Mrs. Harewood farther explained, that she hoped either that Gerald would marry, or that her sister would make a home for him at the Priory. It then appeared that Major Harewood thought it would be wise to leave the young man to manage the property for himself without interference; and that the uncle to whom the Major had become heir was anxious to have the family at hand, even offering to arrange a house for Lady Vanderkist.
"A year of changes," sighed Geraldine; "but this waiting time seems intended to let one gather one's breath."
But Wilmet looked careworn, partly, no doubt, with the harass of continual attention to her sister Alda, who, though subdued and improved in many important ways, was unavoidably fretful from ill- health, and disposed to be very miserable over her straitened means, and the future lot of her eight daughters, especially as the two of the most favourable age seemed to resign their immediate chances of marrying. Moreover, though all began life as pretty little girls, they had a propensity to turn into Dutchwomen as they grew up, and Franceska, the fifth in age, was the only one who renewed the beauty of the twin sisters.
Alda was not, however, Wilmet's chief care, though of that she did not speak. She was not happy at heart about her two boys. Kester was a soldier in India, not actually unsteady, but not what her own brothers had been, and Edward was a midshipman, too much of the careless, wild sailor. Easy-going John Harewood's lax discipline had not been successful with them in early youth, and still less had later severity and indignation been effectual.
"I am glad you kept Anna," said Mrs. Harewood, "though Alda is very much disappointed that she is not having a season in London."
"She will not take it," said Geraldine. "She insists that she prefers Uncle Clem to all the fine folk she might meet; and after all, poor Marilda's acquaintance are not exactly the upper ten thousand."
"Poor Marilda! You know that she is greatly vexed that Emilia is bent on being a hospital nurse, or something like it, and only half yields to go out with her this summer in very unwilling obedience."
"Yes, I know. She wants to come here, and I mean to have her before the long vacation for a little while. We heard various outpourings, and I cannot quite think Miss Emilia a grateful person, though I can believe that she does not find it lively at home."
"She seems to be allowed plenty of slum work, as it is the fashion to call it, and no one can be more good and useful than Fernan and Marilda, so that I call it sheer discontent and ingratitude not to put up with them!"
"Only modernishness, my dear Wilmet. It is the spirit of the times, and the young things can't help it."
"You don't seem to suffer in that way-at least with Anna."
"No; Anna is a dear good girl, and Uncle Clem is her hero, but I am very glad she has nice young companions in the Merrifields, and an excitement in prospect in this bazaar."
"I thought a bazaar quite out of your line."
"There seems to be no other chance of saving this place from board schools. Two thousand pounds have to be raised, and though Lord Rotherwood and Mr. White, the chief owners of property, have done, and will do, much, there still remains greater need than a fleeting population like this can be expected to supply, and Clement thinks that a bazaar is quite justifiable in such a case."
"If there is nothing undesirable," said Mrs. Harewood, in her original "what it may lead to" voice.
"Trust Lady Merrifield and Jane Mohun for that! I am going to take you to call upon Lilias Merrifield."
"Yea; I shall wish to see the mother of Bernard's wife."
Clement, who went with them, explained to his somewhat wondering elder sister that he thought safeguards to Christian education so needful, that he was quite willing that, even in this brief stay, all the aid in their power should be given to the cause at Rockquay. Nay, as he afterwards added to Wilmet, he was very glad to see how much it interested Geraldine, and that the work for the Church and the congenial friends were rousing her from her listless state of dejection.
Lady Merrifield and Mrs. Harewood were mutually charmed, perhaps all the more because the former was not impassioned about the bazaar. She said she had been importuned on such subjects wherever she had gone, and had learnt to be passive; but her sister Jane was all eagerness, and her younger young people, as she called the present half of her family, were in the greatest excitement over their first experience of the kind.
"Well is it for all undertakings that there should always be somebody to whom all is new, and who can be zealous and full of delight."
"By no means surtout point de zele," returned Geraldine.
"As well say no fermentation," said Lady Merrifield.
"A dangerous thing," said Clement.
"But sourness comes without it, or at least deadness," returned his sister.
Wherewith they returned to talk of their common relations.
It was like a joke to the brother and sisters, that their Bernard should be a responsible husband and father, whereas Lady Merrifield's notion of him was as a grave, grand-looking man with a splendid beard.
Fergus Merrifield was asked to become the protector of Adrian, whereat he looked sheepish; but after the round of pets had been made he informed his two youngest sisters, Valetta and Primrose, that it was the cheekiest little fellow he had ever seen, who would never know if he was bullied within an inch of his life; not that he (Fergus) should let the fellows do it.
So though until Monday morning Anna was the slave of her brother, doing her best to supply the place of the six devoted sisters at home, the young gentleman ungratefully announced at breakfast-
"I don't want gy-arls after me," with a peculiarly contemptuous twirl at the beginning of the word; "Merrifield is to call for me."
Anna, who had brought down her hat, looked mortified.
"Never mind, Annie," said her uncle, "he will know better one of these days."
"No, I shan't," said Adrian, turning round defiantly. "If she comes bothering after me at dinner-time I shall throw my books at her- that's all! There's Merrifield," and he banged out of the room.
"Never mind," again said his uncle, "he has had a large dose of the feminine element, and this is his swing out of it."
Hopes, which Anna thought cruel, were entertained by her elders that the varlet would return somewhat crestfallen, but there were no such symptoms; the boy re-appeared in high spirits, having been placed well for his years, but not too well for popularity, and in the playground he had found himself in his natural element. The boys were mostly of his own size, or a little bigger, and bullying was not the fashion. He had heard enough school stories to be wary of boasting of his title, and as long as he did not flaunt it before their eyes, it was regarded as rather a credit to the school.
Merrifield was elated at the success of his protege, and patronized him more than he knew, accepting his devotion in a droll, contemptuous manner, so that the pair were never willingly apart. As Fergus slept at his aunt's during the week, the long summer evenings afforded splendid opportunities for what Fergus called scientific researches in the quarries and cliffs. It was as well for Lady Vanderkist's peace of mind that she did not realize them, though Fergus was certified by his family to be cautious and experienced enough to be a safe guide. Perhaps people were less nervous about sixth sons than only ones.
There was, indeed, a certain undeveloped idea held out that some of the duplicates of Fergus's precious collection might be arranged as a sample of the specimens of minerals and fossils of Rockquay at the long-talked-of sale of work.
CHAPTER VIII. THE MOUSE-TRAP
If a talent be a claw, look how he claws him with a talent. Love's Labour's Lost.
The young ladies were truly in an intense state of excitement about the sale of work, especially about the authorship; and Uncle Lancelot having promised to send an estimate, a meeting of the Mouse-trap was convened to consider of the materials, and certainly the mass of manuscript contributed at different times to the Mouse-trap magazine was appalling to all but Anna, who knew what was the shrinkage in the press.
She, however, held herself bound not to inflict on her busy uncle the reading of anything entirely impracticable, so she sat with a stern and critical eye as the party mustered in Miss Mohun's drawing-room, and Gillian took the chair.
"The great design," said she impressively, "is that the Mouse-trap should collect and print and publish a selection for the benefit of the school."
The Mice vehemently applauded, only Miss Norton, the oldest of the party, asked humbly-
"Would any one think it worth buying?"
"Oh, yes," cried Valetta. "Lots of translations!"
"The Erl King, for instance," put in Dolores Mohun.
"If Anna would append the parody," suggested Gillian.
"Oh, parodies are-are horrid," said Mysie.
"Many people feel them so," said Gillian, "but to others I think they are almost a proof of love, that they can make sport with what they admire so much."
"Then," said Mysie, "there's Dolores' Eruption!"
"What a nice subject," laughed Gillian. "However, it will do beautifully, being the description of the pink terraces of that place with the tremendous name in New Zealand."
"Were you there?" cried Anna.
"Yes. I always wonder how she can look the same after such adventures," said Mysie.
"You know it is much the same as my father's paper in the Scientific World," said Dolores.
"Nobody over reads that, so it won't signify," was the uncomplimentary verdict.
"And," added Mysie, "Mr. Brownlow would do a history of Rockquay, and that would be worth having."
"Oh yes, the dear ghost and all!" cried Valetta.
The acclamation was general, for the Reverend Armine Brownlow was the cynosure curate of the lady Church-helpers, and Mysie produced as a precious loan, to show what could be done, the volume containing the choicest morceaux of the family magazine of his youth, the Traveller's Joy, in white parchment binding adorned with clematis, and emblazoned with the Evelyn arms on one side, the Brownlow on the other, and full of photographs and reproductions of drawings.
"Much too costly," said the prudent.
"It was not for sale," said Mysie, obviously uneasy while it was being handed round.
"Half-a-crown should be our outside price," said Gillian.
"Or a shilling without photographs, half-a-crown with," was added.
"Shall I ask Uncle Lance what can be done for how much?" asked Anna, and this was accepted with acclamation, but, as Gillian observed, they had yet got no further than Dolores' Eruption and the unwritten history.
"There are lots of stories," said Kitty Varley; "the one about Bayard and all the knights in Italy."
"The one," said Gillian, "where Padua got into the kingdom of Naples, and the lady of the house lighted a lucifer match, besides the horse who drained a goblet of red wine."
"You know that was only the pronouns," suggested the author.
"Then there's another," added Valetta, "called Monrepos-such a beauty, when the husband was wounded, and died at his wife's feet just as the sun gilded the tops of the pines, and she died when the moon set, and the little daughter went in and was found dead at their feet."
"No, no, Val," said Gillian. "Here is a story that Bessie has sent us-really worth having."
"Mesa! Oh, of course," was the acclamation.
"And here's a little thing of mine," Gillian added modestly, "about the development of the brain."
At this there was a shout.
"A little thing! Isn't it on the differential calculus?"
"Really, I don't see why Rockquay should not have a little rational study!"
"Ah! but the present question is what Rockquay will buy; to further future development it may be, but I am afraid their brains are not yet developed enough," said Emma Norton.
"Well then, here is the comparison between Euripides and Shakespeare."
"That's what you read papa and everybody to sleep with," said Valetta pertly.
"Except Aunt Lily, and she said she had read something very like it in Schlegel," added Dolores.
"You must not be too deep for ordinary intellects, Gillian," said Emma Norton good-naturedly. "Surely there is that pretty history you made out of Count Baldwin the Pretender."
"That! Oh, that is a childish concern."
"The better fitted for our understandings," said Emma, disinterring it, and handing it over to Anna, while Mysie breathed out-
"Oh! I did like it! And, Gill, where is Phyllis's account of the Jubilee gaieties and procession last year?"
"That would make the fortune of any paper," said Anna.
"Yes, if Lady Rotherwood will let it be used," said Gillian. "It is really delightful and full of fun, but I am quite sure that her name could not appear, and I do not expect leave to use it."
"Shall I write and ask?" said Mysie.
"Oh yes, do; if Cousin Rotherwood is always gracious, it is specially to you."
"I wrote to my cousin, Gerald Underwood," said Anna, "to ask if he had anything to spare us, though I knew he would laugh at the whole concern, and he has sent down this. I don't quite know whether he was in earnest or in mischief."
And she read aloud-
"Dreaming of her laurels green, The learned Girton girl is seen, Or under the trapeze neat Figuring as an athlete.
Never at the kitchen door Will she scrub or polish more; No metaphoric dirt she eats, Literal dirt may form her treats.
Mary never idle sits, Home lessons can't be learnt by fits; Hard she studies all the week, Answers with undaunted cheek.
When to exam Mary goes, Smartly dressed in stunning clothes, Expert in algebraic rule, Best pupil-teacher of her school.
Oh, how clever we are found Who live on England's happy ground, Where rich and poor and wretched may Be drilled in Whitehall's favoured way."
There was a good deal of laughter at this parody of Jane Taylor's Village Girl, though Mysie was inclined to be shocked as at something profane.
"Then what will you think of this?" said Anna, beginning gravely to read aloud The Inspector's Tour.
It was very clever, so clever that Valetta and Kitty Varley both listened as in sober earnest, never discovering, or only in flashes like Mysie, that it was really a satire on all the social state of the different European nations, under the denomination of schools. One being depicted as highly orthodox, but much given to sentence insubordination to dark cold closets; another as given to severe drill, but neglecting manners; a third as repudiating religious teaching, and now and then preparing explosions for the masters-no, teachers. The various conversations were exceedingly bright and comical; and there were brilliant hits at existing circumstances, all a little in a socialistic spirit, which made Anna pause as she read. She really had not perceived till she heard it in her own voice and with other ears how audacious it was, especially for a school bazaar.
Dolores applauded with her whole heart, but owned that it might be too good for the Mouse-trap, it would be too like catching a monkey! Gillian, more doubtfully, questioned whether it would "quite do"; and Mysie, when she understood the allusions, thought it would not. Emma Norton was more decided, and it ended by deciding that the paper should be read to the elders at Clipstone, and their decision taken before sending it to Uncle Lance.
The spirits of the Muscipula party rose as they discussed the remaining MSS., but these were not of the highest order of merit; and Anna thought that the really good would be sufficient; and all the Underwood kith and kin had sufficient knowledge of the Press through their connection with the 'Pursuivant' to be authorities on the subject.
"Fergus has some splendid duplicate ammonites for me and bits of crystal," said Mysie.
"Oh, do let Fergus alone," entreated Gillian. "He is almost a petrifaction already, and you know what depends on it."
"My sister is coming next week for a few days," said Anna. "She is very clever, and may help us."
Emilia was accordingly introduced to the Mice, but she was not very tolerant of them. Essay societies, she said, were out of date, and she thought the Rockquay young ladies a very country-town set.
"You don't know them, Emmie," said Anna. "Gillian and Dolores are very remarkable girls, only-"
"Only they are kept down by their mothers, I suppose. Is that the reason they don't do anything but potter after essay societies and Sunday-schools like our little girls at Vale Leston? Why, I asked Gillian, as you call her, what they were doing about the Penitents' Home, and she said her mother and Aunt Jane went to look after it, but never talked about it."
"You know they are all very young."
"Young indeed! How is one ever to be of any use if mothers and people are always fussing about one's being young?"
"One won't always be so-"
"They would think so, like the woman of a hundred years old, who said on her daughter's death at eighty, 'Ah, poor girl, I knew I never should rear her!' How shall I get to see the Infirmary here?"
"Miss Mohun would take you."
"Can't I go without a fidgety old maid after me?"
"I'll tell you what I wish you would do, Emmie. Write an account of one of your hospital visits, or of the match-girls, for the Mouse- trap. Do! You know Gerald has written something for it."
"He! Why he has too much sense to write for your voluntary schools. Or it would be too clever and incisive for you. Ah! I see it was so by your face! What did he send you? Have you got it still?"
"We have really a parody of his which is going in—The Girton Girl. Now, Emmie, won't you? You have told me such funny things about your match-girls."
"I do not mean to let them be turned into ridicule by your prim, decorous swells. Why, I unfortunately told Fernan Brown one story- about their mocking old Miss Bruce with putting on imitation spectacles-and it has served him for a cheval de bataille ever since! Oh, my dear Anna, he gets more hateful than ever. I wish you would come back and divert his attention."
"Don't you think we could change? You could go and let Marilda fuss with you, now that Uncle Clem and Aunt Cherry are so well, and I could look after Adrian, and go to the Infirmary, and the penitents, and all that these people neglect; maybe I would write for the Mouse- trap, if Gerald does when he comes home."
Anna did not like the proposal, but she pitied Emilia, and cared for her enough to carry the scheme to her aunt. But Geraldine shook her head. The one thing she did not wish was to have Emmie riding, walking, singing, and expanding into philanthropy with Gerald, and besides, she knew that Emilia would never have patience to read to her uncle, or help Adrian in his preparation.
"Do you really wish this, my dear?" she asked.
"N-no, not at all; but Emmie does. Could you not try her?"
"Annie dear, if you wish to have a fortnight or more in town-"
"Oh no, no, auntie, indeed!"
"We could get on now without you. Or we would keep Emmie till the room is wanted; but I had far rather be alone than have the responsibility of Emmie."
"No, no, indeed; I don't think Adrian would be good long with her. I had much rather stay-only Emmie did wish, and she hates the-"
"Oh, my dear, you need not tell me; I only know that I cannot have her after next week; the room will be wanted for Gerald."
"She could sleep with me."
"No, Annie, I must disappoint you. There is not room for her, and her flights when Gerald comes would never do for your uncle. You know it yourself."
Anna could not but own the wisdom of the decision, and Emmie, after grumbling at Aunt Cherry, took herself off. She had visited the Infirmary and the Convalescent Home, and even persuaded Mrs. Hablot to show her the Union Workhouse, but she never sent her contribution to the Mouse-trap.
CHAPTER IX. OUT BEYOND
Do the work that's nearest, Though it's dull at whiles, Helping, when we meet them, Lame dogs over stiles. See in every hedgerow Marks of angels' feet; Epics in each pebble Underneath our feet.-C. KINGSLEY.
"Drawing? Well done, Cherie! That's a jolly little beggar; quite masterly, as old Renville would say," exclaimed Gerald Underwood, looking at a charming water-colour of a little fisher-boy, which Mrs. Grinstead was just completing.
"'The Faithful Henchman,' it ought to be called," said Anna. "That little being has attached himself to Fergus Merrifield, and follows him and Adrian everywhere on what they are pleased to call their scientific expeditions."
"The science of larks?"
"Oh dear, no. Fergus is wild after fossils, and has made Adrian the same, and he really knows an immense deal. They are always after fossils and stones when they are out of school."
"The precious darling!"
"Miss Mohun says Fergus is quite to be trusted not to take him into dangerous places."
"An unlooked-for blessing. Ha!" as he turned over his aunt's portfolio, "that's a stunner! You should work it up for the Academy."
"This kind of thing is better for the purpose," Mrs. Grinstead said.
"Throw away such work upon a twopenny halfpenny bazaar! Heaven forefend!"
"Don't be tiresome, Gerald," entreated Anna. "You are going to do all sorts of things for it, and we shall have no end of fun."
"For the sake of stopping the course of the current," returned Gerald, proceeding to demonstrate in true nineteenth-century style the hopelessness of subjecting education to what he was pleased to call clericalism. "You'll never reach the masses while you insist on using an Apostle spoon."
"Masses are made up of atoms," replied his aunt.
"And we shall be lost if you don't help," added Anna.
"I would help readily enough if it were free dinners, or anything to equalize the existence of the classes, instead of feeding the artificial wants of the one at the expense of the toil and wretchedness of the other."
He proceeded to mention some of the miseries that he had learnt through the Oxford House-dilating on them with much enthusiasm-till presently his uncle came in, and ere long a parlour-maid announced luncheon, just as there was a rush into the house. Adrian was caught by his sister, and submitted, without more than a "Bother!" to be made respectable, and only communicating in spasmodic gasps facts about Merrifield and hockey.
"Where's Marshall?" asked Gerald at the first opportunity, on the maid leaving the room.
"Marshall could not stand it," said his aunt. "He can't exist without London, and doing the honours of a studio."
"Most politely he informed me that this place does not agree with his health; and there did not seem sufficient scope for his services since the Reverend Underwood had become so much more independent. So we were thankful to dispose of him to Lord de Vigny."
"He was a great plague," interpolated Adrian, "always jawing about the hall-door."
"Are you really without a man-servant?" demanded Gerald.
"In the house. Lomax comes up from the stables to take some of the work. Some lemonade, Gerald?"
Gerald gazed round in search of unutterable requirements; but only met imploring eyes from aunt and sister, and restraining ones from his uncle. He subsided and submitted to the lemonade, while Anna diverted attention by recurring rather nervously to the former subject.
"And I have got rid of Porter, she kept me in far too good order."
"As if Sibby did not," said Clement.
"Aye, and you too! But that comes naturally, and began in babyhood!"
"What have you done with the house at Brompton?"
"Martha is taking care of it-Mrs. Lightfoot, don't you know? One of our old interminable little Lightfoots, who went to be a printer in London, married, and lost his wife; then in our break-up actually married Martha to take care of his children! Now he is dead, and I am thankful to have her in the house."
"To frighten loafers with her awful squint."
"You forgive the rejection of 'The Inspector's Tour'? Indeed I think you expected it."
"I wanted to see whether the young ladies would find it out."
"No compliment to our genius," said his aunt.
"I assure you, like Mrs. Bennet, 'there is plenty of that sort of thing,'" said Anna. "Some of them were mystified, but Gillian and Dolores Mohun were in ecstasies."
"Ecstasies from that cheerful name?"
"She is the New Zealand niece-Mr. Maurice Mohun's daughter. They carried it home to their seniors, and of course the verdict was 'too strong for Rockquay atmosphere,'" said his aunt.
"So it did not even go to Uncle Lance," said Anna. "Shall you try the 'Pursuivant'?"
"On the contrary, I shall put in the pepper and salt I regretted, and try the 'Censor'."
"Indeed?" observed his uncle, in a tone of surprise.
"Oh," said Gerald coolly, "I have sent little things to the 'Censor' before, which they seem to regard in the light of pickles and laver."
The 'Censor' was an able paper on the side of philosophical politics, and success in that quarter was a feather in the young man's cap, though not quite the kind of feather his elders might have desired.
"Journalism is a kind of native air to us," said Mrs. Grinstead, "but from 'Pur.'"
"'Pur' is the element of your dear old world, Cherie," said Gerald, "and here am I come to do your bidding in its precincts, for a whole long vacation."
He spoke lightly, and with a pretty little graceful bow to his aunt, but there was something in his eyes and smile that conveyed to her a dread that he meant that he only resigned himself for the time and looked beyond.
"Uncle Lance is coming," volunteered Adrian.
"Yes," said Geraldine. "Chorister that he was, and champion of Church teaching that he is, he makes the cause of Christian education everywhere his own, and is coming down to see what he can do inexpensively with native talent for concert, or masque, or something-'Robin Hood' perhaps."
"Ending in character with a rush on the audience?" said Gerald. "Otherwise 'Robin Hood' is stale."
"Tennyson has spoilt that for public use," said Mrs. Grinstead. "But was not something else in hand?"
"Only rehearsed. It never came off," said Gerald.
"The most awful rot," said Adrian. "I would have nothing to do with it."
"In consequence it was a failure," laughed Gerald.
"It was 'The Tempest', wasn't it?" said Anna.
"Not really!" exclaimed Mrs. Grinstead.
"About as like as a wren to an eagle," said Gerald.
"We had it at the festival last winter. The authors adapted the plot, that was all."
"The authors being—
"The present company," said Gerald, "and Uncle Bill, with Uncle Lance supplying or adapting music, for we were not original, I assure you."
"It was when Uncle Clem was ill," put in Anna, "and somehow I don't think we took in the accounts of it."
"No," said Gerald, "and nobody did it con amore, though we could not put it off. I should like to see it better done."
"Such rot!" exclaimed Adrian. "There's an old man, he was Uncle Lance with the great white beard made out of Kit's white bear's skin, and he lived in a desert island, where there was a shipwreck-very jolly if you could see it, only you can't-and the savages-no, the wreckers all came down."
"What, in a desert island?"
"It was not exactly desert. Gerald, I say, do let there be savages. It would be such a lark to have them all black, and then I'd act."
"What an inducement!"
"Then somebody turned out to be somebody's enemy, and the old chap frightened them all with squibs and crackers and fog-horns, till somebody turned out to be somebody else's son, and married the daughter."
"If you trace 'The Tempest' through that version you are clever," said Gerald.
"I told you it was awful rot," said Adrian.
"There's Merrifield! Excuse me, Cherie." And off he went.
"The sentiments of the actors somewhat resembled Adrian's. It was too new, and needed more learning and more pains, so they beg to revert to 'Robin Hood'. However, I should like to see it well got up for once, if only by amateurs. Miranda has a capital song by Uncle Bill, made for Francie's soprano. She cuts you all out, Anna."
"That she does, in looks and voice, but she could not act here in public. However, we will lay it before the Mouse-trap. Was it printed?"
"Lance had enough for the performers struck off. Francie could send some up."
"After all," said Cherie, "the desert island full of savages and wreckers is not more remarkable than the 'still-vex'd Bermoothes' getting between Argiers and Sicily."
"It really was one of the Outer Hebrides," said Gerald, with the eagerness that belonged to authorship, "so that there could be any amount of Scottish songs. Prospero is an old Highland chief, who has been set adrift with his daughter-Francie Vanderkist to wit-and floated up there, obtaining control over the local elves and brownies. Little Fely was a most dainty sprite."
"I am glad you did not make Ariel an electric telegraph," said his aunt.
"Tempting, but such profanity in the face of Vale Leston was forbidden, and so was the comic element, as bad for the teetotallers."
"But who were the wreckers?" asked Anna.
"Buccaneers, my dear, singing songs out of the 'Pirate'- schoolmaster, organist, and choir generally. They had captured Prospero's supplanter (he was a Highland chief in league with the Whigs) by the leg, while the exiled fellow was Jacobite, so as to have the songs dear to the feminine mind. They get wrecked on the island, and are terrified by the elves into releasing Alonso, etc. Meantime Ferdinand carries logs, forgathers with Miranda and Prospero-and ends-" He flourished his hands.
"And it wasn't acted!"
"No, we were getting it up before Christmas," said Gerald, "and then-"
He looked towards Clement, whose illness had then been at the crisis.
"Very inconsiderate of me," said Clement, smiling, "as the old woman said when her husband did not die before the funeral cakes were stale. But could it not come off at the festival?"
"Now," said Gerald, "that the boy is gone, I may be allowed a glass of beer. Is that absurdity to last on here?"
"Adrian's mother would not let him come on any other terms," said Mrs. Grinstead.
"Did she also stipulate that he was never to see a horse? Quite as fatal to his father."
"You need not point the unreason, but consider how she has suffered."
"You go the way to make him indulge on the sly."
"True, perhaps," said Clement, "but I mean to take the matter up when I know the poor little fellow better."
Gerald gave a little shrug, a relic of his foreign ancestry, and Anna proposed a ride to Clipstone to tell Gillian Merrifield of the idea.
"Eh, the dogmatic damsel that came with you the year we had 'Midsummer Night's Dream'?"
"Yes, sister to Uncle Bernard's wife. Do you know Jasper Merrifield? Clever man. Always photographing."
So off they went, Gerald apparently in a resigned state of mind, and came upon dogs and girls in an old quarry, where Mysie had dragged them to look for pretty stones and young ferns to make little rockeries for the sale of work. 'The Tempest' was propounded, and received with acclamation, though the Merrifields declared that they could not sing, and their father would not allow them to do so in public if they could!
Dolores looked on in a sort of silent scorn at a young man who could talk so eagerly about "a trumpery raree-show," especially for an object that she did not care about. None of them knew how far it was the pride of authorship and the desire of pastime. Only Jasper said when he heard their report-
"Underwood is a queer fellow! One never knows where to have him. Socialist one minute, old Tory the next."
"A dreamer?" asked Dolores.
"If you like to call him so. I believe he will dawdle and dream all his life, and never do any good!"
"Perhaps he is waiting."
"I don't believe in waiting," said Jasper, wiping the dust off his photographic glasses. "Why, he has a lovely moor of his own, and does not know how to use it!"
"Conclusive," said Gillian.
CHAPTER X. NOBLESSE OBLIGE
The other won't agree thereto, So here they fall to strife; With one another they did fight About the children's life. Babes in the Wood.
"I say, Aunt Cherry," said Adrian, "the fossil forest is to be uncovered to-morrow, and Merrifield is going to stay for it, and I'm going down with him."
"Fossil forest? What, in the Museum?"
"No, indeed. In Anscombe Cove, they call it. There's a forest buried there, and bits come up sometimes. To-morrow there's to be a tremendous low tide that will leave a lot of it uncovered, and Merrifield and I mean to dig it out, and if there are some duplicate bits they may be had for the bazaar."
"Yes, they have been begging Fergus's duplicates for a collection of fossils," said Anna. "But can it be safe? A low tide means a high tide, you know."
"Bosh!" returned Adrian.
"Miss Mohun is sure to know all about the tides, I suppose," said Clement; "if her nephew goes with her consent I suppose it is safe."
"If-" said Mrs. Grinstead.
Adrian looked contemptuous, and muttered something, on which Anna undertook to see Miss Mohun betimes, and judge how the land, or rather the sea, lay, and whether Fergus was to be trusted.
It would be a Saturday, a whole holiday, on which he generally went home for Sunday, and Adrian spent the day with him, but the boys' present scheme was, to take their luncheon with them and spend the whole day in Anscombe Cove. This was on the further side of the bay from the marble works, shut in by big cliffs, which ran out into long chains of rocks on either side, but retreated in the midst, where a little stream from the village of Anscombe, or rather from the moorland beyond, made its way to the sea.
The almanacks avouched that on this Saturday there would be an unusually low tide, soon after twelve o'clock, and Fergus had set his heart on investigating the buried forest that there was no doubt had been choked by the combined forces of river and sea. So Anna found that notice had been sent to Clipstone of his intention of devoting himself to the cove and not coming home till the evening, and that his uncle and aunt did not think there was any danger, especially as his constant henchman, Davie Blake, was going with him, and all the fisher-boys of the place were endowed with a certain instinct for their own tides. The only accident Jane Mohun had ever known was with a stranger.
Anna had no choice but to subside, and the boys started as soon as the morning's tide would have gone down sufficiently, carrying baskets for their treasures containing their luncheon, and apparently expecting to find the forest growing upright under the mud, like a wood full of bushes.
The cove for which they were bound was on the further side of the chain of rocks, nearly two miles from Rockquay, and one of the roads ran along the top of the red cliffs that shut it in, with no opening except where the stream emerged, and even that a very scanty bank of shingle.
In spite of all assurances, Anna could not be easy about her darling, and when afternoon came, and the horses were brought to the door, she coaxed Gerald into riding along the cliffs in the Anscombe direction, where there was a good road, from whence they could turn down a steep hill into the village, and thence go up a wild moor beyond, or else continue along the coast for a considerable distance.
As they went out she could see nothing of the boys, only rocks rising through an expanse of mud, and the sea breaking beyond. She would have preferred continuing the cliff road, but Gerald had a turn for the moor, and carried her off through the village of Anscombe, up and up, till they had had a lively canter on the moor, and looked far out at sea. When they turned back and had reached the cliff road, what had been a sheet of mud before had been almost entirely covered with sparkling waves, and there was white foam beating against some of the rocks.
"I hope Adrian is gone home," sighed Anna.
"Long ago, depend on it," returned Gerald carelessly; but the next moment his tone changed. "By Jove!" he exclaimed, and pointed with his whip to a rock, or island, at the end of the range of rocks.
He was much the more long-sighted of the two, and she could only first discern that there was something alive upon the rock.
"Oh!" she cried, "is it the boys-I can't see?"
"I can't tell. It is boys, maybe fishers. I must get out to them," he replied. "Now, Anna, be quiet-use your senses. It is somebody, anyway. I saw the opening of a path down the rock just now," and he threw himself off his horse, and threw her the bridle. "You ride to the first house; find where there is a Coast-guard station, or any fisherman to put out a boat. No time to be lost."
"Oh, is it, is it-" cried the bewildered girl, with no hand to feel for her eyeglass. "Where shall I go?"
"I tell you I can't tell," he shouted in answer to both questions, half angrily, already on his way. "Don't dawdle," and he disappeared.
Poor Anna, she had no inclination to dawdle, but the two horses were a sore impediment, and she went on some way without seeing any houses. Should she turn back to the little road leading down from Anscombe? but that was rough and difficult, and could not be undertaken quickly with a led horse; or should she make the best of her way to the nearest villas, outskirts of Rockquay? However, after a moment the swish of bicycles was heard, and up came two young men, clerks apparently, let loose by Saturday. They halted, and in answer to her agitated question where there was a house, pointed to a path which they said led down to the Preventive station, and asked whether there had been an accident, and whether they could be of use. They were more able to decide what was best to be done than she could be, and they grew more keenly interested when they understood for whom she feared. Petros White, brother to Mrs. Henderson, and nephew to Aunt Adeline's husband, was one of them, the other, a youth also employed at the marble works. This latter took the horses off her hands, while Petros showed her the way to the Coast-guard station by a steep path, leading to a sort of ledge in the side of the cliff, scooped out partly by nature and partly by art, where stood the little houses covered with slate.
There the mistress was looking out anxiously with a glass; while below, the Preventive man was unlocking the boat-house, having already observed the peril of the boys, but lamenting the absence of his mate. Petros ran down at speed to offer his help, and Anna could only borrow the glass, through which she plainly saw the three boys, bare-legged, sitting huddled up on the top of the rock, but with the waves still a good way from them, and their faces all turned hopefully towards the promontory of rock along which she could see Gerald picking his way; but there was evidently a terrible and fast- diminishing space between its final point and the rock of refuge.
Anna was about to rush down, and give her help with an oar; but the woman withheld her, saying that she would only crowd the boat and retard the rescue, for which the two were quite sufficient, only the danger was that the current of the stream might make the tide rise rapidly in the bay. There were besides so many rocks and shoals, that it was impossible to proceed straight across, but it was needful absolutely to pass the rock and then turn back on it from the open sea. It was agonizing for the sister to watch the devious course, and she turned the glass upon the poor boys, plainly making out Adrian's scared, restless look, as he clung to the fisher-lad, and Fergus nursing his bag of specimens with his knees drawn up. By and by Gerald was wading, and with difficulty preventing himself from being washed off the rocks. He paused, saw her, and waved encouragement. Then he plunged along, not off his feet, and reached the island where the boys were holding out their arms to him. There ensued a few moments of apparently hot debate, and she saw, to her horror and amazement, that he was thrusting back one boy, who struggled and almost fell off the rock in his passion, as Gerald lifted down the little fisher-boy. Of course she could not hear the words, "Come, boy. No, Adrian. Noblesse oblige. I will come back, never fear. I can take but one, don't I tell you. I will come back."
Those were Gerald's words, while Adrian threw himself on the rock, sobbing and screaming, while Fergus sat still, hugging his bag. Anna could have screamed with her brother, for the boat seemed to have overshot the mark, and to be going quite aloof, when all depended upon a few minutes. She could hardly hear the words of the Preventive woman, who had found a second glass: "Never you fear, miss, the boat will be up in time."
She could not speak. Her heart was in wild rebellion as she thought of the comparative value of her widowed mother's only son with that of the fisher-boy, or even of Fergus, one of so large a family. She could not or would not look to see what Gerald was doing with the wretched little coast boy; but she heard her companion say that the gentleman had put the boy down to scramble among the rocks, and he himself was going back to the pair on the rock, quite swimming now.
She durst look again, and saw that he had scrambled up to the boys' perch, and had lifted Adrian up, but there was white spray dashing round now. She could not see the boat.
"They have to keep to the other side," explained the woman. "God keep them! It will be a near shave. The gentleman is taking off his coat!"
Again there was a leap of foam-over! over! Then all was blotted out, but the woman exclaimed-
"There they are!"
"One swimming! He is floating the other."
Anna could see no longer. She dashed aside the telescope, then begged to be told, then looked again. No prayer would come but "Save him! save him!"
There was a call quite close.
"Mr. Norris, sir, put off your boat! Master Fergus-Oh! is he off?" and, drenched and breathless, Davy sank down on the ground at their feet, quite spent, unable at first to get out a word after those panting ones; but in a minute he spoke in answer to the agonized "Which? Who?"
"Master Fergus is swimming. The young sir couldn't."
Anna recollected how her mother's fears and entreaties had prevented Mr. Harewood from teaching Adrian to swim.
"Gent is floating him," added the boy. "He took me first, because I could get over the rocks and get help soonest. He is a real gentleman, he is."
Anna could not listen to anything but "The boat is coming!"
"Oh, but they don't see! They are going away from it!"
"That's the current," said Mrs. Norris. "My man knows what he is about, and so does the gentleman, never fear."
There was another terrible interval, and then boat and swimmers began to approach, though in what condition could not be made out. A dark little head, no doubt that of Fergus, was lifted in, then another figure was raised and taken into the boat; Gerald swam with a hand on it for a short distance, then was helped in, and almost at once took an oar.
"That's right," said Mrs. Norris. "It will keep out the cold."
"They are not coming here," exclaimed Anna. "They are going round the point."
"All right," was the answer. "'Tis more direct, you see, no shoals, and the young gentlemen will get to their own homes and beds all the quicker. Now, miss, you will come in and take a cup of tea, I am sure you want it, and I had just made it when Norris saw the little lads."
"Oh, thank you, I must get back at once. My little brother-"
"Yes, yes, miss, but you'll be able to ride the faster for a bit of bread and cup of tea! You are all of a tremble."
It was true, and to pacify her, Mrs. Norris sent a child up to bid Petros have the horses ready, and Anna was persuaded to swallow a little too, which happily had cooled enough for her haste, but she hurried off, leaving Mrs. Norris to expend her hospitality on Davy, who endured his drenching like a fish, and could hardly wait even to swallow thick bread-and-butter till he could rush off to hear of his dear Master Fergus.
The horses were ready. Petros had been joined by other spectators, and was able to entrust the bicycles to one of them, while he himself undertook to lead Mr. Underwood's horse to the stable. Anna rode off at as much speed or more than was safe downhill among the stones. She had to cross the broad parade above the quay, and indeed she believed she had come faster than the boat, which had to skirt round the side of the promontory between Anscombe Cove and Rockquay. In fact, when she came above the town she could see a crowd on the quay and pier, all looking out to sea, and she now beheld two boats making for the harbour.
Then she had to ride between walls and villas, and lost sight of all till she emerged on the parade, and thought she saw Uncle Clement's hat above the crowd as she looked over their heads.
She gave her horse to a bystander, who evidently knew her, for a murmur went through the crowd of "Little chap's sister," and way was made for her to get forward, while several rough voices said, "All right"; "Coast-guard boat"; "Not this one."
Her uncle and Miss Mohun wore standing together. General Mohun could be seen in the foremost boat, and they could hear him call out, with a wave of his arm-
"All right! All safe!"
"You hero! Where's Gerald?" Miss Mohun exclaimed, as Anna came up to her.
"There!" and she pointed to the Coast-guard boat. "We saw the boys from Anscombe Cliff, and he went out to them."
"Gerald," exclaimed his uncle, with a ring of gladness in his voice, all the more that it was plain that the rower was indeed Gerald, and he began to hail those on shore, while Fergus's head rose up from the bottom of the boat.
In a few moments they were close to the quay, and the little sodden mass that purported to be Fergus was calling out-
"Aunt Jane! Oh, I've lost such a bit of aralia. Where's Davy?"
"Here, take care. He is all right," were Gerald's words.
He meant Adrian, whom his cousin lifted out, with eyes open and conscious, but with limp hands and white exhausted looks, to be carried to the fly that stood in waiting.
"Is the other boy safe?" asked Gerald anxiously.
"Oh yes; but how could you?" were the first words that came to Anna; but she felt rebuked by a strange look of utter surprise, and instead of answering her he replied to General Mohun-
"Thanks, no, I'll walk up!" as a rough coat was thrown over his dripping and scanty garments.
"The wisest way," said the General. "Can you, Fergus?"
"Yes, quite well. Oh, my aralia!"
"He has been half crying all the way home about his fossils," said Gerald. "Never mind, Fergus; look out for the next spring-tide. Uncle Clem, you ought to drive up."
Clement submitted, clearly unable to resist, and sat down by Anna, who had her brother in her arms, rubbing his hands and warming them, caressing him, and asking him how he felt, to which the only answer she got was-
"It was beastly. I have my mouth awfully full of water still."
Clement made a low murmur of thanksgiving, and Anna, looking up, was startled to see how white and helpless he was. The way was happily very short, but he had so nearly fainted that Gerald, hurrying on faster uphill than the horse to reassure his aunt, lifted him out, not far from insensible, and carried him with Sibby's help to his bed in the room on the ground-floor, where the remedies were close at hand, Geraldine and nurse anxiously administering them; when the first sign of revival he gave was pointing to Gerald's dripping condition, and signing to him to go and take care of himself.
"All right, yes, boys and all! All right Cherie."
And he went, swallowing down the glass of stimulant which his aunt turned from her other patient for a moment to administer, but she was much too anxious about Clement to have thought for any one else, for truly it did seem likely that he would be the chief sufferer from the catastrophe.
Little Davy's adventure, as he had lost no clothes, made no more impression on his parents than if he had been an amphibious animal or a water dog, and when Fergus came out of Beechwood Cottage after having changed the few clothes he had retained, and had a good meal, to be driven home with his uncle in the dog-cart, his constant henchman was found watching for news of him at the gate.
"Please, sir, I think we'll find your aralia next spring-tide."
Whereupon General Mohun told him he was a good little chap, and presented him with a half-crown, the largest sum he had ever possessed in his life.
Fergus did not come off quite so well, for when the story had been told, though his mother had trembled and shed tears of thankfulness as she kissed him, and his sisters sprang at him and devoured him, while all the time he bemoaned his piece of the stump of an aralia, and a bit of cone of a pinus, and other treasures to which imaginative regret lent such an aid, that no doubt he would believe the lost contents of his bag to have been the most precious articles that he had ever collected; his father, however, took him into his study.
"Fergus," he said gravely, "this is the second time your ardour upon your pursuits has caused danger and inconvenience to other people, this time to yourself too."
Fergus hung his head, and faltered something about-"Never saw."
"No, that is the point. Now I say nothing about your pursuits. I am very glad you should have them, and be an intelligent lad; but they must not be taken up exclusively, so as to drive out all heed to anything else. Remember, there is a great difference between courage and foolhardiness, and that you are especially warned to be careful if your venturesomeness endangers other people's lives."
So Fergus went off under a sense of his father's displeasure, while Adrian lay in his bed, kicking about, admired and petted by his sister, who thought every one very unkind and indifferent to him; and when he went to sleep, began a letter to her eldest sister describing the adventure and his heroism in naming terms, such as on second thoughts she suppressed, as likely to frighten her mother, and lead to his immediate recall.
CHAPTER XI. HEROES AND HERO-WORSHIP
Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange.-Tempest.
Sunday morning found Anna in a different frame of mind from that of the evening before. Uncle Clement had been very ill all night, and the house was to be kept as quiet as possible. When Anna came in from early Celebration, Aunt Cherry came out looking like a ghost, and very anxious, and gave a sigh of relief on Adrian being reported still sound asleep. Gerald presently came down, pale and languid, but calling himself all right, and loitering over his breakfast till after the boy appeared, so rosy and ravenous as to cause no apprehension, except that he should devour too much apricot jam, and use his new boots too noisily on the stairs.
Anna devised walking him to Beechcroft to hear if there were any news of Fergus, and though he observed, with a certain sound of contemptuous rivalship, that there was no need, for "Merrifield was as right as a trivet," he was glad enough to get out of doors a little sooner, and though he affected to be bored by the kind inquiries of the people they met, he carried his head all the higher for them.
Nobody was at home except General Mohun, but he verified Adrian's impression of his nephew's soundness, whatever the mysterious comparison might mean; and asked rather solicitously not only after Mr. Underwood but after Gerald, who, he said, was a delicate subject to have made such exertions.
"It really was very gallant and very sensible behaviour," he said, as he took his hat to walk to St. Andrew's with the brother and sister, but Anna was conscious of a little pouting in Adrian's expression, and displeasure in his stumping steps.
Gerald came to church, but went to sleep in the sermon, and had altogether such a worn-out look that no one could help remembering that he had never been very strong, and had gone through much exertion the day before, nor could he eat much of the mid-day meal. Mrs. Grinstead, who was more at ease about her brother, looked anxiously at him, and with a kind of smile the word "Apres" passed between them. The Sunday custom was for Clement to take Adrian to say his Catechism, and have a little instruction before going out walking, but as this could not be on this day, Anna and he were to go out for a longer walk than usual, so as to remove disturbance from the household. Gerald declined, of course, and was left extended on the sofa; but just as Anna and Adrian had made a few steps along the street, and the boy had prevailed not to walk to Clipstone, as she wished, but to go to the cliffs, that she might hear the adventure related in sight of the scene of action, he discovered that he had left a glove. He was very particular about Sunday walking in gloves in any public place, and rushed back to find it, leaving his sister waiting. Presently he came tearing back and laughing.
"Did you find it?"
"Oh yes; it was in the drawing-room. And what else do you think I found? Why, Cherie administering"-and he pointed down his throat, and made a gulp with a wild grimace of triumph. "On the sly! Ha! ha!"
Anna felt as if the ground had opened under her feet, but she answered gravely-
"Poor Gerald went through a great deal yesterday, and is quite knocked up, so no wonder he needs some strengthening medicine."
"Strengthening grandmother! Don't you think I know better than that?" he cried, with a caper and a grin.
"Of course you had to have some cordial when you were taken out of the water."
"And don't you know what it was?"
"I know the fisher-people carry stuff about with them in case of accidents."
"That's the way with girls-just to think one knows nothing at all."
"What do you know, Adrian?"
"Know? Why, I haven't been about with Kit and Ted Harewood for nothing! Jolly good larks it is to see how all of you take for granted that a fellow never knew the taste of anything but tea and milk-and-water."
"But what do you know the taste of?" she asked, with an earnestness that provoked the boy to tease and put on a boasting manner, so that she could not tell how much he was pretending for the sake of amazing and tormenting her, in which he certainly succeeded.
However, his attention was diverted by coming round the corner to where there was a view of Anscombe Bay, when he immediately began to fight his battles o'er again, and show where they had been groping in the mud and seaweed in pursuit of sea-urchins, and stranded star- fish, and crabs.
"And it wasn't a forest after all, it was just a sell-nothing but mud and weed, only Fergus would go and poke in it, and there were horrid great rough stones and rocks too, and I tumbled over one."
Anna here became conscious that the whole place was the resort of the afternoon promenaders of Rockquay, great and small, of all ranks and degrees, belonging to the "middle class" or below it, and that they might themselves become the object of attention; and she begged her brother to turn back and wait till they could have the place to themselves.
"These are a disgusting lot of cads," he agreed, "but there won't be such a jolly tide another time. I declare I see the very rock where I saw the sea-mouse-out there! red and shiny at the top."
Here a well-dressed man, who had just come up the Coast-guard path, put aside his pipe, and taking off his hat, deferentially asked-
"Have I the honour of addressing Sir Adrian Vanderkist?"
Adrian replied with a gracious nod and gesture towards his straw hat, and in another moment Anna found him answering questions, and giving his own account of the adventure to the inquirer, who, she had little doubt, was a reporter, and carrying his head, if possible, higher in consequence as he told how Fergus Merrifield had lingered over his stones, and all the rest after his own version. She did not hear the whole, having had to answer the inquiries of one of the bicycle friends of the previous day, but when her attention was free she heard-
"And the young lady, Sir Adrian?"
"Young lady! Thank goodness, we were not bothered with any of that sort."
"Indeed, Sir Adrian, I understood that there was a young lady, Miss Aurelia, that Master Merrifield was lamenting, as if she had met with a watery grave."
"Ha! ha! Aralia was only the name of a bit of fossil kind of a stick that Merrifield had us down there to find in the fossil forest. I'm sure I saw no forest, only bits of mud and stuff! But he found a bit, sure enough, and was ready to break his heart when he had to leave his bag behind him on the rock. Aralia a young lady! That's a good one."
He forgathered with a school-fellow on the way home, and Anna heard little more.
The next day, however, there arrived the daily local paper, addressed to Sir Adrian Vanderkist, Bart., and it was opened by him at breakfast-time.
"I say! Look here! 'Dangerous Accident in Anscombe. A Youthful Baronet in peril!' What asses people are!" he added, with an odd access of the gratified shame of seeing himself for the first time in print. But he did not proceed to read aloud; there evidently was something he did not like, and he was very near pocketing it and rushing off headlong to school with it, if his aunt and Anna had not entreated or commanded for it, when he threw it over with an uncomplimentary epithet.
"Just what I was afraid of when I saw the man talking to him!" exclaimed Anna. "Oh, listen!
"'The young Sir Adrian Vanderkist, at present residing at St. Andrew's Rock with his aunt, Mrs. Grinstead, and the Rev. E. C. Underwood, and who is a pupil at Mrs. Edgar's academy for young gentlemen, was, we are informed, involved in the most imminent danger, together with a son of General Sir Jasper Merrifield, K.G.C., a young gentleman whose remarkable scientific talent and taste appear to have occasioned the peril of the youthful party, from whence they were rescued by Gerald F. Underwood, Esq., of Vale Leston.'"
"What's all that?" said Gerald F. Underwood, Esquire, sauntering in and kissing his aunt. "Good-morning. How is Uncle Clement this morning?"
"Much better; I think he will be up by and by," answered Mrs. Grinstead.
"What bosh have you got there? The reporters seized on their prey, eh?"
"There's Sir Jasper!" exclaimed Anna, who could see through the blinds from where she sat.
Sir Jasper had driven over with his little son, and, after leaving him at school, had come to inquire for Mr. Underwood, and to obtain a fuller account of the accident, having already picked up a paper and glanced at it.
"I am afraid my little scamp led them into the danger," he said. "Scientific taste forsooth! Science is as good a reason as anything else for getting into scrapes."
"Really," said Gerald, "I can't say I think your boy came out the worst in it, though I must own the Rockquay Advertiser bestows most of the honours of the affair on the youthful baronet! You say he blew his own trumpet," added Gerald, turning to Anna.
"The reporter came and beset us," said Anna, in a displeased voice. "I did not hear all that passed, but of course Adrian told him what he told me, only those people make things sound ridiculous."
"To begin with," said Gerald, "I don't think Fergus, or at any rate Davy Blake, was in fault. They tried to go home in good time, having an instinct for tides, but Adrian was chasing a sea-mouse or some such game, and could not be brought back, and then he fell over a slippery rock, and had to be dragged out of a hole, and by that time the channel of the Anscombe stream was too deep, at least for him, who has been only too carefully guarded from being amphibious."
"Oh! that did not transpire at home," said Sir Jasper. "Boys are so reserved."
Mrs. Grinstead and Anna looked rather surprised. Anna even ventured-
"I thought Fergus got too absorbed."
"So did I," said his father dryly. "And he did not justify himself."
"M-m-m," went on Gerald, skimming the article.
"Read it," cried Anna. "You know none of us have seen it."
"'Their perilous position having been observed from Anscombe cliffs, Mr. G. F. Underwood of Vale Leston heroically' (i.e. humbugically) 'made his way out to their assistance, while a boat was put off by the Coast-guard, and that of Mr. Carter, fisherman, from Rockquay was launched somewhat later.' We could not see either of them, you know. My eye, this is coming it strong! 'The young baronet generously insisted that the little fisher-boy, David Blake, who had accompanied them, should first be placed in safety-'"
"Didn't he?" exclaimed Anna. "I saw, and I wondered, but I thought it was his doing."
"Yes, in the Coast-guard's telescope."
"Oh! That is a new feature in the case!"
"Then he did not insist?" said Mrs. Grinstead.
"It was with the wrong side of his mouth."
"But why did you send the fisher-boy first, when after all his life was less important?" exclaimed Anna, breaking forth at last.
"First, for the reason that I strove to impress on 'the youthful baronet,' Noblesse oblige. Secondly, that Davy knew how to make his way along the rocks, and also knew where to find the Preventive station. I could leave him to get on, as I could not have done with the precious Adrian, and that gave a much better chance for us all. It was swimming work by the time I got back, and by that time I thought the best alternative for any of us was to keep hold as long as we could, and then keep afloat as best we might till we were picked up. Your boy was the hero of it all. Adrian was so angry with me for my disrespect that I could hardly have got him to listen to me if Fergus had not made him understand, that to let himself be passive and be floated by me till the boats came up was the only thing to be done. There was one howl when he had to let go his beloved aralia, but he showed his soldier blood, and behaved most manfully."
"I am most thankful to hear it," said his father, "and especially thankful to you."
"Oh! there was not much real danger," said Gerald lightly, "to any one who could swim."
"But Adrian could not," said Anna. "Oh! Gerald, what do we not owe to you?"
"I must be off," said Sir Jasper; "I must see about a new jacket for my boy. By the bye, do you know how the little Davy fared in the matter of clothes?"
"Better than any of us," said Gerald. "He was far too sharp to go mud-larking in anything that would be damaged, and had his boots safe laid up in a corner. I wish mine were equally safe."
Sir Jasper's purchases were not confined to boots and jacket, but as compensation for his hard words included a certain cabinet full of drawers that had long been Fergus's cynosure.
Anna and her aunt were much concerned at what was said of Adrian, and still more at the boastful account that he seemed to have given; but then something, as Mrs. Grinstead observed, must be allowed for the reporter's satisfaction in having interviewed a live baronet. Each of the parties concerned had one hero, and if the Merrifields' was Fergus, to their own great surprise and satisfaction, Aunt Cherry was very happy over her own especial boy, Gerald, and certainly it was an easier task than to accept "the youthful baronet" at his own valuation or that of the reporter.
Mrs. Grinstead considered whether to try to make him less conceited about it, and show him his want of truth. She consulted his uncle about it, showing the newspaper, and telling, and causing Gerald to tell, the history of the accident, which Clement had not been fit to hear all the day before.
He was still in bed, but quite ready to attend to anything, and he laughed over the account, which she illustrated by the discoveries she had made from the united witnesses.
"And is it not delightful to see for once what Gerald really is?" she said.
"Yes, he seems to have behaved gallantly," said his uncle; "and I won't say just what might have been expected."
"One does expect something of an Underwood," she said.
"Little Merrifield too, who saw the danger coming, deserves more honour than he seems to have taken to himself."
"Yes, he accepted severity from that stern father of his, who seems very sorry for it now. It is curious how those boys' blood comes out in the matter-chasser de race."
"You must allow something for breeding. Fergus had not been the idol of a mother and sisters, and Gerald remembered his father in danger."
"Oh, I can never be glad enough that he has that remembrance of him! How like him he grows! That unconscious imitation is so curious."
"Yes, the other day, when I had been dozing, I caught myself calling out that he was whistling 'Johnny Cope' so loud that he would be heard in the shop."
"He seems to be settling down more happily here than I expected. I sometimes wonder if there is any attraction at Clipstone."
"No harm if there were, except-"
"Except what? Early marriage might be the very best thing."
"Perhaps, though sometimes I doubt whether it is well for a man to have gone through the chief hopes and crises of life so soon. He looks out for fresh excitement."
"There are so many stages in life," said Geraldine, sighing. "And with all his likenesses, Gerald is quite different from any of you."
"So I suppose each generation feels with those who succeed it. Nor do I feel as if I understood the Universities to-day as I did Cambridge thought of old. We can do nothing but wait and pray, and put out a hand where we see cause."
"Where we see! It is the not seeing that is so trying. The being sure that there is more going on within than is allowed to meet one's eye, and that one is only patronized as an old grandmother-quite out of it."
"I think the conditions of life and thought are less simple than in our day."
"And to come to the present. What is to be done about Adrian-the one who was not a hero, though he made himself out so?"
"Probably he really thought so. He is a mere child, you know, and it was his first adventure, before he has outgrown the days of cowardice."
"He need not have told stories."
"Depend upon it, he hardly knew that he did so."
"He had the reporter to help him certainly, and the 'Rockquay Advertiser' may not keep to the stern veracity and simplicity of the 'Pursuivant'."
"And was proud to interview a live baronet."
"Then what shall we do-Anna and I, I mean?"
"Write the simple facts to Vale Leston, and then let it alone."
"Certainly. He would think your speaking mere nagging. Preserve an ominous silence if he speaks. His school-fellows will be his best cure."
"Well, he did seem ashamed!"
Clement was right. The boy's only mention of the paragraph was once as "that beastly thing"; and Anna discovered from Valetta Merrifield, that whatever satisfaction he might have derived from it had been effectually driven out of him by the "fellows" at Mrs. Edgar's, who had beset him with all their force of derision, called him nothing but the "youthful Bart.," and made him ashamed as none of the opposite sex or of maturer years could ever have succeeded in doing. Valetta said Fergus had tried to stop it, but there had certainly been one effect, namely, that Adrian was less disposed to be "Merry's" shadow than heretofore, and seemed inclined instead to take up with the other seniors.
One thing, however, was certain. Gerald enjoyed a good deal more consideration among the Clipstone damsels than before. True, as Jasper said, it was only what any one would have done; but he had done it, and proved himself by no means inferior to "any one," and Fergus regarded him as a true hero, which had a considerable effect on his sisters, the more perhaps because Jasper derided their admiration.
They were doubly bent on securing him for a contributor to the Mouse- trap. They almost thought of inviting him to their Browning afternoons, but decided that he would not appreciate the feminine company, though he did so often have a number of the 'Censor' to discuss it with Dolores, whenever they met him.
CHAPTER XII. THE LITTLE BUTTERFLY
The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral.-Hamlet.
The Matrons, otherwise denominated lady patronesses, met in committee, Miss Mohun being of course the soul and spirit of all, though Mrs. Ellesmere, as the wife of the rector of old Rockstone Church, was the president, Lady Flight, one of the most interested, was there, also Lady Merrifield, dragged in to secure that there was nothing decided on contrary to old-world instincts, Mrs. Grinstead, in right of the musical element that her brother promised, the beautiful Mrs. Henderson, to represent the marble works, Mrs. Simmonds of the Cliff Hotel, the Mayoress, and other notables.
The time was fixed for the first week in August, the only one when engagements would permit the Rotherwood family to be present for the opening, and when the regatta was apt to fill Rockquay with visitors. The place was to be the top of the cliffs of Rockstone, where the gardens of the Cliff Hotel, of Beechcroft Cottage, Rocca Marina, and Carrara, belonging respectively to Miss Mohun, Mr. White, and Captain Henderson, lay close together separated by low walls, and each with a private door opening on a path along the top of the cliffs. They could easily be made to communicate together, by planks laid over the boundaries, and they had lawns adapted for tents, etc., and Rocca Marina rejoiced in a shrubbery and conservatories that were a show in themselves, and would be kindly lent by Mr. and Mrs. White, though health compelled them to be absent and to resort to Gastein. The hotel likewise had a large well-kept garden, where what Mrs. Simmonds called a pavilion, "quite mediaeval," was in course of erection, and could be thrown open on the great day.
It was rather "tea-gardenish," but it could be made available for the representation of The Outlaw's Isle. Lancelot made a hurried visit to study the place, and review the forces, and decided that it was practicable. There could be a gallery at one end for the spectators, and the outer end toward the bay could be transformed into a stage, with room for the orchestra, and if the weather were favourable the real sea could be shown in the background. The scenes had been painted by the clever fingers at Vale Leston. It remained to cast the parts. Lancelot himself would be Prospero, otherwise Alaster Maclan, and likewise conductor, bringing with him the school-master of Vale Leston, who could supply his part as conductor when he was on the stage. His little boy Felix would be Ariel, the other elves could be selected from the school-children, and the local Choral Society would supply the wreckers and the wrecked. But the demur was over Briggs, a retired purser, who had always had a monopoly of sea- songs, and who looked on the boatswain as his right, and was likely to roar every one down. Ferdinand would be Gerald, under the name of Angus, but the difficulty was his Miranda-Mona as she was called. The Vanderkists could not be asked to perform in public, nor would Sir Jasper Merrifield have consented to his daughters doing so, even if they could have sung, and it had been privately agreed that none of the other young ladies of Rockquay could be brought forward, especially as there was no other grown-up female character.
"My wife might undertake it," said Lancelot, "but her voice is not her strong point, and she would be rather substantial for a Miranda."
"It would be rather like finding a mother instead of a wife-with all respect to my Aunt Daisy," laughed Gerald.
"By the bye, I'm sure I once heard a voice, somewhere down by the sea, that would be perfect," exclaimed Lance. "Sweet and powerful, fresh and young, just what is essential. I heard it when I was in quest of crabs with my boy."
"I know!" exclaimed Gerald, "the Little Butterfly, as they call her!"
"At a cigar-shop," said Lance.
"Mrs. Schnetterling's. Not very respectable," put in Lady Flight.
"Decidedly attractive to the little boys, though," said Gerald. "Sweets, fishing-tackle, foreign stamps, cigars. I went in once to see whether Adrian was up to mischief there, and the Mother Butterfly looked at me as if I had seven heads; but I just got a glimpse of the girl, and, as my uncle says, she would make an ideal Mona, or Miranda."
"Lydia Schnetterling," exclaimed Mr. Flight. "She is a very pretty girl with a nice voice. You remember her, Miss Mohun, at our concerts? A lovely fairy."
"I remember her well. I thought she was foreign, and a Roman Catholic."
"So her mother professes-a Hungarian. The school officer sent her to school, and she did very well there, Sunday-school and all, and was a monitor. She was even confirmed. Her name is really Ludmilla, and Lida is the correct contraction. But when I wanted her to be apprenticed as a pupil-teacher, the mother suddenly objected that she is a Roman Catholic, but I very much doubt the woman's having any religion at all. I wrote to the priest about her, but I believe he could make nothing of her. Still, Lydia is a very nice girl-comes to church, and has not given up the Choral Society."
"She is a remarkably nice good girl," added Mrs. Henderson. "She came to me, and entreated that I would speak for her to be taken on at the marble works."
"You have her there?"
"Yes; but I am much afraid that her talents do not lie in the way of high promotion, and I think if she does not get wages enough to satisfy her mother, she is in dread of being made to sing at public- houses and music-halls."
"That nice refined girl!"
"Yes; I am sure the idea is dreadful to her."
"Could you not put her in the way of getting trained?" asked Gerald of his uncle.
"I must hear her first."
"I will bring her up to the Choral Society tonight," said Mr. Flight.
"What did you call her?" said Geraldine.
"Some German or foreign name, Schnetterling, and the school calls her Lydia."
At that moment the council was invaded, as it sat in Miss Mohun's drawing-room, upon rugs and wicker chairs, to be refreshed with tea. In burst a whole army of Merrifields, headed by little Primrose, now a tall girl of twelve years old, more the pet of the family than any of her elders had been allowed to be. Her cry was-
"Oh, mamma, mamma, here's the very one for the captain of the buccaneers!"
The startling announcement was followed by the appearance of a tall, stalwart, handsome young man of a certain naval aspect, whom Lady Merrifield introduced as Captain Armytage.
"We must congratulate him, Gillian," she said. "I see you are gazetted as commander."
Primrose, who had something of the licence of the youngest, observed-
"We have been telling him all about it. He used to be Oliver Cromwell in 'How Do You Like It?' and now he will be a buccaneer!"
"Oliver Cromwell, you silly child!" burst out Gillian, with a little shake, while the rest fell into fits of laughing.
"I fear it was a less distinguished part," said Captain Armytage.
"May I understand that you will help us?" said Lancelot. "I heard of you at Devereux Castle."
"I don't think you heard much of my capabilities, especially musical ones. I was the stick of the party," said Captain Armytage.
It was explained that Captain Armytage had actually arrived that afternoon at the Cliff Hotel, and had walked over to call at Clipstone, whence he found the young ladies setting out to walk to Rockstone. He could not deny that he had acted and sung, though, as he said, his performance in both cases was vile. Little Miss Primrose had most comically taken upon her to patronize him, and to offer him as buccaneer captain had been a freak of her own, hardly to be accounted for, except that Purser Briggs's unsuitableness had been discussed in her presence.
"Primrose is getting to be a horrid little forward thing," observed Gillian to her aunt.
"A child of the present," said Miss Mohun. "Infant England! But her suggestion seems to be highly opportune."
"I don't believe he can sing," growled Gillian, "and it will be just an excuse for his hanging about here."
There was something in Gillian's "savagery" which gave Aunt Jane a curious impression, but she kept it to herself.
Late in the evening Lance appeared in his sister's drawing-room with-
"I have more hopes of it. I did not think it was feasible when Anna wrote to me, but I see my way better now. That parson, Flight, has a good notion of drilling, and that recruit of the little Merrifield girl, Captain Armytage, is worth having."
"If he roared like a sucking dove we would have him, only to silence that awful boatswain," said Gerald; "and as to the little Cigaretta, she is a born prima donna."
"Your Miranda? Are you content with her?" said his aunt.
"She is to the manner born. Lovely voice, acts like a dragon, and has an instinct how to stand and how to hold her hands."
"Coming in drolly with her prim dress and bearing. Though she was dreadfully frightened," said Lance. "Being half-foreign accounts for something, I suppose, but it is odd how she reminds me of some one. No doubt it is of some singer at a concert. What did they say was her name?"
"Ludmilla Schnetterling, the Little Butterfly they call her. Foreign on both sides apparently," said Gerald. "Those dainty ankles never were bred on English clods."
"I wonder what her mother is," said Mrs. Grinstead.
"By the bye, I think it must have been her mother that I saw that morning when little Felix dragged me to a cigar-shop in quest of an ornamental crab-a handsome, slatternly hag sort of woman, who might have been on the stage," said Lance.
"Sells fishing-tackle, twine, all sorts," came from Adrian.
"Have you been there?" asked his sister, rather disturbed.
"Of course! All the fellows go! It is the jolliest place for"-he paused a moment-"candies and ginger-beer."
"I should have thought there were nicer places!" sighed Anna.
"You have yet to learn that there is a period of life when it is a joy to slip out of as much civilization as possible," said Lance, putting his sentence in involved form so as to be the less understood by the boys.
"Did you say that Flight had got hold of them?" asked Clement.
"Hardly. They are R.C.'s, it seems; and as to the Mother Butterfly, I should think there was not much to get hold of in her; but Mrs. Henderson takes interest in her marble-workers, and the girl is the sort of refined, impressible creature that one longs to save, if possible. To-morrow I am going to put you all through your parts, Master Gerald, so don't you be out of the way."
"One submits to one's fate," said Gerald, "hoping that virtue may be its own reward, as it is in the matter of 'The Inspector's Tour', which the 'Censor' accepts, really enthusiastically for a paper, though the Mouse-trap would have found it-what shall I say?-a weasel in their snare."
"Does it indeed?" cried Anna, delighted. "I saw there was a letter by this last post."
"Aye-invites more from the same pen," he replied lazily.
"Too much of weasel for the 'Pursuivant' even?" said Geraldine.
"Yes," said Lance; "these young things are apt to tear our old traps and flags to pieces. By the bye, who is this Captain Armytage, who happily will limit Purser Briggs to 'We split, we split, we split,' or something analogous?"
"I believe," said Gerald, "that he joined the Wills-of-the-Wisp, that company which was got up by Sir Lewis Willingham, and played at Devereux Castle a year or two ago. Some one told me they were wonderfully effective for amateurs."
"That explains the acquaintance with Lady Merrifield," said Mrs. Grinstead.
"Oh, yes," said Anna. "Mysie told me all about it; and how Mr. David Merrifield married the nicest of them all, and how much they liked this Captain Armytage."
"Was not Mysie there when he arrived?"
"No, she was gone to see the Henderson children, but Gillian looked a whole sheaf of daggers at him. You know what black brows Gillian has, and she drew them down like thunder," and Anna imitated as well as her fair open brows would permit, "turning as red as fire all the time."
"That certainly means something," said Geraldine, laughing.
"I should like to see Gillian in love," laughed Anna; "and I really think she is afraid of it, she looked so fierce."
The next evening there was time for a grand review in the parish school-room of all possible performers on the spot. In the midst, however, a sudden fancy flashed across Lancelot that there was something curiously similar between those two young people who occupied the stage, or what was meant to be such. Their gestures corresponded to one another, their voices had the same ring, and their eyes wore almost of the same dark colour. Now Gerald's eyes had always been the only part of him that was not Underwood, and had never quite accorded with his fair complexion.
"Hungarian, I suppose," said Lance to himself, but he was not quite satisfied.
What struck him as strange was that though dreadfully shy and frightened when off the stage, as soon as she appeared upon it, though not yet in costume, she seemed to lose all consciousness that she was not Mona.
Perhaps Mrs. Henderson could have told him. Her husband being manager and partner at Mr. White's marble works, she had always taken great interest in the young women employed, had actually attended to their instruction, assisted in judging of their designs, and used these business relations to bring them into inner contact with her, so that her influence had become very valuable. She was at the little room which she still kept at the office, when there was a knock at the door, and "Miss Schnetterling" begged to speak to her. She felt particularly tender towards the girl, who was evidently doing her best in a trying and dangerous position, and after the first words it came out-
"Oh, Mrs. Henderson, do you think I must be Mona?"
"Have you any real objection, Lydia? Mr. Flight and all of them seem to wish it."
"Yes, and I can't bear not to oblige Mr. Flight, who has been so good, so good!" cried Lydia, with a foreign gesture, clasping her hands. "Indeed, perhaps my mother would not let me off. That is what frightens me. But if you or some real lady could put me aside they could not object."
"I do not understand you, my dear. You would meet with no unpleasantness from any one concerned, and you can be with the fairy children. Are you shy? You were not so in the fairy scenes last winter-you acted very nicely."
"Oh yes, I liked it then. It carries me away; but-oh! I am afraid!"
"Please tell me, my dear."
Lydia lowered her voice.
"I must tell you, Mrs. Henderson, mother was a singer in public once, and a dancer; and oh! they were so cruel to her, beat her, and starved her, and ill-used her. She used to tell me about it when I was very little, but now I have grown older, and the people like my voice, she is quite changed. She wants me to go and sing at the Herring-and-a-Half, but I won't, I won't-among all the tipsy men. That was why she would not let me be a pupil-teacher, and why she will not see a priest. And now-now I am sure she has a plan in her head. If I do well at this operetta, and people like me, I am sure she will get the man at the circus to take me, by force perhaps, and then it would be all her life over again, and I know that was terrible."
Poor Ludmilla burst into tears.
"Nay, if she suffered so much she would not wish to expose you to the same."
"I don't know. She is in trouble about the shop-the cigars. Oh! I should not have told! You won't-you won't-Mrs. Henderson?"
"No, you need not fear, I have nothing to do with that."
"I don't think," Lydia whispered again, "that she cares for me as she used to do when I was a little thing. Now that I care for my duty, and all that you and Mr. Flight have taught me, she is angry, and laughs at English notions. I was in hopes when I came to work here that my earnings would have satisfied her, but they don't, and I don't seem to get on."
Mrs. Henderson could not say that her success was great, but she ventured as much as to tell her that Captain Henderson could prevent any attempt to send her away without her consent.
"Oh! but if my mother went too you could not hinder it."
"Are you sixteen, my dear? Then you could not be taken against your will."
"Not till December. And oh! that gentleman, the conductor, he knew all about it, I could see, and by and by I saw him lingering about the shop, as if he wanted to watch me."
"Mr. Lancelot Underwood! Oh, my dear, you need not be afraid of him, he is a brother of Mrs. Grinstead's, a connection of Miss Mohun's; and though he is such a musician, it is quite as an amateur. But, Lydia, I do think that if you sing your best, he may very likely be able to put you in a way to make your talent available so as to satisfy your mother, without leading to anything so undesirable and dangerous as a circus."
"Then you think I ought-"
"It is a dangerous thing to give advice, but really, my dear, I do think more good is likely to come of this than harm."
CHAPTER XIII. TWO SIDES OF A SHIELD AGAIN
The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale. Midsummer Night's Dream.
The earlier proofs of the Mouse-trap were brought by Lance, who had spent more time in getting them into shape than his wife approved, and they were hailed with rapture by the young ladies on seeing themselves for the first time in print. As to Gerald, he had so long been bred-as it were-to journalism that, young as he was, he had caught the trick, and 'The Inspector's Tour' had not only been welcomed by the 'Censor', but portions had been copied into other papers, and there was a proposal of publishing it in a separate brochure. It would have made the fortune of the Mouse-trap, if it had not been so contrary to its principles, and it had really been sent to them in mischief, together with The 'Girton Girl', of which some were proud, though when she saw it in print, with a lyre and wreath on the page, sober Mysie looked grave.
"Do you think it profane to parody Jane Taylor?" said Gerald.
"No, but I thought it might hurt some people's feelings, and discourage them, if we laugh at the High School."
"Why, Dolores goes to give lectures there," exclaimed Valetta.
"Nobody is discouraged by a little good-humoured banter," said Gillian. "Nobody with any stuff in them."
"There must be some training in chaff though," said Gerald, "or they don't know how to take it."
"And in point of fact," said Dolores, "the upper tradesmen's daughters come off with greater honours in the High School than do the young gentlewomen."
"Very wholesome for the young Philistines," said Gerald. "The daughters of self-made men may well surpass in energy those settled on their lees."
Gerald and Dolores were standing with their backs to the wall of Anscombe Church, which Jasper Merrifield and Mysie were zealously photographing, the others helping-or hindering.
"I thought upper tradesfolk were the essence of Philistines," returned Dolores.
"The elder generation-especially if he is the son of the energetic man. The younger are more open to ideas."
"The stolid Conservative is the one who has grown up while his father was making his fortune, the third generation used to be the gentleman, now he is the man who is tired of it."
"Tired of it, aye!" with a sigh.
"Why you are a man with a pedigree!" she returned.
"Pedigrees don't hinder-what shall I call it?-the sense of being fettered."
"One lives in fetters," she exclaimed. "And the better one likes one's home, the harder it is to shake them off."
He turned and looked full at her, then exclaimed, "Exactly," and paused, adding, "I wonder what you want. Has it a form?"
"Oh yes, I mean to give lectures. I should like to see the world, and study physical science in every place, then tell the next about it. I read all I can, and I think I shall get consent to give some elementary lectures at the High School, though Uncle Jasper does not half like it, but I must get some more training to do the thing rightly. I thought of University College. Could you get me any information about it?"
"Easily; but you'll have to conquer the horror of the elders."
"I know. They think one must learn atheism and all sorts of things there."
"You might go in for physical science at Oxford or Cambridge."
"I expect that is all my father would allow. In spite of the colonies, he has all the old notions about women, and would do nothing Aunt Lily really protested against."
"You are lucky to have a definite plan and notion to work for. Now fate was so unkind as to make me a country squire, and not only that, but one bound down, like Gulliver among the Liliputians, with all manner of cords by all the dear good excellent folks, who look on that old mediaeval den with a kind of fetish-worship, sprung of their having been kept out of it so long, and it would be an utter smash of all their hearts if I uttered a profane word against it. I would as soon be an ancient Egyptian drowning a cat as move a stone of it. It is a lovely sort of ancient Pompeii, good to look at now and then, but not to be bound down to."
"Like Beechcroft Court, a fossil. It is very well there are such places."
"Yes, but not to be the hope of them. It is my luck. If my eldest uncle, who had toiled in a bookseller's shop all his youth and reigned like a little king, had not gone and got killed in a boating accident, there he would be the ruling Sir Roger de Coverley of the county, a pillar of Church and State, and I should be a free man."
"Won't they let you go about, and see everything?"
"Oh yes, I am welcome to do a little globe-trotting. They are no fools; if they were I should not care half so much; but wherever I went, there would be a series of jerks from my string, and not having an integument of rhinoceros hide, I could not disregard them without a sore more raw than I care to carry about. After all, it is only a globe, and one gets back to the same place again."
"Men have so many openings."
"I'm not rich enough for Parliament, and if I were, maybe it would be worse for their hearts," he said, with a sigh.
"There's journalism, a great power."
"Yes, but to put my name to all I could-and long to say-would be an equal horror to the dear folks."
"Yet you are helping on this concern."
"True, but partly pour passer le temps, partly because I really want to hear 'The Outlaws Isle' performed, and all under protest that the windmill will soon be swept away by the stream."
"Indeed, yes," cried Dolores. "They hope to regulate the stream. They might as well hope to regulate Mississippi."
"Well-chosen simile! The current is slow and sluggish, but irresistible."
"Better than stagnating or sticking fast in the mud."
"Though the mud may be full of fair blossoms and sweet survivals," said Gerald sadly.
"Oh yes, people in the old grooves are delightful," said Dolores, "but one can't live, like them, with a heart in G. F. S., like my Aunt Jane, really the cleverest of any of us! Or like Mysie, not stupid, but wrapped up in her classes, just scratching the surface. Now, if I went in for good works I would go to the bottom-down to the slums."
"Slums are one's chief interest," said Gerald; "but no doubt it will soon be the same story over and over, and only make one wish-"
"That there could be a revolution before I am of age."
"What's that?" cried Primrose, coming up as he spoke. "A revolution?"
"Yes, guillotines and all, to cut off your head in Rotherwood Park," said Gerald lightly.