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【英文原版】Beechcroft at Rockstone / Charlotte M. Yonge [复制链接]

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只看该作者 10楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter X. Aut Caesar Aut Nihil bYEy<7)x  
  Examinations were the great autumn excitement. Gillian was going up for the higher Cambridge, and Valetta's form was under preparation for competition for a prize in languages. The great Mr. White, on being asked to patronise the High School at its first start, four years ago, had endowed it with prizes for each of the four forms for the most proficient in two tongues. FB{KH .  
As the preparation became more absorbing, brows were puckered and looks were anxious, and the aunts were doubtful as to the effect upon the girls' minds or bodies. It was too late, however, to withdraw them, and Miss Mohun could only insist on air and exercise, and permit no work after the seven-o'clock tea. B0dQ@Hq*  
She was endeavouring to chase cobwebs from the brains of the students by the humours of Mrs. Nickleby, when a message was brought that Miss Leverett, the head-mistress of the High School, wished to speak to her in the dining-room. This was no unusual occurrence, as Miss Mohun was secretary to the managing committee of the High School. But on the announcement Valetta began to fidget, and presently said that she was tired and would go to bed. The most ordinary effect of fatigue upon this young lady was to make her resemble the hero of the nursery poem--- Tn*9lj4  
          'I do not want to go to bed, [fAV5U  
           Sleepy little Harry said.'Nevertheless, this willingness excited no suspicion, till Miss Mohun came to the door to summon Valetta. ,\_1w  
'Is there anything wrong!' exclaimed sister and niece together. EMY/~bQW  
'Gone to bed! Oh! I'll tell you presently. Don't you come, Gillian.' 5x5@t :  
T. }1/S"m  
She vanished again, leaving Gillian in no small alarm and vexation. BBaQ}{F8>2  
r /YMLQ  
'I wonder what it can be,' mused Aunt Ada. UvJ}b  
'I shall go and find out!' said Gillian, jumping up, as she heard a door shut upstairs. srPWE^&  
'No, don't,' said Aunt Ada, 'you had much better not interfere.' .\\DKh%  
'It is my business to see after my own sister,' returned Gillian haughtily. ~Xw"}S5  
'I see what you mean, my dear,' said her aunt, stretching out her hand, kindly; 'but I do not think you can do any good. If she is in a scrape, you have nothing to do with the High School management, and for you to burst in would only annoy Miss Leverett and confuse the affair. Oh, I know your impulse of defence, dear Gillian; but the time has not come yet, and you can't have any reasonable doubt that Jane will be just, nor that your mother would wish that you should be quiet about it.' ~)*,S^k(C.  
'But suppose there is some horrid accusation against her!' said Gillian hotly. z|fmrwkN'$  
'But, dear child, if you don't know anything about it, how can you defend her?'  R=.4  
'I ought to know!' H1I{/g  
cKN$ =gd  
'So you will in time; but the more people there are present, the more confusion there is, and the greater difficulty in getting at the rights of anything.'' I+Jm>XN  
More by her caressing tone of sympathy than by actual arguments, Adeline did succeed in keeping Gillian in the drawing-room, though not in pacifying her, till doors were heard again, and something so like Valetta crying as she went upstairs, that Gillian was neither to have nor to hold, and made a dash out of the room, only to find her aunt and the head-mistress exchanging last words in the hall, and as she was going to brush past them, Aunt Jane caught her hand, and said--- rEHkw '  
'Wait a moment, Gillian; I want to speak to you.' 4l!@=qwn  
L7= Q<D<  
There was no getting away, but she was very indignant. She tugged at her aunt's hand more than perhaps she knew, and there was something of a flouncing as she flung into the drawing-room and demanded--- Rx*BwZ  
'Well, what have you been doing to poor little Val?' j}BHj.YuP  
'We have done nothing,' said Miss Mohun quietly. 'Miss Leverett wanted to ask her some questions. Sit down, Gillian. You had better hear what I have to say before going to her. Well, it appears that there has been some amount of cribbing in the third form.' <]Wlx`=/D  
'I'm sure Val never would,' broke out Gillian. And her aunt answered--- =q(GHg;'  
'So was I; but---' 2GWDEgI1o  
'Oh---' X QbNH~  
'My dear, do hush,' pleaded Adeline. 'You must let yourself listen.' gOE_ ]  
Gillian gave a desperate twist, but let her aunt smooth her hand. A#:8X1w  
'All the class---almost---seem to have done it in some telegraphic way, hard to understand,' proceeded Aunt Jane. 'There must have been some stupidity on the part of the class-mistress, Miss Mellon, or it could not have gone on; but there has of late been a strong suspicion of cribbing in Caesar in Valetta's class. They had got rather behindhand, and have been working up somewhat too hard and fast to get through the portion for examination. Some of them translated too well--used terms for the idioms that were neither literal, nor could have been forged by their small brains; so there was an examination, and Georgie Purvis was detected reading off from the marks on the margin of her notebook.' 0Q*-g}wXfS  
b7qnO jC  
'But what has that to do with Val?' w1.MhA  
'Georgie, being had up to Miss Leverett, made the sort of confession that implicates everybody.' /bu'6/!`  
'Then why believe her?' muttered Gillian. But her aunt went on--- ',L{CQA?c  
'She said that four or five of them did it, from the notes that Valetta Merrifield brought to school.' q[PD  
'Never!' interjected Gillian. EI?d(K  
'She said,' continued Miss Mohun, 'it was first that they saw her helping Maura White, and they thought that was not fair, and insisted on her doing the same for them.' *MnG-\{j  
'It can't be true! Oh, don't believe it!' cried the sister. +LI*!(T|lm  
'I grieve to remind you that I showed you in the drawer in the dining-room chiffonier a translation of that very book of Caesar that your mother and I made years ago, when she was crazy upon Vercingetorix.' PgG |7='  
J?Ep Nie  
'But was that reason enough for laying it upon poor Val?' AINFua4A  
A%m `LKV~@  
'She owned it.' / ?[gB:s  
There was a silence, and then Gillian said--- k`~br249  
'She must have been frightened, and not known what she was saying.' :*+BBC  
'She was frightened, but she was very straightforward, and told without any shuffling. She saw the old copy-books when I was showing you those other remnants of our old times, and one day it seems she was in a great puzzle over her lessons, and could get no help or advice, because none of us had come in. I suppose you were with Lilian, and she thought she might just look at the passage. She found Maura in the same difficulty, and helped her; and then Georgie Purvis and Nelly Black found them out, and threatened to tell unless she showed them her notes; but the copying whole phrases was only done quite of late in the general over-hurry.' a&VJ YAB  
F X2`p_  
'She must have been bullied into it,' cried Gillian. 'I shall go and see about her.' {*$J&{6V  
<F & hfy  
Aunt Ada made a gesture as of deprecation; but Aunt Jane let her go without remonstrance, merely saying as the door closed---  m:Abq`C  
'Poor child! Esprit de famille!' _*I6O$/>  
'Will it not be very bad for Valetta to be petted and pitied?' th,qq  
'I don't know. At any rate, we cannot separate them at night, so it is only beginning it a little sooner; and whatever I say only exasperates Gillian the more. Poor little Val, she had not a formed character enough to be turned loose into a High School without Mysie to keep her in order.' +6*I9R  
'Or Gillian.' YAo g;QL  
O_ c K 4  
'I am not so sure of Gillian. There's something amiss, though I can't make out whether it is merely that I rub her down the wrong way. I wonder whether this holiday time will do us good or harm! At any rate, I know how Lily felt about Dolores.' FD<~?-  
'It must have been that class-mistress's fault.' 8wBns)wy@  
' o 5,P/6  
'To a great degree; but Miss Leverett has just discovered that her cleverness does not compensate for a general lack of sense and discipline. Poor little Val---perhaps it is her turning-point!' }, ]W/  
MP T[f  
Gillian, rushing up in a boiling state of indignation against everybody, felt the family shame most acutely of all; and though, as a Merrifield, she defended her sister below stairs, on the other hand she was much more personally shocked and angered at the disgrace than were her aunts, and far less willing to perceive any excuse for the culprit. GE"#.J4z  
There was certainly no petting or pitying in her tone as she stood over the little iron bed, where the victim was hiding her head on her pillow. iA=9Lel  
3 bGpK9M~  
'Oh, Valetta, how could you do such a thing? The Merrifields have never been so disgraced before!' h@l5MH=|%  
{B uh5U,  
'Oh, don't, Gill! Aunt Jane and Miss Leverett were---not so angry--- when I said---I was sorry.' [{- Oy#T<  
'But what will papa and mamma say?' rB~x]5TH  
'Must they---must they hear?' ?kqo~twJ  
(p08jR '5  
'You would not think of deceiving them, I hope.' +YVnA?r?  
AQ:cim `  
'Not deceiving, only not telling.' {Hxvt~P  
M il ![A1  
'That comes to much the same.' }`M53>C,gQ  
Z@ AHe`A  
'You can't say anything, Gill, for you are always down at Kal's office, and nobody knows.' 6b1f ?0  
This gave Gillian a great shock, but she rallied, and said with dignity, 'Do you think I do not write to mamma everything I do?' ^`b&fb v  
It sufficed for the immediate purpose of annihilating Valetta, who had just been begging off from letting mamma hear of her proceedings; but it left Gillian very uneasy as to how much the child might know or tell, and this made her proceed less violently, and more persuasively, 'Whatever I do, I write to mamma; and besides, it is different with a little thing like you, and your school work. Come, tell me how you got into this scrape.' u<8 f ;C_  
m5K B#\  
'Oh, Gill, it was so hard! All about those tiresome Gauls, and there were bits when the nominative case would go and hide itself, and those nasty tenses one doesn't know how to look out, and I knew I was making nonsense, and you were out of the way, and there was nobody to help; and I knew mamma's own book was there---the very part too--- because Aunt Jane had shown it to us, so I did not think there was any harm in letting her help me out of the muddle.' AF{k^^|H  
'Ah! that was the beginning.' db"FC3/H  
*IzcW6 [9  
'If you had been in, I would not have done it. You know Aunt Jane said there was no harm in giving a clue, and this was mamma.' ,_`\c7@  
'But that was not all.' 7&NRE"?G  
'Well, then, there was Maura first, as much puzzled, and her brother is so busy he hasn't as much time for her as he used to have, and it does signify to her, for perhaps if she does not pass, Mr. White may not let her go on at the High School, and that would be too dreadful, for you know you said I was to do all I could for Maura. So I marked down things for her and she copied them off, and then Georgie and Nelly found it out, and, oh! they were dreadful! I never knew it was wrong till they went at me. And they were horrid to Maura, and said she was a Greek and I a Maltese, and so we were both false, and cheaty, and sly, and they should tell Miss Leverett unless I would help them.' ?xK9  
'Oh! Valetta, why didn't you tell me?' X:8=jHkz  
+/Y )s5@<  
'I never get to speak to you, said Val. 'I did think I would that first time, and ask you what to do, but then you came in late, and when I began something, you said you had your Greek to do, and told me to hold my tongue.' ctt5t  
{Lq uOC1  
'I am very sorry,' said Gillian, feeling convicted of having neglected her little sister in the stress of her own work and of the preparation for that of her pupil, who was treading on her heels; 'but indeed, Val, if you had told me it was important, I should have listened.' 5%4:)s{4|  
z ^a,7}4  
'Ah I but when one is half-frightened, and you are always in a hurry,' sighed the child. And, indeed, I did do my best over my own work before ever I looked; only those two are so lazy and stupid, they would have ever so much more help than Maura or I ever wanted; and at last I was so worried and hurried with my French and all the rest, that I did scramble a whole lot down, and that was the way it was found out. And I am glad now it is over, whatever happens.' %C)U F  
'Yes, that is right,' said Gillian, 'and I am glad you told no stories; but I wonder Emma Norton did not see what was going on.' F]Y Pq  
'Oh, she is frightfully busy about her own.' Lp{l& -uQ  
'And Kitty Varley?' y+X%qTB  
'Kitty is only going up for French and German. Miss Leverett is so angry. What do you think she will do to me, Gill? Expel me?' &4p:2,|r9  
'I don't know---I can't guess. I don't know High School ways.' M(SH3~  
+>37 'PD  
It would be so dreadful for papa and mamma and the boys to know,' sobbed Valetta. 'And Mysie! oh, if Mysie was but here!' B0nkHm.Sj  
'Mysie would have been a better sister to her,' said Gillian's conscience, and her voice said, 'You would never have done it if Mysie had been here.' |ILj}4ZA7  
'And Mysie would be nice,' said the poor child, who longed after her companion sister as much for comfort as for conscience. 'Is Aunt Jane very very angry?' she went on; 'do you think I shall be punished?' /2Y t\=S=  
'I can't tell. If it were I, I should think you were punished enough by having disgraced the name of Merrifield by such a dishonourable action.' &66-0d+Sh  
'I---I didn't know it was dishonourable.' _-mSK/Z  
'Well,' said Gillian, perhaps a little tired of the scene, or mayhap dreading another push into her own quarters, 'I have been saying what I could for you, and I should think they would feel that no one but our father and mother had a real right to punish you, but I can't tell what the School may do. Now, hush, it is of no use to talk any more. Good-night; I hope I shall find you asleep when I come to bed.' ^/c v8M=  
Valetta would have detained her, but off she went, with a consciousness that she had been poor comfort to her little sister, and had not helped her to the right kind of repentance. But then that highest ground---the strict rule of perfect conscientious uprightness---was just what she shrank from bringing home to herself, in spite of those privileges of seniority by which she had impressed poor Valetta. rm}%C(C{J  
The worst thing further that was said that night, when she had reported as much of Valetta's confidence as she thought might soften displeasure, was Aunt Ada's observation: 'Maura! That's the White child, is it not? No doubt it was the Greek blood.' s;!_'1pi@  
Vu= e|A#  
'The English girls were much worse,' hastily said Gillian, with a flush of alarm, as she thought of her own friends being suspected. t|m=X  
'Yes; but it began with the little Greek,' said Aunt Ada. 'What a pity, for she is such an engaging child! I would take the child away from the High School, except that it would have the appearance of her being dismissed. 'Ck:=V%}g  
p +nh]  
'We must consider of that,' said Aunt Jane. 'There will hardly be time to hear from Lilias before the next term begins. Indeed, it will not be so very long to wait before the happy return, I hope.' /l+"aKW 2  
'Only two months,' said Gillian; 'but it would be happier but for this.' rP,|  
6 8fnh'I!  
'No,' said Aunt Jane. 'If we made poor little Val write her confession, and I do the same for not having looked after her better, it will be off our minds, and need not cloud the meeting.' /J Y6S  
V\Y, 4&bI  
'The disgrace!' sighed Gillian; 'the public disgrace!' ^JY:$)4["  
'My dear, I don't want to make you think lightly of such a thing. It was very wrong in a child brought up as you have all been, with a sense of honour and uprightness; but where there has been no such training, the attempt to copy is common enough, for it is not to be looked on as an extraordinary and indelible disgrace. Do you remember Primrose saying she had broken mamma's heart when she had knocked down a china vase? You need not be in that state of mind over what was a childish fault, made worse by those bullying girls. It is of no use to exaggerate. The sin is the thing---not the outward shame.' l Dwq[ I]w  
V4W(> g  
'And Valetta told at once when asked,' added Aunt Ada. +4 D#Ht 7  
'That makes a great difference.' iTCY $)J  
'In fact, she was relieved to have it out,' said Miss Mohun. 'It is not at all as if she were in the habit of doing things underhand.' GVM)-Dp]  
Everything struck on Gillian like a covert reproach. It was pain and shame to her that a Merrifield should have lowered herself to the common herd so as to need these excuses of her aunts, and then in the midst of that indignation came that throb of self-conviction which she was always confuting with the recollection of her letter to her mother. SbD B[O%  
She was glad to bid good-night and rest her head. 2NZC,znQ  
[> LL  
The aunts ended by agreeing that it was needful to withdraw Valetta from the competition. It would seem like punishment to her, but it would remove her from the strain that certainly was not good for her. Indeed, they had serious thoughts of taking her from the school altogether, but the holidays would not long be ended before her parents' return. |HA1.Y=  
'I am sorry we ever let her try for the prize,' said Ada. (Kb_/  
'Yes,' said Aunt Jane, 'I suppose it was weakness; but having opposed the acceptance of the system of prizes by competition at first, I thought it would look sullen if I refused to let Valetta try. Stimulus is all very well, but competition leads to emulation, wrath, strife, and a good deal besides.' ~UQX t r  
'Valetta wished it too, and she knew so much Latin to begin with that I thought she would easily get it, and certainly she ought not to get into difficulties.' t 09-y  
'After the silken rein and easy amble of Silverfold, the spur and the race have come severely.' [@Mo3]#\  
X 4\V4_  
'It is, I suppose, the same with Gillian, though there it is not competition. Do you expect her to succeed?' a fLE9  
'No. She has plenty of intelligence, and a certain sort of diligence, but does not work to a point. She wants a real hand over her! She will fail, and it will be very good for her.' W9]0X  
'I should say the work was overmuch for her, and had led her to neglect Valetta.' }"[/BT5t  
g?*D)W U  
'Work becomes overmuch when people don't know how to set about it, and resent being told--- No, not in words, but by looks and shoulders. Besides, I am not sure that it is her proper work that oppresses her. I think she has some other undertaking in hand, probably for Christmas, or for her mother's return; but as secrecy is the very soul of such things, I shut my eyes.' UID`3X  
lXEn m-_  
'Somehow, Jane, I think you have become so much afraid of giving way to curiosity that you sometimes shut your eyes rather too much.' \tY7Ga%c  
'Well, perhaps in one's old age one suffers from the reaction of one's bad qualities. I will think about it, Ada. I certainly never before realised how very different school supervision of young folks is from looking after them all round. Moreover, Gillian has been much more attentive to poor Lily Giles of late, in spite of her avocations.' Lr(JnS  
Valetta was not at first heartbroken on hearing that she was not to go in for the language examination. It was such a relief from the oppression of the task, and she had so long given up hopes of having the prize to show to her mother, that she was scarcely grieved, though Aunt Jane was very grave while walking down to school with her in the morning to see Miss Leverett, and explain the withdrawal. *y$CDv  
That lady came to her private room as soon as she had opened the school. From one point of view, she said, she agreed with Miss Mohun that it would be better that her niece should not go up for the examination. OI3j!L2f  
)5y" T0]  
'But,' she said, 'it may be considered as a stigma upon her, since none of the others are to give up.' !| - U,  
'Indeed! I had almost thought it a matter of course.' d\tY-X3  
'On the contrary, two of the mothers seem to think nothing at all of the matter. Mrs. Black---' ' ~fP#y  
'The Surveyor's wife, isn't she?' }1lZW"{e[  
r)Ml-r =  
'Yes, she writes a note saying that all children copy, if they can, and she wonders that I should be so severe upon such a frequent occurrence, which reflects more discredit on the governesses than the scholars.' :QXKG8^  
[ <k&]Kv  
'Polite that! And Mrs. Purvis? At least, she is a lady!' [MKt\(  
N.SV*G @  
'She is more polite, but evidently has no desire to be troubled. She hopes that if her daughter has committed a breach of school discipline, I will act as I think best.' M*~XpT3  
BA T.>  
'No feeling of the real evil in either! How about Maura White?' y'JJ#7O=  
'That is very different. It is her sister who writes, and so nicely that I must show it to you.' QP@@h4J^  
}UG<_ bE|  
'MY DEAR MADAM---I am exceedingly grieved that Maura should have acted in a dishonourable manner, though she was not fully aware how wrongly she was behaving. We have been talking to her, and we think she is so truly sorry as not to be likely to fall into the same temptation again. As far as we can make out, she has generally taken pains with her tasks, and only obtained assistance in unusually difficult passages, so that we think that she is really not ill-prepared. If it is thought right that all the pupils concerned should abstain from the competition, we would of course readily acquiesce in the justice of the sentence; but to miss it this year might make so serious a difference to her prospects, that I hope it will not be thought a necessary act of discipline, though we know that we have no right to plead for any exemption for her. With many thanks for the consideration you have shown for her, I remain, faithfully yours, F-Ku0z]){?  
K. WHITE.' }9+Vf'u|l  
cvV8 ;  
'A very different tone indeed, and it quite agrees with Valetta's account,' said Miss Mohun. ZgxpHo  
'Yes, the other two girls were by far the most guilty.' eg>]{`WQ  
t~ z;G%a  
'And morally, perhaps, Maura the least; but I retain my view that, irrespective of the others, Valetta's parents had rather she missed this examination, considering all things.' ^xF-IA#ZeB  
Valetta came home much more grieved when she had found she was the only one left out, and declared it was unjust. 3 bl l9Ey  
No,' said Gillian, 'for you began it all. None of the others would have got into the scrape but for you.' yI_MY L[  
F}=O Mo:.  
'It was all your fault for not minding me!' g2W ZW#a)  
'As if I made you do sly things.' iVqXf;eB!5  
'You made me. You were so cross if I only asked a question,' and Val prepared to cry. fD ?w!7f-1  
'I thought people had to do their own work and not other folks'! Don't be so foolish.' QPJz~;V2  
'Oh dear! oh dear! how unkind you are! I wish---I wish Mysie was here; every one is grown cross! Oh, if mamma would but come home!' G+zIh}9  
'Now, Val, don't be such a baby! Stop that!' :]+p#l  
And Valetta went into one of her old agonies of crying and sobbing, which brought Aunt Jane in to see what was the matter. She instantly stopped the scolding with which Gillian was trying to check the outburst, and which only added to its violence. ztHEXM.  
'It is the only thing to stop those fits,' said Gillian. 'She can if she will! It is all temper.' Xsit4Ma  
'Leave her to me!' commanded Aunt Jane. 'Go!' Yt% E,U~g  
Gillian went away, muttering that it was not the way mamma or Nurse Halfpenny treated Val, and quite amazed that Aunt Jane, of all people, should have the naughty child on her lap and in her arms, soothing her tenderly. SWGD(]}uz  
The cries died away, and the long heaving sobs began to subside, and at last a broken voice said, on Aunt Jane's shoulder, 'It's---a--- little bit---like mamma.' Z$? Ql@M  
For Aunt Jane's voice had a ring in it like mamma's, and this little bit of tenderness was inexpressibly comforting. DUk&`BSJ  
'My poor dear child,' she said, 'mamma will soon come home, and then you will be all right.' ze<Lc/;X~  
'I shouldn't have done it if mamma had been there!'  -a``  
'No, and now you are sorry.' !c}?u_Z/  
'Will mamma be very angry?' 5 )tDgm  
'She will be grieved that you could not hold out when you were tempted; but I am sure she will forgive you if you write it all to her. And, Val, you know you can have God's forgiveness at once if you tell Him.' ua!i3]18  
'Yes,' said Valetta gravely; then, 'I did not before, because I thought every one made so much of it, and were so cross. And Georgie and Nellie don't care at all.' UFE# J  
/8cfdP Ba  
'Nor Maura?' bMA\_?  
4[XiD*  *  
'Oh, Maura does, because of Kalliope.' NMvNw?]  
'How do you mean?' \sEH)$R'  
Valetta sat up on her aunt's lap, and told.  _W  
'Maura told me! She said Kally and Alec both were at her, but her mamma was vexed with them, and said she would not have her scolded at home as well as at school about nothing; and she told Theodore to go and buy her a tart to make up to her, but Theodore wouldn't, for he said he was ashamed of her. So she sent the maid. But when Maura had gone to bed and to sleep, she woke up, and there was Kally crying over her prayers, and whispering half aloud, "Is she going too? My poor child! Oh, save her! Give her the Spirit of truth--"' T-y5U},  
V?- ]ZkI  
'Poor Kalliope! She is a good sister.' !X\aZ{}Q  
Yb?(Q %  
'Yes; Maura says Kally is awfully afraid of their telling stories because of Richard---the eldest, you know. He does it dreadfully. I remember nurse used to tell us not to fib like Dick White. Maura said he used to tell his father stories about being late and getting money, and their mother never let him be punished. He was her pet. And Maura remembers being carried in to see poor Captain White just before he died, when she was getting better, but could not stand, and he said, "Truth before all, children. Be true to God and man." Captain White did care so much, but Mrs. White doesn't. Isn't that very odd, for she isn't a Roman Catholic?' ended Valetta, obviously believing that falsehood was inherent in Romanists, and pouring out all this as soon as her tears were assuaged, as if, having heard it, she must tell. J+=?taZ  
'Mrs. White is half a Greek, you know,' said Aunt Jane, 'and the Greeks are said not to think enough about truth.' LzD,]{CC5  
'Epaminondas did,' said Valetta, who had picked up a good deal from the home atmosphere, 'but Ulysses didn't.' =$#=w?~%  
'No; and the Greeks have been enslaved and oppressed for a great many years, and that is apt to make people get cowardly and false. But that is not our concern, Val, and I think with such a recollection of her good father, and such a sister to help her, Maura will not fall into the fault again. And, my dear, I quite see that neither you nor she entirely realised that what you did was deception, though you never spoke a word of untruth.' n= FOB0=  
4f'!,Q ;  
'No, we did not,' said Valetta. vPD%5 AJN  
'And so, my dear child, I do forgive you, quite and entirely, as we used to say, though I have settled with Miss Leverett that you had better not go up for the examination, since you cannot be properly up to it. And you must write the whole history to your mother. Yes; I know it will be very sad work, but it will be much better to have it out and done with, instead of having it on your mind when she comes home.' lKV7IoJ&;  
'Shall you tell her!' ET\rd5Po  
'Yes, certainly,' said the aunt, well knowing that this would clench the matter. 'But I shall tell her how sorry you are, and that I really think you did not quite understand what you were about at first. And I shall write to Miss White, and try to comfort her about her sister.' fn Pej?f:  
'You won't say I told!' #* Iyvx  
'Oh no; but I shall have quite reason enough for writing in telling her that I am sorry my little niece led her sister into crooked paths.' sdXZsQw  
Gillian knew that this letter was written and sent, and it did not make her more eager for a meeting with Kalliope. So that she was not sorry that the weather was a valid hindrance, though a few weeks ago she would have disregarded such considerations. Besides, there was her own examination, which for two days was like a fever, and kept her at her little table, thinking of nothing but those questions, and dreaming and waking over them at night. m4RiF  
It was over; and she was counselled on all sides to think no more about it till she should hear of success or failure. But this was easier said than done, and she was left in her tired state with a general sense of being on a wrong tack, and of going on amiss, whether due to her aunt's want of assimilation to herself, or to her mother's absence, she did not know, and with the further sense that she had not been the motherly sister she had figured to herself, but that both the children should show a greater trust and reliance on Aunt Jane than on herself grieved her, not exactly with jealousy, but with sense of failure and dissatisfaction with herself. She had a universal distaste to her surroundings, and something very like dread of the Whites, and she rejoiced in the prospect of quitting Rockstone for the present. 7!^Zsp^+  
She felt bound to run down to the office to wish Kalliope good-bye. There she found an accumulation of exercises and translations waiting for her. . /~#  
'Oh, what a quantity! It shows how long it is since I have been here.' h?`'%m?_b  
coFQu ; i  
'And indeed,' began Kalliope, 'since your aunt has been so very kind about poor little Maura---' 2v9T&xo=  
'Oh, please don't talk to me! There's such a lot to do, and I have no time. Wait till I have done.' Z>+Tzvfud  
And she nervously began reading out the Greek exercise, so as effectually to stop Kalliope's mouth. Moreover, either her own uneasy mind, or the difficulty of the Greek, brought her into a dilemma. She saw that Alexis's phrase was wrong, but she did not clearly perceive what the sentence ought to be, and she perplexed herself over it till he came in, whether to her satisfaction or not she could not have told, for she had not wanted to see him on the one hand, though, on the other, it silenced Kalliope. AJ`R2 $  
She tried to clear her perceptions by explanations to him, but he did not seem to give his mind to the grammar half as much as to the cessation of the lessons and her absence. &InMI#0mV  
'You must do the best you can,' she said, 'and I shall find you gone quite beyond me.' ?\l@k(w4[x  
k7\h- yn{  
'I shall never do that, Miss Merrifield.' e"sz jY~V  
'Nonsense!' she said, laughing uncomfortably 'a pretty clergyman you would be if you could not pass a girl. There! good-bye. Make a list of your puzzles and I will do my best with them when I come back.' 4;*o}E  
'Thank you,' and he wrung her hand with an earnestness that gave her a sense of uneasiness. D3^Yc:[_@  

只看该作者 11楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XI. Lady Merrifield's Christmas Letter-Bag   fq,LXQ#G  
(PRIMROSE.) Ef~Ar@4fA  
'MY DEAR MAMMA---I wish you a merry Christmas, and papa and sisters and Claude too. I only hooped once to-day, and Nurse says I may go out when it gets fine. Fly is better. She sent me her dolls' house in a big box in a cart, and Mysie sent a new frock of her own making for Liliana, and Uncle William gave me a lovely doll, with waxen arms and legs, that shuts her eyes and squeals, and says Mamma; but I do not want anything but my own dear mamma, and all the rest. I am mamma's own little PRIMROSE.' ?%A9}"q]  
(FERGUS.) >r\q6f#J4  
'COALHAM. = glF6a  
'MY DEAR MAMMA---I wish you and papa, and all, a happy Crismas, and I send a plan of the great coal mine for a card. It is much jollier here than at Rockquay, for it is all black with cinders, and there are little fires all night, and there are lots of oars and oxhide and fossils and ferns and real curiozitys, and nobody minds noises nor muddy boots, and they aren't at one to wash your hands, for they can't be clean ever; and there was a real row in the street last night just outside. We are to go down a mine some day when Cousin David has time. I mean to be a great jeologist and get lots of specimens, and please bring me home all the minerals in Ceylon. Harry gave me a hammer.---I am, your affectionate son, [,3E#+y  
(VALETTA.) g6+5uvpd  
'MY DEAREST MAMMA---I hope you will like my card. Aunt Ada did none of it, only showed me how, and Aunt Jane says I may tell you I am really trying to be good. I am helping her gild fir-cones for a Christmas-tree for the quire, and they will sing carols. Macrae brought some for us the day before yesterday, and a famous lot of holly and ivy and mistletoe and flowers, and three turkeys and some hams and pheasants and partridges. Aunt Jane sent the biggest turkey and ham in a basket covered up with holly to Mrs. White, and another to Mrs. Hablot, and they are doing the church with the holly and ivy. We are to eat the other the day after to-morrow, and Mr. Grant and Miss Burne, who teaches the youngest form, are coming. It was only cold beef to-day, to let Mrs. Mount go to church; but we had mince pies, and I am going to Kitty's Christmas party to-morrow, and we shall dance---so Aunt Ada has given me a new white frock and a lovely Roman sash of her own. Poor old Mrs. Vincent is dead, and Fergus's great black rabbit, and poor little Mary Brown with dip---(blot). I can't spell it, and nobody is here to tell me how, but the thing in people's throats, and poor Anne has got it, and Dr. Ellis says it was a mercy we were all away from home, for we should have had it too, and that would have been ever so much worse than the whooping-cough. GZHJ 4|DK  
'I have lots of cards, but my presents are waiting for my birthday, when Maura is to come to tea. It is much nicer than I thought the holidays would be. Maura White has got the prize for French and Latin. It is a lovely Shakespeare. I wish I had been good, for I think I should have got it. Only she does want more help than I do--- so perhaps it is lucky I did not. No, I don't mean lucky either.--- Your affectionate little daughter, KfPgj  
VAL.' !, rF(pz  
(WILFRED.) l<ZHS'-;8  
'DEAR MOTHER---Fergus is such a little ape that he will send you that disgusting coal mine on his card, as if you would care for it. I know you will like mine much better---that old buffer skating into a hole in the ice. I don't mind being here, for though Harry and Davy get up frightfully early to go to church, they don't want us down till they come back, and we can have fun all day, except when Harry screws me down to my holiday task, which is a disgusting one, about the Wars of the Roses. Harry does look so rum now that he is got up for a parson that we did not know him when he met us at the station. There was an awful row outside here last night between two sets of Waits. David went out and parted them, and I thought he would have got a black eye. All the choir had supper here, for there was a service in the middle of the night; but they did not want us at it, and on Tuesday we are to have a Christmas ship, and a magic-lantern, and Rollo and Mr. Bowater are coming to help---he is the clergyman at the next place---and no end of fun, and the biggest dog you ever saw. Fergus has got one of his crazes worse than ever about old stones, and is always in the coal hole, poking after ferns and things. Wishing you a merry Christmas.---Your affectionate son, v |pHbX  
(MYSIE.) Z7?\ >4V  
A,7* 52U  
'ROTHERWOOD, Christmas Day. EYn9l n_]u  
'MY OWN DEAREST MAMMA---A very happy Christmas to you, and papa and Claude and my sisters, and here are the cards, which Miss Elbury helped me about so kindly that I think they are better than usual: I mean that she advised me, for no one touched them but myself. You will like your text, I hope, I chose it because it is so nice to think we are all one, though we are in so many different places. I did one with the same for poor Dolores in New Zealand. Uncle William was here yesterday, and he said dear little Primrose is almost quite well. Fly is much better to-day; her eyes look quite bright, and she is to sit up a little while in the afternoon, but I may not talk to her for fear of making her cough; but she slept all night without one whoop, and will soon be well now. Cousin Rotherwood was so glad that he was quite funny this morning, and he gave me the loveliest writing-case you ever saw, with a good lock and gold key, and gold tops to everything, and my three M's engraved on them all. I have so many presents and cards that I will write out a list when I have finished my letter. I shall have plenty of time, for everybody is gone to church except Cousin Florence, who went early. '+*'sQvH[  
i nk !>Z  
'I am to dine at the late dinner, which will be early, because of the church singers, and Cousin Rotherwood says he and I will do snapdragon, if I will promise not to whoop. NuXII-  
'4.30.---I had to stop again because of the doctor. He says he does not want to have any more to do with me, and that I may go out the first fine day, and that Fly is much better. And only think! He says Rockquay is the very place for Fly, and as soon as we are not catching, we are all to go there. Cousin Rotherwood told me so for a great secret, but he said I might tell you, and that he would ask Aunt Alethea to let Primrose come too. It does warm one up to think of it, and it is much easier to feel thankful and glad about all the rest of the right sort of Christmas happiness, now I am so near having Gill and Val again.---Your very loving child, D J7U6{KLq  
_n&#e r  
M. M. MERRIFIELD.' ,;f5OUl?[  
(JASPER.) eHR]qy 0_X  
'25th December. e m0 hTxb  
'DEAREST MOTHER---Here are my Christmas wishes that we may all be right again at home this year, and that you could see the brace of pheasants I killed. However, Gill and I are in uncommonly nice quarters. I shall let her tell the long story about who is who, for there is such a swarm of cousins, and uncles, and aunts, and when you think you have hold of the right one, it turns out to be the other lot. There are three houses choke full of them, and more floating about, and all running in and out, till it gets like the little pig that could not be counted, it ran about so fast. They are all Underwood or Harewood, more or less, except the Vanderkists, who are all girls except a little fellow in knickerbockers. Poor little chap, his father was a great man on the turf, and ruined him horse and foot before he was born, and then died of D. T., and his mother is a great invalid, and very badly off, with no end of daughters---the most stunning girls you ever saw---real beauties, and no mistake, especially Emily, who is great fun besides. She is to be Helena when we act Midsummer Night's Dream on Twelfth Night for all the natives, and I am Demetrius, dirty cad that he is! She lives with the Grinsteads, and Anna with the Travis Underwoods, Phyllis's young man's bosses. If he makes as good a thing of it as they have done, she will be no end of a swell. Mr. Travis Underwood has brought down his hunters and gives me a mount. Claude would go stark staring mad to see his Campeador. &Yc'X+'4  
Dln1 R[  
'They are awfully musical here, and are always at carols or something, and that's the only thing against them. As to Gill, she is in clover, in raptures with every one, especially Mrs. Grinstead, and I think it is doing her good.---Your affectionate son, nMfR< %r  
J. R. M.' oP%5ymL%J  
(GILLIAN.) PnInsf%;  
gj @9(dk%  
'DEAREST MAMMA---All Christmas love, and a message to Phyllis that I almost forgive her desertion for the sake of the set of connections she has brought us, like the nearest and dearest relations or more, but Geraldine---for so she told me to call her---is still the choicest of all. It is so pretty to see her husband---the great sculptor---wait on her, as if she was a queen and he her knight! Anna told me that he had been in love with her ever so long, and she refused him once; but after the eldest brother died, and she was living at St. Wulstan's, he tried again, and she could not hold out. I told you of her charming house, so full of lovely things, and about Gerald, all cleverness and spirit, but too delicate for a public school. He is such a contrast to Edward Harewood, a great sturdy, red-haired fellow, who is always about with Jasper, except when he---Japs, I mean---is with Emily Vanderkist. She is the prettiest of the Vanderkists. There are eight of them besides little Sir Adrian. Mary always stays to look after her mother, who is in very bad health, and has weak eyes. They call Mary invaluable and so very good, but she is like a homely little Dutchwoman, and nobody would think she was only twenty. Sophy, the next to her, calls herself pupil-teacher to Mrs. William Harewood, and together they manage the schoolroom for all the younger sisters the two little girls at the Vicarage, and Wilmet, the only girl here at the Priory; but, of course, no lessons are going on now, only learning and rehearsing the parts, and making the dresses, painting the scenes, and learning songs. They all do care so much about music here that I find I really know hardly anything about it, and Jasper says it is their only failing. zQ{bMj<S  
'They say Mr. Lancelot Underwood sings and plays better than any of them; but he is at Stoneborough. However, he is coming over with all the Mays for our play, old Dr. May and all. I was very much surprised to find he was an organist and a bookseller, but Geraldine told me about it, and how it was for the sake of the eldest brother--- "my brother," they all say; and somehow it seems as if the house was still his, though it is so many years since he died. And yet they are all such happy, merry people. I wish I could let you know how delightful it all is. Sometimes I feel as if I did not deserve to have such a pleasant time. I can't quite explain, but to be with Geraldine Grinstead makes one feel one's self to be of a ruder, more selfish mould, and I know I have not been all I ought to be at Rockstone; but I don't mind telling you, now you are so soon to be at home, Aunt Jane seems to worry me---I can't tell how, exactly---while there is something about Geraldine that soothes and brightens, and all the time makes one long to be better. ^U5N!"6R  
'I never heard such sermons as Mr. Harewood's either; it seems as if I had never listened before, but these go right down into one. I cannot leave off thinking about the one last Sunday, about "making manifest the counsels of all hearts." I see now that I was not as much justified in not consulting Aunt Jane about Kalliope and Alexis as I thought I was, and that the concealment was wrong. It came over me before the beautiful early Celebration this morning, and I could not feel as if I ought to be there till I had made a resolution to tell her all about it, though I should like it not to be till you are come home, and can tell her that I am not really like Dolores, as she will be sure to think me, for I really did it, not out of silliness and opposition, but because I knew how good they were, and I did tell you. Honestly, perhaps there was some opposition in the spirit of it; but I mean to make a fresh start when I come back, and you will be near at hand then, and that will help me. dGOFSH  
N7lg6$s Aj  
'26th.---The afternoon service of song began and I was called off. I never heard anything so lovely, and we had a delightful evening. I can't tell you about it now, for I am snatching a moment when I am not rehearsing, as this must go to-day. Dr. and Miss May, and the Lances, as they call them, are just come. The Doctor is a beautiful old man. All the children were round him directly, and he kissed me, and said that he was proud to meet the daughter of such a distinguished man. qqZ4K:oC,  
'This must go.---Your loving daughter, #Ko I8U"  
(HARRY.) o9| OL  
'COALHAM, Christmas Day. p9G+la~;VM  
'It is nearly St. Stephen's Day, for, dear mother, I have not had a minute before to send you or my father my Christmas greeting. We have had most joyous services, unusually well attended, David tells me, and that makes up for the demonstration we had outside the door last night. David is the right fellow for this place, though we are disapproved of as south country folk. The boys are well and amused, Wilfred much more comfortable for being treated more as a man, and Fergus greatly come on, and never any trouble, being always dead-set on some pursuit. It is geology, or rather mineralogy, at present, and if he carries home all the stones he has accumulated in the back yard, he will have a tolerable charge for extra luggage. David says there is the making of a great man in him, I think it is of an Uncle Maurice. Macrae writes to me in a state of despair about the drains at Silverfold; scarlet fever and diphtheria abound at the town, so that he says you cannot come back there till something has been done, and he wants me to come and look at them; but I do not see how I can leave David at present, as we are in the thick of classes for Baptism and Confirmation in Lent, and I suspect Aunt Jane knows more about the matter than I do. uIO?4\s&G  
'Gillian and Jasper seem to be in a state of great felicity at Vale Leston---and Mysie getting better, but poor little Phyllis Devereux has been seriously ill.---Your affectionate son, c"CR_  
'11.30, Christmas Eve. _$}@hD*R~  
h9. Yux  
'MY DEAREST LILY---This will be a joint letter, for Ada will finish it to-morrow, and I must make the most of my time while waiting for the Waits to dwell on unsavoury business. Macrae came over here with a convoy of all sorts of "delicacies of the season," for which thank you heartily in the name of Whites, Hablots, and others who partook thereof, according, no doubt, to your kind intention. He was greatly perturbed, poor man, for your cook has been very ill with diphtheria, and the scarlet fever is severe all round; there have been some deaths, and the gardener's child was in great danger. The doctor has analysed the water, and finds it in a very bad state, so that your absence this autumn is providential. If you are in haste, telegraph to me, and I will meet your landlord there, and the sanitary inspector, and see what can be done, without waiting for Jasper. At any rate, you cannot go back there at once. Shall I secure a furnished house for you here? The Rotherwoods are coming to the hotel next door to us, as soon as Phyllis is fit to move and infection over. Victoria will stay there with the children, and he go back and forwards. If Harry and Phyllis May should come home, I suppose their headquarters will be at Stoneborough; but still this would be the best place for a family gathering. Moreover, Fergus gets on very nicely at Mrs. Edgar's, and it would be a pity to disturb him. On the other hand, I am not sure of the influences of the place upon the--- RHt~:D3*  
'Christmas Day, 3 P.M.---There came the Waits I suppose, and Jane had to stop and leave me to take up the thread. Poor dear Jenny, the festival days are no days of rest to her, but I am not sure that she would enjoy repose, or that it would not be the worse possible penance to her. She is gone down now to the workhouse with Valetta to take cards and tea and tobacco to the old people, not sending them, because she says a few personal wishes and the sight of a bright child will be worth something to the old bodies. Then comes tea for the choir-boys, before Evensong and carols, and after that my turn may come for what remains of the evening. I must say the church is lovely, thanks to your arums and camellias, which Macrae brought us just in time. It is very unfortunate that Silverfold should be in such a state, but delightful for us if it sends you here; and this brings me to Jenny's broken thread, which I must spin on, though I tell her to take warning by you, when you so repented having brought Maurice home by premature wails about Dolores. Perhaps impatience is a danger to all of us, and I believe there is such a thing as over- candour. 73E[O5?b  
'What Jane was going to say was that she did not think the place had been good for either of the girls; but all that would be obviated by your presence. If poor Miss Vincent joins you, now that she is free, you would have your own schoolroom again, and the locality would not make much difference. Indeed, if the Rotherwood party come by the end of the holidays, I have very little doubt that Victoria will allow Valetta to join Phyllis and Mysie in the schoolroom, and that would prevent any talk about her removal from the High School. The poor little thing has behaved as well as possible ever since, and is an excellent companion; Jane is sure that it has been a lesson that will last her for life, and I am convinced that she was under an influence that you can put an end to---I mean that White family. Jane thinks well of the eldest daughter, in spite of her fringe and of her refusal to enter the G.F.S.; but I have good reason for knowing that she holds assignations in Mr. White's garden on Sunday afternoons with young Stebbing, whose mother knows her to be a most artful and dangerous girl, though she is so clever at the mosaic work that there is no getting her discharged. Mrs. Stebbing called to warn us against her, and, as I was the only person at home, told me how she had learnt from Mr. White's housekeeper that this girl comes every Sunday alone to walk in the gardens---she was sure it must be to meet somebody, and they are quite accessible to an active young man on the side towards the sea. He is going in a few days to join the other partner at the Italian quarries, greatly in order that the connection may be broken off. It is very odd that Jane, generally so acute, should be so blind here. All she said was, "That's just the time Gillian is so bent on mooning in the garden." It is a mere absurdity; Gillian always goes to the children's service, and besides, she was absent last Sunday, when Miss White was certainly there. But Gillian lends the girl books, and altogether patronises her in a manner which is somewhat perplexing to us; though, as it cannot last long, Jane thinks it better not to interfere before your return to judge for yourself. These young people are members of the Kennel Church congregation, and I had an opportunity of talking to Mr. Flight about them. He says he had a high opinion of the brother, and hoped to help him to some higher education, with a view perhaps to Holy Orders; but that it was so clearly the youth's duty to support his mother, and it was so impossible for her to get on without his earnings, that he (Mr. Flight, I mean) had decided to let him alone that his stability might be proved, or till some opening offered; and of late there had been reason for disappointment, tokens of being unsettled, and reports of meetings with some young woman at his sister's office. It is always the way when one tries to be interested in those half-and-half people,---the essential vulgarity is sure to break out, generally in the spirit of flirtation conducted in an underhand manner. And oh! that mother! I write all this because you had better be aware of the state of things before your return. I am afraid, however, that between us we have not written you a very cheering Christmas letter.  f(*^zga,  
'There is a great question about a supply of water to the town. Much excitement is caused by the expectation of Rotherwood's visit, and it is even said that he is to be met here by the great White himself, whom I have always regarded as a sort of mythical personage, not to say a harpy, always snatching away every promising family of Jane's to the Italian quarries. .uu[MzMIu  
'You will have parted with the dear girls by this time, and be feeling very sad and solitary; but it is altogether a good connection, and a great advantage. I have just addressed to Gillian, at Vale Leston, a coroneted envelope, which must be an invitation from Lady Liddesdale. I am very glad of it. Nothing is so likely as such society to raise her above the tone of these Whites.---Your loving H|*Ual  
A. M.' %$ CV?K$C  
'10.30 P.M.--These Whites! Really I don't think it as bad as Ada supposes, so don't be uneasy, though it is a pity she has told you so much of the gossip respecting them. I do not believe any harm of that girl Kalliope; she has such an honest, modest pair of eyes. I dare say she is persecuted by that young Stebbing, for she is very handsome, and he is an odious puppy. But as to her assignations in the garden, if they are with any one, it is with Gillian, and I see no harm in them, except that we might have been told---only that would have robbed the entire story of its flavour, I suppose. Besides, I greatly disbelieve the entire story, so don't be worried about it! There---as if we had not been doing our best to worry you! But come home, dearest old Lily. Gather your chicks under your wing, and when you cluck them together again, all will be well. I don't think you will find Valetta disimproved by her crisis. It is curious to hear how she and Gillian both declare that Mysie would have prevented it, as if naughtiness or deceit shrank from that child's very face. @Z2^smf  
'It has been a very happy, successful Christmas Day, full of rejoicing. May you be feeling the same; that joy has made us one in many a time of separation.---Your faithful old Brownie, Aa4 DJ  
J. MOHUN.' # 1 1<=3Yj  
089v; d 6  
'ROWTHORPE, 20th January. a"l\_D'.K8  
'DEAREST MAMMA---This is a Sunday letter. I am writing it in a beautiful place, more like a drawing-room than a bed-room, and it is all very grand; such long galleries, such quantities of servants, so many people staying in the house, that I should feel quite lost but for Geraldine. We came so late last night that there was only just time to dress for dinner at eight o'clock. I never dined with so many people before, and they are all staying in the house. I have not learnt half of them yet, though Lady Liddesdale, who is a nice, merry old lady, with gray hair, called her eldest granddaughter, Kitty Somerville, and told her to take care of me, and tell me who they all were. One of them is that Lord Ormersfield, whom Mysie ran against at Rotherwood, and, do you know, I very nearly did the same; for there is early Celebration at the little church just across the garden. Kitty talked of calling for me, but I did not make sure, because I heard some one say she was not to go if she had a cold; and, when I heard the bell, I grew anxious and started off, and I lost my way, and thought I should never get to the stairs; but just as I was turning back, out came Lord and Lady Ormersfield. He looks quite young, though he is rather lame---I shall like all lame people, for the sake of Geraldine---and Lady Ormersfield has such a motherly face. He laughed, and said I was not the first person who had lost my way in the labyrinths of passages, so I went on with them, and after all Kitty was hunting for me! I sat next him at breakfast, and, do you know, he asked me whether I was the sister of a little downright damsel he met at Rotherwood two years ago, and said he had used her truthfulness about the umbrella for a favourite example to his small youngest! [RY Rt/?Q  
'When I hear of truthfulness I feel a sort of shock. "Oh, if you knew!" I am ready to say, and I grow quite hot. That is what I am really writing about to-day. I never had time after that Christmas Day at Vale Leston to do more than keep you up to all the doings; but I did think: and there were Mr. Harewood's sermons, which had a real sting in them, and a great sweetness besides. I have tried to set some down for you, and that is one reason I did not say more. But to-day, after luncheon, it is very quiet, for Kitty and Constance are gone to their Sunday classes, and the gentlemen and boys are out walking, except Lord Somerville, who has a men's class of his own, and all the old ladies are either in their rooms, or talking in pairs. So I can tell you that I see now that I did not go on in a right spirit with Aunt Jane, and that I did poor Val harm by my example, and went very near deception, for I did not choose to believe that when you said "If Aunt J. approves," you meant about Alexis White's lessons; so I never told her or Kalliope, and I perceive now that it was not right towards either; for Kally was very unhappy about her not knowing. I am very sorry; I see that I was wrong all round, and that I should have understood it before, if I had examined myself in the way Mr. Harewood dwelt upon in his last Sunday in Advent sermon, and never gone on in such a way. slhMvHOk-  
; O(Ml}z  
'I am not going to wait for you now, but shall confess it all to Aunt Jane as soon as I go home, and try to take it as my punishment if she asks a terrible number of questions. Perhaps I shall write it, but it would take such a quantity of explanation, and I don't want Aunt Ada to open the letter, as she does any that come while Aunt Jane is out. :U *8S\$  
'Please kiss my words and forgive me, as you read this, dear mamma; I never guessed I was going to be so like Dolores. F'sX ^/;  
@/ |g|4  
'Kitty has come to my door to ask if I should like to come and read something nice and Sundayish with them in her grandmamma's dressing- room.---So no more from your loving fP5i3[T  

只看该作者 12楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XII. Transformation   7mMGH(  
'Well, now for the second stage of our guardianship!' said Aunt Ada, as the two sisters sat over the fire after Valetta had gone to bed. 'Fergus comes back to-morrow, and Gillian---when?' (y>N\xS9  
'She does not seem quite certain, for there is to be a day or two at Brompton with this delightful Geraldine, so that she may see her grandmother---also Mr. Clement Underwood's church, and the Merchant of Venice---an odd mixture of ecclesiastics and dissipations.' _oc6=Z  
'I wonder whether she will be set up by it.' _0Ea 3K  
'So do I! They are all remarkably good people; but then good people do sometimes spoil the most of all, for they are too unselfish to snub. And on the other hand, seeing the world sometimes has the wholesome effect of making one feel small---' =M-=94  
'My dear Jenny!' 5QK%BiDlr  
'Oh! I did not mean you, who are never easily effaced; but I was thinking of youthful bumptiousness, fostered by country life and elder sistership.' !HU$V9C  
b#N P*L&  
'Certainly, though Valetta is really much improved, Gillian has not been as pleasant as I expected, especially during the latter part of the time.' E8Kk )7  
'Query, was it her fault or mine, or the worry of the examination, or all three?' >F^$ ' b]  
'Perhaps you did superintend a little too much at first. More than modern independence was prepared for, though I should not have expected recalcitration in a young Lily; but I think there was more ruffling of temper and more reserve than I can quite understand.' 'p[6K'Uq5  
'It has not been a success. As dear old Lily would have said, "My dream has vanished," of a friend in the younger generation, and now it remains to do the best I can for her in the few weeks that are left, before we have her dear mother again.' (o6 u ^#6  
#@5 jOi  
'At any rate, you have no cause to be troubled about the other two. Valetta is really the better for her experience, and you have always got on well with the boy.' ~ YZi"u  
WHF:> 0B  
Fergus was the first of the travellers to appear at Rockstone. Miss Mohun, who went to meet him at the station, beheld a small figure lustily pulling at a great canvas bag, which came bumping down the step, assisted by a shove from the other passengers, and threatening for a moment to drag him down between platform and carriages. a. 5`Q2  
'Fergus, Fergus, what have you got there? Give it to me. How heavy!' *AN#D?X_  
'It's a few of my mineralogical specimens,' replied Fergus. 'Harry wouldn't let me put any more into my portmanteau---but the peacock and the dendrum are there.' eK@Y] !lz  
Already, without special regard to peacock or dendrum, whatever that article might be, Miss Mohun was claiming the little old military portmanteau, with a great M and 110th painted on it, that held Fergus's garments. >JMKEHl.q  
He would scarcely endure to deposit the precious bag in the omnibus, and as he walked home his talk was all of tertiary formations, and coal measures, and limestones, as he extracted a hammer from his pocket, and looked perilously disposed to use it on the vein of crystals in a great pink stone in a garden wall. His aunt was obliged to begin by insisting that the walls should be safe from geological investigations.  df'g},_  
'But it is such waste, Aunt Jane. Only think of building up such beautiful specimens in a stupid old wall.' @\?f77Of6  
Aunt Jane did not debate the question of waste, but assured him that equally precious specimens could be honestly come by; while she felt renewed amusement and pleasure at anything so like the brother Maurice of thirty odd years ago being beside her. 8zWPb  
It made her endure the contents of the bag being turned out like a miniature rockery for her inspection on the floor of the glazed verandah outside the drawing-room, and also try to pacify Mrs. Mount's indignation at finding the more valuable specimens, or, as she called them, 'nasty stones' and bits of dirty coal, within his socks. 4ZpF1Zc4B  
}AZx/[k |z  
Much more information as to mines, coal, or copper, was to be gained from him than as to Cousin David, or Harry, or Jasper, who had spent the last ten days of his holidays at Coalham, which had procured for Fergus the felicity of a second underground expedition. It was left to his maturer judgment and the next move to decide how many of his specimens were absolutely worthless; it was only stipulated that he and Valetta should carry them, all and sundry, up to the lumber-room, and there arrange them as he chose;---Aunt Jane routing out for him a very dull little manual of mineralogy, and likewise a book of Maria Hack's, long since out of print, but wherein 'Harry Beaufoy' is instructed in the chief outlines of geology in a manner only perhaps inferior to that of "Madame How and Lady Why," which she reserved for a birthday present. Meantime Rockstone and its quarries were almost as excellent a field of research as the mines of Coalham, and in a different line. 9~%]|_(  
'How much nicer it is to be a boy than a girl!' sighed Valetta, as she beheld her junior marching off with all the dignity of hammer and knapsack to look up Alexis White and obtain access to the heaps of rubbish, which in his eyes held as infinite possibilities as the diamond fields of Kimberley. And Alexis was only delighted to bestow on him any space of daylight when both were free from school or from work, and kept a look-out for the treasures he desired. Of course, out of gratitude to his parents---or was it out of gratitude to his sister? Perhaps Fergus could have told, if he had paid the slightest attention to such a trifle, how anxiously Alexis inquired when Miss Gillian was expected to return. Moreover, he might have told that his other model, Stebbing, pronounced old Dick White a beast and a screw, with whom his brother Frank was not going to stop. ) wo2GF  
= EChH@3  
Gillian came back a fortnight later, having been kept at Rowthorpe, together with Mrs. Grinstead, for a family festival over the double marriage in Ceylon, after which she spent a few days in London, so as to see her grandmother, Mrs. Merrifield, who was too infirm for an actual visit to be welcome, since her attendant grandchild, Bessie Merrifield, was so entirely occupied with her as to have no time to bestow upon a guest of more than an hour or two. Gillian was met at the station by her aunt, and when all her belongings had been duly extracted, proving a good deal larger in bulk than when she had left Rockstone, and both were seated in the fly to drive home through a dismal February Fill-dyke day, the first words that were spoken were, ,dj* p ,J  
Gz[ym j)5  
'Aunt Jane, I ought to tell you something.' 0n<(*bfW  
Hastily revolving conjectures as to the subject of the coming confession, Miss Mohun put herself at her niece's service. Yt/SnF  
'Aunt Jane, I know I ought to have told you how much I was seeing of the Whites last autumn.' N ;Z`%&  
'Indeed, I know you wished to do what you could for them.' G3RrjWtO  
'Yes,' said Gillian, finding it easier than she expected. 'You know Alexis wants very much to be prepared for Holy Orders, and he could not get on by himself, so I have been running down to Kalliope's office after reading to Lily Giles, to look over his Greek exercises.' I3Lg?bZ  
'Meeting him?'  cp$.,V  
'Only sometimes. But Kally did not like it. She said you ought to know, and that was the reason she would not come into the G.F.S. She is so good and honourable, Aunt Jane.' hGvqT,'  
'I am sure she is a very excellent girl,' said Aunt Jane warmly. 'But certainly it would have been better to have these lessons in our house. Does your mother know?' VgA48qZ  
S 6GMUaR  
'Yes,' said Gillian, 'I wrote to her all I was doing, and how I have been talking to Kally on Sunday afternoons through the rails of Mr. White's garden. I thought she could telegraph if she did not approve, but she does not seem to have noticed it in my letters, only saying something I could not make out--about "if you approved."' D-pX<0 -y  
'And is that the reason you have told me?' s@~/x5jwCs  
'Partly, but I got the letter before the holidays. I think it has worked itself up, Aunt Jane, into a sense that it was not the thing. There was Kally, and there was poor Valetta's mess, and her justifying herself by saying I did more for the Whites than you knew, and altogether, I grew sorry I had begun it, for I was sure it was not acting honestly towards you, Aunt Jane, and I hope you will forgive me.' SF< [FM%1  
Miss Mohun put her arm round the girl and kissed her heartily. #ElejQ|?  
'My dear Gill, I am glad you have told me! I dare say I seemed to worry you, and that you felt as if you were watched; I will do my very best to help you, if you have got into a scrape. I only want to ask you not to do anything more till I can see Kally, and settle with her the most suitable way of helping the youth.' @!\K>G >9[  
But do you think there is a scrape, aunt? I never thought of that, if you forgave me.' s#^pC*,'  
'My dear, I see you did not; and that you told me because you are my Lily's daughter, and have her honest heart. I do not know that there is anything amiss, but I am afraid young ladies can't do---well, impulsive things without a few vexations in consequence. Don't be so dismayed, I don't know of anything, and I cannot tell you how glad I am of your having spoken out in this way.' (@&I_>2Q  
9 5 H?{  
'I feel as if a load were off my back!' said Gillian. *Bw#c j  
"!q?P" @C  
And a bar between her and her aunt seemed to have vanished, as they drove up the now familiar slope, and under the leafless copper beeches. Blood is thinker than water, and what five months ago had seemed to be exile, had become the first step towards home, if not home itself, for now, like Valetta, she welcomed the sound of her mother's voice in her aunt's. And there were Valetta and Fergus rushing out, almost under the wheels to fly at her, and Aunt Ada's soft embraces in the hall. d=F-L  
oVkr3K Z  
The first voice that came out of the melee was Valetta's. 'Gill is grown quite a lady!' ,!>fmU`E4  
'How much improved!' exclaimed Aunt Ada. <E}N=J'uJ  
'The Bachfisch has swum into the river,' was Aunt Jane's comment. ^j iE9k)  
'She'll never be good for anything jolly---no scrambling!' grumbled Fergus. a7 =YG6[  
'Now Fergus! didn't Kitty Somerville and I scramble when we found the gate locked, and thought we saw the spiteful stag, and that he was going to run at us?' |C4o zl=O?  
3jS7 uU  
'I'm afraid that was rather on compulsion, Gill.' !9PX\Xbn  
<347 C{q  
'It wasn't the spiteful stag after all, but we had such a long way to come home, and got over the park wall at last by the help of the limb of a tree. We had been taking a bit of wedding-cake to Frank Somerville's old nurse, and Kitty told her I was her maiden aunt, and we had such fun---her uncle's wife's sister, you know.' M.X}K7Z_/  
V, E9Uds  
'We sent a great piece of our wedding-cake to the Whites,' put in Valetta. 'Fergus and I took it on Saturday afternoon, but nobody was at home but Mrs. White, and she is fatter than ever.'  PE^eP}O1  
'I say, Gill, which is the best formation, Vale Leston or Rowthorpe?' Iq^~  
'Oh, nobody is equal to Geraldine; but Kitty is a dear thing.' :DS2zA  
@m !9"QhC  
'I didn't mean that stuff, but which had the best strata and specimens ?' /-G qG)PX  
'Geological, he means---not of society,' interposed Aunt Jane. WIH4Aw  
'Oh yes! Harry said he had gone geology mad, and I really did get you a bit of something at Vale Leston, Fergus, that Mr. Harewood said was worth having. Was it an encrinite? I know it was a stone-lily.' 0]2B-o"kI  
J.1ln = Y  
'An encrinite! Oh, scrumptious!' ) R a/  
Then ensued such an unpacking as only falls to the lot of home-comers from London, within the later precincts of Christmas, gifts of marvellous contrivance and novelty, as well as cheapness, for all and sundry, those reserved for others almost as charming to the beholders as those which fell to their own lot. The box, divided into compartments, transported Fergus as much as the encrinite; Valetta had a photograph-book, and, more diffidently, Gillian presented Aunt Ada with a graceful little statuette in Parian, and Aunt Jane with the last novelty in baskets. There were appropriate keepsakes for the maids, and likewise for Kalliope and Maura. Aunt Jane was glad to see that discretion had prevailed so as to confine these gifts to the female part of the White family. There were other precious articles in reserve for the absent; and the display of Gillian's own garments was not without interest, as she had been to her first ball, under the chaperonage of Lady Somerville, and Mrs. Grinstead had made her white tarletan available by painting it and its ribbons with exquisite blue nemophilas, too lovely for anything so fleeting. "/K&qj  
Mrs. Grinstead and her maid had taken charge of the damsel's toilette at Rowthorpe, had perhaps touched up her dresses, and had certainly taught her how to put them on, and how to manage her hair, so that though it had not broken out into fringes or tousles, as if it were desirable to imitate savages 'with foreheads marvellous low,' the effect was greatly improved. The young brown-skinned, dark-eyed face, and rather tall figure were the same, even the clothes the very same chosen under her aunt Ada's superintendence, but there was an indescribable change, not so much that of fashion as of distinction, and something of the same inward growth might be gathered from her conversation. J)yy}[Fx  
[oN> :  
All the evening there was a delightful outpouring. Gillian had been extremely happy, and considerably reconciled to her sisters' marriages; but she had been away from home and kin long enough to make her feel her nearness to her aunts, and to appreciate the pleasure of describing her enjoyment without restraint, and of being with those whose personal family interests were her own, not only sympathetic, like her dear Geraldine's. They were ready for any amount of description, though, on the whole, Miss Mohun preferred to hear of the Vale Leston charities and church details, and Miss Adeline of the Rowthorpe grandees and gaieties, after the children had supped full of the diversions of their own kind at both places, and the deeply interesting political scraps and descriptions of great men had been given. ].f,3it g&  
It had been, said Aunt Jane, a bit of education. Gillian had indeed spent her life with thoughtful, cultivated, and superior people; but the circumstances of her family had confined her to a schoolroom sort of existence ever since she had reached appreciative years, retarding, though not perhaps injuring, her development; nor did Rockquay society afford much that was elevating, beyond the Bureau de Charite that Beechcroft Cottage had become. Details were so much in hand that breadth of principle might be obscured. 3N*C]  
At Vale Leston, however, there was a strong ecclesiastical atmosphere; but while practical parish detail was thoroughly kept up, there was a wider outlook, and constant conversation and discussion among superior men, such as the Harewood brothers, Lancelot Underwood, Mr. Grinstead, and Dr. May, on the great principles and issues of Church and State matters, religion, and morals, together with matters of art, music, and literature, opening new vistas to her, and which she could afterwards go over with Mrs. Grinstead and Emily and Anna Vanderkist with enthusiasm and comprehension. It was something different from grumbling over the number of candles at St. Kenelm's, or the defective washing of the St. Andrew's surplices. 5N+(Gv[`"  
At Rowthorpe she had seen and heard people with great historic names, champions in the actual battle. There had been a constant coming and going of guests during her three weeks' visit, political meetings, entertainments to high and low, the opening of a public institute in the next town, the exhibition of tableaux in which she had an important share, parties in the evenings, and her first ball. The length of her visit and her connection with the family had made her share the part of hostess with Lady Constance and Lady Katharine Somerville, and she had been closely associated with their intimates, the daughters of these men of great names. Of course there had been plenty of girlish chatter and merry trifling, perhaps some sharp satirical criticism, and the revelations she had heard had been a good deal of the domestic comedy of political and aristocratic life; but throughout there had been a view of conscientious goodness, for the young girls who gave a tone to the rest had been carefully brought up, and were earnest and right-minded, accepting representation, gaiety, and hospitality as part of the duty of their position, often involving self-denial, though there was likewise plenty of enjoyment. Tm.w+@  
Such glimpses of life had taught Gillian more than she yet realised. As has been seen, the atmosphere of Vale Leston had deepened her spiritual life, and the sermons had touched her heart to the quick, and caused self-examination, which had revealed to her the secret of her dissatisfaction with herself, and her perception was the clearer through her intercourse on entirely equal terms with persons of a high tone of refinement. 2;r^~:  
The immediate fret of sense of supervision and opposition being removed, she had seen things more justly, and a distaste had grown on her for stolen expeditions to the office, and for the corrections of her pupil's exercises. She recoiled from the idea that this was the consequence either of having swell friends, or of getting out of her depth in her instructions; but reluctance recurred, while advance in knowledge of the world made her aware that Alexis White, after hours, in his sister's office, might justly be regarded by her mother and aunts as an undesirable scholar for her, and that his sister's remonstrances ought not to have been scouted. She had done the thing in her simplicity, but it was through her own wilful secretiveness that her ignorance had not been guarded. .W:], 5e  
Thus she had, as a matter of truth, conscience, and repentance, made the confession which had been so kindly received as to warm her heart with gratitude to her aunt, and she awoke the next morning to feel freer, happier, and more at home than she had ever yet done at Rockstone. :g_ +{4  
x$sQ .aT  
When the morning letters were opened, they contained the startling news that Mysie might be expected that very evening, with Fly, the governess, and Lady Rotherwood,---at least that was the order of precedence in which the party represented itself to the minds of the young Merrifields. Primrose had caught a fresh cold, and her uncle and aunt would not part with her till her mother's return, but the infection was over with the other two, and sea air was recommended as soon as possible for Lady Phyllis; so, as the wing of the hotel, which was almost a mansion in itself, had been already engaged, the journey was to be made at once, and the arrival would take place in the afternoon. The tidings were most rapturously received; Valetta jumped on and off all the chairs in the room unchidden, while Fergus shouted, 'Hurrah for Mysie and Fly!' and Gillian's heart felt free to leap. Joj8'  
This made it a very busy day, since Lady Rotherwood had begged to have some commissions executed for her beforehand, small in themselves, but, with a scrupulously thorough person, occupying all the time left from other needful engagements; so that there was no chance of the promised conversation with Kalliope, nor did Gillian trouble herself much about it in her eagerness, and hardly heard Fergus announce that Frank Stebbing had come home, and the old boss was coming, 'bad luck to him.' M?o`tWLhF  
All the three young people were greatly disappointed that their aunts would not consent to their being on the platform nor in front of the hotel, nor even in what its mistress termed the reception-room, to meet the travellers. ;Ba f&xK  
'There was nothing Lady Rotherwood would dislike more than a rush of you all,' said Aunt Adeline, and they had to submit, though Valetta nearly cried when she was dragged in from demonstratively watching at the gate in a Scotch mist. +VJl#sc/;  
However, in about a quarter of an hour there was a ring at the door, and in another moment Mysie and Gillian were hugging one smother, Valetta hanging round Mysie's neck, Fergus pulling down her arm. The four creatures seemed all wreathed into one like fabulous snakes for some seconds, and when they unfolded enough for Mysie to recollect and kiss her aunts, there certainly was a taller, better-equipped figure, but just the same round, good-humoured countenance, and the first thing, beyond happy ejaculations, that she was heard in a dutiful voice to say was, 'Miss Elbury brought me to the door. I may stay as long as my aunts like to have me this evening, if you will be so kind as to send some one to see me back.' J%nJO3,  
Great was the jubilation, and many the inquiries after Primrose, who had once been nearly well, but had fallen back again, and Fly, who, Mysie said, was quite well and as comical as ever when she was well, but quickly tired. She had set out in high spirits, but had been dreadfully weary all the latter part of the journey, and was to go to bed at once. She still coughed, but Mysie was bent on disproving Nurse Halfpenny's assurance that the recovery would not be complete till May, nor was there any doubt of her own air of perfect health. 0\.y0 K8  
It was an evening of felicitous chatter, of showing off Christmas cards, of exchanging of news, of building of schemes, the most prominent being that Valetta should be in the constant companionship of Mysie and Fly until her own schoolroom should be re-established. This had been proposed by Lord Rotherwood, and was what the aunts would have found convenient; but apparently this had been settled by Lord Rotherwood and the two little girls, but Lady Rotherwood had not said anything about it, and quoth Mysie, 'Somehow things don't happen till Lady Rotherwood settles them, and then they always do.' TMGZHOAt  
'And shall I like Miss Elbury?' asked Valetta. H2[ S]`?  
'Yes, if---if you take pains,' said Mysie; 'but you mustn't bother her with questions in the middle of a lesson, or she tells you not to chatter. She likes to have them all kept for the end; and then, if they aren't foolish, she will take lots of trouble.' d 6j'[  
'Oh, I hate that!' said Valetta. 'I shouldn't remember them, and I like to have done with it. Then she is not like Miss Vincent?' S{XV{o  
'Oh no! She couldn't be dear Miss Vincent; but, indeed, she is very kind and nice.' ROw9l!YF  
'How did you get on altogether, Mysie! Wasn't it horrid?' asked Gillian. KjFNb;mM  
'I was afraid it was going to be horrid,' said Mysie. 'You see, it wasn't like going in holiday time as it was before. We had to be almost always in the schoolroom; and there were lots of lessons---more for me than Fly.' WPLM*]6  
'Just like a horrid old governess to slake her thirst on you,' put in Fergus; and though his aunts shook their heads at him, they did not correct him. 7I.7%m,g  
n- cEa/g  
'And one had to sit bolt upright all the time, and never twist one's ankles,' continued Mysie; 'and not speak except French and German--- good, mind! It wouldn't do to say, "La jambe du table est sur mon exercise?"' 8!e1T,:b  
'Oh, oh! No wonder Fly got ill!' z` b. ~<P  
'Fly didn't mind one bit. French and German come as naturally to her as the days of the week, and they really begin to come to me in the morning now when I see Miss Elbury.' Q$iGpTL  
'But have you to go on all day?' asked Valetta disconsolately. qv3L@"Ub  
'Oh no! Not after one o'clock.' 2!dIW5I  
'And you didn't say that mamma thinks it only leads to slovenly bad grammar!' said Gillian. 1Sz5&jz  
'That would have been impertinent,' said Mysie; 'and no one would have minded either.' >wcsJ {I  
'Did you never play?' J)g(Nw,O  
'We might play after our walk---and after tea; but it had to be quiet play, not real good games, even before Fly was ill---at least we did have some real games when Primrose came over, or when Cousin Rotherwood had us down in his study or in the hall; but Fly got tired, and knocked up very soon even then. Miss Elbury wanted us always to play battledore and shuttlecock, or Les Graces, if we couldn't go out.' CB|z{(&N  
'Horrid woman!' said Valetta. _N<qrH^;  
f 8uVk|a  
'No, she isn't horrid,' said Mysie stoutly; 'I only fancied her so when she used to say, "Vos coudes, mademoiselle," or "Redresses- vous," and when she would not let us whisper; but really and truly she was very, very kind, and I came to like her very much and see she was not cross---only thought it right.' s=KA(4p  
'And redressez-vous has been useful, Mysie,' said Aunt Ada; 'you are as much improved as Gillian.' $@DXS~UQA  
'I thought it would be dreadful,' continued Mysie, 'when the grown- ups went out on a round of visits, and we had no drawing-room, and no Cousin Rotherwood; but Cousin Florence came every day, and once she had us to dinner, and that was nice; and once she took us to Beechcroft to see Primrose, and if it was not fine enough for Fly to go out, she came for me, and I went to her cottages with her. Oh, I did like that! And when the whooping-cough came, you can't think how very kind she was, and Miss Elbury too. They both seemed only to think how to make me happy, though I didn't feel ill a bit, except when I whooped, but they seemed so sorry for me, and so pleased that I didn't make more fuss. I couldn't, you know, when poor Fly was so ill. And when she grew better, we were all so glad that somehow it made us all like a sort of a kind of a home together, though it could not be that.' 91[(K'=&  
F d *p3a  
Mysie's English had scarcely improved, whatever her French had done; but Gillian gathered that she had had far more grievances to overcome, and had met them in a very different spirit from herself. 8+^q9rLii  
;y/&p d+  
As to the schoolroom arrangements, which would have been so convenient to the aunts, it was evident that the matter had not yet been decisively settled, though the children took it for granted. It was pretty to see how Mysie was almost devoured by Fergus and Valetta, hanging on either side of her as she sat, and Gillian, as near as they would allow, while the four tongues went on unceasingly. ]{s0/(EA  
It was only horrid, Valetta said, that Mysie should sleep in a different house; but almost as much of her company was vouchsafed on the ensuing day, Sunday, for Miss Elbury had relations at Rockquay, and was released for the entire day; and Fly was still so tired in the morning that she was not allowed to get up early in the day. V^Y'!w\LGI  
Her mother, however, came in to go to church with Adeline Mohun, and Gillian, who had heard so much of the great Marchioness, was surprised to see a small slight woman, not handsome, and worn-looking about the eyes. At the first glance, she was plainly dressed; but the eye of a connoisseur like Aunt Ada could detect the exquisiteness of the material and the taste, and the slow soft tone of her voice; and every gesture and phrase showed that she had all her life been in the habit of condescending---in fact, thought Gillian, revolving her recent experience, though Lady Liddesdale and all her set are taller, finer-looking people, they are not one bit so grand---no, not that--- but so unapproachable, as I am sure she is. She is gracious, while they are just good-natured! :*f  2Bn  
84vd~Cf 9  
Aunt Ada was evidently pleased with the graciousness, and highly delighted to have to take this distinguished personage to church. Mysie was with her sisters, Valetta was extremely anxious to take her to the Sunday drawing-room class---whether for the sake of showing her to Mrs. Hablot, or Mrs. Hablot to her, did not appear. D"rbQXR7$  
L8 L1_  
Gillian was glad to be asked to sit with Fly in the meantime. It was a sufficient reason for not repairing to the garden, and she hoped that Kalliope was unaware of her return, little knowing of the replies by which Fergus repaid Alexis for his assistance in mineral hunting. She had no desire to transgress Miss Mohun's desire that no further intercourse should take place till she herself had spoken with Kalliope. |@vkQ  
She found little Phyllis Devereux a great deal taller and thinner than the droll childish being who had been so amusing two years before at Silverfold, but eagerly throwing herself into her arms with the same affectionate delight. All the table was spread with pretty books and outlined illuminations waiting to be painted, and some really beautiful illustrated Sunday books; but as Gillian touched the first, Fly cried out, 'Oh, don't! I am so tired of all those things! And this is such a stupid window. I thought at least I should see the people going to church, and this looks at nothing but the old sea and a tiresome garden.' d9K8[Q5^3  
'That is thought a special advantage,' said Gillian, smiling. [9 W@<p  
'Then I wish some one had it who liked it!' ,T$ts  
G t w>R  
'You would not be so near us.' Z_d"<k}I  
'No, and that is nice, and very nice for Mysie. How are all the dear beasts at Silverfold---Begum, and all?' y<)TYr  
'I am afraid I do not know more about them than Mysie does. Aunt Jane heard this morning that she must go down there to-morrow to meet the health-man and see what he says; but she won't take any of us because of the diphtheria and the scarlet fever being about.' 3jmo[<p*x  
o)`PS w=  
'Oh dear, how horrid those catching things are! I've not seen Ivinghoe all this winter! Ah! but they are good sometimes! If it had not been for the measles, I should never have had that most delicious time at Silverfold, nor known Mysie. Now, please tell me all about where you have been, and what you have been doing.' ;vn0%g  
Fly knew some of the younger party that Gillian had met at Rowthorpe; but she was more interested in the revels at Vale Leston, and required a precise description of the theatricals, or still better, of the rehearsals. Never was there a more appreciative audience, of how it all began from Kit Harewood, the young sailor, having sent home a lion's skin from Africa, which had already served for tableaux of Androcles and of Una---how the boy element had insisted on fun, and the child element on fairies, and how Mrs. William Harewood had suggested Midsummer Night's Dream as the only combination of the three essentials, lion, fun, and fairy, and pronounced that education had progressed far enough for the representation to be 'understanded of the people,' at least by the 6th and 7th standards. On the whole, however, comprehension seemed to have been bounded by intense admiration of the little girl fairies, whom the old women appeared to have taken for angels, for one had declared that to hear little Miss Cherry and Miss Katie singing their hymns like the angels they was, was just like Heaven. She must have had an odd notion of 'Spotted snakes with double tongues.' Moreover, effect was added to the said hymns by Uncle Lance behind the scenes. dQ:,pe7A  
Then there was the account of how it had been at first intended that Oberon should be represented by little Sir Adrian, with his Bexley cousin, Pearl Underwood, for his Titania; but though she was fairy enough for anything, he turned out so stolid, and uttered 'Well met by moonlight, proud Titania,' the only lines he ever learnt, exactly like a lesson, besides crying whenever asked to study his part, that the attempt had to be given up, and the fairy sovereigns had to be of large size, Mr. Grinstead pronouncing that probably this was intended by Shakespeare, as Titania was a name of Diana, and he combined Grecian nymphs with English fairies. So Gerald Underwood had to combine the part of Peter Quince (including Thisbe) with that of Oberon, and the queen was offered to Gillian. [@$ SLl^Y  
'But I had learnt Hermia,' she said, 'and I saw it was politeness, so I wouldn't, and Anna Vanderkist is ever so much prettier, besides being used to acting with Gerald. She did look perfectly lovely, asleep on the moss in the scene Mrs. Grinstead painted and devised for her! There was---' n%Oi~7>  
'Oh! not only the prettiness, I don't care for that. One gets enough of the artistic, but the fun---the dear fun.' |E~c#lV  
'There was fun enough, I am sure,' said Gillian. 'Puck was Felix--- Pearl's brother, you know---eleven years old, so clever, and an awful imp---and he was Moon besides; but the worst of it was that his dog--- it was a funny rough terrier at the Vicarage---was so furious at the lion, when Adrian was roaring under the skin, that nobody could hear, and Adrian got frightened, as well he might, and crept out from under it, screaming, and there fell the lion, collapsing flat in the middle of the place. Even Theseus---Major Harewood, you know, who had tried to be as grave as a judge, and so polite to the actors---could not stand that interpolation, as he called it, of "the man in the moon--- not to say the dog," came down too soon---Why, Fly---' 3$hIc)  
For Fly was in such a paroxysm of laughter as to end in a violent fit of coughing, and to bring Lady Rotherwood in, vexed and anxious. -] wEk%j  
'Oh, mother! it was only---it was only the lion's skin---' and off went Fly, laughing and coughing again. WzstO}?P(  
'I was telling her about the acting or Midsummer Night's Dream at Vale Leston,' explained Gillian. 7Tk//By7  
'I should not have thought that a suitable subject for the day,' said the Marchioness gravely, and Fly's endeavour to say it was her fault for asking about it was silenced by choking; and Gillian found herself courteously dismissed in polite disgrace, and, as she felt, not entirely without justice. yVnG+R&  
It was a great disappointment that Aunt Jane did not think it well to take any of the young people to their home with her. As she said, she did not believe that they would catch anything; but it was better to be on the safe side, and she fully expected that they would spend most of the day with Mysie and Fly. y:98}gW`n  
'I wish I could go and talk to Kalliope, my dear,' she said to Gillian; 'but #4mRMsW5"  

只看该作者 13楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XIII. St. Valentine's Day Lit@ m2{\  
  Miss Mohun came back in the dark after a long day, for once in her life quite jaded, and explaining that the health-officer and the landlord had been by no means agreed, and that nothing could be done till Sir Jasper came home and decided whether to retain the house or not. $'I+] ;  
All that she was clear about, and which she had telegraphed to Aden, was, that there must be no going back to Silverfold for the present, and she was prepared to begin lodging-hunting as soon as she received an answer. 3:Aw.-,i\  
'And how have you got on?' she asked, thinking all looked rather blank. KX e/i~AS  
'We haven't been to see Fly,' broke out Valetta, 'though she went out on the beach, and Mysie must not stay out after dark, for fear she should cough.' [6@{^  
'Mysie says they are afraid of excitement,' said Gillian gloomily. >AsD6]  
'Then you have seen nothing of the others?' ~m^.&mv3/  
'Yes, I have seen Victoria, said Aunt Adeline, with a meaning smile. X`km\\*  
Miss Mohun went up to take off her things, and Gillian followed her, shutting the door with ominous carefulness, and colouring all over. ~R7F[R  
V +#Sb  
'Aunt Jane, I ought to tell you. A dreadful thing has happened!' gDHgXD D_b  
'Indeed, my dear! What?' yV{&x  
N, `q1B  
'I have had a valentine.' /l.:GH36f  
'Oh!' repressing a certain inclination to laugh at the bathos from the look of horror and shame in the girl's eyes. &7\=J w7w  
'It is from that miserable Alexis! Oh, I know I brought it on myself, and I have been so wretched and so ashamed all day.' ]8n*fo2#  
A_!N,< -  
'Was it so very shocking! Let me see---' aMJW__,  
'Oh! I sent it back at once by the post, in an envelope, saying, "Sent by mistake."' +gyGA/5:d$  
'But what was it like? Surely it was not one of the common shop things?' 'si{6t|  
'Oh no; there was rather a pretty outline of a nymph or muse, or something of that sort, at the top---drawn, I mean---and verses written below, something about my showing a lodestar of hope, but I barely glanced at it. I hated it too much.' lf\^!E:  
'I am sorry you were in such a hurry,' said Aunt Jane. 'No doubt it was a shock; but I am afraid you have given more pain than it quite deserved.' ByacSN  
'It was so impertinent!' cried Gillian, in astonished, shame-stricken indignation. w&e3#p  
)i_:[ l6  
'So it seems to you,' said her aunt, 'and it was very bad taste; but you should remember that this poor lad has grown up in a stratum of society where he may have come to regard this as a suitable opportunity of evincing his gratitude, and perhaps it may be very hard upon him to have this work of his treated as an insult.' $/$Hi U`.  
'But you would not have had me keep it and tolerate it?' exclaimed Gillian. "rfBYl`  
'I can hardly tell without having seen it; but you might have done the thing more civilly, through his sister, or have let me give it back to him. However, it is too late now; I will make a point of seeing Kalliope to-morrow, but in the meantime you really need not be so horribly disgusted and ashamed.' Ix<!0! vk  
'I thought he was quite a different sort!' 4sW~7:vU  
{`T^&b k  
'Perhaps, after all, your thoughts were not wrong; and he only fancied, poor boy, that he had found a pretty way of thanking you.' B7YE+  
bd% M.,  
This did not greatly comfort Gillian, who might prefer feeling that she was insulted rather than that she had been cruelly unkind, and might like to blame Alexis rather than herself. And, indeed, in any case, she had sense enough to perceive that this very unacceptable compliment was the consequence of her own act of independence of more experienced heads. "r3h+(5  
The next person Miss Mohun met was Fergus, lugging upstairs, step by step, a monstrous lump of stone, into which he required her to look and behold a fascinating crevice full of glittering spar. ~ b66 ;  
Cw kQhj?  
'Where did you get that, Fergus?' r<LWiM l?  
'Up off the cliff over the quarry.' yGC HWP  
'Are you sure that you may have it?' =i7CF3  
7nW <kA  
'Oh yes; White said I might. It's so jolly, auntie! Frank Stebbing is gone away to the other shop in the Apennines, where the old boss lives. What splendiferous specimens he must have the run of! Our Stebbing says 'tis because Kally White makes eyes at him; but any way, White has got to do his work while he's away, and go all the rounds to see that things are right, so I go after him, and he lets me have just what I like---such jolly crystals.' 6bf!v  
v&f\ Jv7  
'I am sure I hope it is all right.' ?PV@WrU>B  
'Oh yes, I always ask him, as you told me; but he is awfully slow and mopy and down in the mouth to-day. Stebbing says he is sweet upon Gill; but I told him that couldn't be, White knew better. A general's daughter, indeed! and Will remembers his father a sergeant.' v.gAi6  
'It is very foolish, Fergus. Say no more about it, for it is not nice talk about your sister.' R~RE21kAc  
'I'll lick any one who does,' said Fergus, bumping his stone up another step. p.x2R,CU  
Poor Aunt Jane! There was more to fall on her as soon as the door was finally shut on the two rooms communicating with one another, which the sisters called their own. Mrs. Mount's manipulations of Miss Adeline's rich brown hair were endured with some impatience, while Miss Mohun leant back in her chair in her shawl-patterned dressing-gown, watching, with a sort of curious wonder and foreboding, the restlessness that proved that something was in store, and meantime somewhat lazily brushing out her own thinner darker locks. Au:R]7   
'You are tired, Miss Jane,' said the old servant, using the pet name in private moments. 'You had better let me do your hair.' %al 5 {  
W{~ y< `D  
'No, thank you, Fanny; I have very nearly done,' she said, marking the signs of eagerness on her sister's part. 'Oh, by the bye, did that hot bottle go down to Lilian Giles?' A;o({9VH`Z  
'Yes, ma'am; Mrs. Giles came up for it.' T8Q_JQ  
Mc!LC .8  
'Did she say whether Lily was well enough to see Miss Gillian?' lP*=4Jh  
Mrs. Mount coughed a peculiar cough that her mistresses well knew to signify that she could tell them something they would not like to hear, if they chose to ask her, and it was the younger who put the question--- dqo-.,=  
( ^@i(XQ  
'Fanny, did she say anything?' )*{B_[  
'Well, Miss Ada, I told her she must be mistaken, but she stuck to it, though she said she never would have breathed a word if Miss Gillian had not come back again, but she thought you should know it.' J5HK1  
'Know what?' demanded Jane. %X %zK1  
I#O"<0 *r  
'Well, Miss Jane, she should say 'tis the talk that Miss Gillian, when you have thought her reading to the poor girl, has been running down to the works---and 'tis only the ignorance of them that will talk, but they say it is to meet a young man. She says, Mrs. Giles do, that she never would have noticed such talk, but that the young lady did always seem in a hurry, only just reading a chapter, and never stopping to talk to poor Lily after it; and she has seen her herself going down towards the works, instead of towards home, ma'am. And she said she could not bear that reading to her girl should be made a colour for such doings.' @_-,Q5  
'Certainly not, if it were as she supposes,' said Miss Mohun, sitting very upright, and beating her own head vigorously with a very prickly brush; 'but you may tell her, Fanny, that I know all about it, and that her friend is Miss White, who you remember spent an evening here.' u$[8Zmgzz  
Fanny's good-humoured face cleared up. 'Yes, ma'am, I told her that I was quite sure that Miss Gillian would not go for to do anything wrong, and that it could be easy explained; but people has tongues, you see.' LS<+V+o2%  
'You were quite right to tell us, Fanny. Good-night.' &57~i=A 3  
'People has tongues!' repeated Adeline, when that excellent person had disappeared. 'Yes, indeed, they have. But, Jenny, do you really mean to say that you know all about this?' TX$dxHSPK  
3^ UoK  
'Yes, I believe so.' l+2NA4s  
'Oh, I wish you had been at home to-day when Victoria came in. It really is a serious business.' iT{4-j7|P4  
f@ |[pT  
'Victoria! What has she to do with it? I should have thought her Marchioness-ship quite out of the region of gossip, though, for that matter, grandees like it quite as much as other people.' _z%\53h  
dbEXl m  
'Don't, Jane , you know it does concern her through companionship for Phyllis, and she was very kind.' +ah4 K(+3  
'Oh yes, I can see her sailing in, magnificently kind from her elevation. But how in the world did she manage to pick up all this in the time?' said poor Jane, tired and pestered into the sharpness of her early youth. &?@U_emLi  
'Dear Jenny, I wish I had said nothing to-night. Do wait till you are rested.' HuA4eJ(2  
'I am not in the least tired, and if I were, do you think I could sleep with this half told?' H7{kl  
'You said you knew.' N/B-u)?\:  
'Then it is only about Gillian being so silly as to go down to Miss White's office at the works to look over the boy's Greek exercises.' Y$eO:67;  
a`;nB E  
'You don't mean that you allowed it!' 7SJtW`~  
KWi P`h8  
'No, Gillian's impulsiveness, just like her mother's, began it, as a little assertion of modern independence; but while she was away that little step from brook to river brought her to the sense that she had been a goose, and had used me rather unfairly, and so she came and confessed it all to me on the way home from the station the first morning after her return. She says she had written it all to her mother from the first.'  ]YKxJ''u  
'I wonder Lily did not telegraph to put a stop to it.' M&` b\la  
*g[MGyF "  
'Do you suppose any mother, our poor old Lily especially, can marry a couple of daughters without being slightly frantic! Ten to one she never realised that this precious pupil was bigger than Fergus. But do tell me what my Lady had heard, and how she heard it.' qIvnPaYW  
'You remember that her governess, Miss Elbury, has connections in the place.' r+;k(HMY}[  
-F_c Bu81V  
'"The most excellent creature in the world." Oh yes, and she spent Sunday with them. So that was the conductor.' q1v7(`O  
'I can hardly say that Miss Elbury was to be blamed, considering that she had heard the proposal about Valetta! It seems that that High School class-mistress, Miss Mellon, who had the poor child under her, is her cousin.' [XttT  
)Ly ~\*  
'Oh dear!' \o=9WKc  
'It is exactly what I was afraid of when we decided on keeping Valetta at home. Miss Mellon told all the Caesar story in plainly the worst light for poor Val, and naturally deduced from her removal that she was the most to blame.' "" >Yw/'  
7w" !"W#  
'Whereas it was Miss Mellon herself! But nobody could expect Victoria to see that, and no doubt she is quite justified in not wishing for the child in her schoolroom! But, after all, Valetta is only a child; it won't hurt her to have this natural recoil of consequences, and her mother will be at home in three weeks' time. It signifies much more about Gillian. Did I understand you that the gossip about her had reached those august ears?' &=*1[j\  
'Oh yes, Jane, and it is ever so much worse. That horrid Miss Mellon seems to have told Miss Elbury that Gillian has a passion for low company, that she is always running after the Whites at the works, and has secret meetings with the young man in the garden on Sunday, while his sister carries on her underhand flirtation with another youth, Frank Stebbing, I suppose. It really was too preposterous, and Victoria said she had no doubt from the first that there was exaggeration, and had told Miss Elbury so; but still she thought Gillian must have been to blame. She was very nice about it, and listened to all my explanation most kindly, as to Gillian's interest in the Whites, and its having been only the sister that she met, but plainly she is not half convinced. I heard something about a letter being left for Gillian, and really, I don't know whether there may not be more discoveries to come. I never felt before the force of our dear father's saying, apropos of Rotherwood himself, that no one knows what it is to lose a father except those who have the care of his children.' Qi dI  
'Whatever Gillian did was innocent and ladylike, and nothing to be ashamed of,' said Aunt Jane stoutly; 'of that I am sure. But I should like to be equally sure that she has not turned the head of that poor foolish young man, without in the least knowing what she was about. You should have seen her state of mind at his sending her a valentine, which she returned to him, perfectly ferociously, at once, and that was all the correspondence somebody seems to have smelt out.' QD^=;!  
'A valentine! Gillian must have behaved very ill to have brought that upon herself! Oh dear! I wish she had never come here; I wish Lily could have stayed at home, instead of scattering her children about the world. The Rotherwoods will never get over it.' X%iqve"{nB  
'That's the least part of the grievance, in my eyes,' said her sister. 'It won't make a fraction of difference to the dear old cousin Rotherwood; and as to my Lady, it is always a liking from the teeth outwards.' lu1T+@t  
'How can you say so! I am sure she has always been most cordial.' :J5CmU $  
'Most correct, if you please. Oh, did she say anything about Mysie?' gJ Z9XLPC  
'She said nothing but good of Mysie; called her delightful, and perfectly good and trustworthy, said they could never have got so well through Phyllis's illness without her, and that they only wished to keep her altogether.' 5fa_L'L#  
'I dare say, to be humble companion to my little lady, out of the way of her wicked sisters.' L$FLQyDR  
Em R#)c~(W  
'Jane!' 8<uKzb(O:  
'My dear, I don't think I can stand any more defence of her just now! No, she is an admirable woman, I know. That's enough. I really must go to bed, and consider which is to be faced first, she or Kalliope.' [HK[{M =v=  
It was lucky that Miss Mohun could exist without much sleep, for she was far too much worried for any length of slumber to visit her that night, though she was afoot as early as usual. She thought it best to tell Gillian that Lady Rotherwood had heard some foolish reports, and that she was going to try to clear them up, and she extracted an explicit account as to what the extent of her intercourse with the Whites had been, which was given willingly, Gillian being in a very humble frame, and convinced that she had acted foolishly. It surprised her likewise that Aunt Adeline, whom she had liked the best, and thought the most good-natured, was so much more angry with her than Aunt Jane, who, as she felt, forgave her thoroughly, and was only anxious to help her out of the scrape she had made for herself. /N7j5v(  
Miss Mohun thought her best time for seeing Kalliope would be in the dinner-hour, and started accordingly in the direction of the marble works. Not far from them she met that young person walking quickly with one of her little brothers. +dcBh Dq  
'I was coming to see you,' Miss Mohun said. 'I did not know that you went home in the middle of the day.' ]1h W/!  
'My mother has been so unwell of late that I do not like to be entirely out of reach all day,' returned Kalliope, who certainly looked worn and sorrowful; 'so I manage to run home, though it is but for a quarter of an hour.' hOZ:r =%  
'I will not delay you, I will walk with you,' and when Petros had been dismissed, 'I am afraid my niece has not been quite the friend to you that she intended.' m\zCHX#n  
'Oh, Miss Mohun, do you know all about it? It is such a relief! I have felt so guilty towards you, and yet I did not know what to do.' )7c/i+FsC  
4 :phq  
'I have never thought that the concealment was your fault,' said Jane. -!lSk?l  
'I did think at first that you knew,' said Kalliope, 'and when I found that was not the case, I suppose I should have insisted on your being told; but I could not bear to seem ungrateful, and my brother took such extreme delight in his lessons and Miss Merrifield's kindness, that---that I could not bear to do what might prevent them. And now, poor fellow, it shows how wrong it was, since he has ventured on that unfortunate act of presumption, which has so offended her. Oh, Miss Mohun, he is quite broken-hearted.' !'C8sNs  
'I am afraid Gillian was very discourteous. I was out, or it should not have been done so unkindly. Indeed, in the shock, Gillian did not recollect that she might be giving pain.' BC85#sbl  
RDeI l&  
'Yes, yes! Poor Alexis! He has not had any opportunity of understanding how different things are in your class of life, and he thought it would show his gratitude and---and---Oh, he is so miserable!' and she was forced to stop to wipe away her tears. lrgvY>E0  
'Poor fellow! But it was one of those young men's mistakes that are got over and outgrown, so you need not grieve over it so much, my dear. My brother-in-law is on his way home, and I know he means to see what can be done for Alexis, for your father's sake.' 602=qb  
peU1 t:k?  
'Oh, Miss Mohun, how good you are! I thought you could never forgive us. And people do say such shocking things.' j,g.Eo  
'I know they do, and therefore I am going to ask you to tell me exactly what intercourse there has been with Gillian.' T8J[B( )L  
Kalliope did so, and Miss Mohun was struck with the complete accordance of the two accounts, and likewise by the total absence of all attempt at self-justification on Miss White's part. If she had in any way been weak, it had been against her will, and her position had been an exceedingly difficult one. She spoke in as guarded a manner as possible; but to such acute and experienced ears as those of her auditor, it was impossible not to perceive that, while Gillian had been absolutely simple, and unconscious of all but a kind act of patronage, the youth's imagination had taken fire, and he had become her ardent worshipper; with calf-love, no doubt, but with a distant, humble adoration, which had, whether fortunately or unfortunately, for once found expression in the valentine so summarily rejected. The drawing and the composition had been the work of many days, and so much against his sister's protest that it had been sent without her knowledge, after she had thought it given up. She had only extracted the confession through his uncontrollable despair, which made him almost unfit to attend to his increased work, perhaps by his southern nature exaggerated. \LpR7D  
'The stronger at first, the sooner over,' thought Miss Mohun; but she knew that consolation betraying her comprehension would not be safe. XNJPf) T  
One further discovery she made, namely, that on Sunday, Alexis, foolish lad, had been so wildly impatient at their having had no notice from Gillian since her return, that he had gone to the garden to explain, as he said, his sister's non-appearance there, since she was detained by her mother's illness. It was the only time he had ever been there, and he had met no one; but Miss Mohun felt a sinking of heart at the foreboding that the mauvaises langues would get hold of it. F5|6*K  
The only thing to be decided on was that there must be a suspension of intercourse, at any rate, till Lady Merrifield's arrival; not in unkindness, but as best for all. And, indeed, Kalliope had no time to spare from her mother, whose bloated appearance, poor woman, was the effect of long-standing disease. McRAy%{z  
The daughter's heart was very full of her, and evidently it would have been a comfort to discuss her condition with this kind friend; but no more delay was possible; and Miss Mohun had to speed home, in a quandary how much or how little about Alexis's hopeless passion should be communicated to its object, and finally deciding that Gillian had better only be informed that he had been greatly mortified by the rude manner of rejection, but that the act itself proved that she must abstain from all renewal of the intercourse till her parents should return. kK27hfsw  
But that was not all the worry of the day. Miss Mohun had still to confront Lady Rotherwood, and, going as soon as the early dinner was over, found the Marchioness resting after an inspection of houses in Rockquay. She did not like hotels, she said, and she thought the top of the cliff too bleak for Phyllis, so that they must move nearer the sea if the place agreed with her at all, which was doubtful. Miss Mohun was pretty well convinced that the true objection was the neighbourhood of Beechcroft Cottage. She said she had come to give some explanation of what had been said to her sister yesterday. #41xzN  
Ic 5TtN~/>  
'Oh, my dear Jane, Adeline told me all about it yesterday. I am very sorry for you to have had such a charge, but what could you expect of girls cast about as they have been, always with a marching regiment?' _Sq*m=  
'I do not think Mysie has given you any reason to think her ill brought up.' (-no`j  
dwpE(G y6c  
'A little uncouth at first, but that was all. Oh, no! Mysie is a dear little girl. I should be very glad to have her with Phyllis altogether, and so would Rotherwood. But she was very young when Sir Jasper retired.' Ol sX  
'And Valetta was younger. Poor little girl! She was naughty, but I do not think she understood the harm of what she was doing.' xHD$0eq  
Lady Rotherwood smiled. l;r A}?,.^  
'Perhaps not; but she must have been deeply involved, since she was the one amongst all the guilty to be expelled.' M~7Cb>%<  
'Oh, Victoria! Was that what you heard?' B'Jf&v  
'Miss Elbury heard it from the governess she was under. Surely she was the only one not permitted to go up for the examination and removed.' j{r@>g;3  
MJqWc6{ n  
'True, but that was our doing---no decree of the High School. Her own governess is free now, and her mother on her way, and we thought she had better not begin another term. Yes, Victoria, I quite see that you might doubt her fitness to be much with Phyllis. I am not asking for that---I shall try to get her own governess to come at once; but for the child's sake and her mother's I should like to get this cleared up. May I see Miss Elbury?' (E)hEQ@8  
'Certainly; but I do not think you will find that she has exaggerated, though of course her informant may have done so. D0xQXC3$`  
W6i{ yne W  
Miss Elbury was of the older generation of governesses, motherly, kind, but rather prim and precise, the accomplished element being supplied with diplomaed foreigners, who, since Lady Phyllis's failure in health, had been dispensed with. She was a good and sensible woman, as Jane could see, in spite of the annoyance her report had occasioned, and it was impossible not to assent when she said she had felt obliged, under the circumstances, to mention to Lady Rotherwood what her cousin had told her. N7J?S~x  
'About both my nieces,' said Jane. 'Yes, I quite understand. But, though of course the little one's affair is the least important, we had better get to the bottom of that first, and I should like to tell you what really happened.' [UzD3VPg  
She told her story, and how Valetta had been tempted and then bullied into going beyond the first peeps, and finding she did not produce the impression she wished, she begged Miss Elbury to talk it over with the head-mistress. It was all in the telling. Miss Elbury's young cousin, Miss Mellon, had been brought under rebuke, and into great danger of dismissal, through Valetta Merrifield's lapse; and it was no wonder that she had warned her kinswoman against 'the horrid little deceitful thing,' who had done so much harm to the whole class. 'Miss Mohun was running about over the whole place, but not knowing what went on in her own house!' And as to Miss White, Miss Elbury mentioned at last, though with some reluctance, that it was believed that she had been on the point of a private marriage, and of going to Italy with young Stebbing, when her machinations were detected, and he was forced to set off without her. elCYH9W^  
With this in her mind, the governess could not be expected to accept as satisfactory what was not entire confutation or contradiction, and Miss Mohun saw that, politely as she was listened to, it was all only treated as excuse; since there could be no denial of Gillian's folly, and it was only a question of degree. ;l@94)@0  
And, provoking as it was, the disappointment might work well for Valetta. The allegations against Gillian were a far more serious affair, but much more of these could be absolutely disproved and contradicted; in fact, all that Miss Mohun herself thought very serious, i.e. the flirtation element, was shown to be absolutely false, both as regarded Gillian and Kalliope; but it was quite another thing to convince people who knew none of the parties, when there was the residuum of truth undeniable, that there had been secret meetings not only with the girl, but the youth. To acquit Gillian of all but modern independence and imprudent philanthropy was not easy to any one who did not understand her character, and though Lady Rotherwood said nothing more in the form of censure, it was evident that she was unconvinced that Gillian was not a fast and flighty girl, and that she did not desire more contact than was necessary. /%T/@y  
No doubt she wished herself farther off! Lord Rotherwood, she said, was coming down in a day or two, when he could get away, and then they should decide whether to take a house or to go abroad, which, after all, might be the best thing for Phyllis. }LUvh  
'He will make all the difference,' said Miss Adeline, when the unsatisfactory conversation was reported to her. l)u%`Hcn  
JsY,Q,D q  
'I don't know! But even if he did, and I don't think he will, I won't have Valetta waiting for his decision and admitted on sufferance.' htB2?%S=T  
'Shall you send her back to school?' C:1(<1K  
'No. Poor Miss Vincent is free, and quite ready to come here. Fergus shall go and sleep among his fossils in the lumber-room, and I will write to her at once. She will be much better here than waiting at Silverton, though the Hacketts are very kind to her.' W~H`{x%Av>  
'Yes, it will be better to be independent. But all this is very unfortunate. However, Victoria will see for herself what the children are. She has asked me to take a drive with her to-morrow if it is not too cold.' koB'Zp/FaY  
'Oh yes, she is not going to make an estrangement. You need not fear that, Ada. She does not think it your fault.' U=%(kOx  
Aunt Jane pondered a little as to what to say to the two girls, and finally resolved that Valetta had better be told that she was not to do lessons with Fly, as her behaviour had made Lady Rotherwood doubt whether she was a good companion. Valetta stamped and cried, and said it was very hard and cross when she had been so sorry and every one had forgiven her; but Gillian joined heartily with Aunt Jane in trying to make the child understand that consequences often come in spite of pardon and repentance. To Gillian herself, Aunt Jane said as little as possible, not liking even to give the veriest hint of the foolish gossip, or of the extent of poor Alexis White's admiration; for it was enough for the girl to know that concealment had brought her under a cloud, and she was chiefly concerned as to how her mother would look on it. She had something of Aunt Jane's impatience of patronage, and perhaps thought it snobbish to seem concerned at the great lady's displeasure. byP<!p*  
k8J zey]X  
Mysie was free to run in and out to her sisters, but was still to do her lessons with Miss Elbury, and Fly took up more of her time than the sisters liked. Neither she nor Fly were formally told why their castles vanished into empty air, but there certainly was a continual disappointment and fret on both sides, which Fly could not bear as well as when she was in high health, and poor Mysie's loving heart often found it hard to decide between her urgent claims and those of Valetta! $;(@0UDE  
But was not mamma coming? and papa? Would not all be well then? Yes, hearts might bound at the thought. But where was Gillian's great thing?' OXp N8Dh5  
Miss Vincent's coming was really like a beginning of home, in spite of her mourning and depressed look. It was a great consolation to the lonely woman to find how all her pupils flew at her, with infinite delight. She had taken pains to bring a report of all the animals for Valetta, and she duly admired all Fergus's geological specimens, and even undertook to print labels for them. f@Jrbg  
Mysie would have liked to begin lessons again with her; but this would have been hard on Fly, and besides, her mother had committed her to the Rotherwoods, and it was better still to leave her with them.  iKd+AzT  
The aunts were ready with any amount of kindness and sympathy for the governess's bereavement, and her presence was a considerable relief in the various perplexities. n}A!aC  
Even Lady Rotherwood and Miss Elbury had been convinced, and by no means unwillingly, that Gillian had been less indiscreet than had been their first impression; but she had been a young lady of the period in her independence, and was therefore to be dreaded. No more garden trystes would have been possible under any circumstances, for the house and garden were in full preparation for the master, who was to meet Lord Rotherwood to consult about the proposed water-works and other designs for the benefit of the town where they were the chief landowners. sNo8o1Hby  

只看该作者 14楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XIV. The Partner   .1h\r, #  
The expected telegram arrived two days later, requesting Miss Mohun to find a lodging at Rockstone sufficient to contain Sir Jasper and Lady Merrifield, and a certain amount of sons and daughters, while they considered what was to be done about Silverfold. FGo)] U  
'So you and I will go out house-hunting, Gillian?' said Aunt Jane, when she had opened it, and the exclamations were over. F xXnX  
'I am afraid there is no house large enough up here,' said her sister. f:A1j\A?  
'No, it is an unlucky time, in the thick of the season.' ;ywUl`d  
'Victoria said she had been looking at some houses in Bellevue.' pu6@X7W"  
'I am afraid she will have raised the prices of them.' w>h\643  
z6;6 o!ej  
'But, oh, Aunt Jane, we couldn't go to Bellevue Church!' cried Gillian. VHqHG`}:  
'Your mother would like to be so near the daily services at the Kennel,' said Miss Mohun. 'Yes, we must begin with those houses. There's nothing up here but Sorrento, and I have heard enough of its deficiencies!' dJ>~  
At that moment in came a basket of game, grapes, and flowers, with Lady Rotherwood's compliments. ,pIh.sk7s*  
'Solid pudding,' muttered Miss Mohun. 'In this case, I should almost prefer empty praise. Look here, Ada, what a hamper they must have had from home! I think I shall, as I am going that way, take a pheasant and some grapes to the poor Queen of the White Ants; I believe she is really ill, and it will show that we do not want to neglect them.' y @S_CB 47  
'Oh, thank you, Aunt Jane!' cried Gillian, the colour rising in her face, and she was the willing bearer of the basket as she walked down the steps with her aunt, and along the esplanade, only pausing to review the notices of palatial, rural, and desirable villas in the house-agent's window, and to consider in what proportion their claims to perfection might be reduced. C!|LGzs0  
As they turned down Ivinghoe Terrace, and were approaching the rusty garden-gate, they overtook Mrs. Lee, the wife of the organist of St. Kenelm's, who lodged at Mrs. White's. In former times, before her marriage, Mrs. Lee had been a Sunday-school teacher at St. Andrew's, and though party spirit considered her to have gone over to the enemy, there were old habits of friendly confidence between her and Miss Mohun, and there was an exchange of friendly greetings and inquiries. When she understood their errand she rejoiced in it, saying that poor Mrs. White was very poorly, and rather fractious, and that this supply would be most welcome both to her and her daughter. Q2D!Agq=D  
'Ah, I am afraid that poor girl goes through a great deal!' weSq |f  
'Indeed she does, Miss Mohun; and a better girl never lived. I cannot think how she can bear up as she does; there she is at the office all day with her work, except when she runs home in the middle of the day---all that distance to dish up something her mother can taste, for there's no dependence on the girl, nor on little Maura neither. Then she is slaving early and late to keep the house in order as well as she can, when her mother is fretting for her attention; and I believe she loses more than half her night's rest over the old lady. How she bears up, I cannot guess; and never a cross word to her mother, who is such a trial, nor to the boys, but looking after their clothes and their lessons, and keeping them as good and nice as can be. I often say to my husband, I am sure it is a lesson to live in the house with her.' e~9O#rQI  
'I am sure she is an excellent girl,' said Miss Mohun. 'I wish we could do anything to help her.' O?JJE8~']  
'I know you are a real friend, Miss Mohun, and never was there any young person who was in greater need of kindness; though it is none of her fault. She can't help her face, poor dear; and she has never given any occasion, I am sure, but has been as guarded and correct as possible.' rs&]46i/p  
'Oh, I was in hopes that annoyance was suspended at least for a time!' !#tVQ2O  
zC?' Qiuh*  
'You are aware of it then, Miss Mohun? Yes, the young gentleman is come back, not a bit daunted. Yesterday evening what does he do but drive up in a cab with a great bouquet, and a basketful of grapes, and what not! Poor Kally, she ran in to me, and begged me as a favour to come downstairs with her, and I could do no less. And I assure you, Miss Mohun, no queen could be more dignified, nor more modest than she was in rejecting his gifts, and keeping him in check. Poor dear, when he was gone she burst out crying---a thing I never knew of her before; not that she cared for him, but she felt it a cruel wrong to her poor mother to send away the grapes she longed after; and so she will feel these just a providence.' L.Y3/H_  
R+ * ; [  
'Then is Mrs. White confined to her room?' t^s&1#iC  
'For more than a fortnight. For that matter the thing was easier, for she had encouraged the young man as far as in her lay, poor thing, though my husband and young Alexis both told her what they knew of him, and that it would not be for Kally's happiness, let alone the offence to his father.' N*Y[[N(  
? <?Ogq"<  
'Then it really went as far as that?' `<XS5h h=  
'Miss Mohun, I would be silent as the grave if I did not know that the old lady went talking here and there, never thinking of the harm she was doing. She was so carried away by the idea of making a lady of Kally. She says she was a beauty herself, though you would not think it now, and she is perfectly puffed up about Kally. So she actually lent an ear when the young man came persuading Kally to get married and go off to Italy with him, where he made sure he could come over Mr. White with her beauty and relationship and all---among the myrtle groves---that was his expression--where she would have an association worthy of her. I don't quite know how he meant it to be brought about, but he is one who would stick at nothing, and of course Kally would not hear of it, and answered him so as one would think he would never have had the face to address her again, but poor Mrs. White has done nothing but fret over it, and blame her daughter for undutifulness, and missing the chance of making all their fortunes---breaking her heart and her health, and I don't know what besides. She is half a foreigner, you see, and does not understand, and she is worse than no one to that poor girl.' #2=l\y-#  
g;l K34{  
'And you say he is come back as bad as ever.' 2)EqqX[D  
'Or worse, you may say, Miss Mohun; absence seems only to have set him the more upon her, and I am afraid that Mrs. White's talk, though it may not have been to many, has been enough to set it about the place; and in cases like that, it is always the poor young woman as gets the blame---especially with the gentleman's own people.' G 1{m"1M  
'I am afraid so.' wmpQF<  
'And you see she is in a manner at his mercy, being son to one of the heads of the firm, and in a situation of authority.' ka=A:biz  
'What can she do all day at the office?' '?90e4x3/  
'She keeps one or two of the other young ladies working with her,' said Mrs. Lee; 'but if any change could be made, it would be very happy for her; though, after all, I do not see how she could leave this place, the house being family property, and Mr. White their relation, besides that Mrs. White is in no state to move; but, on the other hand, Mr. and Mrs. Stebbing know their son is after her, and the lady would not stick at believing or saying anything against her, though I will always bear witness, and so will Mr. Lee, that never was there a more good, right-minded young woman, or more prudent and guarded.' r"7 !J[u  
'So would Mr. Flight and his mother, I have no doubt.' y<ZT~e  
'Mr. Flight would, Miss Mohun, but'---with an odd look---'I fancy my lady thinks poor Kally too handsome for it to be good for a young clergyman to have much to say to her. They have not been so cordial to them of late, but that is partly owing to poor Mrs. White's foolish talk, and in part to young Alexis having been desultory and mopy of late---not taking the interest in his music he did. Mr. Lee says he is sure some young woman is at the bottom of it.' %bB:I1V\  
Miss Mohun saw her niece's ears crimson under her hat, and was afraid Mrs. Lee would likewise see them. They had reached the front of the house, and she made haste to take out a visiting-card and to beg Mrs. Lee kindly to give it with the basket, saying that she would not give trouble by coming to the door. ByW,YKMy  
w4;1 ('  
And then she turned back with Gillian, who was in a strange tumult of shame and consternation, yet withal, feeling that first strange thrill of young womanhood at finding itself capable of stirring emotion, and too much overcome by these strange sensations---above all by the shock of shame---to be able to utter a word. "S0WFP\P+  
94 GF8P  
I must make light of it, but not too light, thought Miss Mohun, and she broke the ice by saying, 'Poor foolish boy----' K_ [B@( Xl  
'Oh, Aunt Jane, what shall I do?' &BS*C} },  
'Let it alone, my dear.' m%)Cw)t 7  
'But that I should have done so much harm and upset him so'---in a voice betraying a certain sense of being flattered. 'Can't I do anything to undo it?' 28x:]5=jb  
'Certainly not. To be perfectly quiet and do nothing is all you can do. My dear, boys and young men have such foolish fits---more in that station than in ours, because they have none of the public school and college life which keeps people out of it. You were the first lady this poor fellow was brought into contact with, and---well, you were rather a goose, and he has been a greater one; but if he is let alone, he will recover and come to his senses. I could tell you of men who have had dozens of such fits. I am much more interested about his sister. What a noble girl she is!' 8e32NJ^k~  
'Oh, isn't she, Aunt Jane. Quite a real heroine! And now mamma is coming, she will know what to do for her!' X& mD/1  
'I hope she will, but it is a most perplexing case altogether.' hn~btu 9h  
'And that horrid young Stebbing is come back too. I am glad she has that nice Mrs. Lee to help her.' !9.FI{W  
8t. QFze?  
'And to defend her,' added Miss Mohun. 'Her testimony is worth a great deal, and I am glad to know where to lay my hand upon it. And here is our first house, "Les Rochers." For Madame de Sevigne's sake, I hope it will do!' wZN_YFwQ  
But it didn't! Miss Mohun got no farther than the hall before she detected a scent of gas; and they had to betake themselves to the next vacant abode. The investigating nature had full scope in the various researches that she made into parlour, kitchen, and hall, desperately wearisome to Gillian, whose powers were limited to considering how the family could sit at ease in the downstairs rooms, how they could be stowed away in the bedrooms, and where there were the prettiest views of the bay. Aunt Jane, becoming afraid that while she was literally 'ferreting' in the offices Gillian might be meditating on her conquest, picked up the first cheap book that looked innocently sensational, and left her to study it on various sofas. And when daylight failed for inspections, Gillian still had reason to rejoice in the pastime devised for her, since there was an endless discussion at the agent's, over the only two abodes that could be made available, as to prices, repairs, time, and terms. They did not get away till it was quite dark and the gas lighted, and Miss Mohun did not think the ascent of the steps desirable, so that they went round by the street. yi*EobP  
x(vQ %JC  
'I declare,' exclaimed Miss Mohun, 'there's Mr. White's house lighted up. He must be come!' 4$[o;t>  
'I wonder whether he will do anything for Kalliope,' sighed Gillian. ]*\MIz{56'  
'Oh, Jenny,' exclaimed Miss Adeline, as the two entered the drawing- room. 'You have had such a loss; Rotherwood has been here waiting to see you for an hour, and such an agreeable man he brought with him!' 1@}F8&EZ  
'Who could it have been?' =6[.||9  
'I didn't catch his name---Rotherwood was mumbling in his quick way--- indeed, I am not sure he did not think I knew him. A distinguished- looking man, like a picture, with a fine white beard, and he was fresh from Italy; told me all about the Carnival and the curious ceremonies in the country villages.' @|b-X? `  
'From Italy? It can't have been Mr. White.' XGl2rX&  
'Mr. White! My dear Jane! this was a gentleman---quite a grand- looking man. He might have been an Italian nobleman, only he spoke English too well for that, though I believe those diplomates can speak all languages. However, you will see, for we are to go and dine with them at eight o'clock---you, and I, and Gillian.' [^qT?se{  
KQ\K :#  
'You, Ada!' YG\#N+D  
'Oh! I have ordered the chair round; it won't hurt me with the glasses up. Gillian, my dear, you must put on the white dress that Mrs. Grinstead's maid did up for you---it is quite simple, and I should like you to look nice! Well---oh, how tired you both look! Ring for some fresh tea, Gillian. Have you found a house?' +CSpL2@  
x=*&#; Y|  
So excited and occupied was Adeline that the house-hunting seemed to have assumed quite a subordinate place in her mind. It really was an extraordinary thing for her to dine out, though this was only a family party next door; and she soon sailed away to hold counsel with Mrs. Mount on dresses and wraps, and to get her very beautiful hair dressed. She made by far the most imposing appearance of the three when they shook themselves out in the ante-room at the hotel, in her softly-tinted sheeny pale-gray dress, with pearls in her hair, and two beautiful blush roses in her bosom; while her sister, in black satin and coral, somehow seemed smaller than ever, probably from being tired, and from the same cause Gillian had dark marks under her brown eyes, and a much more limp and languid look than was her wont. j<^!"_G]*?  
Fly was seated on her father's knee, looking many degrees better and brighter, as if his presence were an elixir of life, and when he put her down to greet the arrivals, both she and Mysie sprang to Gillian to ask the result of the quest of houses. The distinguished friend was there, and was talking to Lady Rotherwood about Italian progress, and there was only time for an inquiry and reply as to the success of the search for a house before dinner was announced---the little girls disappeared, and the Marquess gave his arm to his eldest cousin. dk&F?B{6T  
'Grand specimen of marble, isn't he!' he muttered. 5*z>ez2YQ7  
'Ada hasn't the least idea who he is. She thinks him a great diplomate,' communicated Jane in return, and her arm received an ecstatic squeeze. K+Him] b  
| >}CoR7  
It was amusing to Jane Mohun to see how much like a dinner at Rotherwood this contrived to be, with my lady's own footman, and my lord's valet waiting in state. She agreed mentally with her sister that the other guest was a very fine-looking man, with a picturesque head, and he did not seem at all out of place or ill-at-ease in the company in which he found himself. Lord Rotherwood, with a view, perhaps, to prolonging Adeline's mystification, turned the conversation to Italian politics, and the present condition and the industries of the people, on all of which subjects much ready information was given in fluent, good English, with perhaps rather unnecessarily fine words. It was only towards the end of the dinner that a personal experience was mentioned about the impossibility of getting work done on great feast days, or of knowing which were the greater---and the great dislike of the peasant mind to new methods. -+F,L8  
5_y w  
When it came to 'At first, I had to superintend every blasting with gelatine,' the initiated were amused at the expression of Adeline's countenance, and the suppressed start of frightful conviction that quivered on her eyelids and the corners of her mouth, though kept in check by good breeding, and then smoothed out into a resolute complacency, which convinced her sister that having inadvertently exalted the individual into the category of the distinguished, she meant to abide staunchly by her first impression. e <+)IW:  
Lady Rotherwood, like most great ladies in public life, was perfectly well accustomed to have all sorts of people brought home to dinner, and would have been far less astonished than her cousins at sitting down with her grocer; but she gave the signal rather early, and on reaching the sitting-room, where Miss Elworthy was awaiting them, said--- 5222"yn"c  
l ?b*T#uIk  
'We will leave them to discuss their water-works at their ease. Certainly residence abroad is an excellent education.' F<iV;+  
Ik, N/[  
'A very superior man,' said Adeline. X]2x0  
'Those self-made men always are.' +~:OUR*>  
'In the nature of things, added Miss Mohun, 'or they would not have mounted.' @A`j Wao  
'It is the appendages that are distressing,' said Lady Rotherwood, 'and they seldom come in one's way. Has this man left any in Italy?' , )TnIByM  
,Jn` qvmi  
'Oh no, none alive. He took his wife there for her health, and that was the way he came to set up his Italian quarries; but she and his child both died there long ago, and he has never come back to this place since,' explained Ada. 4gVIuF*pS  
'But he has relations here,' said Jane. 'His cousin was an officer in Jasper Merrifield's regiment.' esQ`6i  
She hoped to have been saying a word in the cause of the young people, but she regretted her attempt, for Lady Rotherwood replied--- \7#w@3*  
'I have heard of them. A very undeserving family, are they not?' 7/k7V)  
b`j9}t Z  
Gillian, whom Miss Elworthy was trying to entertain, heard, and could not help colouring all over, face, neck, and ears, all the more for so much hating the flush and feeling it observed. ggkz fg&  
Miss Mohun's was a very decided, 'I should have said quite the reverse.' =3SJl1w1  
'Indeed! Well, I heard the connection lamented, for his sake, by--- what was her name? Mrs. Stirling---or---' S Te8*=w  
'Mrs. Stebbing,' said Adeline. 'You don't mean that she has actually called on you?' 45< gO1  
S# baOO  
'Is there any objection to her?' asked Lady Rotherwood, with a glance to see whether the girl was listening. 8No'8(dPX  
'Oh no, no! only he is a mere mason---or quarryman, who has grown rich,' said Adeline. |r)QkxdU,  
The hostess gave a little dry laugh. JXq!v:w6  
Wwg<- 9wAJ  
'Is that all? I thought you had some reason for disapproving of her. I thought her rather sensible and pleasing' Tbv w?3  
Cringing and flattering, thought Jane; and that is just what these magnificent ladies like in the wide field of inferiors. But aloud she could not help saying, 'My principal objection to Mrs. Stebbing is that I have always thought her rather a gossip---on the scandalous side.' Then, bethinking herself that it would not be well to pursue the subject in Gillian's presence, she explained where the Stebbings lived, and asked how long Lord Rotherwood could stay. b)e;Q5Z(.  
'Only over Sunday. He is going to look over the place to-morrow, and next day there is to be a public meeting about it. I am not sure that we shall not go with him. I do not think the place agrees with Phyllis.' )AR- b8..o  
The last words were spoken just as the two gentlemen had come in from the dining-room, rather sooner than was expected, and they were taken up. IZLCwaW  
<bg6k .s  
'Agrees with Phyllis! She looks pounds---nay, hundred-weights better than when we left home. I mean to have her down to-morrow on the beach for a lark---castle-building, paddling---with Mysie and Val, and Fergus and all. That's what would set her up best, wouldn't it, Jane?' NopfL  
Jane gave a laughing assent, wondering how much of this would indeed prove castle-building, though adding that Fergus was at school, and that it was not exactly the time of year for paddling. 'w72i/  
'Oh, ah, eh! Well, perhaps not---forestalling sweet St. Valentine--- stepping into their nests they paddled. Though St. Valentine is past, and I thought our fortunes had been made, Mr. White, by calling this the English Naples, and what not.' B|9XqQ EI  
c0&! S-4M  
'Those are the puffs, my lord. There is a good deal of difference even between this and Rocca Marina, which is some way up the mountain.' xy&*s\=:  
TMs Cl6dB  
'It must be very beautiful,' said Miss Ada. pbWjTI$  
'Well, Miss Mohun, people do say it is striking.' And he was drawn into describing the old Italian mansion, purchased on the extinction of an ancient family of nobles, perched up on the side of a mountain, whose feet the sea laved, with a terrace whence there was a splendid view of the Gulf of Genoa, and fine slopes above and below of chestnut-trees and vineyards; and therewith he gave a hearty invitation to the company present to visit him there if ever they went to Italy, when he would have great pleasure in showing them many bits of scenery, and curious remains that did not fall in the way of ordinary tourists. :Y9/} b{  
Lady Rotherwood gratefully said she should remember the invitation if they went to the south, as perhaps they should do that very spring. uI%7jA~@  
'And,' said Ada, 'you are not to be expected to remain long in this climate when you have a home like that awaiting you.' JPng !tvR  
'Don't call it home, Miss Mohun,' he said. 'I have not had that these many years; but I declare, the first sound of our county dialect, when I got out at the station, made my heart leap into my mouth. I could have shaken hands with the fellow.'  HG?+b  
'Then I hope you will remain here for some time. There is much wanting to be set going,' said Jane. p^<(.+P4  
'So I thought of doing, and I had out a young fellow, who I thought might take my place---my partner's son, young Stebbing. They wrote that he had been learning Italian, with a view to being useful to me, and so on; but when he came out, what was he but a fine gentleman--- never had put his hand to a pick, nor a blasting-iron; and as to his Italian, he told me it was the Italian of Alfieri and Leopardi. Leopardi's Italian it might be, for it was a very mottled or motley tongue, but he might as well have talked English or Double-Dutch to our hands, or better, for they had picked up the meaning of some orders from me before I got used to their lingo. And then he says 'tis office work and superintendence he understands. How can you superintend, I told him, what you don't know yourself? No, no; go home and bring a pair of hands fit for a quarryman, before I make you overlooker.' =zK4jiM1  
~. vridH  
This was rather delightful, and it further appeared that he could answer all Jane's inquiries after her beloved promising lads whom he had deported to the Rocca Marina quarries. Gd%i?(U,R  
They were evidently kindly looked after, and she began to perceive that it was not such a bad place after all for them, more especially as he was in the act of building them a chapel, and one of his objects in coming to England was to find a chaplain; and as Lord Rotherwood said, he had come to the right shop, since Rockquay in the spring was likely to afford a choice of clergy with weak chests, or better still, with weak-chested wives, to whom light work in a genial climate would be the greatest possible boon. 0>BxS9?w  
Altogether the evening was very pleasant, only too short. It was a curious study for Jane Mohun how far Lady Rotherwood would give way to her husband. She always seemed to give way, but generally accomplished her own will in the end, and it was little likely that she would allow the establishment to await the influx of Merrifields, though certainly Gillian had done nothing displeasing all that evening except that terrible blushing, for which piece of ingenuousness her aunt loved her all the better. QGuqV8 y0  
RlL ]p`g  
At half-past ten next morning, however, Lord Rotherwood burst in to borrow Valetta for a donkey-ride, for which his lady had compounded instead of the paddling and castle-building, and certainly poor Val could not do much to corrupt Fly on donkey back, and in his presence. He further routed out Gillian, nothing loth, from her algebra, bidding her put on her seven-leagued boots, and not get bent double--- and he would fain have seized on his cousin Jane, but she was already gone off for an interview with the landlord of the most eligible of the two houses. ts,r,{  
Gillian and Valetta came back very rosy, and in fits of merriment. Lord Rotherwood had paid the donkey-boys to stay at home, and let him and Gillian take their place. They had gone out on the common above the town, with most amusing rivalries as to which drove the beast worst, making Mysie umpire. Then having attained a delightfully lonely place, Fly had begged for a race with Valetta, which failed, partly because Val's donkey would not stir, and partly because Fly could not bear the shaking; and then Lord Rotherwood himself insisted on riding the donkey that wouldn't go, and racing Gillian on the donkey that would---and he made his go so effectually that it ran away with him, and he pulled it up at last only just in time to save himself from being ignominiously stopped by an old fishwoman! ^Ye(b7Gd  
He had, as Aunt Jane said, regularly dipped Gill back into childhood, and she looked, spoke, and moved all the better for it. #4m5 I="  

只看该作者 15楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XV. The Rocks of Rockstone KgD sqwy  
Lord Rotherwood came in to try to wile his cousin to share in the survey of the country; but she declared it to be impossible, as all her avocations had fallen into arrear, and she had to find a couple of servants as well as a house for the Merrifields. This took her in the direction of the works, and Gillian proposed to go with her as far as the Giles's, there to sit a little while with Lilian, for whom she had a new book. _^Z v[P  
'My dear, surely you must be tired out!' exclaimed the stay-at-home aunt. kp-`_sDg  
'Oh no, Aunt Ada! Quite freshened by that blow on the common.' C1uV7t*\  
_Qq lOc9  
And Miss Mohun was not sorry, thinking that to leave Gillian free to come home by herself would be the best refutation of Mrs. Mount's doubts of her. _=9m [  
They had not, however, gone far on their way---on the walk rather unfrequented at this time of day---before Gillian exclaimed, 'Is that Kally? Oh! and who is that with her?' For there certainly was a figure in somewhat close proximity, the ulster and pork-pie hat being such as to make the gender doubtful. a :CeI  
'How late she is! I am afraid her mother is worse,' said Miss Mohun, quickening her steps a little, and, at the angle of the road, the pair in front perceived them. Kalliope turned towards them; the companion---about whom there was no doubt by that time---gave a petulant motion and hastened out of sight. A QPzId*z  
In another moment they were beside Kalliope, who looked shaken and trembling, with tears in her eyes, which sprang forth at the warm pressure of her hand. [,qb) &_  
'I am afraid Mrs. White is not so well,' said Miss Mohun kindly. ctL,Mqr\Z  
'She is no worse, I think, thank you, but I was delayed. Are you going this way? May I walk with you?' sp$W=Wu7  
D2}nJFR ]  
'I will come with you to the office,' said Miss Mohun, perceiving that she was in great need of an escort and protector. xFY;aK  
'Oh, thank you, thank you, if it is not too much out of your way.' ( {H5k''  
bO: Ei  
A few more words passed about Mrs. White's illness and what advice she was having. Miss Mohun could not help thinking that the daughter did not quite realise the extent of the illness, for she added--- :xfD>K  
'It was a good deal on the nerves and mind. She was so anxious about Mr. James White's arrival.' Z bxd,|<|  
'Have you not seen him?' Xcicqywe?  
4CS 9vv)9R  
'Oh no! Not yet.' Q4TI '/  
'I think you will be agreeably surprised,' said Gillian. And here they left her at Mrs. Giles's door. "L|Ew#  
'Yes,' added Miss Mohun, 'he gave me the idea of a kind, just man.' &dh%sFy  
'Miss Mohun,' said the poor girl, as soon as they were tete-a-tete, 'I know you are very good. Will you tell me what I ought to do? You saw just now---' Ve*NM|jg  
'I did; and I have heard.' 0B fqEAl  
Her face was all in a flame and her voice choked. 'He says---Mr. Frank does---that his mother has found out, and that she will tell her own story to Mr. White; and---and we shall all get the sack, as he calls it; and it will be utter misery, and he will not stir a finger to vindicate me; but if I will listen to him, he will speak to Mr. White, and bear me through; but I can't---I can't. I know he is a bad man; I know how he treated poor Edith Vane. I never can; and how shall I keep out of his way?' E .^5N~.  
'My poor child,' said Miss Mohun, 'it is a terrible position for you; but you are doing quite right. I do not believe Mr. White would go much by what that young man says, for I know he does not think highly of him.' ^kZfE"iE2  
'But he does go altogether by Mr. Stebbing---altogether, and I know he---Mr. Stebbing, I mean---can't bear us, and would not keep us on if he could help it. He has been writing for another designer---an artist---instead of me.' V3;4,^=6Dd  
JA W}]:jC  
'Still, you would be glad to have the connection severed?' x_9<&Aj6  
'Oh yes, I should be glad enough to be away; but what would become of my mother and the children?' 0P`wh=")  
'Remember your oldest friends are on their way home; and I will try to speak to Mr. White myself.' E%ea o$  
vl$! To9R"  
They had reached the little door of Kalliope's office, which she could open with a latch-key, and Miss Mohun was just about to say some parting words, when there was a sudden frightful rumbling sound, something between a clap of thunder and the carting of stones, and the ground shook under their feet, while a cry went up---loud, horror- struck men and women's voices raised in dismay. Z_' %'&Y  
Jane had heard that sound once before. It was the fall of part of the precipitous cliff, much of which had been quarried away. But in spite of all precautions, frost and rain were in danger of loosening the remainder, and wire fences were continually needing to be placed to prevent the walking above on edges that might be perilous. @usQ*k  
zQ{ Q>"-  
Where was it? What had it done? was the instant thought. Kalliope turned as pale as death; the girls came screaming and thronging out of their workshop, the men from their sheds, the women from the cottages, as all thronged to the more open space beyond the buildings where they could see, while Miss Mohun found herself clasped by her trembling niece. *XH?|SV  
Others were rushing up from the wharf. One moment's glance showed all familiar with the place that a projecting point, forming a sort of cusp in the curve of the bay, had gone, and it lay, a great shattered mass, fragments spreading far and wide, having crashed through the roof of a stable that stood below. ,}{E+e5jh7  
There was a general crowding forward to the spot, and crying and exclamation, and a shouting of 'All right' from above and below. Had any one come down with it? A double horror seized Miss Mohun as she remembered that her cousin was to inspect those parts that very afternoon. ).ugMuk  
(b{ {B$O  
She caught at the arm of a man and demanded, 'Was any one up there?' dUe"qH29s  
'Master's there, and some gentlemen; but they hain't brought down with it,' said the man. 'Don't be afraid, miss. Thank the Lord, no one was under the rock---horses even out at work.' Zv-6H*zM6  
p5 [uVRZ  
'Thank God, indeed!' exclaimed Miss Mohun, daring now to look up, and seeing, not very distinctly, some figures of men, who, however, were too high up and keeping too far from the dangerous broken edge for recognition. C9nNziws  
Room was made for the two ladies, by the men who knew Miss Mohun, to push forward, so as to have a clearer view of the broken wall and roof of the stable, and the great ruddy blue and white veined mass of limestone rock, turf, and bush adhering to what had been the top. j[HKC0C6  
X}!_p& WI  
There was a moment's silence through the crowd, a kind of awe at the spectacle and the possibilities that had been mercifully averted. ZJ 4"QsF  
Then one of the men said--- =oTYwU  
'That was how it was. I saw one of them above---not Stebbing---No--- coming out to the brow; and after this last frost, not a doubt but that must have been enough to bring it down.' ZX;k*OrW  
'Not railed off, eh?' said the voice of young Stebbing from among the crowd. _ICDtG^  
$ cK B+}  
'Well, it were marked with big stones where the rail should go,' said another. 'I know, for I laid 'em myself; but there weren't no orders given.' ;u};& sm  
'There weren't no stones either. Some one been and took 'em away,' added the first speaker. ;IuK2iDt<  
'I see how it is,' Frank Stebbing's metallic voice could plainly be heard, flavoured with an oath. 'This is your neglect, White, droning, stuck-up sneak as you always were and will be! I shall report this. Damage to property, and maybe life, all along of your confounded idleness.' " _:iK]  
And there were worse imprecations, which made Miss Mohun break out in a tone of shocked reproof--- V8sH{R-  
'Mr. Stebbing!' _M8G3QOx  
'I beg your pardon, Miss Mohun; I was not aware of your presence---' <Q2u)m'  
'Nor of a Higher One,' she could not help interposing, while he went on justifying himself. }7K@e;YUg  
'It is the only way to speak to these fellows; and it is enough to drive one mad to see what comes of the neglect of a conceited young ass above his business. Life and property---' UH[<&v  
'But life is safe, is it not?' she interrupted with a shudder. WfZF~$li`  
'Ay, ay, ma'am,' said the voice of the workman, 'or we should know it by this time.' 3-C\2  
But at that moment a faint, gasping cry caught Jane's ear. Xj@+{uvQB  
Others heard it too. It was a child's voice, and grew stronger after a moment. It came from the corner of the shed outside the stable. +ulagE|7  
'Oh, oh!' cried the women, pressing forward, 'the poor little Fields!'  #xh_  
Then it was recollected that Mrs. Field---one of those impracticable women on whom the shafts of school officers were lost, and who was always wandering in the town---had been seen going out, leaving two small children playing about, the younger under the charge of the elder. The father was a carter, and had been sent on some errand with the horses. \y`+B*\i  
This passed while anxious hands were struggling with stones and earth, foremost among them Alexis White. The utmost care was needful to prevent the superincumbent weight from falling in and crushing the life there certainly was beneath, happily not the rock from above, but some of the debris of the stable. Frank Stebbing and the foreman had to drive back anxious crowds, and keep a clear space. `*", <  
Then came running, shrieking, pushing her way through the men, the poor mother, who had to be forcibly withheld by Miss Mohun and one of the men from precipitating herself on the pile of rubbish where her children were buried, and so shaking it as to make their destruction certain. (?_S6H E  
Those were terrible moments; but when the mother's voice penetrated to the children, a voice answered--- /|xra8?H[  
'Mammy, mammy get us out, there's a stone on Tommy,'--at least so the poor woman understood the lispings, almost stifled; and she shrieked again, 'Mammy's coming, darlings!' ,3@#F/c3i~  
The time seemed endless, though it was probably only a few minutes before it was found that the children were against the angle of the shed, where the wall and a beam had protected the younger, a little girl of five, who seemed to be unhurt. But, alas! though the boy's limbs were not crushed, a heavy stone had fallen on his temple. 0:+WO%z  
The poor woman would not believe that life was gone. She disregarded the little one, who screamed for mammy and clutched her skirts, in spite of the attempts of the women to lift her up and comfort her; and gathering the poor lifeless boy in her arms, she alternately screamed for the doctor and uttered coaxing, caressing calls to the child. 5F~'gLH/F-  
She neither heard nor heeded Miss Mohun, with whom, indeed, her relations had not been agreeable; and as a young surgeon, sniffing the accident from afar, had appeared on the scene, and had, at the first glance, made an all too significant gesture, Jane thought it safe to leave the field to him and a kind, motherly, good neighbour, who promised her to send up to Beechcroft Cottage in case there was anything to be done for the unhappy woman or the poor father. Mr. Hablot, who now found his way to the spot, promised to walk on and prepare him: he was gone with a marble cross to a churchyard some five miles off. uB]b}"+l  
MerFZd 1  
Gillian had not spoken a word all this time. She felt perfectly stunned and bewildered, as if it was a dream, and she could not understand it. Only for a moment did she see the bleeding face and prone limbs of the poor boy, and that sent a shuddering horror over her, so that she felt like fainting; but she had so much recollection and self-consciousness, that horror of causing a sensation and giving trouble sent the blood back to her heart, and she kept her feet by holding hard to her aunt's arm and presently Miss Mohun felt how tight and trembling was the grasp, and then saw how white she was. `nZ)>  
'My dear, we must get home directly,' she said kindly. 'Lean on me--- there.' z{o' G3  
There was leisure now, as they turned away, for others to see the young lady's deadly paleness, and there were invitations to houses and offers of all succours at hand, but the dread of 'a fuss' further revived Gillian, and all that was accepted was a seat for a few moments and a glass of water, which Aunt Jane needed almost as much as she did. ?B}{GL2)  
/Z@tv .f  
Though the girl's colour was coming back, and she said she could walk quite well, both had such aching knees and such shaken limbs that they were glad to hold by each other as they mounted the sloping road, and half-way up Gillian came to a sudden stop. n8".XS  
'Aunt Jane,' she said, panting and turning pale again, 'you heard that dreadful man. Oh! do you think it was true? Fergus's bit of spar---Alexis not minding. Oh! then it is all our doing!' nysUZB  
'I can't tell. Don't you think about it now,' said Aunt Jane, feeling as if the girl were going to swoon on the spot in the shock. 'Consequences are not in our hands. Whatever it came from, and very sad it was, there was great mercy, and we have only to thank God it was no worse.' qpE&go=k'  
When at last aunt and niece reached home, they had no sooner opened the front door than Adeline came almost rushing out of the drawing- room. kZerKP  
'Oh! my dearest Jane,' she cried, clasping and kissing her sister, 'wasn't it dreadful? Where were you? Mr. White knows no one was hurt below, but I could not be easy till you came in.' , eZ1uBI?  
'Mr. White!' Y<Xz wro0  
'Yes; Mr. White was so kind as to come and tell me---and about Rotherwood.' 1Lg-.-V  
'What about Rotherwood?' exclaimed Miss Mohun, advancing into the drawing-room, where Mr. White had risen from his seat. L dm?JrU  
aS pWsT  
'Nothing to be alarmed about. Indeed, I assure you, his extraordinary presence of mind and agility---' sPpsq  
'What was it?' as she and Gillian each sank into a chair, the one breathless, the other with the faintness renewed by the fresh shock, but able to listen as Mr. White told first briefly, then with more detail, how---as the surveying party proceeded along the path at the top of the cliffs, he and Lord Rotherwood comparing recollections of the former outline, now much changed by quarrying---the Marquis had stepped out to a slightly projecting point; Mr. Stebbing had uttered a note of warning, knowing how liable these promontories were to break away in the end of winter, and happily Lord Rotherwood had turned and made a step or two back, when the rock began to give way under his feet, so that, being a slight and active man, a spring and bound forward had actually carried him safely to the firm ground, and the others, who had started back in self-preservation, then in horror, fully believing him borne down to destruction, saw him the next instant lying on his face on the path before them. When on his feet, he had declared himself unhurt, and solely anxious as to what the fall of rock might have done beneath; but he was reassured by those cries of 'All right' which were uttered before the poor little Fields were discovered; and then, when the party were going to make their way down to inspect the effects of the catastrophe, he had found that he had not escaped entirely unhurt. Of course he had been forced to leap with utter want of heed, only as far and wide as he could, and thus, though he had lighted on his feet, he had fallen against a stone, and pain and stiffness of shoulder made themselves apparent; though he would accept no help in walking back to the hotel, and was only anxious not to frighten his wife and daughter, and desired Mr. White, who had volunteered to go, to tell the ladies next door that he was convinced it was nothing, or, if anything, only a trifle of a collar-bone. Mr. White had, since the arrival of the surgeon, made an expedition of inquiry, and heard this verdict confirmed, with the further assurance that there was no cause for anxiety. The account of the damage and disaster below was new to him, as his partner had declared the stables to be certain to be empty, and moreover in need of being rebuilt; and he departed to find Mr. Stebbing and make inquiries. ^m /oDB-  
Miss Mohun, going to the hotel, saw the governess, and heard that all was going on well, and that Lord Rotherwood insisted that nothing was the matter, and would not hear of going to bed, but was lying on the sofa in the sitting-room. Her ladyship presently came out, and confirmed the account; but Jane agreed with her that, if possible, the knowledge of the poor child's death should be kept from him that night, lest the shock should make him feverish. However, in that very moment when she was off guard, the communication had been made by his valet, only too proud to have something to tell, and with the pleasing addition that Miss Mohun had had a narrow escape. Whereupon ensued an urgent message to Miss Mohun to come and tell him all about it. dDD<E?TjD  
* FeQ*`r  
Wife and cousin exchanged glances of consternation, and perhaps each knew she might be thankful that he did not come himself instead of sending, and yet feared that the abstinence was a proof more of incapacity than of submission. oR~e#<$;  
r{sebE\ ;  
Lying there in a dressing-gown over a strapped shoulder, he showed his agitation by being more than usually unable to finish a sentence. oW$s xS  
'Jenny, Jenny---you are---are you all safe? not frightened?' &,i~cG?  
5]jIg < j  
'Oh no, no, I was a great way off; I only heard the noise, and I did not know you were there.' ^GYq#q9Q  
'Ah! there must be---something must be meant for me to do. Heaven must mean---thank Him! But is it true---a poor child? Can't one ever be foolish without hurting more than one's self?' p\U*;'hv  
Jane told him the truth calmly and quietly, explaining that the survivor was entirely unhurt, and the poor little victim could not have suffered; adding with all her heart, 'The whole thing was full of mercy, and I do not think you need blame yourself for heedlessness, for it was an accident that the place was not marked.' Lp~^*j(  
'Shameful neglect' said Lady Rotherwood. ;\s~%~ \  
'The partner---what's-his-name---Stebbing---said something about his son being away. An untrustworthy substitute, wasn't there?' said Lord Rotherwood. lO_c/o$  
N GSS:  
'The son was the proficient in Leopardine Italian we heard of last night,' said Jane. 'I don't know what he may be as an overlooker here. He certainly fell furiously on the substitute, a poor cousin of Mr. White's own, but I am much afraid the origin of the mischief was nearer home---Master Fergus's geological researches.'  *0-v!\{  
'Fergus! Why, he is a mite.' % <^[j^j}o  
.r7D )xNa@  
'Yes, but Maurice encore. However, I must find out from him whether this is only a foreboding of my prophetic soul!' @X K>  
'Curious cattle,' observed Lord Rotherwood. 2T//%ys=  
'Well,' put in his wife, 'I do not think Ivinghoe has ever given us cause for anxiety.' ~!8%_J_  
'Exactly the reason that I am always expecting him to break out in some unexpected place! No, Victoria,' he added, seeing that she did not like this, 'I am quite ready to allow that we have a model son, and I only pity him for not having a model father.' _ff=B  
F,' ^se4&  
'Well, I am not going to stay and incite you to talk nonsense,' said Jane, rising to depart; 'I will let you know my discoveries.' >uBV  
She found Fergus watching for her at the gate, with the appeal, 'Aunt Jane, there's been a great downfall of cliff, and I want to see what formations it has brought to light, but they won't let me through to look at it, though I told them White always did.' !1a|5 xrn  
'I do not suppose that they will allow any one to meddle with it at present,' said Aunt Jane; then, as Fergus made an impatient exclamation, she added, 'Do you know that a poor little boy was killed, and Cousin Rotherwood a good deal hurt?' CfkNy[}=  
'Yes,' said Fergus, 'Big Blake said so.' /,rF$5G,  
'And now, Fergus, I want to know where you took that large stone from that you showed me with the crack of spar.' a_pCjG89  
, R.+-X  
'With the micaceous crystals,' corrected Fergus. 'It was off the top of that very cliff that fell down, so I am sure there must be more in it; and some one else will get them if they won't let me go and see for them.' se n{f^U  
-{:Lx E  
'And Alexis White gave you leave to take it?' l3pW{p  
(Q]Y> '  
'Oh yes, I always ask him.' WWs[]zr  
'Were you at the place when you asked him, Fergus?' 8J?`_  
'At the place on the cliff? No. For I couldn't find him for a long time, and I carried it all the way down the steps.' lLFBop  
'And you did not tell him where it came from?' u#,'ys  
'He didn't ask. Indeed, Aunt Jane, I always did show him what I took, and he would have let me in now, only he was not at the office; and the man at the gate, Big Blake, was as savage as a bear, and slammed the door on me, and said they wouldn't have no idle boys loafing about there. And when I said I wasn't an idle boy but a scientific mineralogist, and that Mr. Alexis White always let me in, he laughed in my face, and said Mr. Alexis had better look out for himself. I shall tell Stebbing how cheeky he was.' z n8ig/C  
'My dear Fergus, there was good reason for keeping you out. You did not know it, nor Alexis; but those stones were put to show that the cliff was getting dangerous, and to mark where to put an iron fence; and it was the greatest of mercies that Rotherwood's life was saved.' F+S#m3X  
vqZM89 xY  
The boy looked a little sobered, but his aunt had rather that his next question had not been: 'Do you think they will let me go there again!' *3($s_r>  
.6#2i <oPW  
However, she knew very well that conviction must slowly soak in, and that nothing would be gained by frightening him, so that all she did that night was to send a note by Mysie to her cousin, explaining her discovery; and she made up her mind to take Fergus to the inquest the next day, since his evidence would exonerate Alexis from the most culpable form of carelessness. K\Q 1/})  
Only, however, in the morning, when she had ascertained the hour of the inquest, did she write a note to Mrs. Edgar to explain Fergus's absence from school, or inform the boy of what she intended. On the whole he was rather elated at being so important as to be able to defend Alexis White, and he was quite above believing that scientific research could be reckoned by any one as mischief. i.&16AY  
u 05O[>w  
Just as Miss Mohun had gone up to get ready, Mysie ran in to say that Cousin Rotherwood would be at the door in a moment to take Fergus down. FMiYZ1^r  
'Lady Rotherwood can't bear his going,' said Mysie, 'and Mr. White and Mr. Stebbing say that he need not; but he is quite determined, though he has got his arm in a sling, for he says it was all his fault for going where he ought not. And he won't have the carriage, for he says it would shake his bones ever so much more than Shank's mare.' gi8kYHldH  
'Just like him,' said Aunt Jane. 'Has Dr. Dagger given him leave?' J{91 t |  
'Yes; he said it wouldn't hurt him; but Lady Rotherwood told Miss Elbury she was sure he persuaded him.' 7Y_S%B:F  
[z?q -$#  
Mysie's confused pronouns were cut short by Lord Rotherwood's own appearance. ms<?BgCSz  
'You need not go, Jane,' he said. 'I can take care of this little chap. They'll not chop off his head in the presence of one of the Legislature.' ^b'|`R+~}  
3S ,D~L^  
'Nice care to begin by chaffing him out of his wits,' she retorted. 'The question is, whether you ought to go.' 5Jlz$]f  
uAwT)km {  
'Yes, Jenny, I must go. It can't damage me; and besides, to tell the truth, it strikes me that things will go hard with that unlucky young fellow if some one is not there to stand up for him and elicit Fergus's evidence.' IDyf9Zra?  
s~W:N .}*  
'Alexis White!' uU=O0?'zq  
'White---ay, a cousin or something of the exemplary boss. He's been dining with his partners---the old White, I mean---and they've been cramming him---I imagine with a view to scapegoat treatment---jealousy, and all the rest of it. If there is not a dismissal, there's a hovering on the verge.' [9| 8p$  
'Exactly what I was afraid of,' said Jane. 'Oh, Rotherwood, I could tell you volumes. But may I not come down with you? Could not I do something?' ?`T< sk8c  
'Well, on the whole, you are better away, Jenny. Consider William's feelings. Womankind, even Brownies, are better out of it. Prejudice against proteges, whether of petticoats or cassocks---begging your pardon. I can fight battles better as an unsophisticated stranger coming down fresh, though I don't expect any one from the barony of Beechcroft to believe it, and maybe the less I know of your volumes the better till after--- f44b=,Lry5  
'Oh, Rotherwood, as if I wasn't too thankful to have you to send for me!' ]WZ_~8  
'There! I've kept the firm out there waiting an unconscionable time. They'll think you are poisoning my mind. Come along, you imp of science. Trust me, I'll not bully him, though it's highly tempting to make the chien chasser de race.' IYtM'!u  
g? 7%  
'Oh, Aunt Jane, won't you go?' exclaimed Gillian in despair, as her cousin waved a farewell at the gate. >3R%GNw  
EH;w <LvT  
'No, my dear; it is not for want of wishing, but he is quite right. He can do much better than I could.' zP\n<L5  
'But is he in earnest, aunt?' y( M-   
'Oh yes, most entirely, and I quite see that he is right---indeed I do, Gillian. People pretend to defer to a lady, but they really don't like her poking her nose in, and, after all, I could have no right to say anything. My only excuse for going was to take care of Fergus.' "bFt+N  
A further token of Lord Rotherwood's earnestness in the cause was the arrival of his servant, who was to bring down the large stone which Master Merrifield had moved, and who conveyed it in a cab, being much too grand to carry it through the streets. @vWC "W  
Gillian was very unhappy and restless, unable to settle to anything, and linking cause and effect together disconsolately in a manner Mysie, whom she admitted to her confidence, failed to understand. @xR7>-$0p  
v(^{ P  
'It was a great pity Fergus did not show Alexis where the stone came from, but I don't see what your not giving him his lessons had to do with it. Made him unhappy? Oh! Gilly dear, you don't mean any one would be too unhappy to mind his business for such nonsense as that! I am sure none of us would be so stupid if Mr. Pollock forgot our Greek lessons.' U#G[#sd> K  
'Certainly not,' said Gillian, almost laughing; 'but you don't understand, Mysie. It was the taking him up and letting him down, and I could not explain it, and it looked so nasty and capricious.' \{J gjd  
dA> t  
'Well, I suppose you ought to have asked Aunt Jane's leave; but I do think he must be a ridiculous young man if he could not attend to his proper work because you did not go after him when you were only just come home.' t/WauY2JUC  
sLK J<=0i  
'Ah, Mysie, you don't understand!' aUSxy8%  
Mysie opened a round pair of brown eyes, and said, 'Oh! I did think people were never so silly out of poetry. There was Wilfrid in Hokeby, to be sure. He was stupid enough about Matilda; but do you mean that he is like that!' #9O *@  
,=B "%=S  
'Don't, don't, you dreadful child; I wish I had never spoken to you,' cried Gillian, overwhelmed with confusion. 'You must never say a word to any living creature.' \:4WbM:B  
'I am sure I shan't,' said Mysie composedly; 'for, as far as I can see, it is all stuff. This Alexis never found out what Fergus was about with the stone, and so the mark was gone, and Cousin Rotherwood trod on it, and the poor little boy was killed; but as to the rest, Nurse Halfpenny would say it was all conceited maggots; and how you can make so much more fuss about that than about the poor child being crushed, I can't make out.' =DvFY]9{  
'But if I think it all my fault?' x6* {@J&5*  
x|_%R v  
'That's maggots,' returned Mysie with uncompromising common-sense. 'You aren't old enough, nor pretty enough, for any of that kind of stuff, Gill!' V=VL@=  
And Gillian found that either she must go without comprehension, or have a great deal more implied, if she turned for sympathy to any one save Aunt Jane, who seemed to know exactly how the land lay. W8,XSUl  

只看该作者 16楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XVI. Vanished ~kw[Aw3?D\  
It seemed to be a very long time before the inquest was over, and Aunt Jane had almost yielded to her niece's impatience and her own, and consented to walk down to meet the intelligence, when Fergus came tearing in, 'I've seen the rock, and there is a flaw of crystal- lisation in it! And the coroner-man called me an incipient geologist.' a~DR$^m  
Iy6 "2$%a  
'But the verdict?' n,bZj<3t  
'They said it was accidental death, and something about more care being taken and valuable lives endangered.' (x2I*<7P  
'And Alexis White---' |d?0ZA:z  
'Oh! there was a great bother about his not being there. They said it looked very bad; but they could not find him.' S-Mn  
'Not find him! Oh! Where is Cousin Rotherwood?' ,r!_4|\  
'He is coming home, and he said I might run on, and tell you that if you had time to come in to the hotel he would tell you about it.' 3.>M=K~09  
IJ >qs8  
With which invitation Miss Mohun hastened to comply; Gillian was ardent to come too, and it seemed cruel to prevent her; but, besides that Jane thought that her cousin might be tired enough to make his wife wish him to see as few people as possible, she was not sure that Gillian might not show suspicious agitation, and speech and action would not be free in her presence. So the poor girl was left to extract what she could from her little brother, which did not amount to much. jNRR=0  
It was a propitious moment, for Jane met Lord Rotherwood at the door of the hotel, parting with Mr. White; she entered with him, and his wife, after satisfying herself that he was not the worse for his exertions, was not sorry that he should have his cousin to keep him quiet in his easy-chair while she went off to answer a pile of letters which had just been forwarded from home. R-%v??  
'Well, Jenny,' he said, 'I am afraid your protege does not come out of it very well; that is, if he is your protege. He must be an uncommonly foolish young man.' nr*nX  
'I reserve myself on that point. But is it true that he never appeared?' qpEK36Js  
'Quite true.' i6-&$<  
'Didn't they send for him?' X B[C&3I  
'Yes; but he could not be found, either at the works or at home. However, the first might be so far accounted for, since he met at his desk a notice of dismissal from White and Stebbing.' ;_D5]kl`  
'No! Really. Concocted at that unlucky dinner yesterday! But, of course, it was not immediate.' ^ ^R4%C  
'Of course not, and perhaps something might have been done for him; but a man who disappears condemns himself.' ,wlSNb@'  
S.Fip _  
'But what for? I hope Fergus explained that the stone was not near the spot when he showed it.' 4)3!n*I  
'Yes; Fergus spoke up like a little man, and got more credit than he deserved. If they had known that of all varieties of boys the scientific is the worst imp of mischief! It all went in order due--- surgeon explained injuries to poor little being---men how the stone came down and they dug him out---poor little baby-sister made out her sad little story. That was the worst part of all. Something must be done for that child---orphanage or something---only unluckily there's the father and mother. Poor father! he is the one to be pitied. I mean to get at him without the woman. Well, then came my turn, and how I am afflicted with the habit of going where I ought not, and, only by a wonderful mercy, was saved from being part of the general average below. Then we got to the inquiry, Were not dangerous places railed off? Yes, Stebbing explained that it was the rule of the firm to have the rocks regularly inspected once a month, and once a fortnight in winter and spring, when the danger is greater. If they were ticklish, the place was marked at the moment with big stones, reported, and railed off. An old foreman-sort of fellow swore to having detected the danger, and put stones. He had reported it. To whom? To Mr. Frank. Yes, he thought it was Mr. Frank, just before he went away. It was this fellow's business to report it and send the order, it seems, and in his absence Alexander White, or whatever they call him, took his work. Well, the old man doesn't seem to know whether he mentioned the thing to young White or not, which made his absence more unlucky; but, anyway, the presence of the stones was supposed to be a sufficient indication of the need of the rail, or to any passenger to avoid the place. In fact, if Master White had been energetic, he would have seen to the thing. I fancy that is the long and short of it. But when the question came how the stones came to be removed, I put Fergus forward. The foreman luckily could identify his stone by the precious crack of spar; and the boy explained how he had lugged it down, and showed it to his friend far away from its place---had, in fact, turned over and displaced all the lot.' e-o s0F  
'Depend upon it, Alexis has gone out of the way to avoid accusing Fergus!' )M]4p6Y  
%1HW ) 7  
'Don't make me start, it hurts; but do you really believe that, Jane- --you, the common-sense female of the family?' ?EX'j >  
Zc9 n0t[  
'Indeed I do, he is a romantic, sensitive sort of fellow, who would not defend himself at the boy's expense.' ,+X8?9v  
'Whew! He might have stood still and let Fergus defend him, then, instead of giving up his own cause.' 0"QE,pLe4  
'And how did it end?' *@ o3{0[Z  
'Accidental death, of course; couldn't be otherwise; but censure on the delay and neglect of precaution, which the common opinion of the Court naturally concentrated on the absent; though, no doubt, the first omission was young Stebbing's; but owing to the hurry of his start for Italy, that was easily excused. And even granting that Fergus did the last bit of mischief, your friend may be romantically generous, if you please; but he must have been very slack in his work.' pE< ' '`  
k Mo)4 Xp  
'Poor fellow---yes. Now before I tell you what I know about him, I should like to hear how Mr. Stebbing represents him. You know his father was a lieutenant in the Royal Wardours.' ]| y H8m  
'Risen from the ranks, a runaway cousin of White's. Yes, and there's a son in a lawyer's office always writing to White for money.' &EPEpN R  
p|d9 g ^  
'Oh! I never had much notion of that eldest---' pT@!O}'$  
Q!X_&ao )O  
'They have no particular claim on White; but when the father died he wrote to Stebbing to give those that were old enough occupation at the works, and see that the young ones got educated.' i?>> 9f@F  
'So he lets the little boys go to the National School, though there's no great harm in that as yet.' 9`C iE  
'He meant to come and see after them himself, and find out what they are made of. But meantime this youth, who did well at first, is always running after music and nonsense of all kinds, thinking himself above his business, neglecting right and left; while as to the sister, she is said to be very clever at designing---both ways in fact---so determined to draw young Stebbing in, that, having got proof of it at last, they have dismissed her too. And, Jane, I hardly like to tell you, but somehow they mix Gillian up in the business. They ate it up again when I cut them short by saying she was my cousin, her mother and you like my sisters. I am certain it is all nonsense, but had you any notion of any such thing? It is insulting you, though, to suppose you had not,' he added, as he saw her air of acquiescence; 'so, of course, it is all right.' fb0T/JT w  
'It is not all right, but not so wrong as all that. Oh no! and I know all about it from poor Gill herself and the girl. Happily they are both too good girls to need prying. Well, the case is this. There was a quarrel about a love story between the two original Whites, who must both have had a good deal of stuff in them. Dick ran away, enlisted, rose, and was respected by Jasper, etc., but was married to a Greco-Hibernian wife, traditionally very beautiful, poor woman, though rather the reverse at present. Lily and her girls did their best for the young people with good effect on the eldest girl, who really in looks and ways is worthy of her Muse's name, Kalliope. Father had to retire with rank of captain, and died shortly after. Letters failed to reach the Merrifields, who were on the move. This Quarry cousin was written to, and gave the help he described to you. Perhaps it was just, but it disappointed them, and while the father lived, Alexis had been encouraged to look to getting to the University and Holy Orders. He has a good voice, and the young curate at the Kennel patronised him, perhaps a little capriciously, but I am not quite sure. All this was unknown to me till the Merrifield children came, and Gillian, discovering these Whites, flew upon them in the true enthusiastic Lily-fashion, added to the independence of the modern maiden mistrustful of old cats of aunts. Like a little goose, she held trystes with Kalliope, through the rails at the top of the garden on Sunday afternoons.' %|`:5s-T%  
'Only Kalliope!' oN&rq6eN  
;I!+ lx3[  
'Cela va sans dire. The brother was walking the young ones on the cliffs whence she had been driven by the attentions of Master Frank Stebbing. Poor thing, she is really beautiful enough to be a misfortune to her, and so is the youth---Maid of Athens, Irish eyes, plus intellect. Gill lent books, and by and by volunteered to help the lad with his Greek.' (B>yaM#5  
'Whew---' ) >>u|#@z  
6obQ9L c  
'Just as she would teach a night-school class. She used to give him lessons at his sister's office. I find that as soon as Kalliope found it was unknown to me she protested, and did all in her power to prevent it, but Gillian had written all to her mother, and thought that sufficient.' pd=7^"[};  
'And Lily---? Victoria would have gone crazy---supposing such a thing possible,' he added, sotto voce. s ;48v  
'Lily was probably crazy already between her sick husband and her bridal daughters, for she answered nothing intelligible. However, absence gave time for reflection, and Gillian came home after her visits convinced by her own good sense and principle that she had not acted fairly towards us, so that, of her own accord, the first thing she did was to tell me the whole, and how much the sister had always objected. She was quite willing that I should talk it over with Kalliope before she went near them again, but I have never been able really to do so.' uRP Ff77  
'Then it was all Greek and---"Lilyism!" Lily's grammar over again, eh!' S45'j(S=  
'On her side, purely so---but I am afraid she did upset the boy's mind. He seems to have been bitterly disappointed at what must have appeared like neglect and offence---and oh! you know how silly youths can be---and he had Southern blood too, poor fellow, and he went mooning and moping about, I am afraid really not attending to his business; and instead of taking advantage of the opening young Stebbing's absence gave him of showing his abilities, absolutely gave them the advantage against him, by letting them show him up as an idle fellow.' tO7I&LNE  
& wOE\TCL  
'Or worse. Stebbing talked of examining the accounts, to see if there were any deficiency.' ]uAS+shQ&  
'That can be only for the sake of prejudicing Mr. White---they cannot really suspect him.' a&N%|b K  
'If not, it was very good acting, and Stebbing appears to me just the man to suspect a parson's pet, and a lady's---as he called this unlucky fellow.' i+1Qf  
(_ U^  
'Ask any of the workmen---ask Mr. Flight.' |by@ :@*y  
=zOe b/  
'Well, I wish he had come to the front. It looks bad for him, and your plea, Jenny, is more like Lily than yourself.' cQn)^jx=  
'Thank you; I had rather be like Lily than myself.' Nxi)Q$  
'And you are equally sure that the sister is maligned?' TGpSulg7  
$ eX*  
'Quite sure---on good evidence---the thing is how to lay it all before Mr. White, for you see these Stebbings evidently want to prevent him from taking to his own kindred---you must help me, Rotherwood.' Rcf=J){D6  
,LZ(^ u  
'When I am convinced,' he said. 'My dear Jenny, I beg your pardon---I have an infinite respect for your sagacity, but allow me to observe, though your theory holds together, still it has rather an ancient and fish-like smell.' B{PLIisc  
'I only ask you to investigate, and make him do so. Listen to any one who knows, to any one but the Stebbings, and you will find what an admirable girl the sister is, and that the poor boy is perfectly blameless of anything but being forced into a position for which he was never intended, and of all his instincts rebelling.' gIBpOPr^d  
They were interrupted by the arrival of the doctor, whom Lady Rotherwood had bound over to come and see whether her husband was the worse for his exertions. He came in apologising most unnecessarily for his tardiness. And in the midst of Miss Mohun's mingled greeting and farewell, she stood still to hear him say that he had been delayed by being called in to that poor woman, Mrs. White, who had had a fit on hearing the policeman inquiring for that young scamp, her son. 6g|#ho1Bbs  
'The policeman!' ejaculated Jane in consternation. shNE~TA  
'It was only to summon him to attend the inquest,' explained Dr. Dagger, 'but there was no one in the house with her but a little maid, and the shock was dreadful. If he has really absconded, it looks exceedingly ill for him.' 6: GN(R$0  
I^@.Aw t  
'I believe he has only been inattentive,' said Jane firmly, knowing that she ought to go, and yet feeling constrained to wait long enough to ask what was the state of the poor mother, and if her daughter were with her. C6CGj8G  
'The daughter was sent for, and seems to be an effective person--- uncommonly handsome, by the bye. The attack was hysteria, but there is evidently serious disease about her, which may be accelerated.' BJ"Ay@D*  
'I thought so. I am afraid she has had no advice.' ^GrNfB[Qu  
'No; I promised the daughter to come and examine her to-morrow when she is calmer, and if that son is good for anything, he may have returned.' ~+7ad$   
And therewith Jane was forced to go away, to carry this wretched news to poor Gillian. DQL06`pX/  
c ,g]0S?gu  
Aunt and niece went as soon as the mid-day meal was over to inquire for poor Mrs. White, and see what could be done. She was sleeping under an opiate, and Kalliope came down, pale as marble, but tearless. She knew nothing of her brother since she had given him his breakfast that morning. He had looked white and haggard, and had not slept, neither did he eat. She caught at the theory that had occurred to Miss Mohun, that he did not like to accuse Fergus, for even to her he had not mentioned who had removed the stone. In that case he might return at night. Yet it was possible that he did not know even now whence the stone had come, and it was certain that he had been at his office that morning, and opened the letter announcing his dismissal. Kalliope, going later, had found the like notice, but had had little time to dwell on it before she had been summoned home to her mother. Poor Mrs. White had been much shaken by the first reports of yesterday's accident, which had been so told to her as to alarm her for both her children; and when her little maid rushed in to say that 'the pelis was come after Mr. Alec,' it was no wonder that her terror threw her into a most alarming state, which made good Mrs. Lee despatch her husband to bring home Kalliope; and as the attack would not yield to the soothing of the women or to their domestic remedies, but became more and more delirious and convulsive, the nearest doctor was sent for, and Dr. Dagger, otherwise a higher flight than would have been attempted, was caught on his way and brought in to discover how serious her condition already was. f4 Sw,A  
This Kalliope told them with the desperate quietness of one who could not afford to give way. Her own affairs were entirely swallowed up in this far greater trouble, and for the present there were no means of helping her. Mr. and Mrs. Lee were thoroughly kind, and ready to give her efficient aid in her home cares and her nursing; and it could only be hoped that Alexis might come back in the evening, and set the poor patient's mind at rest. / %U~lr  
'We will try to make Mr. White come to a better understanding,' said Miss Mohun kindly. 4LKs'$:A=  
'Thank you' said Kalliope, pushing back her hair with a half- bewildered look. 'I remember my poor mother was very anxious about that. But it seems a little thing now.' V[M$o  
 =R24 h  
'May God bless and help you, my dear,' said Miss Mohun, with a parting kiss. *d,n2a#n5  
Gillian had not spoken all the time; but outside she said--'Oh, aunt! is this my doing?' /<Nt$n  
'Not quite,' said Aunt Jane kindly. 'There were other causes.' |,~A9  
kqB 00 ;  
'Oh, if I could do anything!' ~"B[6^sW  
'Alas! it is easier to do than to undo.' ti% e.p0[  
u] b6>  
Aunt Jane was really kind, and Gillian was grateful, but oh, how she longed for her mother! Q0-~&e_'  
There was no better news the next morning. Nothing had been heard of Alexis, and nothing would persuade his mother in her half-delirious and wholly unreasonable state that he had not been sent to prison, and that they were not keeping it from her. She was exceedingly ill, and Kalliope had been up all night with her. .v{ty  
Such was the report in a note sent up by Mrs. Lee by one of the little boys early in the morning, and, as soon as she could reasonably do so, Miss Mohun carried the report to Lord Rotherwood, whom she found much better, and anxious to renew the tour of inspection which had been interrupted. `XQ5>c  
Before long, Mr. White was shown in, intending to resume the business discussion, and Miss Mohun was about to retreat with Lady Rotherwood, when her cousin, taking pity on her anxiety, said--- +=O:z *O  
uo0(W3Q *  
'If you will excuse me for speaking about your family matters, Mr. White, my cousin knows these young people well, and I should like you to hear what she has been telling me.' 2iUF%>  
^t| %!r G  
'A gentleman has just been calling on me about them,' said Mr. White, not over-graciously. (|WqOwmoUt  
'Mr. Flight?' asked Jane anxiously. ?8`b  
p2\@E} z  
'Yes; a young clergyman, just what we used to call Puseyite when I left England; but that name seems to be gone out now.' yj-BLR5  
'Anyway,' said Jane, 'I am sure he had nothing but good to say of Miss White, or indeed of her brother; and I am afraid the poor mother is very ill.' V_^p?Fi #  
' >4 H#tu  
'That's true, Miss Mohun; but you see there may be one side to a lady or a parson, and another to a practical man like my partner. Not but that I should be willing enough to do anything in reason for poor Dick's widow and children, but not to keep them in idleness, or letting them think themselves too good to work.' \SKobO?qI  
'That I am sure these two do not. Their earnings quite keep the family. I know no one who works harder than Miss White, between her business, her lodgers, the children, and her helpless mother.' TsVU^Z%W  
"o)jB~ :L  
'I saw her mosaics---very fair, very clever, some of them; but I'm afraid she is a sad little flirt, Miss Mohun.' CFXr=.yz  
'Mr. White,' said Lord Rotherwood, 'did ever you hear of a poor girl beset by an importunate youth, but his family thought it was all her fault?' xc}kDpF=g  
'If Mr. White would see her,' said Jane, 'he would understand at a glance that the attraction is perfectly involuntary; and I know from other sources how persistently she has avoided young Stebbing; giving up Sunday walks to prevent meeting him, accepting nothing from him, always avoiding tete-a-tetes.' qND:LP\_v  
'Hum! But tell me this, madam,' said Mr. White eagerly, 'how is it that, if these young folks are so steady and diligent as you would make out, that eldest brother writes to me every few months for help to support them?' 558!?kx$  
p0D@O_ :5  
'Oh!' Jane breathed out, then, rallying, 'I know nothing about that eldest. Yes, I do though! His sister told my niece that all the rents of the three houses went to enable Richard to appear as he ought at the solicitor's office at Leeds.' ps^["3e  
'There's a screw loose somewhere plainly,' said Lord Rotherwood. HdyE`FY\  
TW wE3{iF  
'The question is, where it is,' said Mr. White. %$bhg&}  
sn Ou  
'And all I hope, said Jane, 'is that Mr. White will judge for himself when he has seen Kalliope and made inquiries all round. I do not say anything for the mother, poor thing, except that she is exceedingly ill just now, but I do thoroughly believe in the daughter.' W}|k!_/  
'And this runaway scamp, Miss Mohun?' !<F5W <V  
'I am afraid he is a runaway; but I am quite sure he is no scamp,' said Jane. gEmsPk,  
'Only so clever as to be foolish, eh?' said the Marquis, rather provokingly. K~qKr<)  
cdg &)  
'Exactly so,' she answered; 'and I am certain that if Mr. White will trust to his own eyes and his own inquiries, he will find that I am right.' v5L#H=P  
D ~NWP%H  
She knew she ought to go, and Lord Rotherwood told her afterwards, 'That was not an ill-aimed shaft, Jane. Stebbing got more than one snub over the survey. I see that White is getting the notion that there's a system of hoodwinking going on, and of not letting him alone, and he is not the man to stand that.' 6/|"y  
'If he only would call on Kalliope!' 6hqqZ  
'I suspect he is afraid of being beguiled by such a fascinating young woman.' 3hNb ?  
^ px)W,O  
It was a grievous feature in the case to Gillian that she could really do nothing. Mrs. White was so ill that going to see Kalliope was of no use, and Maura was of an age to be made useful at home; and there were features in the affair that rendered it inexpedient for Gillian to speak of it except in the strictest confidence to Aunt Jane or Mysie. It was as if she had touched a great engine, and it was grinding and clashing away above her while she could do nothing to stay its course. Dv+:d4|"  

只看该作者 17楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XVII. 'They Come, They Come' UP;Q=t  
   j z~[5m}J  
Dr. Dagger examined Mrs. White and pronounced that there had been mortal disease of long standing, and that she had nearly, if not quite, reached the last stage. While people had thought her selfish, weak, and exacting, she must really have concealed severe suffering, foolishly perhaps, but with great fortitude. /_V'DJV  
And from hearing this sentence, Kalliope had turned to find at last tidings of her brother in a letter written from Avoncester, the nearest garrison town. He told his sister that, heart-broken already at the result of what he knew to be his own presumption, and horrified at the fatal consequences of his unhappy neglect, he felt incapable of facing any of those whom he had once called his friends, and the letter of dismissal had removed all scruples. Had it not been for his faith and fear, he would have put an end to his life, but she need have no alarms on that score. He had rushed away, scarce knowing what he was doing, till he had found himself on the road to Avoncester and then had walked on thither and enlisted in the regiment quartered there, where he hoped to do his duty, having no other hope left in life! =7 VCtd/  
@l~7 x  
Part of this letter Kalliope read to Miss Mohun, who had come down to hear the doctor's verdict. It was no time to smile at the heart being broken by the return of a valentine, or all hope in life being over before twenty. Kalliope, who knew what the life of a private was, felt wretched over it, and her poor mother was in despair; but Miss Mohun tried to persuade her that it was by no means an unfortunate thing, since Alexis would be thus detained safely and within reach till Sir Jasper arrived to take up the matter, and Mr. White had been able to understand it. D`VFf\7  
'Yes; but he cannot come to my poor mother. And Richard will be so angry---think it such a degradation.' m'x;,xfY&F  
[2 zt ^  
'He ought not. Your father---' NfzF.{nh  
'Oh! but he will. And I must write to him. Mother has been asking for him.' < <Y}~N  
'Tell me, my dear, has Richard ever helped you?' `#mK*Buem}  
'Oh no, poor fellow, he could not. He wants all we can send him, or we would have put the little boys to a better school.' &53]sFZ  
'I would not write before it is absolutely necessary,' said Miss Mohun. 'A young man hanging about with nothing to do, even under these circumstances, might make things harder.' Bq\F?zk<  
'Yes, I know,' said Kalliope, with a trembling lip. 'And if it was urgent, even Alexis might come. Indeed, I ought to be thankful that he is safe, after all my dreadful fears, and not far off.' XgN` 7!Z  
4'j sDcs  
Miss Mohun refrained from grieving the poor girl by blaming Alexis for the impetuous selfish folly that had so greatly added to the general distress of his family, and rendered it so much more difficult to plead his cause. In fact, she felt bound to stand up as his champion against all his enemies, though he was less easy of defence than his sister; and Mr. Flight, the first person she met afterwards, was excessively angry and disappointed, speaking of such a step as utter ruin. n55Pv3}C  
u p.Q>28r  
'The lad was capable of so much better things,' said he. 'I had hoped so much of him, and had so many plans for him, that it is a grievous pity; but he had no patience, and now he has thrown himself away. I told him it was his first duty to maintain his mother, and if he had stuck to that, I would have done more for him as soon as he was old enough, and I could see what was to be done for the rest of them; but he grew unsettled and impatient, and this is the end of it!' j4?@(u9;j  
'Not the end, I hope,' said Miss Mohun. 'It is not exactly slavery without redemption.' jV(6>BAI_  
'He does not deserve it.' C> [ Uvc  
'Who does? Besides, remember what his father was.' S$2b>#@UJ  
G|\^{ 5   
'His father must have been of the high-spirited, dare-devil sort. This lad was made for a scholar---for the priesthood, in fact, and the army will be more uncongenial than these marble works! Foolish fellow, he will soon have had enough of it, with his refinement, among such associates.' cWajrLw  
Jane wondered that the young clergyman did not regret that he had sufficiently tried the youth's patience to give the sense of neglect and oblivion. There had been many factors in the catastrophe, and this had certainly been one, since the loan of a few books, and an hour a week of direction of study, would have kept Alexis contented, and have obviated all the perilous intercourse with Gillian; but she scarcely did the Rev. Augustine Flight injustice in thinking that in the aesthetic and the emotional side of religion he somewhat lost sight of the daily drudgery that works on character chiefly as a preventive. 'He was at the bottom of it, little as he knows it,' she said to herself as she walked up the hill. 'How much harm is done by good beginnings of a skein left to tangle.' %7g:}O$  
Lady Flight provided a trained nurse to help Kalliope, and sent hosts of delicacies; and plenty of abuse was bestowed on Mr. James White for his neglect. Meanwhile Mrs. White, though manifestly in a hopeless state, seemed likely to linger on for some weeks longer. )etmE  
In the meantime, Miss Mohun at last found an available house, and was gratified by the young people's murmur that 'Il Lido' was too far off from Beechcroft. But then their mother would be glad to be so near St. Andrew's, for she belonged to the generation that loved and valued daily services. )EyI0R]5  
Lord Rotherwood, perhaps owing to his exertions, felt the accident more than he had done at first, and had to be kept very quiet, which he averred to be best accomplished by having the children in to play with him; and as he always insisted on sending for Valetta to make up the party, the edict of separation fell to the ground, when Lady Rotherwood, having written his letters for him, went out for a drive, taking sometimes Miss Elbury, but more often Adeline Mohun, who flattered herself that her representations had done much to subdue prejudice and smooth matters. ydv3owN  
'Which always were smooth,' said Jane; 'smooth and polished as a mahogany table, and as easy to get into.' } wSi~^*  
However, she was quite content that Ada should be the preferred one, and perhaps no one less acute than herself would have felt that the treatment as intimates and as part of the family was part of the duty of a model wife. Both sisters were in request to enliven the captive, and Jane forebore to worry him with her own anxieties about the present disgrace of the Whites. Nothing could be done for Kalliope in her mother's present state, Alexis must drink of his own brewst, and Sir Jasper and Lady Merrifield were past Brindisi! As to Mr. White, he seemed to be immersed in business, and made no sign of relenting; Jane had made one or two attempts to see him, but had not succeeded. Only one of her G.F.S. maidens, who was an enthusiastic admirer of Kalliope, and in perfect despair at her absence, mentioned that Mr. White had looked over all their work and had been immensely struck with Miss White's designs, and especially with the table inlaid with autumn leaves, which had been set aside as expensive, unprofitable, and not according to the public taste, and not shown to him on his first visit to the works with Mr. Stebbing. There were rumours in the air that he was not contented with the state of things, and might remain for some time to set them on a different footing. -7'#2P<)  
o 6j"OZcv  
Miss Adeline had been driving with Lady Rotherwood, and on coming in with her for the afternoon cup of tea, found Mr. White conversing with Lord Rotherwood, evidently just finishing the subject---a reading-room or institute of some sort for the men at the works. s*,cF6  
'All these things are since my time,' said Mr. White. 'We were left pretty much to ourselves in those days.' <*@~n- R$  
'And what do you think? Should you have been much the better for them?' asked the Marquis. gB+ G'I  
'Some of us would,' was the answer. thV Tdz  
t[q3 {-  
'You would not have thought them a bore!' [$oM  
'There were some who would, as plenty will now; but we were a rough set---we had not so much to start with as the lads, willy nilly, have now. But I should have been glad of books, and diversion free from lawlessness might have prevented poor Dick's scrapes. By the bye, that daughter of his can do good work.' wV?[3bEhM  
'Poor thing,' said Miss Adeline, 'she is a very good girl, and in great trouble. I was much pleased with her, and I think, she has behaved remarkably well under very trying circumstances.' x={kjym L  
'I observed that the young women in the mosaic department seemed to be much attached to her,' said Mr. White. &9S8al 8"  
'My sister thinks she has been an excellent influence there.' UwvGr h  
'She was not there,' said Mr. White. -N /8Ho  
'No; her mother is too ill to be left---dying, I should think, from what I hear.' i4{ /  
'From the shock of that foolish lad's evasion?' asked Lord Rotherwood. n41\y:CAo  
'She was very ill before, I believe, though that brought it to a crisis. No one would believe how much that poor girl has had depending on her. I wish she had been at the works---I am sure you would have been struck with her.' x/jN& ;"/  
'Have you any reason to think they are in any distress, Miss Mohun?' |2t7mat  
'Not actually at present; but I do not know what they are to do in future, with the loss of the salaries those two have had,' said Adeline, exceedingly anxious to say neither too much nor too little. !&:W1Jkp(  
. eag84_  
'There is the elder brother.' `r0 qn'*  
'Oh! he is no help, only an expense.' n~cm?"  
'Miss Mohun, may I ask, are you sure of that?' kF~e3A7C  
;XuE Mq,Di  
'As sure as I can be of anything. I have always heard that the rents of their two or three small houses went to support Richard, and that they entirely live on the earnings of the brother and sister, except that you are so good as to educate the younger girl. It has come out casually---they never ask for anything.' S*@0%|Q4r  
Mr. White looked very thoughtful. Adeline considered whether importunity would do most harm or good; but thought her words might work. When she rose to take leave, Mr. White did the same, 'evidently,' thought she, 'for the sake of escorting her home,' and she might perhaps say another word in confidence for the poor young people. She had much reliance, and not unjustly, on her powers of persuasion, and she would make the most of those few steps to her own door. z*1K<w8  
'Indeed, Mr. White,' she began, 'excuse me, but I cannot help being very much interested in those young people we were speaking of.' H:6$) #  
'That is your goodness, Miss Mohun. I have no doubt they are attractive---there's no end to the attractiveness of those Southern folk they belong to---on one side of the house at least, but unfortunately you never know where to have them---there's no truth in them; and though I don't want to speak of anything I may have done for them, I can't get over their professing never to have had anything from me.' c2/HY8ttRD  
'May I ask whether you sent it through that eldest brother?' /&yT2p  
'Certainly; he always wrote to me.' *M:Bhw  
\1Zf Sc  
'Then, Mr. White, I cannot help believing that the family here never heard of it. Do you know anything of that young man?' /?sV\shy  
'No; I will write to his firm and inquire. Thank you for the hint, Miss Mohun.' yxH[uJpb  
They were at Beechcroft Cottage gate, and he seemed about to see her even to the door. At that instant a little girlish figure advanced and was about to draw back on perceiving that Miss Adeline was not alone, when she exclaimed, 'Maura, is it you, out so late! How is your mother?' +U[A.^t  
MZ0 J/@(  
'Much the same, thank you, Miss Adeline!' Wa wOap  
'Here is one of the very young folks we were mentioning,' said Ada, seeing her opportunity and glad that there was light enough to show the lady-like little figure. 'This is Maura, Mr. White, whom you are kindly educating.' t~3!| @3i  
Mr. White took the hand, which was given with a pretty respectful gesture, and said something kind about her mother's illness, while Adeline took the girl into the house and asked if she had come on any message. c~SR@ZU  
 4 Fl>XM  
'Yes, if you please,' said Maura, blushing; 'Miss Mohun was so kind as to offer to lend us an air-cushion, and poor mamma is so restless and uncomfortable that Kally thought it might ease her a little.' *+(rQ";x  
Fs"i fn0  
'By all means, my dear. Come in, and I will have it brought,' said Adeline, whose property the cushion was, and who was well pleased that Mr. White came in likewise, and thus had a full view of Maura's great wistful, long-lashed eyes, and delicate refined features, under a little old brown velvet cap, and the slight figure in a gray ulster. He did not speak while Maura answered Miss Adeline's inquiries, but when the cushion had been brought down, and she had taken it under her arm, he exclaimed--- \HXq~Y  
'Is she going back alone?' dP?prT  
'Oh yes,' said Maura cheerfully; 'it is not really dark out of doors yet.' Ie(i1?`A8  
@oE 5JM  
'I suppose it could not be helped,' said Miss Adeline. gYD1A\  
E +_n@t"  
'No; Theodore is at the school. They keep him late to get things ready for the inspection, and Petros had to go to the doctor's to fetch something; but he will meet me if he is not kept waiting.' /?eVWCR  
'It is not fit for a child like that to go alone so late,' said Mr. White, who perhaps had imbibed Italian notions of the respectability of an escort. 'I will walk down with her.' B&]`OO>O  
Maura looked as if darkness were highly preferable to such a cavalier; but Miss Adeline was charmed to see them walk off together, and when her sister presently came in with Gillian and Fergus, she could not but plume herself a little on her achievement. }u_D{bz  
t7f(%/] H0  
'Then it was those two!' exclaimed Jane. 'I thought so from the other side of the street, but it was too dark to be certain; and besides, there was no believing it.' Ui'v ' $  
'Did not they acknowledge you?' Ic'D# m  
'Oh no; they were much too busy.' ;pm/nu  
'Talking. Oh, what fun!' Adeline could not help observing in such glee that she looked more like 'our youngest girl' than the handsome middle-aged aunt. ?$`kT..j,u  
Z'A 3\f   
'But,' suggested Fergus, somewhat astonished, 'Stebbing says he is no end of a horrid brute of a screw.' Y;R,ph.a  
'Indeed. What has he been doing?' (gY W iz  
'He only tipped him a coach wheel.' mW{uChHP  
'Well, to tip over as a coach wheel is the last thing I should have expected of Mr. White,' said Aunt Jane, misunderstanding on purpose. ?7)v:$(G}  
M]k Q{(  
'A crown piece then,' growled Fergus; 'and of course he thought it would be a sovereign, and so he can't pay me my two ten--shillings, I mean, that I lent him, and so I can't get the lovely ammonite I saw at Nott's.' Vb#a ,t  
'How could you be so silly as to lend him any money?' (||qFu9a  
xc @$z* w  
'I didn't want to; but he said he would treat us all round if I wouldn't be mean, and after all I only got half a goody, with all the liqueur out of it.' :, v(l q  
'It served you right,' said Gillian. 'I doubt whether you would see the two shillings again, even if he had the sovereign.' 7=X6_AD  
'He faithfully promised I should,' said Fergus, whose allegiance was only half broken. 'And old White is a beast, and no mistake. He was perfectly savage to Stebbing's major, and he said he wouldn't be under him, at no price.' Citumc)E  
'Perhaps Mr. White might say the same,' put in Aunt Ada. 5B8/"G  
'He is a downright old screw and a bear, I tell you,' persisted Fergus. 'He jawed Frank Stebbing like a pickpocket for just having a cigar in the quarry.' TK> ~)hc}  
'Close to the blasting powder, eh?' said Miss Mohun. [*ug:PG  
'And he is boring and worrying them all out of their lives over the books,' added Fergus. 'Poking his nose into everything, so that Stebbing says his governor vows he can't stand it, and shall cut the concern it the old brute does not take himself off to Italy before long.' 1l}fX}5%I;  
'What a good thing!' thought both sisters, looking into each other's eyes and auguring well for the future. m]VOw)mBF  
All were anxious to hear the result of Maura's walk, and Gillian set out in the morning on a voyage of discovery with a glass of jelly for Mrs. White; but all she could learn was that the great man had been very kind to Maura, though he had not come in, at which Gillian was indignant. ]~'pYOB  
$"{I| UFC  
'Men are often shy of going near sickness and sorrow,' said her aunt Ada. 'You did not hear what they talked about?' l|  QQ  
'No; Maura was at school, and Kally is a bad person to pump.' 9':MD0P/M  
#P-T4 R  
'I should like to pump Mr. White,' was Aunt Jane's comment. 5vqh09-FB  
'If I could meet him again,' said Aunt Ada, 'I feel sure he would tell me.' zkmfu~_)  
Her sister laughed a little, so well did she know that little half- conscious, half-gratified tone of assumption of power over the other sex; but Miss Adeline proved to be right. Nay, Mr. White actually called in the raw cold afternoon, which kept her in when every one else was out. He came for the sake of telling her that he was much pleased with the little girl---a pretty creature, and simple and true, he really believed. Quite artlessly, in answer to his inquiries, she had betrayed that her eldest brother never helped them. 'Oh no! Mamma was always getting all the money she could to send to him, because he must keep up appearances at his office at Leeds, and live like a gentleman, and it did not signify about Kalliope and Alexis doing common work.' %_%/ym  
'That's one matter cleared up,' rejoiced Jane. 'It won't be brought up against them now.' 1hnw+T<<W  
3 2MdDa  
'And then it seems he asked the child about her sister's lovers.' V<%eWT)x7C  
'Oh!' ?Dr K2;q  
'It was for a purpose. Don't be old maidish, Jenny!' BM,]Wjfdj  
$q iY)RE  
'Well, he isn't a gentleman.' '<JNS8h  
'Now, Jane, I'm sure---' J\@W+/#dF  
'Never mind. I want to hear; only I should have thought you would have been the first to cry out.' euyd(y$'k  
'Little Maura seems to have risen to the occasion, and made a full explanation as far as she knew---and that was more than the child ought to have known, by the bye---of how Mr. Frank was always after Kally, and how she could not bear him, and gave up the Sunday walk to avoid him, and how he had tried to get her to marry him, and go to Italy with him; but she would not hear of it.' x:6c@2  
'Just the thing the little chatterbox would be proud of, but it is no harm that "Mon oncle des iles Philippines" should know.' L++qMRk9  
'"I see his little game" was what Mr. White said,' repeated Adeline. '"The young dog expected to come over me with this pretty young wife- --my relation, too; but he would have found himself out in his reckoning."' !FwNq'Q8$  
'So far so good; but it is not fair.' 'J$@~P  
'However, the ice is broken. What's that? Is the house coming down?' F(#?-MCs  
3LT~- SvL  
No; but Gillian and Valetta came rushing in, almost tumbling over one another, and each waving a sheet of a letter. Papa and mamma would land in three days' time if all went well; but the pity was that they must go to London before coming to Rockquay, since Sir Jasper must present himself to the military and medical authorities, and likewise see his mother, who was in a very failing state. ^?Mp(o  
The children looked and felt as if the meeting were deferred for years; but Miss Mohun, remembering the condition of 'Il Lido,' alike as to the presence of workmen and absence of servants, felt relieved at the respite, proceeded to send a telegram to Macrae, and became busier than ever before in her life. Yu\$Y0 {]  
The Rotherwoods were just going to London. The Marquis was wanted for a division, and though both he and Dr. Dagger declared his collar-bone quite repaired, his wife could not be satisfied without hearing for herself a verdict to the same effect from the higher authorities, being pretty sure that whatever their report might be, his abstract would be 'All right. Never mind.' ~ tA ^K  
o>r P\  
Fly had gained so much in flesh and strength, and was so much more like her real self, that she was to remain at the hotel with Miss Elbury, the rooms being kept for her parents till Easter. Mysie was, however, to go with them to satisfy her mother, 'with a first mouthful of children,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'Gillian had better come too; and we will write to the Merrifields to come to us, unless they are bound to the old lady.' '#f<wf n  
B-MS@ <2  
This, however, was unlikely, as she was very infirm, and her small house was pretty well filled by her attendants. Lady Rotherwood seconded the invitation like a good wife, and Gillian was grateful. Such a forestalling was well worth even the being the Marchioness's guest, and being treated with careful politeness and supervision as a girl of the period, always ready to break out. However, she would have Mysie, and she tried to believe Aunt Jane, who told her that she had conjured up a spectre of the awful dame. There was a melancholy parting on the side of poor little Lady Phyllis. 'What shall I do without you, Mysie dear?' e]RzvWq  
'It is only for a few days.' ?@ oF@AEx=  
'Yes; but then you will be in a different house, all down in the town---it will be only visiting---not like sisters.' M6g8+sio  
'Sisters are quite a different thing,' said Mysie stoutly; 'but we can be the next thing to it in our hearts.'  (Q8!5s  
'It is not equal,' said Fly. 'You don't make a sister of me, and I do of you.' Y9^l|,bm5  
PBn7{( x  
'Because you know no better! Poor Fly, I do wish I could give you a sister of your own.' uMQI Aapb  
9Vt ^q%DC  
'Do you know, Mysie, I think---I'm quite sure, that daddy is going to ask your father and mother to give you to us, out and out.' DSLX/u o1  
'Oh! I'm sure they won't do that,' cried Mysie in consternation. 'Mamma never would!' |5vJ:'`I  
j& 7>ph  
'And wouldn't you? Don't you like me as well as Gill and Val?' sNx_9pJs4  
'I like you better. Stop, don't, Fly; you are what people call more of a companion to me---my friend; but friends aren't the same as sisters, are they? They may be more, or they may be less, but it is not the same kind. And then it is not only you, there are papa and mamma and all my brothers.' oJM; CN  
'But you do love daddy, and you have not seen yours for four years, and Aunt Florence and all the cousins at Beechcroft say they were quite afraid of him.' >c@! EPS  
'Because he is so--- Oh! I don't know how to say it, but he is just like Epaminondas, or King Arthur, or Robert Bruce, or---' Wv5=$y  
'Well, that's enough' said Fly; 'I am sure my daddy would laugh if you said he was like all those.' /"!ck2d&1  
'To be sure he would!' said Mysie. 'And do you think I would give mine for him, though yours is so kind and good and such fun?' Ux);~P`/o  
'And I'm sure I'd rather have him than yours,' said Fly. 0#sf,ja>  
'Well, that's right. It would be wicked not to like one's own father and mother best.' u$V@akk  
'But if they thought it would be good for you to have all my governesses and advantages, and they took pity on my loneliness. What then?' @O&;%IZMY  
'Then? Oh! I'd try to bear it,' said unworldly and uncomplimentary Mysie. 'And you need not be lonely now. There's Val!' CUZ ;<Pn  
The two governesses had made friends, and the embargo on intercourse with Valetta had been allowed to drop; but Fly only shook her head, and allowed that Val was better than nothing.' _h8|shyP  
E\dJb}"x %  
Mysie had a certain confidence that mamma would not give her away if all the lords and ladies in the world wanted her; and Gillian confirmed her in that belief, so that no misgiving interfered with her joy at finding herself in the train, where Lord Rotherwood declared that the two pair of eyes shone enough to light a candle by. N=@Nn)  
'I feel,' said Mysie, jumping up and down in her seat, 'like the man who said he had a bird in his bosom.' /Dk`vn2eN  
'Or a bee in his bonnet, eh?' said Lord Rotherwood, while Mysie obeyed a sign from my lady to moderate the restlessness of her ecstasies. g886RhCe  
'It really was a bird in his bosom,' said Gillian gravely, 'only he said so when he was dying in battle, and he meant his faith to his king.' tTcff9ee  
'And little Mysie has kept her faith to her mother,' said their cousin, putting out his hand to turn the happy face towards him. 'So the bird may well sing to her.' " .<>(bE  
'In spite of parting with Phyllis?' asked Lady Rotherwood. /hp [ +K  
'I can't help it, indeed,' said Mysie, divided between her politeness and her dread of being given away; 'it has been very nice, but one's own, own papa and mamma must be more than any one.' )<(3 .M  
'So they ought,' said Lord Rotherwood, and there it ended, chatter in the train not being considered desirable. p0Pmmp7r  
Gillian longed to show Mysie and Geraldine Grinstead to each other, and the first rub with her hostess occurred when the next morning she proposed to take a cab and go to Brompton. qNWSDZQ  
S^iT &;,  
'Is not your first visit due to your grandmother?' said Lady Rotherwood. 'You might walk there, and I will send some one to show you the way.' +1^L35\@  
'We must not go there till after luncheon,' said Gillian. 'She is not ready to see any one, and Bessie Merrifield cannot be spared; but I know Mrs. Grinstead will like to see us, and I do so want Mysie to see the studio.' ^fE8|/]nG9  
'My dear' (it was not a favourable my dear), 'I had rather you did not visit any one I do not know while you are under my charge.' y6Ez.$M  
'She is Phyllis's husband's sister,' pleaded Gillian. RJKi98xwJ  
Lady Rotherwood made a little bend of acquiescence, but said no more, and departed, while Gillian inly raged. A few months ago she would have acted on her own responsibility (if Mysie would not have been too much shocked), but she had learnt the wisdom of submission in fact, if not in word, for she growled about great ladies and exclusiveness, so that Mysie looked mystified. %nG>3.%  
It was certainly rather dull in the only half-revivified London house, and Belgrave Square in Lent did not present a lively scene from the windows. The Liddesdales had a house there, but they were not to come up till the season began; and Gillian was turning with a sigh to ask if there might not be some books in Fly's schoolroom, when Mysie caught the sound of a bell, and ventured on an expedition to find her ladyship and ask leave to go to church. lpS v  
There, to their unexpected delight, they beheld not only Bessie, but a clerical-looking back, which, after some watching, they so identified that they looked at one another with responsive eyes, and Gillian doubted whether this were recompense for submission, or reproof for discontent. Bg[yn<) ]  
!Ur.b @ke  
Very joyful was the meeting on the steps of St. Paul's, Knightsbridge, and an exchange of 'Oh! how did you come here? Where are you?' ujkWVE'  
%4F\#" A  
Harry had come up the day before, and was to go and meet the travellers at Southampton with his uncle, Admiral Merrifield, who had brought his eldest daughter Susan to relieve her sister or assist her. Great was the joy and eager the talk, as first Bessie was escorted by the whole party back to grandmamma's house, and then Harry accompanied his sisters to Belgrave Square, where he was kept to luncheon, and Lady Rotherwood was as glad to resign his sisters to his charge as he could be to receive them. !sEhjJV^7  
6| o S 5  
He had numerous commissions to execute for his vicar, and Gillian had to assist the masculine brains in the department of Church needlework, actually venturing to undertake some herself, trusting to the tuition of Aunt Ada, a proficient in the same; while Mysie reverently begged at least to hem the borders. *c=vEQn-  
Then they revelled in the little paradises of books and pictures in Northumberland Avenue and Westminster Sanctuary, and went to Evensong at the Abbey, Mysie's first sight thereof, and nearly the like to Gillian, since she only remembered before a longing not to waste time in a dull place instead of being in the delightful streets. @~|;/OY>"  
uQx/o ^  
'It is a thing never to forget,' she said under her breath, as they lingered in the nave. TB.>?*<n]  
_L~ 3h  
'I never guessed anything could make one feel so,' added Mysie, with a little sigh of rapture. Bx5xtJ|!  
o jxK8_kl  
'That strange unexpected sense of delight always seems to me to explain, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive,"' said Harry. 2%R.~9HtA  
Mysie whispered--- \Q}Y"oq  
,Il) tH  
          'Beneath thy contemplation MYVVI1A  
           Sink heart and voice opprest!''Oh, Harry, can't we stay and see Henry VII.'s Chapel, and Poets' Corner, and Edward I.'s monument?' pleaded the sister. 8,h!&9  
{ )b  
'I am afraid we must not, Gill. I have to see after some vases, and to get a lot of things at the Stores, and it will soon be dark. If I don't go to Southampton to-morrow, I will take you then. Now then, feet or cab?' r~QE}00@^  
'Oh, let us walk! It is ten times the fun.' `?l /HUw  
'Then mind you don't jerk me back at the crossings.' rxy5Nrue  
There are few pleasures greater of their kind than that of the youthful country cousin under the safe escort of a brother or father in London streets. The sisters looked in at windows, wondered and enjoyed, till they had to own their feet worn out, and submit to a four-wheeler. ;:R2 P@6f  
'An hour of London is more than a month of Rockquay, or a year of Silverfold,' cried Gillian. ug;\`.nT^  
'Dear old Silverfold,' said Mysie; 'when shall we go back?' 2:nI4S  
'By the bye,' said Harry, 'how about the great things that were to be done for mother?' +|5 O b  
'Primrose is all right,' said Mysie. 'The dear little thing has written a nice copybook, and hemmed a whole set of handkerchiefs for papa. She is so happy with them.' N`N?1!fM<}  
'And you, little Mouse?' 6iF&!Fd>J  
'I have done my translation---not quite well, I am afraid, and made the little girl's clothes. I wonder if I may go and take them to her.' ]*lZFP~  
'And Val has finished her crewel cushion, thanks to the aunts,' said Gillian. WG,1%=M@  
SOM? 0.  
'Fergus's machine, how about that? Perpetual motion, wasn't it?' ?YZgH>7"  
'That has turned into mineralogy, worse luck,' said Gillian. jLI1Ed  
'Gill has done a beautiful sketch of Rockquay,' added Mysie. >W-xDzJry  
'Oh! don't talk of me,' said Gillian. 'I have only made a most unmitigated mess of everything.' Hkia&nz'3  
But here attention was diverted by Harry's exclaiming--- mMZ{W+"[f  
'Hullo! was that Henderson?' JiXE{(  
'Nonsense; the Wardours are at Cork.' z)*{bz]  
N|)e {|k  
'He may be on leave.' ^e]O >CJ  
'Or retired. He is capable of it.' I) *J,hs1  
4RQ38%> >j  
'I believe it was old Fangs.' /<O9^hA|  
The discussion lasted to Belgrave Square. lrMkp@ f.  
And then Sunday was spent upon memorable churches and services under the charge of Harry, who was making the most of his holiday. The trio went to Evensong at St. Wulstan's, and a grand idea occurred to Gillian---could not Theodore White become one of those young choristers, who had their home in the Clergy House. (L<G=XC  

只看该作者 18楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XVIII. Father and Mother aE2Yl  
  The telegram came early on Monday morning. Admiral Merrifield and Harry started by the earliest train, deciding not to take the girls; whereupon their kind host, to mitigate the suspense, placed himself at the young ladies' disposal for anything in the world that they might wish to see. It was too good an opportunity of seeing the Houses of Parliament to be lost, and the spell of Westminster Abbey was upon Mysie. 1$nuh@-ys  
\^Z DH  
Cousin Rotherwood was a perfect escort, and declared that he had not gone through such a course of English history since he had taken his cousin Lilias and his sister Florence the same round more years ago than it was civil to recollect. He gave a sigh to the great men he had then let them see and hear, and regretted the less that there was no possibility of regaling the present pair with a debate. It was all like a dream to the two girls. They saw, but suspense was throbbing in their hearts all the time, and qualms were crossing Gillian as she recollected that in some aspects her father could be rather a terrible personage when one was wilfully careless, saucy to authorities, or unable to see or confess wrong-doing; and the element of dread began to predominate in her state of expectation. The bird in the bosom fluttered very hard as the possible periods after the arrivals of trains came round; and it was not till nearly eight o'clock that the decisive halt of wheels was heard, and in a few moments Mysie was in the dearest arms in the world, and Gillian feeling the moustached kiss she had not known for nearly four long years, and which was half-strange, half-familiar. WjF#YW\  
;s w3MRJ  
In drawing-room light, there was the mother looking none the worse for her journey, her clear brown skin neither sallow nor lined, and the soft brown eyes as bright and sweet as ever; but the father must be learnt over again, and there was awe enough as well as enthusiastic love to make her quail at the thought of her record of self-will. skBzwVW I  
There was, however, no disappointment in the sight of the fine, tall soldierly figure, broad shouldered, but without an ounce of superfluous flesh, and only altered by his hair having become thinner and whiter, thus adding to the height of his forehead, and making his very dark eyebrows and eyes have a different effect, especially as he was still pallid beneath the browning of many years, though he declared himself so well as to be ashamed of being invalided. 5JA5:4aev  
Time was short. Harry and the Admiral, who were coming to dinner, had rushed home to dress and to fetch Susan; and Lady Merrifield was conducted in haste to her bedroom, and left to the almost too excited ministrations of her daughters. @qWes@  
It was well that attentive servants had unfastened the straps, for when Gillian had claimed the keys of the dear old familiar box, her hand shook so much that they jingled; the key would not go into the hole, and she had to resign them to sober Mysie, who had been untying the bonnet, with a kiss, and answering for the health of Primrose, whom Uncle William was to bring to London in two days' time. %knPeo&  
Q #%C)7)  
'My dear silly child,' said her mother, surprised at Gillian's emotion. W~&PGmRI  
And the reply was a burst of tears. 'Oh, so silly! so wrong! I have so wanted you.' |H)WJ/`  
'I know all about it. You told us all, like an honest child.' xpf\S10e  
'Oh, such dreadful things---the rock---the poor child killed---Cousin Rotherwood hurt.' W39R)sra  
/q %TjQ}F  
'Yes, yes, I heard! We can't have it out now. Here's papa! she is upset about these misadventures,' added Lady Merrifield, looking up to her husband, who stood amazed at the sobs that greeted him. r+HJ_R,5A  
'You must control yourself, Gillian,' he said gravely. 'Stop that! Your mother is tired, and has to dress! Don't worry her. Go, if you cannot leave off.' Vm&fw".J  
The bracing tone made Gillian swallow her tears, the more easily because of the familiarity of home atmosphere, confidence, and protection; and a mute caress from her mother was a promise of sympathy. BWL~)Hx  
The sense of that presence was the chief pleasure of the short evening, for there were too many claimants for the travellers' attention to enable them to do more than feast their eyes on their son and daughters, while they had to talk of other things, the weddings, the two families, the home news, all deeply interesting in their degree, though not touching Gillian quite so deeply as the tangle she had left at Rockstone, and mamma's view of her behaviour; even though it was pleasant to hear of Phyllis's beautiful home in Ceylon, and Alethea's bungalow, and how poor Claude had to go off alone to Rawul Pindee. She felt sure that her mother was far more acceptable to her hostess than either of the aunts, and that, indeed, she might well be so! O>|Q Zd  
Gillian's first feeling was like Mysie's in the morning, that nothing could go wrong with her again, but she must perforce have patience before she could be heard. Harry could not be spared for another day from his curacy, and to him was due the first tete-a-tete with his mother, after that most important change his life had yet known, and in which she rejoiced so deeply. 'The dream of her heart,' she said, 'had always been that one of her sons should be dedicated;' and now that the fulfilment had come in her absence, it was precious to her to hear all those feelings and hopes and trials that the young man could have uttered to no other ears.  yYp!s  
FJp~8 x=  
Sir Jasper, meantime, had gone out on business, and was to meet the rest at luncheon at his mother's house, go with them to call on the Grinsteads, and then do some further commissions, Lady Rotherwood placing the carriage at their disposal. As to 'real talk,' that seemed impossible for the girls, they could only, as Mysie expressed it, 'bask in the light of mamma's eyes' and after Harry was gone on an errand for his vicar, there were no private interviews for her. }'b 3'/MJ  
Indeed, the mother did not know how much Gillian had on her mind, and thought all she wanted was discussion, and forgiveness for the follies explained in the letter, the last received. Of any connection between that folly and the accident to Lord Rotherwood of course she was not aware, and in fact she had more on her hands than she could well do in the time allotted, and more people to see. Gillian had to find that things could not be quite the same as when she had been chief companion in the seclusion of Silverfold. Kyt.[" p  
And just as she was going out the following letter was put into her hands, come by one of the many posts from Rockstone:--- e^&QT  
'MY DEAR GILLIAN---I write to you because you can explain matters, and I want your father's advice, or Cousin Rotherwood's. As I was on the way to Il Lido just now I met Mr. Flight, looking much troubled and distressed. He caught at me, and begged me to go with him to tell poor Kalliope that her brother Alexis is in Avoncester Jail. He knew it from having come down in the train with Mr. Stebbing. The charge is for having carried away with him L15 in notes, the payment for a marble cross for a grave at Barnscombe. You remember that on the day of the accident poor Field was taking it in the waggon, when he came home to hear of his child's death. /%EKq+ZP  
'The receipt for the price was inquired for yesterday, and it appeared that the notes had been given to Field in an envelope. In his trouble, the poor man forgot to deliver this till the morning; when on his way to the office he met young White and gave it to him. Finding it had not been paid in, nor entered in the books, and knowing the poor boy to have absconded, off went Mr. Stebbing, got a summons, and demanded to have him committed for trial. eZWN9#p2  
'Alexis owned to having forgotten the letter in the shock of the dismissal, and to having carried it away with him, but said that as soon as he had discovered it he had forwarded it to his sister, and had desired her to send it to the office. He did not send it direct, because he could only, at the moment, get one postage-stamp. On this he was remanded till Saturday, when his sisters' evidence can be taken at the magistrates meeting. This was the news that Mr. Flight and I had to take to that poor girl, who could hardly be spared from her mother to speak to us, and how she is to go to Avoncester it is hard to say; but she has no fear of not being able to clear her brother, for she says she put the dirty and ragged envelope that no doubt contained the notes into another, with a brief explanation, addressed it to Mr. Stebbing, and sent it by Petros, who told her that he had delivered it. vzJ69%E_  
0#4_vg .  
'I thought nothing could be clearer, and so did Mr. Flight, but unluckily Kalliope had destroyed her brother's letter, and had not read me this part of it, so that she can bring no actual tangible proof, and it is a much more serious matter than it appeared when we were talking to her. Mr. White has just been here, whether to condole or to triumph I don't exactly know. He has written to Leeds, and heard a very unsatisfactory account of that eldest brother, who certainly has deceived him shamefully, and this naturally adds to the prejudice against the rest of the family. We argued about Kalliope's high character, and he waved his hand and said, "My dear ladies, you don't understand those Southern women---the more pious, devoted doves they are, the blacker they will swear themselves to get off their scamps of men." To represent that Kalliope is only one quarter Greek was useless, especially as he has been diligently imbued by Mrs. Stebbing with all last autumn's gossip, and, as he confided to Aunt Ada, thinks "that they take advantage of his kindness!" i$;GEM}tv  
'Of course Mr. Flight, and all who really know Alexis and Kalliope, feel the accusation absurd; but it is only too possible that the Avoncester magistrates may not see the evidence in the same light, as its weight depends upon character, and the money is really missing, so that I much fear their committing him for trial at the Quarter Sessions. It will probably be the best way to employ a solicitor to watch the case at once, and I shall speak to Mr. Norton tomorrow, unless your father can send me any better advice by post. I hope it is not wicked to believe that the very fact of Mr. Norton's being concerned might lead to the notes finding themselves. J XKps#,(#  
'Meantime, I am of course doing what I can. Kally is very brave in her innocence and her brother's, but, shut up in her mother's sickroom, she little guesses how bad things are made to look, or how Greek and false are treated as synonymous. IIeEe7%#  
'Much love to your mother. I am afraid this is a damper on your happiness, but I am sure that your father would wish to know. Aunt Ada tackles Mr. White better than I do, and means if possible to make him go to Avoncester himself when the case comes on, so that he should at least see and hear for himself.---Your affectionate aunt, RK(uC-l  
J. M.' V'c9DoSRI\  
What a letter for poor Gillian! She had to pocket it at first, and only opened it while taking off her hat at grandmamma's house, and there was only time for a blank feeling of uncomprehending consternation before she had to go down to luncheon, and hear her father and uncle go on with talk about India and Stokesley, to which she could not attend. )[9L|o5D  
Afterwards, Lady Merrifield was taken to visit grandmamma, and Bessie gratified the girls with a sight of her special den, where she wrote her stories, showing them the queer and flattering gifts that had come to her in consequence of her authorship, which was becoming less anonymous, since her family were growing hardened to it, and grandmamma was past hearing of it or being distressed. It was in Bessie's room that Gillian gathered the meaning of her aunt's letter, and was filled with horror and dismay. She broke out with a little scream, which brought both Mysie and Bessie to her side; but what could they do? Mysie was shocked and sympathising enough, and Bessie was trying to understand the complicated story, when the summons came for the sisters. There were hopes of communicating the catastrophe in the carriage; but no, the first exclamation of 'Oh, mamma!' was lost. ui9gt"qS`  
Sir Jasper had something so important to tell his wife about his interviews at the Horse Guards, that the attempt to interrupt was silenced by a look and sign. It was a happy thing to have a father at home, but it was different from being mamma's chief companion and confidante, and poor Gillian sat boiling over with something very like indignation at not being allowed even to allow that she had something to tell at least as important as anything papa could be relating. gLpWfT29V  
She hardly knew whether to be glad or sorry that the Grinsteads proved to be out of town; but at any rate she might be grateful to Lady Rotherwood for preventing a vain expedition---a call on another old friend, Mrs. Crayon, the Marianne Weston of early youth, and now a widow, as she too was out. Then followed some shopping that the parents wanted to do together, but at the door of the stores Lady Merrifield said--- O-y"]Wrv  
'I have a host of things to get here for the two brides. Suppose, papa, that you walk home with Gillian across the Park. It will suit you better than this fearful list.' $PTedJ}*Y  
Lady Merrifield only thought of letting father and daughter renew their acquaintance, and though she saw that Gillian was in an agony to speak about something, did not guess what an ordeal the girl felt it to have to begin with the father, unseen for four years, and whose searching eyes and grave politeness gave a sense of austerity, so that trepidation was spoiling all the elation at having a father, and such a father, to walk with. z`Q5J9_<cV  
bF Vd v&  
'Well, Gillian,' he said, 'we have a great deal of lee way to make up. I want to hear of poor White's children. I am glad you have had the opportunity of showing them some kindness.' (o:Cxh V  
'Oh, papa! it is so dreadful! If you would read this letter.' __fR #D  
g Oj5c  
'I cannot do so here,' said Sir Jasper, who could not well make trial of his new spectacles in Great George Street. What is dreadful?' /kA19E4  
VqL 5f  
'This accusation. Poor Alexis! Oh! you don't know. The accident and all---our fault---mine really,' gasped Gillian. (`]*Y(/2G  
| NU0tct^  
'I am not likely to know at this rate,' said Sir Jasper. 'I hope you have not caught the infection of incoherency from Lord Rotherwood. Do you mean his accident?' = b<<5N s  
'Yes; they have turned them both off, and now they have gone and put Alexis in prison.' '}Wu3X  
'For the accident? I thought it was a fall of rock.' UZje>. ~?  
u C,"5C  
'Oh no---I mean yes---it wasn't for that; but it came of that, and Fergus and I were at the bottom of it,' said Gillian, in such confusion that her words seemed to tumble out without her own control. H2qf'  
No`|m0 :j  
'How did you escape with your lives?' qysTjGwa]  
Was he misunderstanding her on purpose, or giving a lesson on slipslop at such a provoking moment? Perhaps he was really only patient with the daughter who must have seemed to him half-foolish, but she was forced to collect her senses and say--- HPrq1QpK  
: [q0S@  
'I only meant that we were the real cause. Fergus is wild about geology, and took away a stone that was put to show where the cliff was unsafe. He showed the stone to Alexis White, who did not know where it came from and let him have it, and that was the way Cousin Rotherwood came to tread on the edge of the precipice.' -(i(02PX  
Qck| #tc  
'What had you to do with it?' z0%\OhuCcf  
'I---oh! I had disappointed Alexis about the lessons,' said Gillian, blushing a little;' and he was out of spirits, and did not mind what he was about.' o:S0*  
j.e0;! (L}  
'H'm! But you cannot mean that this youth can have been imprisoned for such a cause.' <%.5hCTp97  
c 'uhK8|  
'No; that was about the money, but of course he sent it back. He ran away when he was dismissed, because he was quite in despair, and did not know what he was about.' ,}oM-B  
+$4(zP s@  
'I think not, indeed!' u]}s)SmDk  
'Papa,' said Gillian, steadying her voice, 'you must not, please, blame him so much, for it was really very much my fault, and that is what makes me doubly unhappy. Did you read my last letter to mamma?' nUkaz*4qU  
'Yes. I understood that you thought you had not treated your aunts rightly by not consulting them about your intercourse with the Whites, and that you had very properly resolved to tell them all. I hope you did so.' Z@hD(MS(C  
'Indeed I did, and Aunt Jane was very kind, or else I should have had no comfort at all. Was mamma very much shocked at my teaching Alexis?' F{ELSKcp.  
_v* nlc  
'I do not remember. We concluded that whatever you did had your aunts' sanction.' ,\v91Rp~?  
'Ah! that was the point.' O-4C+?V  
'Did these young people persuade you to secrecy?' \Y}3cE  
'Oh no, no; Kalliope protested, and I overpowered her, because--- because I was foolish, and I thought Aunt Jane interfering.' ,y%3mR_~  
&x > B  
'I see,' said Sir Jasper, with perhaps more comprehension of the antagonism than sisterly habit and affection would have allowed to his wife. 'I am glad you saw your error, and tried to repair it; but what could you have done to affect this boy so much. How old is he? We thought of him as twelve or fourteen, but one forgets how time goes on, and you speak of him as in a kind of superintendent's position.' FEo269Ur  
'He is nineteen.' W>b(Om_%  
Sir Jasper twirled his moustache. @t1V o}c  
'I begin to perceive,' he said, 'you rushed into an undertaking that became awkward, and when you had to draw off, the young fellow was upset and did not mind his business. So far I understand, but you said something about prison.' wY"o`o Z  
*5,c Rz  
The worst part of the personal confession was over now, and Gillian could go on to tell the rest of the Stebbing enmity, of Mr. White's arrival, and of the desire to keep his relations aloof from him. ~YCuO0t  
'This is guess work,' said Sir Jasper. Ul Mi.;/^  
Tvf~P w  
'I think Cousin Rotherwood would say the same' rejoined Gillian, and then she explained the dismissal, the flight, and the unfortunate consequences, and that Aunt Jane hoped for advice by the morning's post. Qs+k)e,  
'I am afraid it is too late for that,' said Sir Jasper, looking at his watch. 'I must read her letter and consider.' f?0s &Xo  
Gillian gave a desperate sigh, and felt more desperate when at that moment the very man they had had a glimpse of on Saturday met them, exclaiming in a highly delighted tone--- :Ee?K  
'Sir Jasper Merrifield!' 1#!@["  
Any Royal Wardour ought to have been welcome to the Merrifields, but this individual had not been a particular favourite with the young people. They knew he was the son of a popular dentist, who had made his fortune, and had put his son into the army to make a gentleman of him, and prevent him from becoming an artist. In the first object there had been very fair success; but the taste for art was unquenchable, and it had been the fashion of the elder half of the Merrifield family to make a joke, and profess to be extremely bored, when 'Fangs,' as they naughtily called him among themselves, used to arrive from leave, armed with catalogues, or come in with his drawings to find sympathy in his colonel's wife. Gillian had caught enough from her four elders to share in an unreasoning way their prejudice, and she felt doubly savage and contemptuous when she heard--- V@Kn24''  
'Yes, I retired.' dWjx"7^  
'And what are you doing now?' d&5c_6oW  
'My mother required me as long as she lived' (then Gillian noticed that he was in mourning). 'I think I shall go abroad, and take lessons at Florence or Rome, though it is too late to do anything seriously---and there are affairs to be settled first.' TeKC} NW  
h (qshbC}  
Then came a whole shoal of other inquiries, and even though they actually included 'poor White' and his family, Gillian was angered and dismayed at the wretch being actually asked by her father to come in with them and see Lady Merrifield, who would be delighted to see him. L^3~gM"!  
'What would Lady Rotherwood think of the liberty?' the displeased mood whispered to Gillian. o,g6JTh  
But Lady Rotherwood, presiding over her pretty Worcester tea-set, was quite ready to welcome any of the Merrifield friends. There were various people in the room besides Lady Merrifield and Mysie, who had just come in. There was the Admiral talking politics with Lord Rotherwood, and there was Clement Underwood, who had come with Harry from the city, and Bessie discussing with them boys' guilds and their amusements. zd?bHcW/h  
Gillian felt frantic. Would no one cast a thought on Alexis in prison? If he had been to be hanged the next day, her secret annoyance at their indifference to his fate could not have been worse. C!aX45eg  
And yet at the first opportunity Harry brought Mr. Underwood to talk to her about his choir-boys, and to listen to her account of the 7th Standard boy, a member of the most musical choir in Rockquay, and the highest of the high. t[H_6)  
'I hope not cockiest of the cocky,' said Mr. Underwood, smiling. 'Our experience is that superlatives may often be so translated.' O*+w_fox  
' /@!"IXz  
'I don't think poor Theodore is cocky,' said Gillian; 'the Whites have always been so bullied and sat upon.' H$($l<G9C  
'Is his name Theodore?' asked Mr. Underwood, as if he liked the name, which Gillian remembered to have seen on a cross at Vale Leston. f"}14V  
'Being sat upon is hardly the best lesson in humility,' said Harry. w})&[d  
6b 5{  
'There's apt to be a reaction,' said Mr. Underwood; 'but the crack voice of a country choir is not often in that condition, as I know too well. I was the veriest young prig myself under those circumstances!' k/f_@8  
Vf2! 0  
'Don't be too hard on cockiness,' said Lord Rotherwood, who had come up to them, 'there must be consciousness of powers. How are you to fly, if you mustn't flap your wings and crow a little?' m=b+V#4i(  
'On a les defauts de ses qualites,' put in Lady Merrifield. ;^SgV   
y 9mZQq  
'Yes,' added Mr. Underwood. 'It is quite true that needful self- assertion and originality, and sense of the evils around---' 5,fzB~$TX(  
^DJ U99  
'Which the old folk have outgrown and got used to,' said Lord Rotherwood. 6YbSzx` ?k  
}R(_^@ ]  
'May be condemned as conceit,' concluded Mr. Underwood. 5}VP-04vh  
4B 6Aw?  
'Ay, exactly as Eliab knew David's pride and the naughtiness of his heart,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'If you won't fight your giant yourself, you've no business to condemn those who feel it in them to go at him.' 3& $E  
'Ah! we have got to the condemnation of others, instead of the exaltation of self,' said Lady Merrifield. &2DW  
'It is better to cultivate humility in one's self than other people, eh?' said the Marquis, and his cousin thought, though she did not say, that he was really the most humble and unself-conscious man she had ever known. What she did say was, 'It is a plant that grows best uncultivated.' vc<8ApK3V  
'And if you have it not by happy nature, what then?' said Clement Underwood. ` p)#!  
'Then I suppose you must plant it, and there will be plenty of tears of repentance to water it,' returned she. us/x.qPy2  
'Thank you,' said Clement. 'That is an idea to work upon.' @@+\  
'All very fine!' sighed Gillian to Mysie, 'but oh, how about Alexis in prison! There's papa, now he has got rid of Fangs, actually going to walk off with Uncle Sam, and mamma has let Lady Rotherwood get hold of her. Will no-body care for anybody?' 6:@tHUm  
klv ]+F&[  
'I think I would trust papa,' said Mysie. &K/5AH"q  
He was not long gone, and when he came back he said, 'You may give me that letter, Gillian. I posted a card to tell your aunt she should hear to-morrow.' TW" TgOfd  
All that Gillian could say to her mother in private that evening consisted of, 'Oh, mamma, mamma,' but the answer was, 'I have heard about it from papa, my dear; I am glad you told him. He is thinking what to do. Be patient.' 6vAq&Y{JB'  
aDce Ohfx  
Externally, awe and good manners forced Gillian to behave herself; but internally she was so far from patient, and had so many bitter feelings of indignation, that she felt deeply rebuked when she came down next morning to find her father hurrying through his breakfast, with a cab ordered to convey him to the station, on his way to see what could be done for Alexis White. Xo[j*<=0  
$ 1lI6 = ,  
That day Gillian had her confidential talk with her mother---a talk that she never forgot, trying to dig to the roots of her failures in a manner that only the true mother-confessor of her own child can perhaps have patience and skill for, and that only when she has studied the creature from babyhood. The concatenation, ending (if it was so to end) in the committal to Avoncester Jail, and beginning with the interview over the rails, had to be traced link by link, and was almost as long as 'the house that Jack built.' )bqSM&SO  
'And now I see,' said Gillian, 'that it all came of a nasty sort of antagonism to Aunt Jane. I never guessed how like I was to Dolores, and I thought her so bad. But if I had only trusted Aunt Jane, and had no secrets, she would have helped me in it all, I know now, and never have brought the Whites into trouble.' 0+3_CS++r  
'Yes,' said Lady Merrifield; 'perhaps I should have warned you a little more, but I went off in such a hurry that I had no time to think. You children are all very loyal to us ourselves; but I suppose you are all rather infected by the modern spirit, that criticises when it ought to submit to authorities.' r'F)8%  
'But how can one help seeing what is amiss? As some review says, how respect what does not make itself respectable? You know I don't mean that for my aunts. I have learnt now what Aunt Jane really is---how very kind and wise and clever and forgiving---but I was naughty enough to think her at first---' dbsD\\,2%N  
ExxD w_VGT  
'Well, what? Don't be afraid.' ym*oCfu=  
'Then I did think she was fidgety and worrying---always at one, and wanting to poke her nose into everything.' J^gElp  
'Poor Aunt Jane! Those are the faults of her girlhood, which she has been struggling against all her life!' @/W~lJ!e  
'But in your time, mamma, would such difficulties really not have been seen---I mean, if she had been actually what I thought her?' !:wA\mAd  
'I think the difference was that no faults of the elders were dwelt upon by a loyal temper. To find fault was thought so wrong that the defects were scarcely seen, and were concealed from ourselves as well as others. It would scarcely, I suppose, be possible to go back to that unquestioning state, now the temper of the times is changed; but I belong enough to the older days to believe that the true safety is in submission in the spirit as well as the letter.' K05U>151  
'I am sure I should have found it so,' said Gillian. 'And oh! I hope, now that papa is come, the Whites may be spared any more of the troubles I have brought on them.' F :og:[  
yy Y\g  
'We will pray that it may be so.' said her mother. &->ngzg  

只看该作者 19楼 发表于: 2012-07-13
Chapter XIX. The Knight and the Dragon dIh+h|:  
A telegram had been received in the morning, which kept Valetta and Fergus on the qui vive all day. Valetta was an unspeakable worry to the patient Miss Vincent, and Fergus arranged his fossils and minerals. Z^'\()3t  
"dDrw ]P;  
Both children flew out to meet their father at the gate, but words failed them as he came into the house, greeted the aunts, and sat down with Fergus on his knee, and Valetta encircled by his arm. gJrWewEe  
'Yes, Lilias is quite well, very busy and happy---with her first instalment of children.' s<k2vbhI  
Px \cT  
'I am so thankful that you are come,' said Adeline. 'Jane ventured to augur that you would, but I thought it too much to hope for.' V8TdtGB.|h  
'There was no alternative,' said Sir Jasper. `**{a/3  
'I infer that you halted at Avoncester.' "[|b,fxR  
'I did so; I saw the poor boy.' FLqN3D=yQ  
'What a comfort for his sister!' zH8E,)  
u epyH  
'Poor fellow! Mine was the first friendly face he had seen, and he was almost overcome by it'---and the strong face quivered with emotion at the recollection of the boy's gratitude. E9HMhUe  
'He is a nice fellow,' said Jane. 'I am glad you have seen him, for neither Mr. White nor Rotherwood can believe that he is not utterly foolish, if not worse.' I$n= >s  
'A boy may do foolish things without being a fool,' said Sir Jasper. 'Not that this one is such another as his father. I wish he were.' &v\F ah U  
'I suppose he has more of the student scholarly nature.' >&L|oq7$  
! \] ^c  
'Yes. The enlistment, which was the making of his father, was a sort of moral suicide in him. I got him to tell me all about it, and I find that the idea of the inquest, and of having to mention you, you monkey, drove him frantic, and the dismissal completed the business.' AXfU$~  
'I told them about it,' said Fergus. i4C{3J^  
'Quite right, my boy; the pity was that he did not trust to your honour, but he seems to have worked himself into the state of mind when young men run amuck. I saw his colonel, Lydiard, and the captain and sergeant of his company, who had from the first seen that he was a man of a higher class under a cloud, and had expected further inquiry, though, even from the little that had been seen of him, there was a readiness to take his word. As the sergeant said, he was not the common sort of runaway clerk, and it was a thousand pities that he must go to the civil power---in which I am disposed to agree. What sort of man is the cousin at the marble works?' [o^$WL?c  
'A regular beast,' murmured Fergus. g}9 ,U&$]y  
'I think,' said Jane, 'that he means to be good and upright.' IO7z}![V;  
Md X4Rp'  
'More than means,' said Ada, 'but he is cautious, and says he has been so often deceived.' '4{@F~fu  
!yg &zzP*  
'As far as I can understand,' said Jane, 'there was originally desperate enmity between him and his cousin.' 6n:X p_yO  
'He forgave entirely,' said Ada; 'and he really has done a great deal for the family, who own that they have no claim upon him.' 4&]NC2I  
acpc[ ^'  
'Yes,' said Jane, 'but from a distance, with no personal knowledge, and a contempt for the foreign mother, and the pretensions to gentility. He would have been far kinder if his cousin had remained a sergeant.' y9:o];/  
.Vq_O u  
'He only wished to try them,' said Adeline, 'and he always meant to come and see about them; besides, that eldest son has been begging of him on false pretences all along.' k|^nrjStC  
'That I can believe,' said Sir Jasper. 'I remember his father's distress at his untruth in the regimental school, and his foolish mother shielding him. No doubt he might do enough to cause distrust of his family; but has Mr. White actually never gone near them, as Gillian told me?' `S7${0e  
.es= w=  
'Excepting once walking Maura home,' said Jane, 'no; but I ascribe all that to the partner, Mr. Stebbing, who has had it all his own way here, and seems to me to have systematically kept Alexis down to unnecessarily distasteful drudgery. Kalliope's talent gave her a place; but young Stebbing's pursuit of her, though entirely unrequited, has roused his mother's bitter enmity, and there are all manner of stories afloat. I believe I could disprove every one of them; but together they have set Mr. White against her, and he cannot see her in her office, as her mother is too ill to be left. I do believe that if the case against Alexis is discharged, they will think she has the money.' \G*vY#]  
'Stebbing said Maura changed a five-pound note,' put in Fergus; 'and when I told him to shut up, for it was all bosh, he punched me.' >UuLSF}  
I hope Richard sent it' said Ada, 'but you see the sort of report that is continually before Mr. White---not that I think he believes half, or is satisfied--with the Stebbings.' "Rs^0iT7>  
F/RV{} 17E  
'I am sure he is not with Frank Stebbing,' said Jane. 'I do think and hope that he is only holding off in order to judge; and I think your coming may have a great effect upon him, Jasper.' oOe5IczS(  
The Rotherwoods had requested Sir Jasper to use their apartments at the hotel, and he went thither to dress, being received, as he said, by little Lady Phyllis with much grace and simplicity. C8@SuJ  
^B> 4:+^  
The evening passed brightly, and when the children were gone to bed, their father said rather anxiously that he feared the aunts had had a troublesome charge hastily thrust on them. x:"_B  
C B=H1+  
'We enjoyed it very much,' said Adeline politely. >QU1_'1r  
'We were thankful to have a chance of knowing the young people,' added Jane. 'I am only glad you did not come home at Christmas, when I was not happy about the two girls.' PBTGN;y  
'Yes, Valetta got into trouble and wrote a piteous little letter of confession about copying.' ?<YtlqL  
'Yes, but you need not be uneasy about that; it was one of those lapses that teach women without any serious loss. She did not know what she was about, and she told no falsehoods; indeed, each one of your children has been perfectly truthful throughout.' K2$mz  
"ZE JL.Wy  
'That is the great point, after all. Lilias could hardly fail to make her children true.' =L{lt9qQz  
I >k3X~cG  
'Fergus is really an excellent little boy, and Gillian---poor Gillian- --I think she really did want more experience, and was only too innocent.' 5(q\x(N  
(l{+ T#  
'That is what you really think,' said the father anxiously. 9vWKyzMi  
0a QtJ0e16  
'Yes, I do,' said Jane. 'If she had been a fast girl, she would have been on her guard against the awkward situation, and have kept out of this mess; but very likely would have run into a worse one.' IJ!]1fXy+  
cE 8vSQ%  
'I do not think that her elder sisters would have done like her.' I|RN/RVN  
m(y?3} h  
'Perhaps not; but they were living in your regimental world at the age when her schoolroom life was going on. I think you have every reason to be satisfied with her tone of mind. As you said of the boy, a person may commit an imprudence without being imprudent.' $Pzvv`f*  
'I quite agree to that,' he said, 'and, indeed, I see that you have managed her most wisely, and obtained her affection and gratitude, as indeed you have mine!' he added, with a tone in his voice that touched Jane to the core of her heart. j V:U%  
PwF}yx kI  
'I never heard anything like it before,' she said to her sister over their fire at night, with a dew of pleasure in her eyes. CG=#rc]vz  
He#+zE ;  
'I never liked Jasper so well before. He is infinitely pleasanter and more amiable. Do you remember our first visit? No, it was not you who went with me, it was Emily. I am sure he felt bound to be on guard all the time against any young officer's attentions to his poor little sister-in-law,' said Ada, with her Maid-of-Athens look. 'The smallest approach brought those hawk's eyes of his like a dart right through one's backbone. It all came back to me to-night, and the way he used to set poor Lily to scold me.' %NeKDE  
mT!~;] RrF  
'So that you rejoiced to be grown old. I beg your pardon, but I did. My experience was when I went to help Lily pack for foreign service, when I suppose my ferret look irritated him, for he snubbed me extensively, and I am sure he rejoiced to carry his wife out of reach of all the tribe. I dare say I richly deserved it, but I hope we are all "mellered down," as Wat Greenwood used to say of his brewery for the pigs.' &X|z(vSJ$  
'My dear, what a comparison!' ?dxhe7m  
'Redolent of the Old Court, and of Lily, waiting for her swan's nest among the reeds, till her stately warrior came, and made her day dreams earnest in a way that falls to the lot of few. I don't think his severity ever dismayed her for a moment, there was always such sweetness in it. a&y%|Gs^f  
'True knight and lady! Yes. He is grown handsomer than ever, too!' SJ+.i u/  
"4L' 2w+  
'I hope he will get those poor children out of their hobble! It is chivalrous enough of him to come down about it, in the midst of all his business in London.' Y_f6y 9?ZE  
Sir Jasper started the next morning with Fergus on his way to school, getting on the road a good deal of information, mingled together about forms and strata, cricket and geology. Leaving his little son at Mrs. Edgar's door, he proceeded to Ivinghoe Terrace, where he waited long at the blistered door of the dilapidated house before the little maid informed him that Mr. Richard was gone out, and missus was so ill that she didn't know as Miss White could see nobody; but she took his card and invited him to walk into the parlour, where the breakfast things were just left. Z.VVY\  
_Z5l Nu  
Down came Kalliope, with a wan face and eyes worn with sleeplessness, but a light of hope and gratitude flashing over her features as she met the kind eyes, and felt the firm hand of her father's colonel, a sort of king in the eyes of all Royal Wardours. w.J2pvyB  
'My poor child,' he said gently, 'I am come to see if I can help you.' Yy>%dL  
9j$ OU@N 8  
'Oh! so good of you,' and she squeezed his hand tightly, in the effort perhaps not to give way. }+i ZY\t  
'I fear your mother is very ill.'  @*%Q,$  
'Very ill,' said Kalliope. 'Richard came last night, and he let her know what we had kept from her; but she is calmer now.' hY-;Wfg  
'Then your brother Richard is here.' >fdS$,`A  
'Yes; he is gone up to Mr. White's.' o+/x8:   
'He is in a solicitor's office, I think. Will he be able to undertake the case?' 5<,}^4wWZ  
'Oh no, no'---the white cheek flushed, and the hand trembled. 'There is a Leeds family here, and he is afraid of their finding out that he has any connection with this matter. He says it would be ruin to his prospects.' h1FM)n[E7  
'Then we must do our best without him,' Sir Jasper said in a fatherly voice, inexpressively comforting to the desolate wounded spirit. 'I will not keep you long from your mother, but will you answer me a few questions? Your brother tells me---' %_KNAuM  
She looked up almost radiantly, 'You have seen him?' ( T VzYm y  
'Yes. I saw him yesterday,' and as she gazed as if the news were water to a thirsty soul---'he sent his love, and begged his mother and you to forgive the distress his precipitancy has caused. I did not think him looking ill; indeed, I think the quiet of his cell is almost a rest to him, as he makes sure that he can clear himself.' 71z$a  
IMmoq={ (z  
'Oh, Sir Jasper! how can we ever be grateful enough!' D^E1  
'Never mind that now, only tell me what is needful, for time is short. Your brother sent these notes in their own envelope, he says.' @MWrUx  
'Yes, a very dirty one. I did not open it or see them, but enclosed it in one of my own, and sent it by my youngest brother, Petros.' BUqe~E|I  
'How was yours addressed?' D|lp3\`%  
'Francis Stebbing, Esq., Marble Works; and I put in a note in explanation.' `(NMHXgG+  
'Is the son's name likewise Francis?' ~m4{GzB  
9cV;W\ Tw  
'Francis James.' H<6TN^  
'Petros delivered it?' }r%Si  
x d9+P  
'Yes, certainly.' LYYz =gvZl  
Here they were interrupted by Maura's stealing timidly in with the message that poor mamma had heard that Sir Jasper was here, and would he be so very good as to come up for one minute and speak to her. %A]?5J)Bi  
'It is asking a great deal,' said Kalliope, 'but it would be very kind, and it might ease her mind.' h?8I`Z)h  
[. rULQl  
He was taken to the poor little bedroom full of oppressive atmosphere, though the window was open to relieve the labouring breath. It seemed absolutely filled with the enormous figure of the poor dropsical woman with white ghastly face, sitting pillowed up, incapable of lying down. Q>%{Dn\?  
'Oh, so good! so angelic!' she gasped. 5ns.||%k  
>hFg,5 _l3  
'I am sorry to see you so ill, Mrs. White.' T!ik"YZ@i  
'Ah! 'tis dying I am, Colonel Merrifield---begging your pardon, but the sight of you brings back the times when my poor captain was living, and I was the happy woman. 'Tis the thought of my poor orphans that is vexing me, leaving them as I am in a strange land where their own flesh and blood is unnatural to them,' she cried, trying to clasp her swollen hands, in the excitement that brought out the Irish substructure of her nature. 'Ah, Colonel dear, you'll bear in mind their father that would have died for you, and be good to them.' +}Q@{@5w  
'Indeed, I hope to do what I can for them.' |.;LI= CT  
'They are good children, Sir Jasper, all of them, even the poor boy that is in trouble out of the very warmth of his heart; but 'tis Richard who would be the credit to you, if you would lend him the helping hand. Where is the boy, Kally?' ZA! yw7~  
'He is gone to call on Mr. White.' |4tnG&=  
'Ah! and you'll say a good word for him with his cousin,' she pleaded, 'and say how 'tis no discredit to him if things are laid on his poor brother that he never did.' !R/- |Kjy  
The poor woman was evidently more anxious to bespeak patronage for her first-born, the pride and darling of her heart, than for those who might be thought to need it more, but she became confused and agitated when she thought of Alexis, declaring that the poor boy might have been hasty, and have disgraced himself, but it was hard, very hard, if they swore away his liberty, and she never saw him more, and she broke into distressing sobs. Sir Jasper, in a decided voice, assured her that he expected with confidence that her son would be freed the next day, and able to come to see her. /#,3JU$w  
'It's the blessing of a dying mother will be on you, Colonel dear! Oh! bring him back, that his mother's eyes may rest on the boy that has always been dutiful. No---no, Dick, I tell you 'tis no disgrace to wear the coat his father wore.' Wandering was beginning, and she was in no condition for Kalliope to leave her. The communicative Maura, who went downstairs with him, said that Richard was so angry about Alexis that it had upset poor mamma sadly. And could Alexis come?' she asked, 'even when he is cleared?' ~ }<!ON;  
'I will ask for furlough for him.' -F+dRzxH  
'Oh! thank you---that would do mamma more good than anything. She is so fond of Richard, he is her favourite, but Alexis is the real help and comfort.' ? U:LAub  
3f`+ -&|M  
'I can quite believe so. And now will you tell me where I shall find your brother who took the letter, Peter or Petros?' M]?#]3XBNo  
%f.(^<G u  
'Petros is his name, but the boys call him Peter. He is at school--- the Bellevue National School---up that street.' J9^RP~>bs  
Repairing to that imposing building, Sir Jasper knocked at the door, and sent in his card by an astonished pupil-teacher with a request to the master that he might speak to Petros White, waiting in the porch till a handsome little fellow appeared, stouter, rosier, and more English looking than the others of his family, but very dusty, and rather scared. X8Px  
'You don't remember me,' said Sir Jasper, 'but I was your father's colonel, and I want to find some way of helping your brother. Your sister tells me she gave you a letter to carry to Mr. Stebbing.' +5Yc/Qp  
'Yes, sir.' Y[9x\6 _E  
R| t"(6  
'Where did you take it?' *; . l/  
Q3,`'[ F  
'To his house, Carrara.' H[?~u+  
'Was it not directed to the Marble Works?' 68?oV)fE  
'Yes, but---' &RP!9{F<  
'But what? Speak out, my man.' M$ g%kqa  
'At the gate Blake, the porter, was very savage, and would not let us in. He said he would have no boys loafing about, we had done harm enough for one while, and he would set his dog at us.'  =Run  
g6 EdCG.V  
'Then you did not give him the letter?' lqA U5K{wQ  
'No. I wouldn't after the way he pitched into me. I didn't know if he would give it. And he wouldn't hear a word, so we went up to Rockstone to the house.' x(3E#7>1  
'Whom did you give it to there?' X55Eemg/  
'I dropped it into the slit in the door.' f!P.=Qo[=  
j!&g:{ e  
'You only told your sister that you delivered it.' 2aW&d=!ZV  
'Yes, sir. Theodore said I must not tell sister; it would only vex her more to hear how every one pitches into us, right and left,' he said, with trembling lip. 9w}A7('  
'Is Theodore your next brother?' :?U1^!$$1  
'Yes sir.' ?r'rvu'/  
0AZ Vc  
'Was he with you?' .Lr;{B  
'No; it was Sydney Grove.' 4QARrG%  
'Is he here? Or---Did any one else see you leave the letter?' -+?ZJ^A   
'Mr. Stebbing's son---the young one, George, was in the drive and slanged us for not going to the back door.' gr1NcHu  
\.ukZqB3 0  
'That is important. Thank you, my boy. Give my---my compliments to your master, and ask him to be kind enough to spare this Sydney Grove to me for a few moments.' UOIB}ut V  
This proved to be an amphibious-looking boy, older and rougher than Petros, and evidently his friend and champion. He was much less shy, and spoke out boldly, saying how he had gone with little Peter, and the porter had rowed them downright shameful, but it was nothing to that there young Stebbing ordering them out of the grounds for a couple of beastly cads, after no good. He (Grove) had a good mind to ha' give 'un a good warming, only 'twas school time, and they was late as it was. Everybody was down upon the Whites, and it was a shame when they hadn't done nothing, and he didn't see as they was stuck up, not he. ^'\JI  
Sir Jasper made a note of Master Grove's residence, and requested an interview with the master, from whom he obtained an excellent character of both the Whites, especially Theodore. The master lamented that this affair of their brother should have given a handle against them, for he wanted the services of the elder one as a monitor, eventually as a pupil-teacher, but did not know whether the choice would be advisable under the present circumstances. The boys' superiority made them unpopular, and excited jealousy among a certain set, though they were perfectly inoffensive, and they had much to go through in consequence of the suspicion that had fallen on their brother. Petros and Sydney should have leave from school whenever their testimony was wanted. &V| kv"Wwj  
As Sir Jasper walked down the street, his elder sister-in-law emerged from a tamarisk-flanked gateway. 'This is our new abode, Jasper,' she said. 'Come in and see what you think of it! Well, have you had any success?' }uNj#Uf  
i=L 86Ks  
He explained how the letter could be traced to Mr. Stebbing's house, and then consulted her whether to let all come out at the examination before the magistrates, or to induce the Stebbings to drop the prosecution. )!kt9lK  
'It would serve them right if it all came out in public,' she said. q_6lD~~q^  
'But would it be well?' +,,dsL  
'One must not be vindictive! And to drag poor Kalliope to Avoncester would be a dreadful business in her mother's state. Besides, Frank Stebbing is young, and it may be fair to give them a chance of hushing it up. I ought to be satisfied with clearing Alexis.' fd #QCs  
'Then I will go to the house. When shall I be likely to find Mr. Stebbing!' <+r~?X_  
'Just after luncheon, I should say.' W5Jy"]^I  
'And shall I take the lawyer?' 0|K<$e6IH  
}M"])B I  
'I should say not. If they hope to keep the thing secret, they will be the more amenable, but you should have the two boys within reach. Let us ask for them to come up after their dinner to Beechcroft. No, it must not be to dinner. Petros must not be sent to the kitchen, and Ada would expire if the other came to us! Now, do you like to see your house? Here is Macrae dying to see you.' J{kS4v*J  
The old soldier had changed his quarters too often to be keenly interested in any temporary abode, provided it would hold the requisite amount of children, and had a pleasant sitting-room for his Lily, but he inspected politely and gratefully, and had a warmly affectionate interview with Macrae, who had just arrived with a great convoy of needfuls from Silverfold, and who undertook to bring up and guard the two boys from any further impertinences that might excite Master Grove's pugnacity. ,z`D}< 3  
It was a beautiful day, of the lamb-like entrance weather of March, and on the way home Miss Adeline was met taking advantage of the noontide sunshine to exchange her book at the library, 'where,' she said, 'I found Mr. White reading the papers, so I asked him to meet Jasper at luncheon, thinking that may be useful.' $83Qd  
If Sir Jasper would rather have managed matters by himself, he forebore to say so, and he got on very well with Mr. White on subjects of interest, but, to the ladies' vexation, he waited to be alone before he began, 'I have come down to see what can be done for this poor young man, Mr. White, a connection of yours, I believe. Hl{ul'o  
'A bad business, Sir Jasper, a bad business.' Y(T$k9%}+  
'I am sorry to hear you say so. I have seen a great deal of service with his father, and esteemed him very highly---' C&EA@U5X^  
-y$<fu9 e  
'Ay, ay, very likely. I had a young man's differences with my cousin, as lads will fall out, but there was the making of a fine fellow in him. But it was the wife, bringing in that Greek taint, worse even than the Italian, so that there's no believing a word out of any of their mouths.' F"23v G>3  
'Well, the schoolmaster has just given me a high character of the younger one, for truthfulness especially.' lxR]Bh+  
'All art, Sir Jasper, all art. They are deeper than your common English sort, and act it out better. I'll just give you an instance or two. That eldest son has been with me just now, a smart young chap, who swears he has been keeping his mother all this time---he has written to me often enough for help to do so. On the other hand, the little sister tells me, "Mamma always wants money to send to poor Richard." Then again, Miss Mohun assures me that the elder one vows that she never encouraged Frank Stebbing for a moment, and to his mother's certain knowledge she is keeping up the correspondence.' DX/oHkLD'  
'Indeed,' said Sir Jasper. 'And may I ask what is your opinion as to this charge? I never knew a young man enlist with fifteen pounds in his pocket.' $gCN[%+j  
'Spent it by the way, sir. Ran through it at billiards. Nothing more probable; it is the way with those sober-looking lads when something upsets them. Then when luck went against him, enlisted out of despair. Sister, like all women, ready to lie through thick and thin to save him, most likely even on oath.' |fo#pwX  
'However,' said Sir Jasper, 'I can produce independent witness that the youngest boy set off with the letter for the office, and the porter not admitting him, carried it to the house.' w}e_ 17A  
'What became of it then?' PfGiJ]:V-u  
'Mr. Stebbing will have to answer that. I propose to lay the evidence before him in his own house, so that he may make inquiry, and perhaps find it, and drop the prosecution. Will you come with me?' f lt'~fe  
'Certainly, Sir Jasper. I should be very glad to think as you do. I came prepared to act kindly by these children, the only relations I have in the world; but I confess that what I have seen and heard has made me fear that they, at least the elder ones, are intriguing and undeserving. I should be glad of any proof to the contrary.' @Y+kg  
Carrara was not far off, and they were just in time to catch Mr. Stebbing in his arm-chair, looking over his newspaper, before repairing to his office. Mrs. Stebbing stood up, half-flattered, half-fluttered, at the call of this stately gentleman, and was scarcely prepared to hear him say--- .R S  
H 'nLC,  
'I have come down about this affair of young White's. His father was my friend and brother-officer, and I am very anxious about him.' &d"s cM5  
Pfm B{  
'I have been greatly disappointed in those young people, Sir Jasper,' said Mr. Stebbing uneasily. ?W&ajH_T  
'I understand that you are intending to prosecute Alexis White for the disappearance of the fifteen pounds he received on behalf of the firm.' k6_OP]  
'Exactly so, Sir Jasper. There's no doubt that the carter, Field, handed it to him; he acknowledges as much, but he would have us believe that after running away with it, he returned it to his sister to send to me. Where is it? I ask.' bj 0-72V  
'Yes,' put in Mrs. Stebbing, 'and the girl, the little one, changed a five-pound note at Glover's.' +~M`rR*  
GAcU8  MD  
'I can account for that,' said Mr. White, with somewhat of an effort. 'I gave her one for her sister, and charged them not to mention it.' ]abox%U=%  
xQ7-4 N,  
He certainly seemed ashamed to mention it before those who accounted it a weakness; and Sir Jasper broke the silence by proposing to produce his witnesses. @9<MW  
'Really, Sir Jasper, this should be left for the court,' said Mr. Stebbing. 7TjK;w7xS.  
yI 6AafS~  
'It might be well to settle the matter in private, without dragging Miss White into Avoncester away from her dying mother.' nZbfc;da  
'Those things are so exaggerated,' said the lady. I |?zSFa  
'I have seen her,' said Sir Jasper gravely. beyC't  
_C3l 2v'I$  
'May I ask who these witnesses are?' demanded Mr. Stebbing. ?Xscc mN  
'Two are waiting here---the messenger and his companion. Another is your porter at the marble works, and the fourth is your youngest son.' = 8F/]8_  
This caused a sensation, and Mrs. Stebbing began--- }ie\-V  
'I am sure I can't tell what you mean, Sir Jasper.' o.-rdP0P>  
'Is he in the house?' C]{:>= K  
{1 fva^O  
'Yes; he has a bad cold.' Ms8& $  
go^?F- dZ  
Mrs. Stebbing opened the door and called 'George,' and on the boy's appearance, Sir Jasper asked him--- -X#Zn>#  
'Do you remember the morning of the 17th of last month---three days after the accident? I want to know whether you saw any one in the approach to the house.' p-d2HXo  
B J,U,!  
'I don't know what day it was,' said the boy, somewhat sulkily. t?& a?6:J  
'You did see some one, and warned them off!' {<\[gm\X  
'I saw two little ca---two boys out of the town on the front door steps.' )vO?d~x|  
'Did you know them?' #!a}ZhIt  
'No---that is to say, one was a fisherman's boy.' /FP;Hsw%  
'And the other?' (wMiX i  
'I thought he belonged to the lot of Whites.' m|7lDfpb  
'Should you know them again?' oAMB}a;  
'I suppose so.' 7c:5 Ey  
'Will you excuse me, and I will call them into the hall?' said Sir Jasper. ?c vXuxCm  
R+c  {Pl  
This was effected, and Master George had to identify the boys, after which Sir Jasper elicited that Petros had seen the dirty envelope come out of his brother's letter, and that his sister had put it into another, which she addressed as he described, and gave into his charge to deliver. Then came the account of the way he had been refused admittance by the porter. w3^>{2iqq  
'Why didn't you give him the letter?' demanded Mr. Stebbing. ]jUxL=]r  
'Catch us,' responded Sydney Grove, rejoiced at the opportunity, 'when what we got was, "Get out, you young rascals!"' ^-3R+U- S  
Petros more discreetly added--- b??k|q  
'My sister wanted it to be given to Mr. Stebbing, so we went up to the house to wait for him, but it got late for school, and I saw the postman drop the letters into the slit in the door, so I thought that would be all right.' |9)Q =(  
'Did you see him do so?' asked Sir Jasper of the independent witness. O&93QN0  
'Yes, sir, and he there'---pointing to George---'saw it too, and---' pDD0 QO  
'Did you?' D %~s  
E N%cjvE  
'Ay, and thought it like their impudence.' I :%(nKBK  
h djv/  
'That will do, my boys,' said Sir Jasper. 'Now run away.' `Q^G k{9P  
Mr. White put something into each paw as the door was opened and the pair made their exit. LJ`*&J   
If Sir Jasper acted as advocate, Mr. White seemed to take the position of judge. Q^>"AhOiU  
T1 >xw4uo  
'There can be no doubt,' he said, 'that the letter containing the notes reached this house.' KtTv0[66  
'No,' said Mr. Stebbing hotly. 'Why was I not told? Who cleared the letter-box?' >}<1  
It was the page's business, but to remember any particular letter on any particular day was quite beyond him, and he only stared wildly and said, 'Dun no,' on which he was dismissed to the lower regions. _43'W{%  
'The address was "Francis Stebbing, Esq.,"' said Sir Jasper meditatively, perhaps like a spider pulling his cord. 'Francis---your son's name. Can he---' mNA=<O;i)'  
'Mr. White, I'll thank you to take care what you say of my son!' exclaimed Mrs. Stebbing; but there was a blank look of alarm on the father's face. +OI<0  
'Where is he?' asked Mr. White. +MZI\>  
'He may be able to explain'---courtesy and pity made the General add. !?>QN'p.b  
'No, no,' burst out the mother. 'He knows nothing of it. Mr. Stebbing, can't you stand up for your own son?' h=S7Z:IaM  
'Perhaps,' began the poor man, his tone faltering with a terrible anxiety, but his wife exclaimed hastily--- ">.tPn  
'He never saw nor heard of it. I put it in the fire.' Ij7P-5=<  
There was a general hush, broken by Mr. Stebbing saying slowly--- RbL?(  
'You---put---it---in---the---fire.' FuiR\"Ww  
'Yes; I saw those disreputable-looking boys put it into the box. I wasn't going to have that bold girl sending billy-doos on the sly to my son.' A0Mjk  
'Under these circumstances,' drily said Sir Jasper, 'I presume that you will think it expedient to withdraw the prosecution.' ZIx-mC5  
'Certainly, certainly,' said Mr. Stebbing, in the tone of one delivered from great alarm. 'I will write at once to my solicitor at Avoncester.' Then turning on his wife, 'How was it that I never heard this before, and you let me go and make a fool of myself?' A"JdG%t>.h  
'How was I to know, Mr. Stebbing? You started off without a word to me, and all you told me when you came back was that the young man said he had posted the letter to his sister. I should like to know why he could not send it himself to the proper place!' 8 1Kf X {|  
'Well, Mrs. Stebbing,' said her husband, 'I hope it will be a lesson to you against making free with other people's letters.' UdO8KD#r3  
#&|"t< }  
She tossed her head, and was about to retire, when Sir Jasper said--- 1clzDwW  
1| sem(t  
'Before leaving us, madam, in justice to my old friend's daughter, I should be much obliged if you would let me know your grounds for believing the letter to be what you say.' nFni1cCD  
$j- Fm:ZIA  
'Why---why, Sir Jasper, it has been going on this year or more! She has perfectly infatuated the poor boy.' cs2-jbRn  
'I am not asking about your son's sentiments but can you adduce any proof of their being encouraged!' B)/&xQu  
tDAX pi(  
'Sir Jasper! a young man doesn't go on in that way without encouragement.' U;&s=M0[  
'What encouragement can you prove?' =w7k@[Bq  
'Didn't I surprise a letter from her---?' ]=^NTm,  
'Well'---checked the tone of triumphant conviction. Hlq#X:DCn  
'A refusal, yes, but we all know what that means, and that there must have been something to lead to it'---and as there was an unconvinced silence---'Besides---oh, why, every one knew of her arts. You did, Mr. Stebbing, and of poor Frank's infatuation. It was the reason of her dismissal.' E(oI0*S.5  
'I knew what you told me, Mrs. Stebbing,' he answered grimly, not at all inclined to support her at this moment of anger. 'I am sure I wish I had never listened to you. I never saw anything amiss in the girl's behaviour, and they are all at sixes and sevens without her at the mosaic work---though she is only absent from her mother's illness at present.' uf (`I  
'You! of course she would not show her goings on before you, said the lady. C#`VVtei  
'Is Master Frank in the house?' put in Mr. White; 'I should like to put the question before him.' ^T83E}  
m0+X 109  
'You can't expect a young man to make mortifying admissions,' exclaimed the mother, and as she saw smiles in answer she added, 'Of course, the girl has played the modest and proper throughout! That was her art, to draw him on, till he did not know what he was about.' X#KC<BXw,  
42X N*br  
'Setting aside the supposed purpose,' said Sir Jasper, 'you admit, Mrs. Stebbing, that of your own knowledge, Miss White has never encouraged your son's attentions.' OU&eswW  
'N---no; but we all know what those girls are.' So &c\Ff  
'Fatherless and unprotected,' said Sir Jasper, 'dependent on their own character and exertion, and therefore in especial need of kind construction. Good morning, Mrs. Stebbing; I have learnt all that I wish to know.' 4}nsW}jCc  
Overpowered, but not convinced, Mrs. Stebbing saw her visitors depart. B Z:H$v  
'And I hope her husband will give it to her well,' said Mr. White, as they left the house. C7=Q!UK`\  
They looked in at Beechcroft Cottage with the tidings. ;_0)f  
'All safe, I see!' cried Miss Jane. 'Is the money found?' 7|6tH@4Ub  
'No; Mrs. Stebbing burnt it, under the impression that it was a love- letter,' drily said Sir Jasper. <-Q0WP_^  
Miss Mohun led the way in the hearty fit of laughter, to which the gentlemen gave way the more heartily for recent suppression; and Mr. White added--- <O5;w  
'I assure you, it was as good as a play to hear Sir Jasper worm it out. One would think he had been bred a lawyer.' u/.s rK!K  
'And now,' said the General, 'I must go and relieve that poor girl's suspense.' @\"*Z&]8z0  
%ly;2H Ik  
'I will come with you,' volunteered Mr. White. 'I fully believe that she is a good girl, though this business and Master Richard's applications staggered me; and this soldier fellow must be an ass if he is not a scamp.' X~DXx/9  
%om7h$D =`  
'Scarcely that, I think,' said Miss Adelaide, with her pleading smile. ' " tieew  
'Well, discipline will be as good for him as for his father,' said Mr. White. 'He has done for himself, but that was a nice little lad that you had up---too good for a common national school.' X^W> "q  
Wherewith they departed, and found that Kalliope must have been on the watch, for she ran down to open the door to them, and the gladness which irradiated her face as Sir Jasper's first 'All right,' lighted up her features, which were so unlike the shop-girl prettiness that Mr. White expected as quite to startle him. wB)+og-^1f  
Richard was in the parlour in a cloud of smoke, and began to do the honours. ~TH5>``;gF  
'Our acknowledgments are truly due to Sir Jasper. Mr. White, we are much honoured. Pray be seated, please to excuse---' V;-.38py  
They paid little attention to him, while Sir Jasper told as much to his sister as could well be explained as to the fate of her envelope, and added--- !mxh]x<e  
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'You will not be wanted at Avoncester, as the case will not come on. I shall go and see all safe, then on to town, but I mean to see your brother's commanding officer, and you may tell your mother that I have no doubt that he will be allowed a furlough.' lDJd#U'V  
'But, Sir Jasper' broke in Richard, 'I beg your pardon; but there is a family from Leeds at Bellevue, the Nortons, and imagine what it would be if they reported me as connected with a common private soldier, just out of prison too!' ~t${=o430  
'Let him come to me then,' exclaimed Mr. White. *#Lsjk~_-  
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In spite of appearances of disgust, Richard took the invitation to himself, and looked amiable and gratified. ,zAK3d&hj  
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'Thank you, Mr. White, that will obviate the difficulty. When shall I move up?' q%OcLZ<,  
'You, sir? Did you think I meant you?' said Mr. White contemptuously. 'No; I prefer a fool to a knave!' J6*f Uh  
'Mr. White,' interposed Sir Jasper, 'whatever you may have to say to Richard White, consider his sister. Or had you not better report our success to your mother, my dear?' & B}Lo  
'One moment,' said Mr. White. 'Tell me, young lady, if you do not object, what assistance have you ever received from me.' COSTV>s;  
'You have most kindly employed us, and paid for Maura's education,' said Kalliope. 1[SA15h  
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'Is that all? Has nothing been transmitted through this brother?' 514Z<omrK  
'I do not understand,' said Kalliope, trembling, as Richard scowled at her. SK R1E];4  
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'Sir,' said he, 'I always intended, but unforeseen circumstances---' ke%pZ 7{u  
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'That's enough for the present, sir,' said Mr. White. 'I have heard all I wish, and more too.' S\#17.=  
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'Sir,' said Kalliope, still trembling, 'indeed, Richard is a kind son and brother. My mother is much attached to him. I am generally out all day, and it is quite possible that she did not tell me all that passed between them, as she knew that I did not like you to be applied to.' Af(WV>'  
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'That will do, my dear,' said Mr. White. 'I don't want to say any more about it. You shall have your brother to-morrow, if Sir Jasper can manage it. I will bring him back to Rockstone as my guest, so that his brother need not be molested with his company.' V9NTs8LKc  
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