Chapter XX. Ivinghoe Terrace
On an east-windy Friday afternoon Valetta and Fergus were in a crowning state of ecstasy. Rigdum Funnidos was in a hutch in the small garden under the cliff, Begum and two small gray kittens were in a basket under the kitchen stairs, Aga was purring under everybody's feet, Cocky was turning out the guard upon his perch---in short, Il Lido was made as like Silverfold as circumstances would permit. Aunt Ada with Miss Vincent was sitting on the sofa in the drawing-room, with a newly-worked cosy, like a giant's fez, over the teapot, and Valetta's crewel cushion fully displayed. She was patiently enduring a rush in and out of the room of both children and Quiz once every minute, and had only requested that it should not be more than once, and that the door should neither be slammed nor left open.
Macrae and the Silverfold carriage were actually gone to the station, and, oh! oh! oh! here it really was with papa on the box, and heaps of luggage, and here were Primrose and Gillian and mamma and Mrs. Halfpenny, all emerging one after another, and Primrose, looking---oh dear! more like a schoolroom than a nursery girl---such a great piece of black leg below the little crimson skirt; but the dear little face as plump as ever.
That was the first apparent fact after the disengaging from the general embrace, when all had subsided into different seats, and Aunt Jane, who had appeared from somewhere in her little round sealskin hat, had begun to pour out the tea. The first sentence that emerged from the melee of greetings and intelligence was---
'Fly met her mother at the station; how well she looks!'
'Then Victoria came down with you?'
'Yes; I am glad we went to her. I really do like her very much.'
Then Primrose and Valetta varied the scene by each laying a kitten in their mother's lap; and Begum, jumping after her progeny, brushed Lady Merrifield's face with her bushy tail, interrupting the information about names.
'Come, children,' said Sir Jasper, 'that's enough; take away the cats.' It was kindly said, but it was plain that liberties with mamma would not continue before him.
'The Whites?' was Gillian's question, as she pressed up to Aunt Jane.
'Poor Mrs. White died the night before last,' was the return. 'I have just come from Kally. She is in a stunned state now---actually too busy to think and feel, for the funeral must be to-morrow.'
Sir Jasper heard, and came to ask further questions.
'She saw Alexis,' went on Miss Mohun. 'They dressed him in his own clothes, and she seemed greatly satisfied when he came to sit by her, and had forgotten all that went before. However, the end came very suddenly at last, and all those poor children show their southern nature in tremendous outbursts of grief---all except Kalliope, who seems not to venture on giving way, will not talk, or be comforted, and is, as it were, dried up for the present. The big brothers give way quite as much as the children, in gusts, that is to say. Poor Alexis reproaches himself with having hastened it, and I am afraid his brother does not spare him. But Mr. White has bought his discharge.'
'You don't mean it.'
'Yes; whether it was the contrast between Alexis's air of refinement and his private soldier's turn-out, or the poor fellow's patience and submission, or the brother's horrid behaviour to him, Mr. White has taken him up, and bought him out.'
'All because of Richard's brutal speech. That is good! Though I confess I should have let the lad have at least a year's discipline for his own good, since he had put himself into it; but I can't be sorry. There is something engaging about the boy.'
'And Mr. White is the right man to dispose of them.'
No more passed, for here were the children eager and important, doing the honours of the new house, and intensely happy at the sense of home, which with them depended more on persons than on place.
One schoolroom again,' said Mysie. 'One again with Val and Prim and Miss Vincent. Oh, it is happiness!'
Even Mrs. Halfpenny was a delightful sight, perhaps the more so that her rightful dominion was over; the nursery was no more, and she was only to preside in the workroom, be generally useful, wait on my lady, and look after Primrose as far as was needful.
The bustle and excitement of settling in prevented much thought of the Whites, even from Gillian, during that evening and the next morning; and she was ashamed of her own oblivion of her friend in the new current of ideas, when she found that her father meant to attend the funeral out of respect to his old fellow-soldier.
Rockquay had outgrown its churchyard, and had a cemetery half a mile off, so that people had to go in carriages. Mr. White had made himself responsible for expenses, and thus things were not so utterly dreary as poverty might have made them. It was a dreary, gusty March day, with driving rushes of rain, which had played wildly with Gillian's waterproof while she was getting such blossoms and evergreen leaves as her aunt's garden afforded, not out of love for the poor Queen of the White Ants herself, but thinking the attention might gratify the daughters; and her elders moralised a little on the use and abuse of wreaths, and how the manifestation of tender affection and respect had in many cases been imitated in empty and expensive compliment.
'The world spoils everything with its coarse finger,' said Lady Merrifield.
'I hope the custom will not be exaggerated altogether out of fashion,' said Jane. 'It is a real comfort to poor little children at funerals to have one to carry, and it is as Mrs. Gaskell's Margaret said of mourning, something to prevent settling to doing nothing but crying; besides that afterwards there is a wholesome sweetness in thus keeping up the memory.'
Sir Jasper shared a carriage with Mr. White, and returned somewhat wet and very cold, and saying that it had been sadly bleak and wretched for the poor young people, who stood trembling, so far as he could see; and he was anxious to know how the poor girls were after it. It had seemed to him as if Kalliope could scarcely stand. He proved to be right. Kalliope had said nothing, not wept demonstratively, perhaps not at all; but when the carriage stopped at the door, she proved to be sunk back in her corner in a dead faint. She was very long in reviving, and no sooner tried to move than she swooned again, and this time it lasted so long that the doctor was sent for. Miss Mohun arrived just as he had partially restored her, and they had a conversation.
'They must get that poor girl to bed as soon as it is possible to undress her,' he said. 'I have seen that she must break down sooner or later, and I'm afraid she is in for a serious illness; but as yet there is no knowing.'
Nursing was not among Jane's accomplishments, except of her sister Ada's chronic, though not severe ailments; but she fetched Mrs. Halfpenny as the most effective person within reach, trusting to that good woman's Scotch height, strong arms, great decision, and the tenderness which real illness always elicited.
Nor was she wrong. Not only did Mrs. Halfpenny get the half- unconscious girl into bed, but she stayed till evening, and then came back to snatch a meal and say---
'My leddy, if you have no objection, I will sit up with that puir lassie the night. They are all men-folk or bairns there, except the lodger-lady, who is worn out with helping the mother, and they want some one with a head on her shoulders.'
Lady Merrifield consented with all her heart; but the Sunday morning's report was no better, when Mrs. Halfpenny came home to dress Primrose, and see her lady.
'That eldest brother, set him up, the idle loon, was off by the mail train that night, and naething wad serve him but to come in and bid good-bye to his sister just as I had gotten her off into something more like a sleep. It startled her up, and she went off her head again, poor dearie, and began to talk about prison and disgrace, and what not, till she fainted again; and when she came to, I was fain to call the other lad to pacify her, for I could see the trouble in her puir een, though she could scarce win breath to speak.'
'Is Alexis there?'
'Surely he is, my leddy; he's no the lad to leave his sister in sic a strait. It was all I could do to gar him lie down when she dozed off again, but there's sair stress setting in for all of them, puir things. I have sent the little laddie off to beg the doctor to look in as soon as he can, for I am much mistaken if there be not fever coming on.'
'Indeed! And what can those poor children do?'
'That's what I'm thinking, my leddy. And since 'tis your pleasure that the nursery be done awa' wi', and I have not ta'en any fresh work, I should like weel to see the puir lassie through wi' it. Ye'll no mind that Captain White and my puir Halfpenny listed the same time, and always forgathered as became douce lads. The twa of them got their stripes thegither, and when Halfpenny got his sunstroke in that weary march, 'twas White who gave him his last sup of water, and brought me his bit Bible. So I'd be fain to tend his daughter in her sickness, if you could spare me, my leddy, and I'd aye rin home to dress Missie Primrose and pit her to bed, and see to matters here.'
'There's no better nurse in the world, dear old Halfpenny,' said Lady Merrifield, with tears in her eyes. 'I do feel most thankful to you for proposing it. Never mind about Primrose, only you must have your meals and a good rest here, and not knock yourself up.'
Mrs. Halfpenny smiled grimly at the notion of her being sooner knocked up than a steam-engine. Dr. Dagger entirely confirmed her opinion that poor Kalliope was likely to have a serious illness, low nervous fever, and failing action of the heart, no doubt from the severe strain that she had undergone, more or less, for many months, and latterly fearfully enhanced by her mother's illness, and the shock and suspense about Alexis, all borne under the necessity of external composure and calmness, so that even Mrs. Lee had never entirely understood how much it cost her. The doctor did not apprehend extreme danger to one young and healthy, but he thought much would depend on good nursing, and on absolute protection from any sort of excitement, so that such care as Mrs. Halfpenny's was invaluable, since she was well known to be a dove to a patient, but a dragon to all outsiders.
Every one around grieved at having done so little to lighten these burthens, and having even increased them, her brother Alexis above all; but on the other hand, he was the only person who was of any use to her, or was suffered to approach her, since his touch and voice calmed the recurring distress, lest he were still in prison and danger.
Alexis went back dutifully on the Monday morning to his post at the works. The young man was much changed by his fortnight's experiences, or rather he had been cured of a temporary fit of distraction, and returned to his better self. How many discussions his friends held about him cannot be recorded, but after a conversation with Mr. Flight, with whom he was really more unreserved than any other being except Kalliope, this was the understanding at which Miss Mohun and Lady Merrifield arrived as to his nature and character.
Refined, studious, and sensitive, thoroughly religious-minded, and of a high tone of thought, his aspirations had been blighted by his father's death, his brother's selfishness, and his mother's favouritism. In a brave spirit of self-abnegation, he had turned to the uncongenial employment set before him for the sake of his family, and which was rendered specially trying by the dislike of his fellows to 'the gentleman cove,' and the jealousy of the Stebbings. Alike for his religious and his refined habits he had suffered patiently, as Mr. Flight had always known more or less, and now bore testimony. The curate, who had opened to him the first door of hope and comfort, had in these weeks begun to see that the apparent fitfulness of his kindness had been unsettling.
Then came the brief dream of felicity excited by Gillian and the darkness of its extinction, just as Frank Stebbing's failure and the near approach of Mr. White had made the malice of his immediate superiors render his situation more intolerable than ever. There was the added sting of self-reproach for his presumption towards Gillian, and the neglect caused by his fit of low spirits. Such a sensitive being, in early youth, wearied and goaded on all sides, might probably have persevered through the darkness till daylight came; but the catastrophe, the dismissal, and the perception that he could only defend himself at the expense of his idol's little brother, all exaggerated by youthful imagination, were too much for his balance of judgment, and he fled without giving himself time to realise how much worse he made it for those he left behind him.
Of course he perceived it all now, and the more bitterly from his sister's wanderings, but the morbid exaggeration was gone. The actual taste of a recruit's life had shown him that there were worse things than employment at the quarries with his home awaiting him, and his cell had been a place of thought and recovery of his senses. He had never seriously expected conviction, and Sir Jasper's visit had given him a spring of hopeful resignation, in which thoughts stirred of doing his duty, and winning his way after his father's example, and taking the trials of his military life as the just cross of his wrong-doing in entering it.
His liberation and Mr. White's kindness had not altered this frame. He was too unhappy to feel his residence in the great house anything but a restraint; he could not help believing that he had hastened his mother's death, and could only bow his head meekly under his brother's reproaches, alike for that and for his folly and imprudence and the disgrace he had brought on the family.
'And now you'll, be currying favour and cutting out every one else,' had been a sting which added fresh force to Alexis's desire to escape from his kinsman's house to sleep at home as soon as his brother had gone; and Richard had seen enough of Sir Jasper and of Mr. White to be anxious to return to his office at Leeds as soon as possible, and to regulate his affairs beyond their reach.
Alexis knew that he had avoided a duty in not working out his three months' term, and likewise that his earnings were necessary to the family all the more for his sister being laid aside. He knew that he hardly deserved to resume his post, and he merely asked permission so to do, and it was granted at once, but curtly and coldly.
Mr. Flight had asked if he had not found the going among the other clerks very trying.
'I had other things to think of,' said Alexis sadly, then recalling himself. 'Yes; Jones did sneer a little, but the others stopped that. They knew I was down, you see.'
'And you mean to go on?'
'If I may. That, and for my sister to get better, is all I can dare to hope. My madness and selfishness have shown me unworthy of all that I once dreamt of.'
In that resolution it was assuredly best to leave him, only giving him such encouragement and sympathy as might prevent that more dangerous reaction of giving up all better things; and Sir Jasper impressed on Mr. Flight, the only friend who could have aided him in fulfilling his former aspirations, that Mr. White had in a manner purchased the youth by buying his discharge, and that interference would not only be inexpedient, but unjust. The young clergyman chafed a little over not being allowed to atone for his neglect; but Sir Jasper was not a person to be easily gainsayed. Nor could there be any doubt that Mr. White was a good man, though in general so much inclined to reserve his hand that his actions were apt to take people by surprise at last, as they had never guessed his intentions, and he had a way of sucking people's brains without in the least letting them know what use he meant to make of their information. The measures he was taking for the temporal, intellectual, and spiritual welfare of the people at the works would hardly have been known except for the murmurs of Mrs. Stebbing, although, without their knowing what he was about with them, Mr. Stebbing himself, Mr. Hablot, Miss Mohun, to say nothing of Alexis, the foremen and the men and their wives, had given him the groundwork of his reforms. Meantime, he came daily to inquire for Kalliope, and lavished on her all that could be an alleviation, greatly offending Mrs. Halfpenny by continually proffering the services of a hospital nurse.
'A silly tawpie that would be mair trouble than half a dozen sick,' as she chose to declare.
She was a born autocrat, and ruled as absolutely in No. l as in her nursery, ordering off the three young ones to their schools, in spite of Maura's remonstrances and appeals to Lady Merrifield, who agreed with nurse that the girl was much better away and occupied than where she could be of very little use.
Indeed, Mrs. Halfpenny banished every one from the room except Mrs. Lee and Alexis, whom she would allow to take her place, while she stalked to Il Lido for her meals, and the duties she would not drop. As to rest, she always, in times of sickness, seemed to be made of cast iron, and if she ever slept at all, it was in a chair, while Alexis sat by his sister in the evening.
The fever never ran very high, but constant vigilance was wanted from the extreme exhaustion and faintness. There was no violent delirium, but more of delusion and distress; nor was it easy to tell when she was conscious or otherwise, for she hardly spoke, and as yet the doctor forbade any attempt to rouse her more than was absolutely needful. They were only to give nourishment, watch her, and be patient.
A few months ago Gillian would have fussed herself into a frantic state of anxiety and self-reproach, but her parents, when her mother had once heard as much outpouring as she thought expedient, would not permit what Sir Jasper called 'perpetual harping.'
'You have to do your duties all the same, and not worry your mother and all the family with your feelings,' he said. She thought it very unkind, and went away crying.
'Nobody could hinder her from thinking about Kalliope,' she said to herself, and think she did at her prayers, and when the bulletins came in, but the embargo on discussion prevented her from being so absolutely engrossed, as in weaker hands she might have been, and there was a great deal going on to claim her attention. For one thing, the results of the Cambridge Examination showed that while Emma Norton and a few others had passed triumphantly, she had failed, and conscience carried her back to last autumn's disinclination to do just what Aunt Jane especially recommended.
She cried bitterly over the failure, for she had a feeling that success there would redeem her somewhat in her parents' eyes; but here again she experienced the healing kindness of her father. He would not say that he should not have been much pleased by her success, but he said failure that taught her to do her best without perverseness was really a benefit; and as arithmetic and mathematics had been her weakest points, he would work at them with her and Mysie for an hour every morning.
It was somewhat formidable, but the girls soon found that what their father demanded was application, and that inattention displeased him much more than stupidity. His smile, though rare, was one of the sweetest things in the world, and his approbation was delightful, and gave a stimulus to the entire day's doings. Mysie was more than ever in dread of being handed over to the Rotherwoods, though her love for poor Fly and pity for her solitude were so strong. She would have been much relieved if she had known what had passed; when the offer was seriously made, Lord Rotherwood insisted that his wife should do it.
'Then they will believe in it,' he said.
'I do not know why you should say that,' she returned, always dutifully blinding herself to that which all their intimates knew perfectly well. However, perhaps from having a station and dignity of her own, together with great simplicity, Lady Merrifield had from her first arrival got on so well with her hostess as not quite to enter into Jane's sarcastic descriptions of her efforts at cordiality; and it was with real warmth that Lady Rotherwood begged for Mysie as a permanent companion and adopted sister to Phyllis, who was to be taken back to London after Easter, and in the meantime spent every possible moment with her cousins.
Tears at the unkindness to lonely Fly came into Lady Merrifield's eyes as she said---
'I cannot do it, Victoria; I do not think I ought to give away my child, even if I could.'
'It is not only our feelings,' added Sir Jasper, 'but it is our duty to bring up our own child in her natural station; and though we know she would learn nothing but good in your family, I cannot think it well that a girl should acquire habits, and be used to society ways and of life beyond those which she can expect to continue.'
They both cried out at this, Lord Rotherwood with a halting declaration of perfect equality, which his lady seconded, with a dexterous reference to connections.
'We will not put it on rank then,' said Sir Jasper, 'but on wealth. With you, Maria must become accustomed to much that she could not continue, and had better not become natural to her. I know there are great advantages to manners and general cultivation in being with you, and we shall be most thankful to let her pay long visits, and be as much with Phyllis as is consistent with feeling her home with us, but I cannot think it right to do more.'
'But with introductions,' pleaded Lady Rotherwood, 'she might marry well. With her family and connections, she would be a match for any one.'
'I hope so,' said Sir Jasper; 'but at the same time it would not be well for her to look on such a marriage as the means of continuing the habits that would have become second nature.'
'Poor Mysie,' exclaimed Lord Rotherwood, bursting out laughing at the idea, and at Lady Merrifield's look as she murmured, 'My Mysie!'
'You misunderstand me,' said the Marchioness composedly. 'I was as far as possible from proposing marriage as a speculation for her.'
'I know you were,' said Sir Jasper. 'I know you would deal by Maria as by your own daughter, and I am very grateful to you, Lady Rotherwood, but I can only come back to my old decision, that as Providence did not place her in your rank of life, she had better not become so accustomed to it as to render her own distasteful to her.'
'Exactly what I expected,' said Lord Rotherwood.
'Yes,' returned his wife, with an effort of generosity; 'and I believe you are right, Jasper, though I am sorry for my little solitary girl, and I never saw a friend so perfectly suitable for her as your Mysie.'
'They may be friends still,' said Lord Rotherwood, 'and we will be grateful to you whenever you can spare her to us.'
'Perhaps,' added Sir Jasper, 'all the more helpful friends for seeing different phases of life.'
'And, said his wife, with one of her warm impulses, 'I do thank you, Victoria, for so loving my Mysie.'
'As if any one could help it, after last winter,' said that lady, and an impromptu kiss passed between the two mothers, much to the astonishment of the Marquis, who had never seen his lady so moved towards any one.
The Merrifields were somewhat on the world, for Sir Jasper, on going to Silverfold and corresponding with the trustees of the landlord, had found that the place could not be put in a state either of repair or sanitation, such as he approved, without more expense than either he or the trustees thought advisable, and he decided on giving it up, and remaining at Il Lido till he could find something more suitable.
The children, who had been there during the special homemaking age, bewailed the decision, and were likely always to look back on Silverfold as a sort of Paradise; but the elder ones had been used to changes from infancy, and had never settled down, and their mother said that place was little to her as long as she had her Jasper by her side, and as to the abstract idea of home as a locality, that would always be to her under the tulip-tree and by the pond at the Old Court at Beechcroft, just as her abstract idea of church was in the old family pew, with the carved oak panels, before the restoration, in which she had been the most eager of all.
Thus a fortnight passed, and then the fever was decidedly wearing off, but returning at night. Kalliope still lay weak, languid, silent, fainting at any attempt to move her, not apparently able to think enough to ask how time passed, or to be uneasy about anything, simply accepting the cares given to her, and lying still. One morning, however, Alexis arrived in great distress to speak to Sir Jasper, not that his sister was worse, as he explained, but Richard had been selling the house. The younger ones at home had never troubled themselves as to whose property the three houses in Ivinghoe Terrace were. Perhaps Kalliope knew, but she could not be asked; but the fact was that Captain White had been so lost sight of, that he had not known that this inheritance had fallen to him under the will of his grandfather, who was imbecile at the time of his flight. On his deathbed, the Captain had left the little he owned to his wife, and she had died intestate, as Richard had ascertained before leaving home, so that he, as eldest son, was heir to the ground. He had written to Kalliope, a letter which Alexis had opened, informing her that he had arranged to sell the houses to a Mr. Gudgeon, letting to him their own till the completion of the legal business necessary, and therefore desiring his brothers and sisters to move out with their lodgers, if not by Lady Day itself, thus giving only a week's spare notice, at latest by Old Lady Day.
'Is he not aware of your sister's state?'
'I do not imagine that he has read the letter that I wrote to him. He was very much displeased with me, and somewhat disposed to be angry at my sister's fainting, and to think that we were all trying to work on his feelings. He used to be rather fond of Maura, so I told her to write to him, but he has taken no notice, and he can have no conception of Kalliope's condition, or he would not have addressed his letter to her. I came to ask if you would kindly write to him how impossible it is to move her.'
'You had better get a certificate from Dr. Dagger. Either I or Lady Merrifield will meet him, and see to that. That will serve both to stay him and the purchaser.'
'That is another misfortune. This Gudgeon is the chief officer, or whatever they call it, of the Salvation Army. I knew they had been looking out for a place for a barracks, and could not get one because almost everything belongs to Lord Rotherwood or to Mr. White.'
Sir Jasper could only reply that he would see what could be done in the matter, and that, at any rate, Kalliope should not be disturbed.
Accordingly Lady Merrifield repaired to Ivinghoe Terrace for the doctor's visit, and obtained from him the requisite certificate that the patient could not be removed at present. He gave it, saying, however, to Lady Merrifield's surprise, that though he did not think it would be possible to remove her in a week's time, yet after that he fully believed that she would have more chance of recovering favourably if she could be taken out of the small room and the warm atmosphere beneath the cliffs---though of course all must depend on her state at the time.
Meantime there was a council of the gentlemen about outbidding the Salvation Army. Lord Rotherwood was spending already as much as he could afford, in the days of agricultural depression, on the improvements planned with Mr. White. That individual was too good a man of business to fall, as he said, into the trap, and make a present to that scamp Richard of more than the worth of the houses, and only Mr. Flight was ready to go to any cost to keep off the Salvation Army; but the answer was curt. Richard knew he had no chance with Mr. White, and did not care to keep terms with him.
'Mr. Richard White begs to acknowledge the obliging offer of the Rev. Augustine Flight, and regrets that arrangements have so far progressed with Mr. Gudgeon that he cannot avail himself of it.'
Was this really regret or was the measure out of spite? Only the widest charity could accept the former suggestion, and even Sir Jasper Merrifield's brief and severe letter and Dr. Dagger's certificate did not prevent a letter to Alexis, warning him not to make their sister's illness a pretext for unreasonable delay.
What was to be done? Kalliope was still unfit to be consulted or even informed, and she had been hitherto so entirely the real head and manager of the family that Alexis did not like to make any decision without her; and even the acceptance of the St. Wulstan's choristership for Theodore had been put off for her to make it, look to his outfit, and all that only the woman of the family could do for them.
And here they were at a loss for a roof over their heads, and nowhere to bestow the battered old furniture, of which Richard magnanimously renounced his sixth share; while she who had hitherto toiled, thought, managed, and contrived for all the other four, without care of their own, still lay on her bed, sensible indeed and no longer feverish, but with the perilous failure of heart, renewed by any kind of exertion or excitement, a sudden movement, or a startling sound in the street; and Mrs. Halfpenny, guarding her as ferociously as ever, and looking capable of murdering any one of her substitutes if they durst hint a word of their perplexities. Happily she asked no questions; she was content when allowed to be kissed by the others, and to see they were well. Nature was enforcing repose, and so far "her senses was all as in a dream bound up." Alexis remembered that it had been somewhat thus at Leeds, when, after nursing all the rest, she had succumbed to the epidemic; but then the mother had been able to watch over her, and had been a more effective parent to the rest than she had since become.
The first practical proposal was Mrs. Lee's. They thought of reversing the present position, and taking a small house where their present hosts might become their lodgers. Moreover, Miss Mohun clenched the affair about Theodore, and overcame Alexis's scruples, while Lady Merrifield, having once or twice looked in, and been smiled at and thanked by Kalliope, undertook to prepare her for his farewell.
Alexis and Maura both declared that she would instantly jump up, and want to begin looking over his socks; but she got no further than---
'Dear boy! It is the sort of thing I always wished for him. People are very good! But his things---'
'Oh yes, dearie, ye need not fash yourself. I've mended them as I sat by you, and packed them all. Lie still. They are all right.'
There was an atmosphere of the Royal Wardours about Mrs. Halfpenny, which was at once congenial and commanding; and Kalliope's mind at once relinquished the burthen of socks, shirts, and even the elbows of the outgrown jacket, nor did any of the family ever know how the deficiencies had been supplied.
And when Theodore, well admonished, came softly and timidly for the parting kiss, his face quivering all over with the effort at self- control, she lay and smiled; but with a great crystal tear on each dark eyelash, and her thin transparent fingers softly stroked his cheeks, as the low weak voice said---
'Be a good boy, dear---speak truth. Praise God well. Write; I'll write when I am better.'
It was the first time she had spoken of being better, and they told Theodore to take comfort from it when all the other three walked him up to the station.