wife. Was Eleanor free? Had this man, who loved her, no
rights? Along with all other feelings, a keen sense of self-reproach
stole in again.
Macintosh, she said droopingly, it was entirely about religious
mattersthat you would laugh at, but would not understand.
Indulge meand try me he said pressing his lips first on
Eleanor's cheek and then on her mouth. She answered in the same tone as
before, drooping in his arms as a weary child.
He asked meas I suppose he asked otherswhat the difficulties in
my mind were,religious difficulties; and I told him my mind was in
confusion and I did not see clearly before me. He advised me to do
nothing in the dark, but when I saw duty clear, then to do it. That was
What did all these difficulties and rules of action refer to?
Everything, I suppose, said Eleanor drooping more and more
And you do not see, my love, what all this tended to?
I do not see what you mean.
This is artful proselytism, Eleanor. In your brave honesty, in your
beautiful enthusiasm, you did not know that the purpose of all this has
been, to make a Methodist of Eleanor Powle, and as a necessary
preliminary or condition, to break off her promised marriage with me.
If that fellow had succeeded, he should have been made to feel my
indignationas it is, I shall let him go.
You are entirely mistaken, began Eleanor.
Am I? Have you not been led to doubt whether you could live a right
life, and live it with me?
But would you be willing in everything to let me do as I think
Would I let you? You shall do what you will, my darling, except go
to whispering conventicles. Assuredly I will not let you do that. But
when you tell me seriously that you think a thing is wrong, I will
never put my will in the way of your conscience. Did you think me a
Eleanor only sighed.
I think I have something to forgive to-night, Eleanor,but it is
easy to forgive you. And wrapping both arms round her now, he pressed
on brow and lip and cheek kisses that were abundantly reconciled.
My presence just saved you to night. Eleanorwill you promise not
to be naughty any more?Eleanor?
I will try, burst out Eleanor,O I will try to do what is right!
I will try to do what is right!
And in bitter uncertainty what that might be, she gave way under the
strain of so many feelings, and the sense of being conquered which
oppressed her, and burst into tears. Still held fast, the only
hiding-place for her eyes was Mr. Carlisle's breast, and they flowed
there bitterly though restrained as much as possible. He hardly wished
to restrain them; he would have been willing to stand all night with
that soft brown head resting like a child's on him. Nevertheless he
called her to order with words and kisses.
Do you know, it is late, he said,and you are tired. I must send
you off. Eleanor! look up. Look up and kiss me.
Eleanor overcame the passion of tears as soon as possible, yet not
till a few minutes had passed; and looked up; at least raised her head
from its resting-place. Mr. Carlisle whispered, Kiss me!
How could Eleanor refuse? what could she do? though it was sealing
allegiance over again. She was utterly humbled and conquered. But there
was a touch of pride to be satisfied first. Laying one hand on Mr.
Carlisle's shoulder, so as to push herself a little back where she
could look him in the face, with eyes glittering yet, she confronted
him; and asked, Do you doubt me now?
Holding her in both arms, at just that distance, he looked down at
her, a smile as calm as brilliant playing all over his face, which
spoke perfect content as well as secure possession. But the trust in
his eyes was as clear.
No more than I doubt myself, he answered.
Pride was laid asleep; and yielding to what seemed her fate, Eleanor
gave the required token of fealtyor subjugationfor so it seemed to
her. Standing quite still, with bent head and moveless attitude, the
slightest smile in the world upon the lips, Mr. Carlisle's whole air
said silently that it was not enough. Eleanor yielded again, and once
more touched her lips to those of her master. He let her go then; lit
her candle and attended her to the foot of the staircase and dismissed
her with all care.
I wonder if he is going to stay here himself to-night, and meet me
in the morning, thought Eleanor as she went up the stairs. It does
not matterI will go to sleep and forget everything, for a while.
Would she? There was no sleep for Eleanor that night, and she knew
it as soon as she reached her room. She set down her candle and then
herself in blank despair.
What had she done? Nothing at all, The stand she had meant to take
at the beginning of the evening, she had been unable even to set foot
upon. The bold step by which she had thought to set herself free from
Mr. Carlisle, had only laid her more completely at his feet. Eleanor
got up and walked the room in agony.
What had she done? She was this man's promised wife; she had made
her own bonds; it was her own doing; he had a right to her, he had
claims upon her, he had given his affection to her. Had she any
rights now, inconsistent with his? Must she not fulfil this marriage?
And yet, could she do so, feeling as she did? would that be
right? For no sooner was Eleanor alone than the subdued cry of her
heart broke out again, that it could not be. And that cry grew
desperate. Yet this evening's opportunity had all come to nothing.
Worse than nothing, for it had laid an additional difficulty in her
way. By her window, looking out into the dark night, Eleanor stopped
and looked at this difficulty. She drew from its lurking-place in the
darkness of her heart the question Mr. Carlisle had suggested, and
confronted it steadily.
Had that young man, the preacher of this evening, Eleanor's
really best friend, had he anything to do with her unmanageable
wishes? Had she any regard for him that influenced her mind in
this struggleor that raised the struggle? With fiercely throbbing
heart Eleanor looked this question for the first time in the face.
No! she said to herself,no! I have not. I have no such regard for
him. How debasing to have such a doubt raised! But I might
haveI think that is trueif circumstances put me in the way of it.
And I think, seeing him and knowing his superior beauty of
characterhow superior!has wakened me up to the consciousness of
what I do like, and what I like best; and made me conscious too that I
do not love Mr. Carlisle as well as I ought, to be his wifenot as he
loves me. That I see now,too late. Oh, mother, mother! why
were you in such a hurry to seal this marriagewhen I told you, I told
you, I was not ready. But then I did not know any more than that. And
now I cannot marry himand yet I shalland I do not know but I ought.
And yet I cannot.
Eleanor walked her floor or stood by her window that live-long
night. It was a night of great agony and distracted searching for
relief. Where should relief come from? To tell Mr. Carlisle frankly
that she did not bear the right kind of love towards him, she knew
would be the vainest of expedients. He can make me do anythinghe
would say he can make me love him; and so, perhaps, he couldI believe
he wouldif I had not seen this other man. And then Eleanor drew the
contrast between one person and the other; the high, pure, spiritual
nobleness of the one, and the social and personal graces and
intellectual power of the other, all used for selfish ends. It was a
very unprofitable speculation for Eleanor; it left her further than
ever from the conclusion, and distressed her bitterly. From her mother
she knew sadly there was no help to be had. No consideration, of duty
or pleasure, would outweigh with her the loss of a splendid alliance
and the scandal of breaking off the preparations for it. The Sphynx
would not look out more calmly over the desert waste of all things,
than Mrs. Powle's fair face would overview a moral desolation more
hopeless and more cheerless, if but the pyramid of her ambition were
firmly planted there. And Eleanor's worst trouble after all was her
doubt about duty. If Mr. Carlisle had not loved herbut he did love
her truly and tenderly, and she, however misled, had given him
permission. Could she now withdraw it? Could she do anything but, at
whatever risk, go on and meet the obligations she had brought upon
herself? Nature cried out strongly that it must not be; but conscience
and remorse, aided by circumstances, withstood nature, and said it must
be no other way. Eleanor must marry Mr. Carlisle and be as good to him
as she could. And Eleanor's whole soul began to rise up stronger and
stronger in protest against it, and cry that she never would marry him.
The weary long night seemed but as one thought of pain; and when the
morning broke, Eleanor felt that she had grown old.
CHAPTER XIII. IN DOUBT.
We will have rings, and things, and fine array;
And kiss me, Kate, we will be married o' Sunday.
Eleanor was too sick to go down even to a late breakfast; and a
raging headache kept off any inquiries or remonstrances that Mrs. Powle
might have made to her if she had been well. Later in the day her
little sister Julia came dancing in.
Aren't you going to get up, Eleanor? What's the matter? I am going
to open your window. You are all shut up here.
Back went the curtain and up went the window; a breath of fresh mild
air came sweetly in, and Julia danced back to the bedside. There
suddenly sobered herself.
Eleanor, aren't you better? Can't you get up? It is so nice
Julia's fresh, innocent, gay manner, the very light play of her
waving hair, not lighter than the childlike heart, were almost too much
for her sister. They made Eleanor's heart ache.
Where is everybody?
Nowhere, said Julia. I am all the house. Mr. Carlisle went home
after breakfast; and mamma and Alfred are gone in the carriage to
Brompton; and papa is out somewhere. Are you better, Nellie?
I shall never be better! said Eleanor. She turned and hid her
Oh why, Eleanor? What makes you say that? What is the matter? I
knew yesterday you were not happy.
I am never going to be happy. I hope you will.
I am happy, said Julia. And you will be. I told Mr. Rhys you were
not happy,and he said you would be by and by.
Julia! said Eleanor raising herself on her elbow and with a colour
spreading all over her face,don't talk to Mr. Rhys about me or my
concerns! What makes you do such a thing?
Why I haven't anybody else to talk to, said Julia. Give me your
foot, and I'll put on your stocking. Come! you are going to get up. And
besides, he thinks a great deal of you, and we pray for you every day.
He does, and I. Come!give me your foot.
He, and you! said Eleanor.
Yes, said Julia looking up. We pray for you every day. What's the
Her hand was laid sorrowfully and tenderly on the shoulder of the
sister whose face was again hid from her. But at the touch Eleanor
raised her head.
You seem a different child, Julia, from what you used to be.
What's the matter, Nellie?very tenderly.
I wish I was different too, said Eleanor, springing out of bed;
and I want time to go away by myself and think it out and battle it
out, until I know just what is right and am ready to do it; and instead
of that, mamma and Mr. Carlisle have arranged
Stop and sit down, said Julia taking hold of her; you look white
and black and all colours. Wait and rest, Eleanor.
But Eleanor would not till she had tried the refreshment of cold
water, and had put her beautiful hair in order; then she sat down in
her dressing-gown. Julia had watched and now stood anxiously beside
Oh, what is the matter, Eleanor?
I don't know, Julia. I do not know what is right.
Have you asked God to make you know?
No, said Eleanor, drooping.
That's what Mr. Rhys always does, so he is never troubled. I will
tell you what he sayshe says, 'What time I am afraid, I will trust in
thee.' Then he feels safe, you know.
It is a pity you cannot go to the South Seas with Mr. Rhys. You
talk of nothing but him.
I would like to go with him, said Julia simply. But I have
learned how to feel safe too, for I trust in Jesus too; and I know he
will teach me right. So he will teach you, Eleanor.
Eleanor bowed her head on her hands, and wept and wept; but while
she wept, resolutions were taking form in her mind. Mr. Rhys's words
came back to herGo no way, till you see clear. The renewed thought
of that helmet of salvation, and of that heavenly guidance, that she
needed and longed for; so supremely, so much above everything else;
gradually gained her strength to resolve that she would have them at
all hazards. She must have time to seek them and to be sure of her
duty; and then, she would do it. She determined she would not see Mr.
Carlisle; he would conquer her; she would manage the matter with her
mother. Eleanor thought it all over, the opposition and the
difficulties, and resolved with the strength of desperation. She had
grown old during this night. She had a long interval of quiet before
her mother came.
Well, Eleanor! in your dressing-gown yet, and only your hair done!
When do you expect to be down stairs? Somebody will be here presently
and expect to see you.
Somebody will be disappointed. My head is splitting, mamma.
I should think it would! after yesterday's gambade, What did Mr.
Carlisle say to you, I should like to know? I thought you would have
offended him past forgiveness. I was relieved beyond all expression
this morning, at breakfast, when I saw all was right again. But he told
me not to scold you, and I will not talk about it.
Mamma, if you will take off your bonnet and sit downI will talk
to you about something else.
Mrs. Powle sat down, took her bonnet in her lap, and pushed her fair
curls into place. They were rarely out of place; it was more a form
than anything else. Yet Mrs. Powle looked anxious; and her anxiety
found natural expression as she said,
I wish the twenty-first was to-morrow!
That is the thing I wish to speak about. Mamma, that day, the day
for my marriage, has been appointed too earlyI feel hurried, and not
ready. I want to study my own mind and know exactly what I am doing. I
am going to ask you to have it put off.
Put it off! cried Mrs. Powle. Language contained no other words
of equal importance to be spoken in the same breath with those three.
Yes. I want it put off.
Till when, if you please. It might as well be doomsday at once.
Till doomsday, if necessary; but I want it put off. I do not
stipulate for so long a time as that, said Eleanor putting her hand to
What day would you name, in lieu of the twenty-first? I should like
to know how far your arrangements extend.
I want time to collect my thoughts and be ready for so great a
change. I want time to study, and think,and pray. I shall ask for at
least three months.
Three months! Till April! And pray, what has ailed your ladyship
not to study and think and pray if you like, all these months that have
I have no chance. My time is all taken up. I can do nothing, but go
round in a whirltill my head is spinning.
And what will you do in these three months to come? I should like
to know all you propose.
I propose to go away from homesomewhere that I can be quiet and
alone. Then, if there is no reason against it, I promise to come back
and fulfil my engagement with Mr. Carlisle.
Eleanor, you are a fool! burst out her mother. You are a fool, or
worse. How dare you talk such stuff to me? I can hardly believe you
serious, only for your face. Do you suppose I will think for one moment
of such a thing as putting off the day?and if I would, have you any
idea that Mr. Carlisle would give his assent to it?!
If you do not, both you and he, I shall break off the marriage
I dare you to do it! said Mrs. Powle. With the wedding-dresses
made, and almost the wedding-cakeevery preparationthe whole world
to be scandalized and talking at any delayyour family disgraced, and
yourself ruined for ever;and Mr. CarlisleEleanor, I think you are
crazy! only you sit there with such a wicked face!
It is in danger of being wicked, said Eleanor, drawing both her
hands over it;for I warn you, mother, I am determined. I have been
hurried on. I will be hurried no further. I will take poison, before I
will be married on the twenty-first! As well lose my soul one way as
another. You and Mr. Carlisle must give me timeor I will break the
match altogether. I will bear the consequences.
Have you spoken to him of this precious arrangement?
No, said Eleanor, her manner failing a little.You must do it.
I thought so! said Mrs. Powle. He knows how to manage you, my
young lady! which I never did yet. I will just bring him up here to
youand you will be like a whipped child in three minutes. O you know
it. I see it in your face. Eleanor, I am ashamed of you!
I will not see him up here, mamma.
You will, if you cannot help it. Eleanor I wouldn't try him too
far. He is very fond of youbut he will be your husband in a few days;
and he is not the sort of man I should like to have displeased with me,
if I were you.
He never will, mamma, unless he waits three months for it.
Now I will tell you one thing, said Mrs. Powle rising in great
angerI can put down my foot too. I am tired of this sort of thing,
and I cannot manage you, and I will give you over to one who can.
To-day is Tuesdaythe twenty-first is exactly one fortnight off. Well
my young lady, I will change the day. Next Monday I will give
you to Mr. Carlisle, and he will be your master; and I fancy he is not
at all afraid to assume the responsibility. He may take you to as quiet
a place as he likes; and you may think at your leisure, and more
properly than in the way you propose. So, Eleanor, you shall be married
Mrs. Powle flourished out with her bonnet in her hand. Eleanor's
first movement was to go after her and turn the key in the door
securely; then she threw up the window and flung herself on her face on
the bed. Her mother was quite capable of doing as she had said, for her
fair features covered a not very tender heart. Mr. Carlisle would
second her, no doubt, all the more eagerly for the last night's
adventures. Could Eleanor make head against those two? And between
Tuesday and Monday was very little time to mature plans or organize
resistance. Her head felt like splitting now indeed, for very
Eleanor, said Julia's voice gravely and anxiously, you will take
coldmayn't I shut the window?
There's no danger. I am in a fever.
Is your head no better?
I hardly think I have a head. There is nothing there but pain and
Poor Eleanor! said her little sister, standing by the bedside like
a powerless guardian angel. Mr. Carlisle isn't good, if he wouldn't do
what you want him.
Do not open the door, Julia, if anybody knocks!
No. But wouldn't he, Eleanor, if you were to ask him?
Eleanor made no answer. She knew, it needed but a glance at last
night's experience to remind her, that she could not make head against
Mr. Carlisle. If he came to talk to her about her proposed scheme, all
was lost. Suddenly Eleanor threw herself off the bed, and began to
dress with precipitation.
Why, are you better, Eleanor? Julia asked in surprise.
Nobut I must go down stairs. Bring me my blue dress, Julia;and
go and get me some geranium leavessome strong-scented ones. Herego
down the back way.
No matter for head-splitting. Eleanor dressed in haste, but with
delicate care; in a dress that Mr. Carlisle liked. Its colour suited
her, and its simple make shewed her beauty; better than a more
furbelowed one. The aromatic geranium leaves were for her headbut
with them Julia had brought some of the brilliant red flowers; and
fastened on her breast where Eleanor could feel their sweetness, they
at the same time made a bright touch of adornment to her figure. She
was obliged to sit down then and rest; but as soon as she could she
went to the drawing-room.
There were as usual several people there besides the family; Dr.
Cairnes and Miss Broadus and her sister making part. Entering with a
slow quiet movement, most unlike the real hurry of her spirits, Eleanor
had time to observe how different persons were placed and to choose her
own plan of action. It was to slip silently into a large chair which
stood empty at Mr. Carlisle's side, and which favoured her by
presenting itself as the nearest attackable point of the circle. It was
done with such graceful noiselessness that many did not at the moment
notice her; but two persons were quick of vision where she was
concerned. Mr. Carlisle bent over her with delight, and though Mrs.
Powle's fair curls were not disturbed by any sudden motion of her head,
her grey eyes dilated with wonder and curiosity as she listened to a
story of Miss Broadus which was fitted to excite neither. Eleanor was
beyond her, but she concluded that Mr. Carlisle held the key of this
Eleanor sat very quiet in her chair, looking lovely, and by degrees
using up her geranium leaves; with which she went through a variety of
manipulations. They were picked to pieces and rubbed to pieces and
their aromatic essence crushed out of them with every kind of
formality. Mr. Carlisle finding that she had a headache did not trouble
her to talk, and relieved her from attention; any further than his arm
or hand mounting guard on her chair constantly gave. For it gathered
the broken geranium leaves out of her way and picked them up from her
feet. At last his hand came after hers and made it a prisoner.
You have a mood of destructiveness upon you, said he. See
thereyou have done to death all the green of your bouquet.
The geranium leaves are good to my head, said Eleanor. I want
some more. Will you go with me to get them?
It gave her heart a shiver, the hold in which her hand lay. Though
taken in play, the hold was so very cool and firm. Her hand lay there
still, for Mr. Carlisle sat a moment after she spoke, looking at her.
I will go with youwherever you please, he said; and putting
Eleanor's hand on his arm they walked off towards the conservatory.
This was at some distance, and opened out of the breakfast room. It was
no great matter of a conservatory, only pretty and sweet. Eleanor began
slowly to pull geranium leaves.
You are suffering, Eleanor,said Mr. Carlisle.
I do not think of ityou need not. Macintosh, I want to ask a
favour of you.
She turned to him, without raising her eyes, but made the appeal of
her whole pretty presence. He drew his arm round her and suspended the
business of geranium leaves.
What is it, my darling?
You know, said Eleanor, that when the twenty-first of December
was fixed uponfor what you wishedit was a more hurried day than I
would have chosen, if the choice had been left to me. I wanted more
timebut you and my mother said that day, and I agreed to it. Now, my
mother has taken a notion to make it still earliershe wants to cut
off a whole week from meshe wants to make it next Monday. Don't join
with her! Let me have all the time that was promised me!
Eleanor could not raise her eyes; she enforced her appeal by laying
her hand on Mr. Carlisle's arm. He drew her close up to him, held her
fast, stooped his head to hers.
What for, Eleanor? Laces and plums can be ready as well Monday as
For myself, Macintosh.
Don't you think of me?
No! said Eleanor, I do not. It is quite enough that you should
have your wish after Monday s'ennightI ought to have it before.
He laughed and kissed her. He always liked any shew of spirit in
My darling, what difference does a week make?
Just the difference of a week; and more than that in my mind. I
want it. Grant me this favour, Mackintosh! I ask it of you.
Mr. Carlisle seemed to find it amazingly pleasant to have Eleanor
sueing to him for favours; for he answered her as much with caresses as
with words; both very satisfied.
You try me beyond my strength, Eleanor. Your mother offers to give
you to me MondayDo you think I care so little about this possession
that I will not take it a week earlier than I had hoped to have it?
But the week is mineit is due to me, Macintosh. No one has a
right to take it from me. You may have the power; and I ask you not to
Eleanor, you break my heart. My love, do you know that I have
business calling for me in London?it is calling for me now, urgently.
I must carry you up to London at once; and this week that you plead
for, I do not know how to give. If I can go the fifteenth instead of
the twenty-second, I must. Do you see, Nellie? he asked very tenderly.
Eleanor hardly saw anything; the world and all in it seemed to be in
a swimming state before her eyes. Only Mr. Carlisle's can's and
must's obeyed him, she felt sure, as well as everything else. She
felt stunned. Holding her on one arm, Mr. Carlisle began to pluck
flowers and myrtle sprays and to adorn her hair with them. It was a
labour of love; he liked the business and played with it. The beautiful
brown masses of hair invited and rewarded attention.
Then my mother has spoken to you? she said at length.
Yes,he said, arranging a spray of heath with white blossoms. Do
you blame me? Eleanor sought to withdraw herself from his arm, but he
Where are you going?
Up stairsto my room.
Do you forgive me, Eleanor? he said, looking down at her.
No,I think I do not.
He laughed a little, kissing her downcast face.
I will make you my wife, Monday, Eleanor; and after that I will
make you forgive me; and thenmy wife shall ask me nothing that she
shall not have.
Keeping her on his arm, he led her slowly from the conservatory,
through the rooms, and up the staircase, to the door of her own
Eleanor tore out the flowers as soon as she was alone, locked her
door, meaning at least not to see her mother that night; took off her
dress and lay down. Refuge failed her. She was in despair. What could
she arrange between Tuesday night and Monday?short of taking poison,
or absconding privately from the house, and so disgracing both herself
and her family. Yet Eleanor was in such desperation of feeling that
both those expedients occurred to her in the course of the night,
although only to be rejected. Worn-out nature must have some rest
however; and towards morning she slept.
It was late when she opened her eyes. They fell first upon Julia,
standing at her bedside.
Are you awake, Eleanor?
Yes. I wish I could sleep on.
News! What sort of news? said Eleanor, feeling that none concerned
It's bad newsand yetfor youit is good news.
What is it, child? Speak.
Lady Rythdaleshe is dead.
Eleanor raised herself on her elbow and stared at Julia. How do you
know? how do you know? she said.
A messenger came to tell usshe died last night. The man came a
good while ago, but
She never finished her sentence; for Eleanor threw herself out of
bed, exclaiming, I am saved! I am saved!and went down on her knees
by the bedside. It was hardly to pray, for Eleanor scarce knew how to
pray; yet that position seemed an embodiment of thanks she could not
speak. She kept it a good while, still as death. Julia stood
motionless, looking on.
Don't think me wicked, said Eleanor getting up at last. I am not
glad of anything but my own deliverance. Oh, Julia!
Poor Eleanor! said her little sister wonderingly. Then you don't
want to be married and go to Rythdale?
Not Monday! said Eleanor. And now I shall not. It is not possible
that a wedding and a funeral should be in one house on the same day. I
know which they would put off if they could, but they have got to put
off the other. O Julia, it is the saving of me!
She caught the little one in her arms and sat with her so, their two
heads nestling together, Eleanor's bowed upon her sister's neck.
But Eleanor, will you not marry Mr. Carlisle after all?
I cannot,for a good while, child.
I shall never be married in a hurry. I have got breathing
timetime to think. And I'll use it.
And, O Eleanor! won't you do something else?
Won't you be a servant of the Lord?
I willif I can find out how, Eleanor answered low.
It poured with rain. Eleanor liked it that day, though generally she
was no lover of weather that kept her within. A spell of soothing had
descended upon her. Life was no longer the rough thing it had seemed to
her yesterday. A constant drop of thankfulness at her heart kept all
her words and manner sweet with its secret perfume. Eleanor's temper
was always as sound as a nut; but there was now a peculiar grace of
gentleness and softness in all she did. She was able to go faultlessly
through all the scenes of that day and the following days; through her
mother's open discomfiture and half expressed disappointment, and Mr.
Carlisle's suppressed impatience. His manner was perfect too; his
impatience was by no word or look made known; grave, quiet,
self-contained, he only allowed his affectionateness towards Eleanor to
have full play, and the expression of that was changed. He did not
appeal to her for sympathy which perhaps he had a secret knowledge she
could not give; but with lofty good breeding and his invariable tact he
took it for granted. Eleanor's part was an easy one through those days
which passed before Mr. Carlisle's going up to London. He went
immediately after the funeral.
It was understood, however, between him and Mrs. Powle, that the
marriage should be delayed no longer than till some time in the spring.
Then, Mr. Carlisle declared, he should carry into effect his original
plan of going abroad, and take Eleanor with him. Eleanor heard them
talk, and kept silence; letting them arrange it their own way.
For a little while, Eleanor! were the parting words which Mr.
Carlisle's lips left upon hers. And Eleanor turned then to look at what
was before her.
CHAPTER XIV. AT THE RECTORY.
The earth has lost its power to drag me downward;
Its spell is gone;
My course is now right upward, and right onward,
To yonder throne.
She had three months of quiet time. Not more; and they would quickly
speed away. What she had to do, she could not do too soon. Eleanor knew
it. The soothed feeling of the first few days gave place to a restless
mood almost as soon as Mr. Carlisle was gone. Three years seemed more
like what she wanted than three months. She felt ignorant, dark, and
unhappy; how was she to clear up this moral mist and see how the plan
of life lay, without any hand to lead her or help her? There was only
one she knew in the world that could; and from any application to him,
or even any chance contact with him, Eleanor consciously shrank.
That would never do; that must never be heard of her. With all
this, she began to dread the disturbing and confusing effects of Mr.
Carlisle's visits to the country. He would come; he had said so; and
Mrs. Powle kept reminding her of it upon every occasion.
Eleanor had been forbidden to ride alone. She did not dare; she took
to long lonely walks. It was only out of doors that she felt quite
free; in her own room at home, though never so private, her mother
would at any time come with distracting subjects of conversation.
Eleanor fled to the moor and to the wilds; walked, and rested on the
stones, and thought; till she found thinking degenerate into musing;
then she started up and went on. She tired herself. She did not find
One day she took her course purposely to the ruined priory. It was a
long walk; but Eleanor courted long walks. And when she got there,
musing, it must be confessed, had a good time. She stepped slowly down
the grass-grown nave of the old church, recalling with much bitterness
the day of her betrothal there; blaming herself, and blaming her mother
more. Yet at any rate that day she had set seal to her own fate; would
she be able, and had she a right,that was the worst question,to
break it now? She wandered on, out of the church, away from the
beautiful old ivied tower, which seemed to look down on her with grave
reproach from the staidness of years and wisdom; wound about over and
among the piles of shapeless ruin and the bits of lichened and
moss-grown walls, yet standing here and there; not saying to herself
exactly where she was going, but trying if she could find out the way;
till she saw a thicket of thorn and holly bushes that she remembered.
Yes, the latches too, and the young growth of beech trees. Eleanor
plunged through this thicket, as well as she could; it was not easy;
and there before her was the clear spot of grass, the angle of the
thick old wall, and the deep window that she wanted to see again. All
still and lonely and wild. Eleanor went across and took a seat in the
window as she had done once before, to rest and think.
And then what she thought of, was not the old monks, nor the
exquisite fair view out of the window that had belonged to them; though
it was a soft December day, and the light was as winning fair on house
and hill and tree-top as if it had been a different season of the year.
No cloud in the sky, and no dark shadows upon the earth. But Eleanor's
thoughts went back to the thunderstorm, and her need then first felt of
an inward sunshine that would last in cloudy times. She recalled the
talk about the Christian's helmet; with a weary, sorrowful, keen
renewal of regret at her own want of it. The words Mr. Rhys had spoken
about it at that time she could not very well remember; but well she
remembered the impression of them, and the noble, clear calmness of his
face and manner. Very unlike all other calmness and nobleness that she
had seen. The nobleness of one whose head was covered by that royal
basnet; the fearlessness of one whose brows were consciously shaded by
it. The simplicity that had nothing to feign or conceal; the poise of
manner that came from an established heart and conscience. Eleanor
presently caught herself up. What was she thinking about Mr. Rhys for?
True, the thought of him was very near the thought of his teaching;
nevertheless the one thing concerned her, the other did not. Did it
not? Eleanor sighed, and wished she could have a little of his wise
guidance; for notwithstanding all she had heard him say, she felt in
In the midst of all this, Eleanor heard somebody humming a scrap of
a tune on the other side of the holly bushes. Another instant told her
it was a tune she had heard never but once before, and that once in Mr.
Brooks's barn. There was besides a little rustling of the thorn bushes.
Eleanor could think of but one person coming to that spot of the ruins;
and in sudden terror she sprang from the window and rushed round the
other corner of the wall. The tune ceased; Eleanor heard no more; but
she dared not falter or look back. She was in a thicket on this side
too, and in a mass of decayed ruins and rubbish which almost stopped
her way. By determination and perseverance, with some knocks and
scratches, she at last got free and stopped to breathe and think. Why
was she so frightened? Mr. Carlisle. But what should she do now?
Suppose she set off to walk home; she might be joined by the person she
wished to shun; it was impossible to foresee that he would sit an hour
meditating in the old window. Over against Eleanor, a little distance
off, only plantations of shrubbery and soft turf between, was the
Rector's house. Best go there and take refuge, and then be guided by
circumstances. She went accordingly, feeling sorrowful that she should
have to run away from the very person whose counsel of all others she
The door was opened to Eleanor by the Rector himself.
Ha! my dear Miss Powle, said the good doctor,this is an honour
to me. I don't know what you will do now, for my sister is away at
Bromptonwill you come in and see an old bachelor like myself?
If you will let me, sir.
I shall be delighted, my dear Miss Eleanor! You were always
welcome, ever since you were so high; and now that you are going to
occupy so important a position here, I do not know a lady in the
neighbourhood that deserves so much consideration as yourself. Come
income in! How did you get here?
Taking a long walk, sir. Perhaps you will give me some
I shall be delighted. Come in here, and we will have luncheon
together in my studywhich was never so honoured before; but I think
it is the pleasantest place in the house. The other rooms my sister
fills with gimcracks, till I cannot turn round there without fear of
breaking something, Now my old folios and octavos have tried a fall
many a timeand many a one has tried a fall with themha! ha!and no
harm to anybody. Sit down there now, Miss Eleanor, and rest. That's
what I call a pretty window. You see I am in no danger of forgetting my
friend Mr. Carlisle here.
Eleanor looked out of the window very steadily; yet she was not
refreshing her remembrance of Mr. Carlisle neither. There were glimpses
of a tall, alert figure, passing leisurely in and out among the trees
and the ruins; finally coming out into full view and walking with brisk
step over the greensward till he was out of sight. Eleanor knew it very
well, the figure and the quick step; the energy and life in every
movement. She heard no more of Dr. Cairnes for some time; though
doubtless he was talking, for he had ordered luncheon and now it was
served, and he was pressing her to partake of it. Dr. Cairnes' cheese
was excellent; his hung beef was of prime quality; and the ale was of a
superior brand, and the wine which he poured out for Eleanor was, he
assured her, as its sparkling drops fell into the glass, of a purity
and flavour that even his friend Mr. Carlisle would not refuse to
close his lips upon. Eleanor felt faint and weary, and she knew Mr.
Carlisle's critical accuracy; but she recollected at the same time Mr.
Rhys's cool abstinence, and she put the glass of wine away.
Not? said the doctor. You would prefer a cup of chocolate.
Bad taste, Miss Eleanorwine is better for you, too. Ladies will sup
chocolate, I believe; I wonder what they find in it. The thing is, my
sister being away to-day, I don't know
Eleanor begged he would not mind that, nor her; however the
chocolate was ordered and in due time brought.
Now that will make you dull, said the doctor,sleepy. It does
not have, even on you, the reviving, brilliant effect of this
beverage. And he put the bright glass of wine to his lips. It was not
the first filled.
Before I get dull, dear doctor, I want to talk to you.
Aye? said the doctor, looking at her over the wine. You do? What
about? Say on, Miss Eleanor. I am yours doubly now, by the past and the
future. You may command me.
It is about the present, I wish to talk, said Eleanor.
What is it?
My mind is not at rest, said Eleanor, laying her hands in her lap,
and looking off again towards the ruins with their green and grey
silent reminders,about religious subjects.
Ah? said Dr. Cairnes. How is that, Miss Eleanor? Be a little more
explicit with me, will you not.
I will. Dr. Cairnes, I am young now, but by and by decay must come
to me, as it has come to that old pile yonderas it comes to
everything. I want security for my head and heart when earthly security
Eleanor spoke slowly, looking out as she spoke all the while.
Security! said the doctor. But my dear Miss Eleanor, you know the
articles of our holy religion?
Yes, she said without stirring her position.
Security is given by them, most amply and abundantly, to every
sincere applicant. Your life has been a sheltered one, Miss Eleanor,
and a kind one; you can have no very grievous sins to charge yourself
I would like to get rid of such as I have, answered Eleanor
You were baptized in infancy?
You have never been confirmed?
Every baptized child of the Church, Miss Eleanor, owes it to God,
to herself, and the Church, upon arriving at a proper age, to come
forward and openly take upon herselfor himselfbut I am talking of
you,the vows made for her in her infancy, at her baptism, by her
sponsors. Upon doing this, she is received into full membership with
the Church and entitled to all its privileges; and undoubtedly security
is one of them. That is what you want to do, Miss Eleanor; and I am
truly rejoiced that your mind is setting itself to the contemplation of
its dutiesand responsibilities. In the station you are preparing to
occupy, the head of all this neighbourhoodWiglands and Rythdale
bothit is most important, most important, that your example should be
altogether blameless and your influence thrown altogether on the right
side. That influence, my dear Miss Eleanor, is very great.
Dr. Cairnes, my one single present desire, is to do right and feel
Precisely. And to do right, is the way to feel safe. I will give
you a little work, preparatory to the ordinance of confirmation, Miss
Eleanor, which I entreat you to study and prayerfully follow. That will
relieve all your difficulties, I have no fear. There it is, Miss
Will this ritewill this ordinance, said Eleanor closing her
fingers on the book and for the first time looking the doctor straight
in the face,will it give me that helmet of salvation, of which I
Hey? what is that? said the doctor.
I have heardand readof the Christian 'helmet of salvation.' I
have seen that a person whose brows are covered by it, goes along
fearless, hopeful, and happy, dreading nothing in this life or the
next.Will being confirmed, put this helmet upon my head?make me
fearless and happy too?
My dear Miss Eleanor, I cannot express how you astonish me. I
always have thought you were one of the strongest-hearted persons I
knew; and in your circumstances I am sure it was naturalBut to your
question. The benefit of confirmation, my dear young lady, as well as
of every other ordinance of the Church, depends of course on the manner
and spirit with which we engage in it. There is confirming and
strengthening grace in it undoubtedly for all who come to the ordinance
in humble obedience, with prayer and faith, and who truly take upon
them their vows.
But, Dr. Cairnes, I might die before I could be confirmed; and I
want rest and security now. I do not have it, day nor night. I have
not, ever since the time when I was so ill last summer. I want it
My dear Miss Eleanor, the only way to obtain security and rest, is
in doing one's duty. Do your duty now, and it will come. Your
conscience has taken up the matter, and will have satisfaction. Give it
satisfaction, and rest will come.
How can I give it satisfaction? said Eleanor sitting up and
looking at the doctor. I feel myself guiltyI know myself exposed to
ruin, to death that means death; what can I give to my conscience, to
make it be still?
The Church offers absolution for their sins to all that are truly
sorry for them, said the doctor. Are you penitent on account of your
sins, Miss Eleanor?
Penitent?I don't know, said Eleanor drooping a little from her
upright position. I feel them, and know them, and wish them away; but
if I were penitent, they would be gone, wouldn't they? and they are not
I see how it is, said the doctor. You have too much leisure to
think, and your thoughts are turning in upon themselves and becoming
morbid. I think this is undue sensitiveness, my dear Miss Eleanor. The
sins we wish away, will never be made a subject of judgment against us.
I shall tell my friend Mr. Carlisle that his presence is wanted here,
for something more important than the interests of the county. I shall
tell him he must not let you think too much. I think he and I together
can put you right. In the mean while, you read my little book.
Dr. Cairnes, what I have said to you is said in strict confidence.
I do not wish it spoken of, even to my mother.
Of course, of course! said the doctor. That is all
understood. The Church never reveals her children's secrets. But I
shall only give him a little gentle hint, which will be quite
sufficient, I have no doubt; and I shall have just the co-operation
that I desire.
How excellent your cheese is, Dr. Cairnes.
Ah! you like it, said the doctor. I am proud. I always purchase
my cheese myselfthat is one thing I do not leave to my sister. But
this one I think is particularly fine. You won't take a half glass of
ale with it?no,I know Mr. Carlisle does not like ale. But it would
be a good sequent of your ride, nevertheless.
I did not ride, sir. I walked.
Walked from Ivy Lodge! All this way to see me, Miss Eleanor?
No sironly for a walk, and to see the ruins. Then I was driven to
take shelter here.
I am very glad of it! I am very glad of it! said the doctor. I
have not enjoyed my luncheon so much in a year's time; and you delight
me too, my dear Miss Eleanor, by your present dispositions. But walk
all the way here! I shall certainly write to Mr. Carlisle.
Eleanor's cheeks flushed, and she rose. Not only all the way here,
but all the way back again, said she; so it is time I bade you good
The doctor was very anxious to carry her home in the chaise; Eleanor
was more determined that he should not; and determination as usual
carried the day. The doctor shook his head as he watched her off.
Are you going to shew this spirit to Mr. Carlisle? he said.
Which remark gave Eleanor an impetus that carried her a third of her
way home. During the remaining two thirds she did a good deal of
thinking; and arrived at the Lodge with her mind made up. There was no
chance of peace and a good time for her, without going away from home.
Dr. Cairnes' officiousness would be sure to do something to arouse Mr.
Carlisle's watchfulness; and thenthe game will be up, said Eleanor
to herself. Between his being here and the incessant expectation of
him, there will be no rest for me. I must get away. She laid her
After dinner she slipped away and sought her father in his study. It
was called his study, though very little of that character truly
belonged to it. More truly it balanced between the two purposes of a
smoking-room and an office; for county business was undoubtedly done
there; and it was the nook of retirement where the Squire indulged
himself in his favoured luxury, the sweet weed. The Squire took it
pure, in a pipe; no cigars for him; and filling his pipe Eleanor found
him. She lit the pipe for him, and contrary to custom sat down. The
Squire puffed away.
I thought you didn't care for this sort of thing, Eleanor, he
remarked. Are you learning not to mind it already? It is just as well!
Perhaps your husband will want you to sit with him when he smokes.
I would not do that for any man in the world, papa, except you!
Ho! Ho! said the Squire. Good wives, my dear, do not mind
trifles. They had better not, at any rate.
Papa, said Eleanor, whose cheeks were flaming, do you not think,
since a girl must give up her liberty so completely in marrying, that
she ought to be allowed a good little taste of it beforehand?
St. George and the Dragon! I do, said the Squire. Your mother
says it tends to lawlessnessand I say, I don't care. That is not my
concern. If a man cannot rule his wife, he had better not have
onethat is my opinion; and in your case, my dear, there is no fear.
Mr. Carlisle is quite equal to his duties, or I am mistaken in him.
Eleanor felt nearly wild under her father's speeches; nevertheless
she sat perfectly quiet, only fiery about her cheeks.
Then, papa, to come to the point, don't you think in the little
time that remains to me for my own, I might be allowed to do what I
please with myself?
I should say it was a plain case, said the Squire. Take your
pleasure, Nellie; I won't tether you. What do you want to do, child? I
take it, you belong to me till you belong to somebody else.
Papa, I want to run away, and make a visit to my aunt Caxton. I
shall never have another chance in the worldand I want to go off and
be by myself and feel free once more, and have a good time.
Poor little duck! said her father. You are a sensible girl,
Nellie. Go off; nobody shall hinder you.
Papa, unless you back me, mamma and Mr. Carlisle will not hear of
I'd go before he comes down then, said the Squire, knocking the
ashes out of his pipe energetically. St. George! I believe that man
half thinks, sometimes, that I am one of his tenantry? The lords of
Rythdale always did lord it over everything that came in their way. Now
is your only chance, Eleanor; run away, if you're a mind to; Mr.
Carlisle is master in his own house, no doubt, but he is not master in
mine; and I say, you may go. Do him no harm to be kept on short commons
for a little while.
With a joyful heart Eleanor went back to the drawing-room, and sat
patiently still at some fancy work till Mrs. Powle waked up from a nap.
Mamma, Dr. Cairnes wants me to be confirmed.
Confirmed!Mrs. Powle echoed the word, sitting bolt upright in
her chair and opening her sleepy eyes wide at her daughter.
Yes. He says I ought to be confirmed. He has given me a book upon
confirmation to study.
I wonder what you will do next! said Mrs. Powle, sinking back.
Well, go on, if you like. Certainly, if you are to be confirmed, it
ought to be done before your marriage. I wish anything would
confirm you in sober ways.
Mamma, I want to give this subject serious study, if I enter into
it; and I cannot do it properly at home. I want to go away for a
Well? said Mrs. Powle, thinking of some cousins in London.
I want to be alone and quiet and have absolute peace for awhile;
and this death of Lady Rythdale makes it possible. I want to go and
make a visit to my aunt Caxton.
Caxton!Mrs. Powle almost screamed. Caxton! There! In the
mountains of Wales! Eleanor, you are perfectly absurd. It is no use to
talk to you.
Mamma, papa sees no objection.
He does not! So you have been speaking to him! Make your own
fortunes, Eleanor! I see you ruined already. With what favour do you
suppose Mr. Carlisle will look upon such a project? Pray have you asked
Yes, ma'am; and I am not going to consult him in the matter.
The tea-equipage and the Squire came in together and stopped the
conversation. Eleanor took care not to renew it, knowing that her point
was gained. She took her father's hint, however, and made her
preparations short and sudden. She sent that night a word, telling of
her wish, to Mrs. Caxton; and waited but till the answer arrived,
waited on thorns, to set off. The Squire looked rather moody the next
day after his promise to Eleanor; but he would not withdraw it; and no
other hindrance came. Eleanor departed safely, under the protection of
old Thomas, the coachman, long a faithful servitor in the family. The
journey was only part of the distance by railway; the rest was by
posting; and a night had to be spent on the road.
Towards evening of the second day, Eleanor began to find herself in
what seemed an enchanted region. High mountains, with picturesque bold
outlines, rose against the sky; and every step was bringing her deeper
and deeper among them, in a rich green meadow valley. The scenery grew
only wilder, richer, and lovelier, until the sun sank behind the high
western line; and still its loveliness was not lost; while grey shades
and duskiness gathered over the mountain sides and gradually melted the
meadows and their scattered wood growth into one hue. Then only the
wild mountain outline cut against the sky, and sometimes the rushing of
a little river, told Eleanor of the varied beauty the evening hid.
Little else she could see when the chaise stopped and she got out.
Dimly a long, low building stretched before her at the side of the
road; the rippling of water sounded softly at a little distance; the
fresh mountain air blew in her face; then the house-door opened.
CHAPTER XV. IN THE HILLS.
Face to face with the true mountains
I stood silently and still,
Drawing strength from fancy's dauntings,
From the air about the hill,
And from Nature's open mercies, and most debonair good will.
The house-door opened first to shew a girl in short petticoats and
blue jacket holding up a light. Eleanor made towards it, across a
narrow strip of courtyard. She saw only the girl, and did not feel
certain whether she had come to the right house. For neither Mrs.
Caxton nor her home had ever been seen by any of Mr. Powle's children;
though she was his own sister. But Mrs. Caxton had married quite out of
Mrs. Powle's world; and though now a widow, she lived still the
mistress of a great cheese farm; quite out of Mrs. Powle's world still.
The latter had therefore never encouraged intercourse. Mrs. Caxton was
an excellent woman, no doubt, and extremely respectable; still, Ivy
Lodge and the cheese farm were further apart in feeling than in
geographical miles; and though Mrs. Caxton often invited her brother's
children to come and pick butter-cups in her meadows, Mrs. Powle always
proved that to gather primroses in Rythdale was a higher employment,
and much better for the children's manners, if not for their health.
The Squire at this late day had been unaffectedly glad of Eleanor's
proposal; avowing himself not ashamed of his sister or his children
either. For Eleanor herself, she had no great expectation, except of
rural retirement in a place where Mr. Carlisle would not follow her.
That was enough. She had heard besides that the country was beautiful,
and her aunt well off.
As she stepped up now doubtfully to the girl with the light, looking
to see whether she were right or wrong, the girl moved a little aside
so as to light the entrance, and Eleanor passed on, discerning another
figure behind. A good wholesome voice exclaimed, You are welcome, my
dear! It is Eleanor? and the next instant Mr Powle's daughter found
herself taken into one of those warm, gentle, genial embraces, that
tell unmistakeably what sort of a heart moves the enfolding arms. It
was rest and strength at once; and the lips that kissed herthere is a
great deal of character in a kisswere at once sweet and firm.
You have been all day travelling, my dear. You must be in want of
There was that sort of clear strength in the voice, to which one
gives, even in the dark, one's confidence. Eleanor's foot fell more
firmly on the tiled floor, as she followed her aunt along a passage or
two; a little uncertainty in her heart was quieted; she was ready
prepared to expect anything pleasant; and as they turned in at a low
door, the expectation was met.
The door admitted them to a low-ceiled room, also with a tiled
floor, large and light. A good wood fire burned in the quaint
chimney-piece; before it a table stood prepared for supper. A bit of
carpet was laid down under the table and made a spot of extra comfort
in the middle of the floor. Dark plain wainscotting, heavy furniture of
simplest fashion, little windows well curtained; all nothing to speak
of; all joined inexplicably to produce the impression of order,
stability and repose, which seized upon Eleanor almost before she had
time to observe details. But the mute things in a house have an odd way
of telegraphing to a stranger what sort of a spirit dwells in the midst
of them. It is always so; and Mrs. Caxton's room assured Eleanor that
her first notions of its mistress were not ill-founded. She had
opportunity to test and strengthen them now, in the full blaze of lamp
and firelight; as her aunt stood before her taking off her bonnet and
wrappers and handing them over to another attendant with a candle and a
In the low room Mrs. Caxton looked even taller than belonged to her;
and she was tall, and of noble full proportions that set off her
height. Eleanor thought she had never seen a woman of more dignified
presence; the head was set well back on the shoulders, the carriage
straight, and the whole moral and physical bearing placid and quiet. Of
course the actual movement was easy and fine; for that is with every
one a compound of the physical and moral. Scarcely Elizabeth Fry had
finer port or figure. The face was good, and strong; the eyes full of
intelligence under the thick dark brows; all the lines of the face kind
and commanding. A cap of very plain construction covered the abundant
hair, which was only a little grey. Nothing else about Mrs. Caxton
shewed age. Her dress was simple to quaintness; but, relieved by her
magnificent figure, that effect was forgotten, or only remembered as
enhancing the other. Eleanor sat down in a great leather chair, where
she had been put, and looked on in a sort of charmed state; while her
aunt moved about the table, gave quiet orders, made quiet arrangements,
and finally took Eleanor's hand and seated her at the tea-table.
Not poppies, nor mandragora could have had such a power of
soothing over Eleanor's spirits. She sat at the table like a fairy
princess under a friendly incantation; and the spell was not broken by
any word or look on the part of her hostess. No questions of curiosity;
no endeavours to find out more of Eleanor than she chose to shew; no
surprise expressed at her mid-winter coming; nor so much pleasure as
would have the effect of surprise. So naturally and cordially and with
as much simplicity her visit was taken, as if it had been a yearly
accustomed thing, and one of Mr. Powle's children had not now seen her
aunt for the first time. Indeed so rare was the good sense and kindness
of this reception, that Eleanor caught herself wondering whether her
aunt could already know more of her than she seemed to know; and not
caring if she did! Yet it was impossible, for her mother would not tell
her story, and her father could not; and Eleanor came round to admiring
with fresh admiration this noble-looking, new-found relation, whose
manner towards herself inspired her with such confidence and exercised
already such a powerful attraction. And this was the mistress of
a cheese-farm! Eleanor could not help being moved with a little
curiosity on her part. This lady had no children; no near relations;
for she was ignored by her brother's family. She lived alone; was she
not lonely? Would she not wear misanthropical or weary traces of such a
life? None; none were to be seen. Clear placidness dwelt on the brow,
that looked as if nothing ever ruffled it; the eye was full of business
and command; and the mouth,its corners told of a fountain of
sweetness somewhere in the region of the heart. Eleanor looked, and
went back to her cup of tea and her supper with a renewed sense of
The supper was excellent too. It would have belied Mrs. Caxton's
look of executive capacity if it had not been. No fault was to be
discerned anywhere. The tea-service was extremely plain and
inexpensive; such as Mrs. Powle could not have used; that was certain.
But then the bread, and the mutton chops, and the butter, and even the
tea, were such as Mrs. Powle's china was never privileged to bear. And
though Mrs. Caxton left in the background every topic of doubtful
agreeableness, the talk flowed steadily with abundance of material and
animation, during the whole supper-time. Mrs. Caxton was the chief
talker. She had plenty to tell Eleanor of the country and people in the
neighbourhood; of things to be seen and things to be done; so that
supper moved slowly, and was a refreshment of mind as well as of body.
You are very weary, my dear, said Mrs. Caxton, after the table was
cleared away, and the talk had continued through all that time. And
Eleanor confessed it. In the calm which was settling down upon her, the
strain of hours and days gone by began to be felt.
You shall go to your room presently, said Mrs. Caxton; and you
shall not get up to breakfast with me. That would be too early for
Eleanor was going to enter a protest, when her aunt turned and gave
an order in Welsh to the blue jacket then in the room. And then Eleanor
had a surprise. Mrs. Caxton took a seat at a little distance, before a
stand with a book; and the door opening again, in poured a stream of
blue jackets, three or four, followed by three men and a boy. All
ranged themselves on seats round the room, and Mrs. Caxton opened her
book and read a chapter in the Bible. Eleanor listened, in mute wonder
where this would end. It ended in all kneeling down and Mrs. Caxton
offering a prayer. An extempore prayer, which for simplicity, strength,
and feeling, answered all Eleanor's sense of what a prayer ought to be;
though how a woman could speak it before others and before men,
filled her with astonishment. But it filled her with humility too,
before it was done; and Eleanor rose to her feet with an intense
feeling of the difference between her aunt's character and her own;
only equalled by her deep gladness at finding herself under the roof
where she was.
Her aunt then took a candle and lighted her through the tiled
passages, up some low wooden stairs, uncarpeted; along more passages;
finally into a large low matted chamber, with a row of little lattice
windows. Comfort and simplicity were in all its arrangements; a little
fire burning for her; Eleanor's trunks in a closet. When Mrs. Caxton
had shewed her all that was necessary, she set down her candle on the
low mantelshelf, and took Eleanor in her arms. Again those peculiar,
gentle firm kisses fell upon her lips. But instead of good night,
Mrs. Caxton's words were,
Do you pray for yourself, Eleanor?
Eleanor dropped her head like a child on the breast before her.
Aunt Caxton, I do not know how!
Then the Lord Jesus has not a servant in Eleanor Powle?
Eleanor was silent, thoughts struggling.
You have not learned to love him, Eleanor?
I have only learned to wish to do it, aunt Caxton! I do wish that.
It was partly that I might seek it, that I wanted to come here.
Then Eleanor heard a deep-spoken, Praise the Lord! that seemed to
come out from the very heart on which she was leaning. If you have a
mind to seek him, my dear, he is willing that you should find. 'The
Lord is good to the soul that seeketh him.'
She kissed Eleanor on the two temples, released her and went down
stairs. And Eleanor sat down before her fire, feeling as if she were in
It was all the more so, from the unlikeness of everything that met
her eye, to all she had known before. The chimney-piece at which she
was looking as she sat thereit was odd and quaint as possible, to a
person accustomed only to the modern fashions of the elegant world; the
fire-tongs and shovel would have been surely consigned to the kitchen
department at Ivy Lodge. Yet the little blazing fire, framed in by its
rows of coloured tiles, looked as cheerfully into Eleanor's face as any
blaze that had ever greeted it. All was of a piece with the fireplace.
Simple to quaintness, utterly plain and costless, yet with none of the
essentials of comfort forgotten or neglected; from the odd little
lattice windows to the tiled floor, everything said she was at a great
distance from her former life, and Mr. Carlisle. The room looked as if
it had been made for Eleanor to settle her two life-questions in it.
Accordingly she took them up without delay; but Eleanor's mind that
night was like a kaleidoscope. Images of different people and things
started up, with wearying perversity of change and combination; and the
question, whether she would be a servant of God like her aunt Caxton,
was inextricably twisted up with the other question; whether she could
escape being the baroness of Rythdale and the wife of Mr. Carlisle. And
Eleanor did nothing but tire herself with thinking that night; until
the fire was burnt out and she went to bed. Nevertheless she fell
asleep with a sense of relief more blissful than she had known for
months. She had put a little distance at least between her and her
Eleanor had meant to be early next day, but rest had taken too good
hold of her; it was long past early when she opened her eyes. The rays
of the morning sun were peeping in through the lattices. Eleanor sprang
up and threw open, or rather threw back, one of the windows, for the
lattice slid in grooves instead of hanging on hinges. She would never
have found out how to open them, but that one lattice stood slightly
pushed back already. When it was quite out of her way, Eleanor's breath
almost stopped. A view so wild, so picturesque, so rare in its outlines
of beauty, she thought she had never seen. Before her, at some
distance, beyond a piece of broken ground, rose a bare-looking height
of considerable elevation, crowned by an old tower massively
constructed, broken, and ivy-grown. The little track of a footpath was
visible that wound round the hill; probably going up to the tower.
Further beyond, with evidently a deep valley or gorge between, a line
of much higher hills swept off to the left; bare also, and moulded to
suit a painter of weird scenes, yet most lovely, and all seen now in
the fair morning beams which coloured and lighted them and the old
tower together. Nothing else. The road indeed by which she had come
passed close before Eleanor's window; but trees embowered it, though
they had been kept down so as not to hinder this distant view. Eleanor
sat a long while spell-bound before the window.
A noise disturbed her. It was one of the blue jackets bringing a
tray with breakfast. Eleanor eagerly asked if Mrs. Caxton had taken
breakfast; but all she got in return was a series of unintelligible
sounds; however as the girl pointed to the sun, she concluded that the
family breakfast hour was past. Everything strange again! At Ivy Lodge
the breakfast hour lasted till the lagging members of the family had
all come down; and here there was no family! How could happiness belong
to anybody in such circumstances? The prospect within doors, Eleanor
suddenly remembered, was yet more interesting than the view without.
She eat her breakfast and dressed and went down.
But to find the room where she had been the evening before, was more
than her powers were equal to. Going from one passage to another,
turning and turning back, afraid to open doors to ask somebody; Eleanor
was quite bewildered, when she happily was met by her aunt. The morning
kiss and greeting renewed in her heart all the peace of last night.
I cannot find my way about in your house, aunt Caxton. It seems a
It will not seem so long. Let me shew you the way out of it.
Through one or two more turnings Mrs. Caxton led her niece, and
opening a door took her out at the other side, the back of the house,
where Eleanor's eyes had not been. Here there was a sort of covered
gallery, extending to some length under what was either an upper piazza
or the projection of the second story floor. The ground was paved with
tiles as usual, and wooden settles stood along the wall, and plain
stone pillars supported the roof. But as Eleanor's eyes went out
further she caught her aunt's hand in ecstasy.
From almost the edge of the covered gallery, a little terraced
garden sloped down to the edge of a small river. The house stood on a
bank above the river, at a commanding height; and on the river's
further shore a rich sweep of meadow and pasture land stretched to the
right and left and filled the whole breadth of the valley; on the other
side of which, right up from the green fields, rose another line of
hills. These were soft, swelling, round-topped hills, very different in
their outlines from those in another quarter which Eleanor had been
enjoying from her window. It was winter now, and the garden had lost
its glory; yet Eleanor could see, for her eye was trained in such
matters, that good and excellent care was at home in it; and some
delicate things were there for which a slight protection had been
thought needful. The river was lost to view immediately at the right;
it wound down from the other hand through the rich meadows under a
thick embowering bosky growth of trees; and just below the house it was
spanned by a rude stone bridge, from which a hedged lane led off on the
other side. All along the fences or hedges which enclosed the fields
grew also beautiful old trees; the whole landscape was decked with wood
growth, though the hills had little or none. All the more the sweet
contrast; the rare harmony; the beautiful mingling of soft cultivation
with what was wild and picturesque and barren. And the river gurgled
on, with a fresh sound that told of its activity; and a very large herd
of cows spotted the green turf in some of the meadows on the other side
of the stream.
I never saw any place so lovely, exclaimed Eleanor; never!
This is my favourite walking place in winter, said Mrs. Caxton;
when I want to walk under shelter, or not to go far from home.
How charming that garden must be when the spring comes!
Are you fond of gardening? said Mrs. Caxton.
A talk upon the subject followed, in which Eleanor perceived with
some increase of respect that her aunt was no ignoramus; nay, that she
was familiar with delicacies both in the practice and the subjects of
horticulture that were not well known to Eleanor, in spite of her
advantages of the Lodge and Rythdale conservatories and gardens both
together. In the course of this talk, Eleanor noticed anew all the
indications that had pleased her last night; the calm good sense and
self-possession; the quiet dignity; the decision; the kindness. And
perhaps Mrs. Caxton too made her observations. But this was the
mistress of the cheese-farm!
A pause fell in their talk at length; probably both had matter for
Have you settled that question, Eleanor? said her aunt meaningly.
That question?O no, aunt Caxton! It is all confusion; and it is
all confused with another question.
There was more than talk in this evidently, for Eleanor's face had
all darkened. Mrs. Caxton answered calmly,
My dear, the first thing I would do, would be to separate them.
Aunty, they are like two wrestlers; I cannot seem to separate them.
If I think of the one, I get hold of he other; and if I take up the
other, I am obliged to think of the one; and my mind is the fighting
Then the two questions are in reality one?
No, aunt Caxtonthey are not. Only they both press for attention
Which is the most important?
This oneabout which you asked me, Eleanor said, drooping her
head a little.
Then decide that to-day, Eleanor.
Aunty, I have decided itin one way. I am determined what I will
beif I can. Only I do not see how. And before I do see
how,perhapsthe other question may have decided itself; and
thenAunty, I cannot tell you about it to-day. Let me wait a few days;
till I know you better and you have time to know me.
Then, as it is desirable you should lose no time, I shall keep you
with me, Eleanor. Would you like to-morrow to go through the dairies
and see the operation of cheese-making? Did you ever see it?
Aunt Caxton, I know no more about cheese than that I have eaten it
sometimes. I would like to go to-morrow, or to-day; whenever you
The work is nearly over for to-day.
Do they make cheese in your dairy every day, aunt Caxton?
Two every day.
But you must have a great number of cows, ma'am?
There they are, said her aunt, looking towards the opposite
meadows. We milk between forty and fifty at present; there are about
Seventy or eighty cows! exclaimed Eleanor. Why aunt Caxton, you
must want the whole valley for their pasturing.
I want no more than I have, said Mrs. Caxton quietly. You see,
those meadows on the other side of the river look rich. It is a very
good cheese farm.
How far does it extend, aunty?
All along, the meadowland, as far as you see.
I do not believe there is a pleasanter or prettier home in all the
kingdom! Eleanor exclaimed. How charming, aunt Caxton, all this must
be in summer, when your garden is in bloom.
There is a way of carrying summer along with us through all the
year, Eleanor; do you know that?
Do you wear the 'helmet' too? thought Eleanor. I have no doubt
but you do, over that calm brow! But she only looked wistfully at her
aunt, and Mrs. Caxton changed the conversation. She sat down with
Eleanor on a settle, for the day was mild and the place sheltered; and
talked with her of home and her family. She shewed an affectionate
interest in all the details concerning her brother's household and
life, but Eleanor admired with still increasing and profound respect,
the delicacy which stopped every inquiry at the point where delicacy
might wish to withhold the answer. The uprightest self-respect went
hand in hand with the gentlest regard and respect for others. To this
reserve Eleanor was more communicative than she could have been to
another manner; and on some points her hesitancy told as much, perhaps,
as her disclosures on other points; so that Mrs. Caxton was left with
some general idea, if not more, of the home Eleanor had lived her life
in and the various people who had made it what it was. On all things
that touched Rythdale Eleanor was silent; and so was Mrs. Caxton.
The conversation flowed on to other topics; and the whole day was a
gentle entertainment to Eleanor. The perpetual good sense, information,
and shrewdness of her hostess was matter of constant surprise and
interest. Eleanor had never talked with anybody who talked so well; and
she felt obliged unconsciously all the time to produce the best of
herself. That is not a disagreeable exercise; and on the whole the day
reeled off on silver wheels. It concluded as the former day had done;
and in the warm prayer uttered by her aunt, Eleanor could not help
feeling there was a pulse of the heart for her; for her darkness
and necessities. It sent her to her room touched, and humbled, and
reminded; but Eleanor's musings this night were no more fruitful of
results than those of last night had been. They resolved themselves
into a long waking dream. Mr. Carlisle exercised too much mastery over
her imagination, for any other concern to have fair chance till his
question was disposed of. Would he come to look for her there? It was
just like him; but she had a little hope that her mother's pride would
prevent his being furnished with the necessary information. That
Eleanor should be sought and found by him on a cheese farm, the
mistress of the farm her own near relation, would not probably meet
Mrs. Powle's notions of what it was expedient to do or suffer. A
slender thread of a hope; but that was all. Supposing he came? Eleanor
felt she had no time to lose. She could only deal with Mr. Carlisle at
a distance. In his presence, she knew now, she was helpless. But a
vague sense of wrong combated all her thoughts of what she wished to
do; with a confused and conflicting question of what was right. She
wearied herself to tears with her dreaming, and went to bed to
aggravate her troubles in actual dreams; in which the impossible came
in to help the disagreeable.
CHAPTER XVI. AT THE FARM.
What if she be fastened to this fool lord,
Dare I bid her abide by her word?
The next morning nevertheless was bright, and Eleanor was early down
stairs. And now she found that the day was begun at the farmhouse in
the same way in which it was ended. A reverent, sweet, happy committing
of all her affairs and her friends to God, in the presence and the
company of her household, was Mrs. Caxton's entrance, for her and them,
upon the work of the day. Breakfast was short and very early, which it
had to be if Eleanor wanted to see the operations of the dairy; and
then Mrs. Caxton and she went thither; and then first Eleanor began to
have a proper conception of the magnitude and complication of the
business her aunt presided over.
The dairies were of great extent, stretching along the ground floor
of the house, behind and beyond the covered gallery where she and her
aunt had held their first long conversation the day before. Tiled
floors, as neat as wax; oaken shelves, tubs, vats, baskets,
cheese-hoops, presses; all as neat and sweet as it was possible for
anything to be, looked like a confusion of affairs to Eleanor's eye.
However, the real business done that morning was sufficiently simple;
and she found it interesting enough to follow patiently every part of
the process through to the end. Several blue jackets were in
attendance; some Welsh, some English; each as diligent at her work as
if she only had the whole to do. And among them Eleanor noticed how
admirably her aunt played the mistress and acted the executive head.
Quietly, simply, as her words were spoken, they were nevertheless words
that never failed to be instantly obeyed; and the service that was
rendered her was given with what seemed the alacrity of affection, as
well as the zeal of duty. Eleanor stood by, watching, amused, intent;
yet taking in a silent lesson of character all the while, that touched
her heart and made her draw a deep breath now and then. The last thing
visited was the cheese house, the room where the cheeses were stored
for ripening, quite away from all the dairies. Here there was a forest
of cheeses; standing on end and lying on shelves, in various stages of
Two a day! said Eleanor looking at them. That makes a wonderful
many in the course of the year.
Except Sundays, said Mrs. Caxton. No cheese is made on Sunday in
my dairy, nor any dairywork done, except milking the cows and setting
I meant except Sundays, of course.
It is not 'of course' here, said Mrs. Caxton. The common practice
in large dairy-farms is to do the same work on the seventh day that is
done all the six.
But that is wrong, aunty, it seems to me.
Wrong? Of course it is wrong; but the defence is, that it is
necessary. If Sunday's milk is not made at once into cheese, it must
wait till Monday; and not only double work must be done then, for
Monday will have its own milk, but double sets of everything will be
needed; tubs and presses and all. So people think they cannot afford
Well, how can they, aunt Caxton? There seems reason in that.
Reason for what?
Why, I mean, it seems they have some reason for working on the
Sabbathnot to lose all that milk. It is one seventh of all they
Mrs. Caxton replied in a very quiet manner,'Thou shalt remember
the Lord thy God; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.'
But aunt Caxton, said Eleanor a little doubtfully,he gives it
in the use of means?
Do you think he blesses the use of means he has forbidden?
Eleanor was silent a moment.
Aunt Caxton, people do get rich so, do they not?
'The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich,' said Mrs. Caxton,
contentedly,'and he addeth no sorrow with it.' That is the sort of
riches I like best.
Eleanor did not answer; a kind of moisture came up in her eyes, for
she felt poor in those riches.
It is mere want of faith, Eleanor, that pleads such a reason, Mrs.
Caxton went on. It is taking the power to get wealth into our own
hands. If it is in God's hands, it is just as easy certainly for him to
give it to us in the obedient use of means as in the disobedient use of
them; and much more likely that he will. Many a man has become poor by
his disobedience, for one that has been allowed to prosper awhile in
spite of it. If the statistics were made up, men would see. Meanwhile,
never anybody trusted the Lord and was confounded.
Then what do you do with the seventh day's milk, aunt Caxton?
I make butter of it. But I would pour it away down the river,
Eleanor, before I would make it an excuse for disobeying God.
This was said without any heat, but as the quietest of conclusions.
Eleanor stood silent, wondering at her aunt's cheeses and notions
together. She was in a new world, surely. Yet a secret feeling of
respect was every moment mounting higher.
The principle is universally true, Eleanor, that the safe way in
everything is the way of obedience. Consequences are not in our hands.
It is only unbelief that would make consequences a reason for going out
of the way. 'Trust in the Lord, and keep his way; so shall he exalt
thee to inherit the land.' I have had nothing but prosperity, Eleanor,
ever since I began the course which my neighbours and servants thought
would destroy me.
I wanted to ask you that, aunt Caxton;how it had been.
But my dear, said Mrs. Caxton, the smile with which she had turned
to Eleanor fading into placid gravity again,if it had been
otherwise, it would have made no difference. I would rather be poor,
with my Lord's blessing, than have all the principality without it.
Eleanor went away thinking. All this applied to the decision of her
own affairs; and perhaps Mrs. Caxton had intended it should. But yet,
how should she decide? To do the thing that was right,Eleanor wished
that,and did not know what it was. Her wishes said one thing, and
prayed for freedom. A vague, trammelling sense of engagements entered
into and expectations formed and pledges given, at times confused all
her ideas; and made her think it might be her duty to go home and
finish wittingly what she had begun in ignorance what she was doing. It
would be now to sacrifice herself. Was she called upon to do that? What
Mrs. Caxton never alluded any further to Eleanor's private affairs;
and Eleanor never forgetting them, kept them in the darkness of her own
thoughts and did not bring them up to the light and her aunt's eye.
Only for this drawback, the days would have passed delightfully. The
next day was Sunday.
We have a long drive to church, Eleanor, said her aunt. How will
With you, aunty.
I don't know about that; my car has no place for you. Are you a
O aunty, nothing would be so delightful! if you have anything I can
ride. Nothing would be so delightful. I half live in the saddle at
You do? Then you shall go errands for me. I will furnish you with a
And this very day Eleanor mounted him to ride to church. Her aunt
was in a light car that held but herself and the driver. Another
vehicle, a sort of dog cart, followed with some of the servants. The
day was mild and pleasant, though not brilliant with sunbeams. It made
no matter. Eleanor could not comprehend how more loveliness could have
been crowded into the enjoyment of two hours. On her pony she had full
freedom for the use of her eyes; the road was excellent, and winding in
and out through all the crookedness of the valley they threaded, she
took it at all points of view. Nothing could be more varied. The valley
itself, rich and wooded, with the little river running its course,
marked by a thick embowering of trees; the hills that enclosed the
valley taking every form of beauty, sometimes wild and sometimes tame,
heathery and barren, rough and rocky, and again rounded and soft. Along
these hills came into view numberless dwellings, of various styles and
sizes; with once in a while a bold castle breaking forth in proud
beauty, or a dismantled ruin telling of pride and beauty that had been.
Eleanor had no one to talk to, and she did not want to talk. On
horseback, and on a Welsh pony, no Black Maggie or Tippoo, and in these
wonderful new strange scenes, she felt free; free from Mr. Carlisle and
his image for the moment; and though knowing that her bondage would
return, she enjoyed her freedom all the more. The little pony was
satisfactory; and as there was no need of taking a gallop to-day,
Eleanor had nothing to desire.
The ride ended at the loveliest of all picturesque villages; so
Eleanor thought; nestled in what seemed the termination of the valley.
A little village, with the square tower of the church rising up above
the trees; all the houses stood among trees; and the river was crossed
by a bridge just above, and tore down a precipice just below; so near
that its roar was the constant lullaby of the inhabitants. It was the
only sound to-day, rising in Sabbath stillness over the hills. After
all this ride, the service in the little church did not disappoint
expectation; it was sound, warm and good; and Eleanor mounted her pony
and rode home again, almost wishing she could take service with her
aunt as a dairymaid forever. All the day was sweet to Eleanor. But at
the end of it a thought darted into her mind, with the keenness of an
arrow. Mr. Carlisle in a few days more might have learned of her
run-away freak and of her hiding-place and have time to come after her.
There was a barb to the thought; for Eleanor could not get rid of it.
She begged the pony the next day, and the next, and went very long
rambling rides; in the luxury of being alone. They would have been most
delightful, but for the idea that haunted her, and which made her
actually afraid to enter the house on her return home. This state of
things was not to be borne much longer.
You have let the pony tire you, Eleanor, Mrs. Caxton remarked. It
was the evening of the second day, and the two ladies were sitting in
the light of the wood fire.
Ma'am, he could not do that. I live half my life on horseback at
Then how am I to understand the long-drawn breaths which I hear
from you every now and then?
Mrs. Caxton was twisting up paper lighters. She was rarely without
something in her fingers. Eleanor was doing nothing. At her aunt's
question she half laughed, and seized one of the strips of paper to
work upon. Her laugh changed into a sigh.
Aunt Caxton, do you always find it easy to know what is the right
thing to doin all circumstances?
I have always infallible counsel that I can take.
You mean the Bible? But the Bible does not tell one everything.
I mean prayer.
Prayer!But my dear aunt Caxton!
What is it, my dear?
I mean, that one wants an answer to one's perplexing questions.
Mine never fail of an answer, said Mrs. Caxton. If it is to be
found in the Bible, I find it; if not, I go to the Lord, and get it
How, my dear aunt Caxton? How can you have an answerin that
I ask to be directedand I always am, Eleanor; always right. What
do you think prayer is good for?
But aunt Caxton!I never heard of such a thing in my life! Please
'If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men
liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.' Did
you never hear that, Eleanor?
Auntyexcuse me,it is something I know nothing about.
You never had an answer to your own prayers?
No, ma'am, said Eleanor drooping.
My dear, there may be two reasons for that. Whoever wishes
direction from the Lord, must be absolutely willing to follow it,
whatever it bewe may not ask counsel of him as we do of our
fellow-creatures, bent upon following our own all the while. The Lord
knows our hearts, and withholds his answer when we ask so.
How do you know what the answer is, aunty?
It may be given in various ways. Sometimes circumstances point it
out; sometimes attention is directed to a word in the Bible; sometimes,
'thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee, saying, This is the way,
walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the
Eleanor did not answer; she thought her aunt was slightly fanatical.
There is another reason for not getting an answer, Eleanor. It is,
not believing that an answer will be given.
Aunty, how can one help that?
By simply looking at what God has promised, and trusting it. 'But
let a man ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like
a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man
think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.'
Aunt Caxton, I am exactly like such a wave of the sea. And in
danger of being broken to pieces like one.
Many a one has been, said Mrs Caxton. But it was tenderly said,
not coldly; and the impulse to go on was irresistible. Eleanor changed
her seat for one nearer.
Aunt Caxton, I want somebody's help dreadfully.
I see you do.
Do you see it, ma'am?
I think I have seen it ever since you have been here.
But at the same time, aunty, I do not know how to ask it.
Those are sometimes the neediest eases. But I hope you will find a
way, my dear.
Eleanor sat silent nevertheless, for some minutes; and then she
spoke in a lowered and changed tone.
Aunt Caxton, you know the engagements I am under?
Yes. I have heard.
What should a woman dowhat is it her duty to dowho finds
herself in every way bound to fulfil such engagements, except
Except her own heart, ma'am, Eleanor said low and ashamed.
My dear, you do not mean that your heart was not in these
engagements when you made them?
I did not know where it was, aunty. It had nothing to do with
Where is it now?
It is not in them, ma'am.
Eleanor, let us speak plainly. Do you mean that you do not love
this gentleman whom you have promised to marry?
Eleanor hesitated, covered her face, and hesitated; at last spoke.
Aunt Caxton, I thought I did;but I know now I do not; not as I
think I ought;I do not as he loves me. Eleanor spoke with burning
cheeks, which her aunt could see even in the firelight and though
Eleanor's hand endeavoured to shield them.
What made you enter into these engagements, my dear?
The will and power of two other people, aunt Caxtonand, I am
afraid, now, a little ambition of my own was at work in it. And I liked
him too. It was not a person that I did not like. But I did not know
what I was doing. I liked him, aunt Caxton.
And now it is a question with you whether you will fulfil these
Yes ma'am,because I do not wish to fulfil them. I do not know
whether I ought, or ought not.
Mrs. Caxton was silent in her turn.
Eleanor,do you like some one else better?
Nobody else likes me better, aunt Caxtonthere is nothing of that
Still my question is not answered, Eleanor. Have you more
liking for any other person?
Aunt CaxtonI do not knowI have seenI do not know how to
answer you! Eleanor said in bitter confusion; then hiding her face she
went onJust so much as this is true, aunt Caxton,I have seen, what
makes me know that I do not love Mr. Carlisle; not as he loves me.
Mrs. Caxton stooped forward, took Eleanor's hands down from her face
and kissed her. It was a sad, drooping, pained face, hot with shame.
My child, she said, your honesty has saved you. I could not have
advised you, Eleanor, if you had not been frank with me. Poor child!
Eleanor came down on the floor and hid her face in Mrs. Caxton's
lap. Her aunt kept one hand softly resting on her hair while she spoke.
She was silent first, and then she spoke very tenderly.
You did not know, at the time you engaged yourself to this
gentleman, that you were doing him wrong?
No, ma'amI thought rather of wrong to myself.
They were in such a hurry, ma'am.
Since then, you have seen what you like better.
Yes, ma'am,said Eleanor doubtfully,or what I know I could
like better, if there was occasion. That is all.
Now the question is, in these circumstances, what is your duty to
Eleanor lifted her head to look into her aunt's face for the
decision to come.
The rule of judgment is not far off, Eleanor; it is the golden
rule. 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to
them.' My dear, take the case of the person you could like best in the
world;would you have such a person marry you if his heart belonged to
Not for the whole world! said Eleanor raising her head which had
fallen again. But aunt Caxton, that is not my case. My heart is not
Put it differently then. Would you marry such a man, if you knew
that his mere liking for another was stronger than his love for you?
I thinkI would rather die! said Eleanor slowly.
Then I think your question is answered.
But aunt Caxton, it is not answered. Mr. Carlisle would not feel
so. I know, he would have me marry him, if he knew that my heart was a
thousand times another person'swhich it is not.
Don't alter the case, said Mrs. Caxton, except to make it
stronger. If he were the right sort of man, he would not have you do
so. There is no rule that we should make other people's wishes our
standard of right.
But aunt Caxton, I have done Mr. Carlisle grievous wrong. O, I feel
Yes. What then?
Am I not bound to make him all the amends in my power?
Short of doing further wrong. Keep right and wrong always clear,
Eleanor. They never mean the same thing.
Aunty, what you must think of me!
I think of you just now as saved from shipwreck. Many a girl has
drifted on in the course you were going, without courage to get out of
the current, until she has destroyed herself; and perhaps somebody
I do not think I had much courage, aunt Caxton, said Eleanor
What had you, then?
It was mainly my horror of marrying that man, after I found I did
not love him. And yet, aunt Caxton, I do like him; and I am very, very,
very sorry! It has almost seemed to me sometimes that I ought to marry
him and give him what I can; and yet, if I were ready, I would rather
Is your doubt settled?
Yes, ma'am,said Eleanor sadly.
My dear, you have done wrong,I judge, somewhat ignorantly,but
mischief can never be mended by mischief. To marry one man, preferring
another, is the height of disloyalty to both him and yourself; unless
you can lay the whole truth before him; and then, as I think, in most
cases it would be the height of folly.
I will write to Mr. Carlisle to-morrow.
And then, Eleanor, what was the other question you came here to
It is quite a different question, aunty, and yet it was all twisted
up with the other.
You can tell it me; it will hardly involve greater confidence,
said Mrs. Caxton, bending over and kissing Eleanor's brow which rested
upon her knee. Eleanor, I am very thankful you came to Plassy.
The girl rose up and kneeling beside her hid her face in Mrs.
Caxton's bosom. Aunt Caxton, I am so glad! I have wanted just this
help so long! and this refuge. Put your arms both round me, and hold me
Mrs. Caxton said nothing for a little while. She waited for Eleanor
to take her own time and speak. Very still the two were. There were
some straining sobs that came from the one and went to the heart of the
other; heavy and hard; but with no sound till they were quieted.
Aunt Caxton, said Eleanor at last, the other question was that
one of a refuge.
A heavenly one?
Yes. I had heard of a 'helmet of salvation'I wanted it;but I do
not know how to get it.
Do you know what it is?
Not very clearly. But I have seen it, aunt Caxton;I know it makes
people safe and happy. I want it for myself.
Safe from what?
Fromall that I feared when I was dangerously ill last summer.
What did you fear, Eleanor?
All the future, aunt Caxton. I was not ready, I knew, to go out of
this world. I am no better now.
They had not changed their relative positions. Eleanor's face still
lay on her aunt's bosom; Mrs. Caxton's arms still enfolded her.
Bless the Lord! there is such a helmet, she said; but we cannot
manufacture it, Eleanor, nor even buy it. If you have it at all, you
must take it as a free gift.
How do you mean?
If you are willing to be a soldier of Christ, he will give you his
Aunt Caxton, I do not understand.
It is only to take the promises of God, my dear, if you will take
them obediently. Jesus has declared that 'whosoever believeth on him,
hath everlasting life.'
But I cannot exactly understand what believing in him means. I am
very stupid. Eleanor raised her head and looked now in her aunt's
Do you understand his work for us?
I do not know, ma'am.
My dear, it is the work of love that was not willing to let us be
miserable. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He gave
himself a ransom for all. He suffered for sins, the just for the
unjust, that he might bring us to God.
Yes, I believe I understand that, said Eleanor wearily.
The only question is, whether we will let him bring us. The
question is, whether we are willing to accept this substitution of the
innocent One for our guilty selves, and be his obedient children. If we
areif we rely on him and his blood only, and are willing to give up
ourselves to him, then the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all
sin. No matter though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk
not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
But I do not walk so, said Eleanor.
Do you want to walk so?
O yes, ma'am! yes! said Eleanor clasping her hands. I desire it
above all possible things. I want to be such a one.
If you truly desire it, my dear, it is certain that you may have
what you want; for the Lord's will is not different. He died for this
very thing, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that
believeth in Jesus. There is an open door before you; all things are
ready; you have only to plead the promises and enter in. The Lord
himself says, Come.
Aunt Caxton, I understand, I think; but I do not feel; not anything
but fear,and desire.
This is the mere statement of truth, my dear; it is like the altar
with the wood laid in readiness and the sacrificeall cold; and till
fire falls down from heaven, no incense will arise from earth. But if
any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men
liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
I am a poor creature, aunt Caxton! said Eleanor, hiding her face
again. And again Mrs. Caxton's arm came tenderly round her. And again
Eleanor's tears flowed, this time in a flood.
Certainly you are a poor creature, Eleanor. I am glad you are
finding it out. But will you flee to the stronghold, you poor little
prisoner of hope?
I think I am rather the prisoner of fear, aunty.
Hope is a better gaoler, my deal.
But that is the very thing that I want.
The Lord give it you!
They sat a good while in stillness after that, each thinking her own
thoughts; or perhaps those of the elder lady took the form of prayers.
At last Eleanor raised her head and kissed her aunt's lips earnestly.
How good of you to let me come to Plassy! she said.
I shall keep you here now. You will not wish to be at home again
for some time.
No, ma'am. No indeed I shall not.
What are you going to do about Mr. Carlisle?
I shall write to-morrow. Or to-night.
And tell him?
The plain truth, aunt Caxton. I mean, the truth of the fact, of
course. It is very hard!said Eleanor sorrowfully.
It is doubtless hard; but it is the least of all the choice of
evils you have left yourself. Write to-night,and here, if you will.
If you can without being disturbed by me.
The sight of you will only help me, aunt Caxton. But I did not know
the harm I was doing when I entered into all this.
I believe it. Go and write your letter.
Eleanor brought her paper-case and sat down at the table. Mrs.
Caxton ordered other lights and was mutely busy at her own table. Not a
word was spoken for a good while. It was with a strange mixture of pain
and bursting gladness that Eleanor wrote the letter which she hoped
would set her free. But the gladness was enough to make her sure it
ought to be written; and the pain enough to make it a bitter piece of
work. The letter was finished, folded, sealed; and with a sigh Eleanor
closed her paper-case.
What sort of a clergyman have you at home? Mrs. Caxton asked. She
had not spoken till then.
He is a kind old manhe is a good man, Eleanor said, picking for
words; I like him. He is not a very interesting preacher.
Did you ever hold any talk with him on your thoughts of hope, and
I could not, ma'am. I have tried; but I could not bring him to the
point. He referred me to confirmation and to doing my duty; he did not
It is not a happy circumstance, that his public teaching should
raise questions which his private teaching cannot answer.
O it did not! said Eleanor. Dr. Cairnes never raised a question
in anybody's mind, I am sure; never in mine.
The light that sprung up in your mind then, came you do not know
Yes, ma'am, I do, said Eleanor with a little difficulty. It came
from the words and teaching of a living example. But in me it seems to
be only darkness.
Mrs. Caxton said no more, and Eleanor added no more. The servants
came in to family prayer; and then they took their candies and bade
each other an affectionate good night. And Eleanor slept that night
CHAPTER XVII. AT GLANOG.
For something that abode endued
With temple-like repose, an air
Of life's kind purposes pursued
With order'd freedom sweet and fair,
A tent pitched in a world not right
It seem'd, whose inmates, every one,
On tranquil faces, bore the light
Of duties beautifully done.
How did the days pass after that? In restless anxiety, with Eleanor;
in miserable uncertainty and remorse and sorrow. She counted the hours
till her despatch could be in Mr. Carlisle's hands; then she figured to
herself the pain it would cause him; then she doubted fearfully what
the immediate effect would be. It might be, to bring him down to Plassy
with the utmost speed of post-horses; and again Eleanor reckoned the
stages and estimated the speed at which Mr. Carlisle's postillions
could be made to travel, and the time when it would be possible for
this storm to burst upon Plassy. That day Eleanor begged the pony and
went out. She wandered for hours, among unnumbered, and almost
unheeded, beauties of mountain and vale; came home at a late hour, and
crept in by a back entrance. No stranger had come; the storm had not
burst yet; and Mrs. Caxton was moved to pity all the supper time and
hours of the evening, at the state of fear and constraint in which
Eleanor evidently dwelt.
My dear, did you like this man? she said when they were bidding
each other good night.
Mr. Carlisle?yes, very well; if only he had not wanted me to
But you fear him, Eleanor.
Because, aunt Caxton, he always had a way of making me do just what
Are you so easily governed, Eleanor, by one whom you do not love? I
should not have thought it.
I do not know how it was, aunty. I had begun wrong, in the first
place; I was in a false position;and lately Mr. Carlisle has taken it
into his head, very unnecessarily, to be jealous; and I could not move
a step without subjecting myself to a false imputation.
Good night, my dear, said her aunt. If he comes, I will take all
imputations on myself.
But Mr. Carlisle did not come. Day passed after day; and the intense
fear Eleanor had at first felt changed to a somewhat quieter
anticipation; though she never came home from a ride without a good
deal of circumspection about getting into the house. At last, one day
when she was sitting with her aunt the messenger came from the post,
and one of those letters was handed to Eleanor that she knew so well;
with the proud seal and its crest. Particularly full and well made she
thought this seal was; though that was not so very uncommon, and
perhaps she was fanciful; but it was a magnificent seal, and the lines
of the outer handwriting were very bold and firm. Eleanor's cheeks lost
some colour as she opened the envelope, which she did without breaking
the bright black wax. Her own letter was all the enclosure.
The root of wrong even unconsciously planted, will bear its own
proper and bitter fruits; and Eleanor tasted them that day, and the
next and the next. She was free; she was secure from even an attempt to
draw her back into the bonds she had broken; when Mr. Carlisle's pride
had taken up the question there was no danger of his ever relenting or
faltering; and pride had thrown back her letter of withdrawal in her
face. She was free; but she knew she had given pain, and that more
feeling was stung in Mr. Carlisle's heart than his pride.
He will get over it, my dear, said her aunt coolly. But Eleanor
shed many tears for a day or two, over the wrong she had done. Letters
from Ivy Lodge did not help her.
Home is very disagreeable now, wrote her little sister Julia;
mamma is crying half the day, and the other half she does not feel
comfortable (a gentle statement of the case.) And papa is very much
vexed, and keeps out of doors the whole time and Alfred with him; and
Mr. Rhys is gone away, and I have got nobody. I shouldn't know what to
do, if Mr. Rhys had not taught me; but now I can pray. Dear Eleanor, do
you pray? I wish you were coming home again, but mamma says you are not
coming in a great while; and Mr. Rhys is never coming back. He said
Mrs. Powle's letter was in strict accordance with Julia's
description of matters; desperately angry and mortified. The only
comfort was, that in her mortification she desired Eleanor to keep away
from home and out of her sight; so Eleanor with a certain rest of heart
in spite of all, prepared herself for a long quiet sojourn with her
aunt at the cheese-farm of Plassy. Mrs. Caxton composedly assured her
that all this vexation would blow over; and Eleanor's own mind was soon
fain to lay off its care and content itself in a nest of peace. Mrs.
Caxton's house was that, to anybody worthy of enjoying it; and to
Eleanor it had all the joy not only of fitness but of novelty. But for
a lingering care on the subject of the other question that had occupied
her, Eleanor would in a little while have been happier than at any
former time in her life. How was it with that question, which had
pressed so painfully hard during weeks and months past? now that
leisure and opportunity were full and broad to take it up and attend to
it. So they were; but with the removal of difficulty came in some
degree the relaxing of effort; opportunity bred ease. It was so simple
a thing to be good at Plassy, that Eleanor's cry for it became less
bitter. Mrs. Caxton's presence, words, and prayers, kept the thought
constant alive; yet with more of soothing and hopeful than of exciting
influence; and while Eleanor constantly wished she were happy like her,
she nevertheless did not fail to be happy in her own way.
The aunt and niece were excellently suited to each other, and took
abundant delight in each other's company. Eleanor found that what had
been defective in her own education was in the way to be supplied and
made up to her singularly; here, of all places, on a cheese-farm! So it
was. To her accomplishments and materials of knowledge, she now found
suddenly superadded, the necessity and the practice of thinking. In
Mrs. Caxton's house it was impossible to help it. Judgment, conscience,
reason, and good sense, were constantly brought into play; upon things
already known and things until then not familiar. In the reading of
books, of which they did a good deal; in the daily discussion of the
newspaper; in the business of every hour, in the intercourse with every
neighbour, Eleanor found herself always stimulated and obliged to look
at things from a new point of view; to consider them with new lights;
to try them by a new standard. As a living creature, made and put here
to live for something, she felt herself now; as in a world where
everybody had like trusts to fulfil and was living mindful or forgetful
of his trust. How mindful Mrs. Caxton was of hers, Eleanor began every
day with increasing admiration to see more and more. To her servants,
to her neighbours, with her money and her time and her sympathies, for
little present interests and for world-wide and everlasting ones, Mrs.
Caxton was ever ready, active, watchful; hands full and head full and
heart full. That motive power of her one mind and will, Eleanor
gradually found, was the centre and spring of a vast machinery of good,
working so quietly and so beneficently as proved it had been in
operation a long, long time. It was a daily deep lesson to Eleanor,
going deeper and deeper every day. The roots were striking down that
would shoot up and bear fruit by and by.
Eleanor was a sweet companion to her aunt all those months. In her
fresh, young, rich nature, Mrs. Caxton had presently seen the signs of
strength, without which no character would have suited her; while
Eleanor's temper was of the finest; and her mind went to work
vigorously upon whatever was presented for its action. Mrs. Caxton
wisely took care to give it an abundance of work; and furthermore
employed Eleanor in busy offices of kindness and help to others; as an
assistant in some of her own plans and habits of good. Many a ride
Eleanor took on the Welsh pony, to see how some sick person was getting
on, or to carry supplies to another, or to give instruction to another,
or to oversee and direct the progress of matters on which yet another
was engaged. This was not new work to her; yet now it was done in the
presence at least, if not under the pressure, of a higher motive than
she had been accustomed to bring to it. It took in some degree another
character. Eleanor was never able to forget now that these people to
whom she was ministering had more of the immortal in them than of even
the earthly; she was never able to forget it of herself. And busy and
happy as the winter was, there often came over her those weary longings
for something which she had not yet; the something which made her
aunt's course daily so clear and calm and bright. What sort of
happiness would be Eleanor's when she got back to Ivy Lodge? She asked
herself that question sometimes. Her present happiness was superficial.
The spring meanwhile drew near, and signs of it began to be seen and
felt, and heard. And one evening Mrs. Caxton got out the plan of her
garden, and began to consider in detail its arrangements, with a view
to coming operations. It was pleasant to see Mrs. Caxton at this work,
and to hear her; she was in her element. Eleanor was much surprised to
find not only that her aunt was her own head gardener, but that she had
an exquisite knowledge of the business.
This sulphurea I think is dead, remarked Mrs. Caxton. I
must have another. Eleanorwhat is the matter?
You are drawing a very long breath, my dear. Where did it come
The reserve which Eleanor had all her life practised before other
people, had almost from the first given way before her aunt.
From a thought of home, aunt Caxton. I shall not be so happy when I
get back there.
The happiness that will not bear transportation, Eleanor, is a very
poor article. But they will not want you at home.
I am afraid of it.
Without reason. You will not go home this spring, my dear; trust
me. You are mine for a good long time yet.
Mrs. Caxton was wiser than Eleanor; as was soon proved. Mrs. Powle
wrote, desiring her daughter, whatever she did, not to come home then;
nor soon. People would think she was come home for her wedding; and
questions innumerable would be asked, the mortification of which would
be unbearable. Whereas, if Eleanor kept away, the dismal certainty
would by degrees become public, that there was to be no match at all
between Rythdale and the Lodge. Stay away till it all blown over,
Eleanor, wrote her mother; it is the least you can do for your
family. And the squire even sent a word of a letter, more kind, but to
the same effect. He wanted his bright daughter at home, he said; he
missed her; but in the circumstances, perhaps it would be best, if her
aunt would be so good as to keep her.
Eleanor carried these letters to Mrs. Caxton, with a tear in her
eye, and an humbled, pained face.
I told you so, said her aunt. How could people expect that Mr.
Carlisle's marriage would take place three months after the death of
his mother? that is what I do not understand.
They arranged it so, and it was given out, I suppose. Everything
gets known. He was going abroad in the spring, or immediately after;
and meant not to go without me.
Now you are my child, my dear, and shall help me with my roses,
said her aunt kissing her, and taking Eleanor in her arms. Eleanor, is
that second question settled yet?
No, aunt Caxton.
You have not chosen yet which master you will serve,the world or
O yes, ma'amI have decided that. I know which I want to be.
But not which you will be.
I mean that, ma'am.
You are not a servant of the Lord now, Eleanor?
No, aunt CaxtonI don't see how. I am dark.
Christ says, 'He that is not with me is against me.' A question
that is undecided, decides itself. Eleanor, decide this question
Yes. I am going to send you to church.
To church! There is no service to-night, aunt Caxton.
Not at the church where you have beenin the village. There is a
little church in the valley beyond Mrs. Pynce's cottage. You are going
I do not remember any. Why, aunt Caxton, the valley is too narrow
there for anything but the road and the brook; the mountains leave no
roomhardly room for her house.
You have never been any further. Do you not remember a sharp turn
just beyond that place?
Yes, I do.
You will see the chapel when you get round the turn.
The place Mrs. Caxton alluded to, was a wild, secluded, most
beautiful valley, the bottom of which as Eleanor said was almost filled
up with the road, and the brook which rushed along its course to meet
the river; itself almost as large as another river. Where the people
could be found to go to a church in such a region, she could not
imagine. Heather clothed the hills; fairy cascades leaped down the
rocks at every turning, lovely as a dream; the whole scene was wild and
lonely. Hardly any human habitations or signs of human action broke the
wild reign of nature all the valley through. Eleanor was sure of a
charming ride at least, whether there was to be a congregation in the
church at the end of it or no; and she prepared herself accordingly.
Mrs. Caxton was detained at home; the car did not go; three or four of
the household, men and women, went on ponies as Eleanor did.
They set off very early, while the light was fair and beautiful yet,
for the ride was of some length. It was not on the way to the village;
it turned off from the fine high road to a less practised and more
uneven track. It was good for horses; and riding in front, a little
ahead of her companions, Eleanor had the luxury of being alone. Why had
Mrs. Caxton bade her settle that question to-night? How could she;
when her mind was in so much darkness and confusion on the subject? Yet
Eleanor hardly knew specifically what the hindrance was; only it was
certain that while she wished and intended to be a Christian, she was
no nearer the point, so far as she could see, than she had been months
ago. Nay, Eleanor confessed to herself that in the sweet quiet and
peace of her aunt's house, and in her own release from pressing
trouble, she had rather let all troublesome thoughts slip away from
her; so that, though not forgotten, the subject had been less painfully
on her mind than through the weeks that went before her coming to
Plassy. She had wished for leisure and quiet to attend to it and put
that pain to rest for ever; and in leisure and quiet she had suffered
pain to go to sleep in a natural way and left all the business of
dealing with it to be deferred till the time of its waking. How was all
this? Eleanor walked her pony slowly along, and thought. Then
she had been freshly under the influence of Mr. Rhys and his preaching;
the very remembrance of which, now and here, stirred her like an alarum
bell. Ay, and more than that; it wakened the keen longing for that
beauty and strength of life which had so shewn her her own poverty.
Humbled and sad, Eleanor walked her pony on and on, while each little
crystal torrent that came with its sweet clear rush and sparkle down
the rocks, tinkled its own little silver bell note in her ears; a note
of purity and action. Eleanor had never heard it from them before; now
somehow each rushing streamlet, with its bright leap over obstacles and
its joyous dash onward in its course, sounded the same note. Nothing
could be more lovely than these cascades; every one different from the
others, as if to shew how many forms of beauty water could take.
Eleanor noticed and heard them every one and the call of every one, and
rode on in a pensive mood till Mrs. Pynce's cottage was passed and the
turn in the valley just beyond opened up a new scene for her.
How lovely! how various! The straitened dell spread out gradually
from this point into a comparatively broad valley, bordered with higher
hills as it widened in the distance. The light still shewed its
entrancing beauty; wooded, and spotted with houses and habitations of
all kinds; from the very humble to the very lordly, and from the
business factories of to-day, back to the ruined strongholds of the
time when war was business. Wide and delicious the view was, as much as
it was unexpected; and spring's softened colouring was all over it.
Eleanor made a pause of a few seconds as soon as all this burst upon
her; her next thought was to look for the church. And it was plain to
see; a small dark edifice, in excellent keeping with its situation;
because of its colour and its simple structure, which half merged it
among the rocks and the hills.
That is the church, John? Eleanor said to Mrs. Caxton's factotum.
That is it, ma'am. There's been no minister there for a good piece
of the year back.
And what place is this?
There's no place, to call it, ma'am. It's the valley of
Eleanor jumped off her pony and went into the church. She had walked
her pony too much; it was late; the service had begun; and Eleanor was
taken with a sudden tremor at hearing the voice that was reading the
hymn. She had no need to look to see whose it was. She walked up the
aisle, seeking a vacant place to sit down, and exceedingly desirous to
find it, for she was conscious that she was right under the preacher's
eye and observation; but as one never does well what one does in
confusion, she overlooked one or two chances that offered, and did not
get a seat till she was far forward, in the place of fullest view for
both seeing and being seen. And there she sat down, asking herself what
should make her tremble so. Why had her aunt Caxton sent her that
evening, alone, to hear Mr. Rhys preach? And why not? what was there
about it? She was very glad, she knew, to hear him; but there would be
no more apathy or languor in her mind now on the subject of that
question her aunt had desired her to settle. No more. The very sound of
that speaker's voice woke her conscience to a sharp sense of what she
had been about all these months since she had heard it last. She bent
her head in her hand for a little while, in a rushing of thoughtsor
ideasthat prevented her senses from acting; then the words the people
were singing around her made their entrance into her ear; an entrance
opened by the sweet melody. The words were given very plain.
No room for mirth or trifling here,
For worldly hope, or worldly fear,
If life so soon is gone;
If now the Judge is at the door,
And all mankind must stand before
Th' inexorable throne!
No matter which my thoughts employ,
A moment's misery or joy;
But O! when both shall end,
Where shall I find my destined place?
Shall I my everlasting days
With fiends or angels spend?
Eleanor sat cowering before that thought. Now are we going to have
a terrible sermon? was her inward question. She would not look up. The
preliminary services were all over, she found, and the preacher rose
and gave out his text.
A glorious high throne from the beginning, is the place of our
Eleanor could not keep her eyes lowered another second. The
well-known deliberate utterance, and a little unconscious indefinable
ring of the tones in which the words were spoken, brought her eyes to
the speaker's face; and they were never turned away again. Do we need
a sanctuary?was the first question the preacher started; and very
quietly he went on to discuss that. Very quietly; his manner and his
voice were neither in the slightest degree excited; how it was, Eleanor
did not know, that as he went on a tide of feeling swept over the
assembly. She could see it in the evidences of tears, and she heard it
in a deep sough of the breath that went all over the house. The
preacher was reaching each one's secret consciousness, and stirring
into life that deep hidden want of every heart which every heart knew
differently. Some from sorrow; some from sin; some from weariness; some
from loneliness; some from the battle of life; some from the struggle
with their own hearts; all, from the wrath to come. Nay, Eleanor's own
heart was throbbing with the sense that he had reached it and touched
it, and knew its condition. How was it, that with those quiet words he
had bowed every spirit before him, her own among the number? It is
true, that in the very containedness of his tones and words there was
an evidence of suppressed power; it flashed out once in a while; and
wrought possibly with the more effect from the feeling that it was
contained and kept down. However it were, the minds of the assembly
were already at a high state of tension, when he passed to the other
part of his subjectthe consideration of the sanctuary. It was no
discourse of regular heads and divisions; it is impossible to report,
except as to its effects. The preacher's head and heart were both full,
and words had no stint. But in this latter part of his subject, the
power which had been so contained was let loose, though still kept
within bounds. The eye fired now, and the voice quivered with its
charge, as he endeavoured to set before the minds of the people the
glorious vision which filled his own; to make known to others the
riches of glory in which his own soul rested and rejoiced. So
evidently, that his hearers half caught at what he would shew them, by
the catching of sympathy; and from different parts of the house now
there went up a suppressed cry, of want, or of exultation, as the case
might be, which it was very thrilling to hear. It was the sense of want
and pain in Eleanor's mind; not spoken indeed except by her
countenance; but that toned strongly with the notes of feeling that
were uttered around her. As from the bottom of a dark abyss into which
he had fallen, a person might look up to the bright sky, of which he
could see but a little, which yet would give him token of all the
firmamental light and beauty up there which he had not. From her
darkness Eleanor saw it; saw it in the preacher's face and words; yes,
and heard it in many a deep-breathed utterance of gladness or
thanksgiving at her side. She had never felt so dark in her life as
when she left the church. She rushed away as soon as the service was
over, lest any one should speak to her; however she had to wait some
time outside the door before John came out. The people all tarried
Beg pardon, ma'am, said John, but we was waiting a bit to see the
Eleanor rode home fast, through fair moonlight without and great
obscurity within her own spirit. She avoided her aunt; she did not want
to speak of the meeting; she succeeded in having no talk about it that
CHAPTER XVIII. AT MRS. POWLIS'S.
I glanced within a rock's cleft breast,
A lonely, safely-sheltered nest.
There as successive seasons go,
And tides alternate ebb and flow,
Full many a wing is trained for flight
In heaven's blue fieldin heaven's broad light.
The next morning at breakfast Eleanor and her aunt were alone as
usual. There was no avoiding anything.
Did you have a pleasant evening? Mrs. Caxton asked.
I had a very pleasant ride, aunt Caxton.
How was the sermon?
It wasI suppose it was very good; but it was very peculiar.
In what way?
I don't know, ma'am;it excited the people very much. They could
not keep still.
Do you like preaching better that does not excite people?
Eleanor hesitated. No, ma'am; but I do not like them to make a
What sort of a noise?
Eleanor paused again, and to her astonishment found her own lip
quivering and her eyes watering as she answered,It was a noise of
weeping and of shoutingnot loud shouting; but that is what it was.
I have often known such effects under faithful presenting of the
truth, said Mrs. Caxton composedly. When people's feelings are much
moved, it is very natural to give them expression.
For uncultivated people, particularly.
I don't know about the cultivation, said Mrs. Caxton. Robert
Hall's sermons used to leave two thirds of his hearers on their feet. I
have seen a man in middle life, a judge in the courts, one of the heads
of the community in which he lived, so excited that he could not undo
the fastenings of his pew door; and he put his foot on the seat and
sprang over into the aisle.
Do you like such things, aunt Caxton?
I prefer another mode of getting out of church, my dear.
But shouting, or crying out, is what people of refinement would not
do, even if they could not open their pew doors.
Eleanor was a little sorry the moment she had uttered this speech;
her spirits were in a whirl of disorder and uncomfortableness, and she
had spoken hastily. Mrs. Caxton answered with great composure.
What do you call those words that you are accustomed to hear, the
'Gloria in Excelsis'?'Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace,
good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee,
we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord
God, heavenly King.'
What do you call it, aunt Caxton?
If it is not a shout of joy, I can make nothing of it. Or the one
hundred and fiftieth psalm'O praise God in his holiness; praise him
in the firmament of his power. Praise him in his noble acts; praise him
according to his excellent greatness. Praise him in the sound of the
trumpet; praise him upon the lute and harp. Praise him in the cymbals
and dances; praise him upon the strings and pipe. Praise him upon the
well tuned cymbals; praise him upon the loud cymbals. Let everything
that hath breath praise the Lord.'What is that but a shout of
It never sounded like a shout, said Eleanor.
It did once, I think, said Mrs. Caxton.
When was that, ma'am?
When Ezra sang it, with the priests and the people to help him,
after they were returned from captivity. Then the people shouted with a
loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off. All the people shouted
with a great shout, when they praised the Lord.
But aunt Caxton, said Eleanor, who felt herself taken down a
little, as a secure talker is apt to be by a manner very composed in
his opponentit is surely the habit of refined persons in these times
not to get excitedor not to express their feelings very publicly?
A very good habit, said Mrs. Caxton. Nevertheless I have seen a
mana gentlemanand a man in very high standing, in a public
assembly, go white with anger and become absolutely speechless, with
the strength of passion, at some offence he had taken.
O such passions, of course, will display themselves sometimes,
said Eleanor. Bad passions often will. They escape control.
I have seen a ladya lovely and refined ladyfaint away at the
sudden tidings that a child's life was secure,whom she had almost
given up for lost.
But, dear aunt Caxton! you do not call that a parallel case?
A parallel case with what?
Anybody might be excited at such a thing. You would wonder if they
I do not see the justness of your reasoning, Eleanor. A man may
turn white with passion, and it is natural; woman may faint with joy at
receiving back her child from death; and you are not surprised. But the
joy of suddenly seeing eternal life one's ownthe joy of knowing that
God has forgiven our sinsyou think may be borne calmly. I have known
people faint under that joy as well.
Aunt Caxton, said Eleanor, her voice growing hoarse, I do not see
how anybody can have it. How can they know their sins are forgiven?
You may find it in your Bible, Eleanor; did you never see it there?
'The Spirit witnesseth with our spirit, that we are the children of
But Paul was inspired?
Yes, thank God!to declare that dividend of present joy to all
shareholders in the stock of eternal life. But doubtless, only faith
can take it out.
Eleanor sat silent, chewing bitter thoughts. O this is what these
people have!she said to herself;this is the helmet of salvation!
And I am as far from it as ever! The conversation ended there. Eleanor
was miserable all day. She did not explain herself; Mrs. Caxton only
saw her preoccupied, moody, and silent.
There is preaching again at Glanog to-night, she said a few days
afterwards; I am not yet quite well enough to go. Do you choose to go,
Eleanor looked down and answered yes.
She went; and again, and again, and again. Sundays or week days,
Eleanor missed no chance of riding her pony to the little valley
church. Mrs. Caxton generally went with her, after the first week; but
going in her car she was no hindrance to the thoughtfulness and
solitude of the rides on horseback; and Eleanor sometimes wept all the
way home, and oftener came with a confused pain in her heart, dull or
acute as the case might be. She saw truth that seemed beautiful and
glorious to her; she saw it in the faces and lives as well as in the
words of others; she longed to share their immunity and the peace she
perceived them possessed of; but how to lay hold of it she could not
find. She seemed to herself too evil ever to become good; she tried,
but her heart seemed as hard as a stone. She prayed, but no relief
came. She did not see how she could be saved, while evil had
such a hold of her; and to dislodge it she was powerless. Eleanor was
in a constant state of uneasiness and distress now. Her usually fine
temper was more easily roughened than she had ever known it; the
services she had long been accustomed to render to others who needed
her, she felt it now very hard to give. She was dissatisfied with
herself and very unhappy, and she said to herself that she was unfit to
properly minister to anybody else. She became a comparatively silent
and ungenial companion to her aunt. Mrs. Caxton perhaps understood her;
for she made no remark on this change, seemed to take no notice; was as
evenly and tenderly affectionate to her niece as ever before, with
perhaps a little added expression of sympathy now and then. She did not
even ask an explanation of Eleanor's manner of getting out of church.
Eleanor and her aunt, as it happened, always occupied a seat very
near the front and almost under the pulpit. It had been Eleanor's
custom ever since the first time she came there, to slip out of her
seat and make her way down the aisle with eager though quiet haste;
leaving her aunt to follow at her leisure; and she was generally
mounted and off before Mrs. Caxton reached the front door. During the
service always now, Eleanor's eyes were fastened upon the preacher; his
often looked at her; he recognized her of course; and Eleanor had a
vague fear that if she were not out of the way he would some time or
other come down and accost her. It was an unreasoning fear; she gave no
account of it to herself; except that her mind was in an unsettled,
out-of-order state, that would not bear questioning; and if he came he
would be certain to question her. So Eleanor fled and let her aunt do
the talkingif any there were. Eleanor never asked and never knew.
This went on for some weeks. Spring had burst upon the hills, and
the valleys were green in beauty and flushing with flowers; and
Eleanor's heart was barren and cold more than she had ever felt it to
be. She began to have a most miserable opinion of herself.
It happened one night, what rarely happened, that Mr. Rhys had some
one in the pulpit with him. Eleanor was sorry; she grudged to have even
the closing prayer or hymn given by another voice. But it was so this
evening; and when Eleanor rose as usual to make her quick way out of
the house, she found that somebody else had been quick. Mr Rhys stood
beside her. It was impossible to help speaking. He had clearly come
down for the very purpose. He shook hands with Eleanor.
How do you do? he said. I am glad to see you here. Is your mind
at rest yet?
No, said Eleanor. However it was, this meeting which she had so
shunned, was not entirely unwelcome to her when it came. If anything
would make her feel better, or any counsel do her good, se was willing
to stand even questioning that might lead to it. Mr. Rhys's questioning
on this occasion was not very severe. He only asked her, Have you ever
been to class?
To what? said Eleanor.
To a class-meeting. You know what that is?
Yes,I know a little. No, I have never been to one.
I should like to see you at mine. We meet at Mrs. Powlis's in the
village of Plassy, Wednesday afternoon.
But I could not, Mr. Rhys. It would not be possible for me to say a
word before other people; it would not be possible.
I will try not to trouble you with difficult questions. Promise me
that you will come. It will not hurt you to hear others speak.
Will you come and try?
There! said Eleanor to herself as she rode away,now I have got
my head in a net, and I am fast. I going to such a place! What business
have I there? And yet there was a sweet gratification in the hope
that somehow this new plan might bring her good. But on the whole
Eleanor disliked it excessively, with all the power of mature and
cultivation. For though frank enough to those whom she loved, a proud
reserve was Eleanor's nature in regard to all others whom she did not
love; and the habits of her life were as far as possible at variance
with this proposed meeting, in its familiar and social religious
character. She could not conceive how people should wish to speak of
their intimate feelings before other people. Her own shrank from
exposure as morbid flesh shrinks from the touch. However, Wednesday
Can I have Powis this afternoon, aunt Caxton?
Certainly, my dear; no need to ask. Powis is yours. Are you going
to Mrs. Pynce?
No ma'am. Eleanor struggled.Mr. Rhys has made me promise to
go to his class. I do not like to go at all; but I have promised.
You will like to go next time, said Mrs. Caxton quietly. And she
said no more than that.
Will I? thought Eleanor as she rode away. But if there was
anything harsh or troubled in her mood of mind, all nature breathed
upon it to soften it. The trees were leafing out again; the meadows
brilliant with fresh green; the soft spring airs wooing into full blush
and beauty the numberless spring flowers; every breath fragrant with
new sweetness. Nothing could be lovelier than Eleanor's ride to the
village; nothing more soothing to a ruffled condition of thought; and
she arrived at Mrs. Powlis's door with an odd kind of latent
hopefulness that something good might be in store for her there.
Her strange and repugnant feelings returned when she got into the
house. She was shewn into a room where several other persons were
sitting, and where more kept momently coming in. Greetings passed
between these persons, very frank and cordial; they were all at home
there and accustomed to each other and to the business; Eleanor alone
was strange, unwonted, not in her element. That feeling however changed
as soon as Mr. Rhys came in. Where he was, there was at least one
person whom she had sympathy, and who had some little degree of
sympathy with her. Eleanor's feelings were destined to go through a
course of discipline before the meeting was over.
It began with some very sweet singing. There were no books;
everybody knew the words that were sung, and they burst out like a glad
little chorus. Eleanor's lips only were mute. The prayer that followed
stirred her very much. It was so simple, so pure, so heavenward in its
aspirations, so human in its humbleness, so touching in its sympathies.
For they reached her, Eleanor knew by one word. And when the
prayer was ended, whatever might follow, Eleanor was glad she had come
to that class-meeting.
But what followed she found to be intensely interesting. In words,
some few some many, one after another of the persons present gave an
account of his progress or of his standing in the Christian life. Each
spoke only when called upon by Mr. Rhys; and each was answered in his
turn with a word of counsel or direction or encouragement, as the case
seemed to need. Sometimes the answer was in the words of the Bible; but
always, whatever it were, it was given, Eleanor felt, with singular
appositeness to the interests before him. With great skill too, and
with infinite sympathy and tenderness if need called for it; with
sympathy invariably. And Eleanor admired the apt readiness and kindness
and wisdom with which the answers were framed; so as to suggest without
fail the lesson desired to be given, yet so suggest it should be felt
by nobody as a imputation or a rebuke. And ever and again the little
assembly broke out into a burst of song, a verse or two of some hymn,
that started naturally from the last words that had been said. Those
bursts of song touched Eleanor. They were so plainly heartfelt, so
utterly glad in their utterances, that she had never head the like. No
choir, the best trained in the world, could give such an effect with
their voices, unless they were also trained and meet to be singers in
heaven. One of the choruses pleased Eleanor particularly. It was sung
in a wild sweet tune, and with great energy.
There's balm in Gilead,
To make the wounded whole.
There's power enough in Jesus
To save a sin-sick soul.
It was just after this was finished, that Mr Rhys in his moving
about the room, came and stood before Eleanor. He asked her Do You
It is impossible to express the shame and sorrow which Eleanor
Do you wish to be a Christian?
Eleanor bowed her head.
Do you intend to be one?
Eleanor looked up, surprised at the wore, and answered, If I can.
Do you think, said he very tenderly, that you have a right to
that 'if'when Jesus has said, 'Come unto me, all ye that
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?'
He turned from her, and again struck the notes they had been
There's balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole.
There's power enough in Jesus
To save a sin-sick soul.
The closing prayer followed, which almost broke Eleanor's heart in
two; it so dealt with her and for her. While some of those present were
afterward exchanging low words and shakes of the hand, she slipped away
and mounted her pony.
She was in dreadful confusion during the first part of her ride.
Half resentful, half broken-hearted. It was the last time, she said to
herself, that ever she would be found in a meeting like that. She would
never go again; to make herself a mark for people's sympathy and a
subject for people's prayers. And yetsurely the human mind seems an
inconsistent thing at times,the thought of that sympathy and those
prayers had a touch of sweetness in it, which presently drew a flood of
tears from Eleanor's eyes. There was one old man in particular, of
venerable appearance, who had given a most dignified testimony of faith
and happiness, whose Amen! recurred to her. It was uttered at the
close of a petition Mr. Rhys had made in her favour; and Eleanor
recalled it now with a strange mixture of feelings. Why was she so
different from him and from the rest of those good people? She knew her
duty; why was it not done? She seemed to herself more hard-hearted and
evil than Eleanor would formerly have supposed possible of her; she had
never liked herself less than she did during this ride home. Her mind
was in a rare turmoil, of humiliation and darkness and sorrow; one
thing only was clear; that she never would go to a class-meeting again!
And yet it would be wrong to say that she was on the whole sorry she
had gone once, or that she really regretted anything that had been done
or said. But this once should suffice her. So she went along, dropping
tears from her eyes and letting Powis find his way as he pleased; which
he was quite competent to do.
By degrees her eyes cleared to see how lovely the evening was
falling. The air sweet with exhalations from the hedge-rows and
meadows, yes and from the more distant hills too; fragrant and balmy.
The cattle were going home from the fields; smoke curled up from a
hundred chimney tops along the hillsides and the valley bottom; the
evening light spread here and there in a broad glow of colour; fair
snatches of light were all that in many a place the hills and the
bottom could catch. Every turn in the winding valley brought a new
combination of wonderful beauty into view; and shadows and light, and
flower-fragrance, and lowing cattle along the ways, and wreaths of
chimney smoke; all spoke of peace. Could the spell help reaching
anybody's heart? It reached Eleanor's; or her mood in some inexplicable
way soothed itself down; for when she reached the farmhouse, though she
thought of herself in the same humbled forlorn way as ever, her thought
of the class-meeting had changed.
END OF VOL. I.
PRINTING OFFICE OF THE PUBLISHER.