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The Long Vacation
by Charlotte M. Yonge
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Indeed, so close was the great house, and so minute a watch was kept, that the fact of Lord Ivinghoe's spending the whole day at the parsonage was known, and conclusions were arrived at. Maura stole down in the late evening among the olive trees, ostensibly to ask Anna and Francie to come and listen to the nightingales.

But thereby she was witness to a scene that showed that there was another nightingale for Franceska than the one who was singing with such energy among the olive boughs. In fact, she saw the evening farewell, and had not the discretion, like Anna, to withdraw herself and her eyes, but beheld, what had ever been sacred to both those young things, the first kiss.

Poor Maura, she had none of the reticent pride and shame of an English gentlewoman. She believed herself cruelly treated, and rushing away, fell on Anna, who was hovering near, watching to prevent any arrival such as was always probable.

It would not be well to relate the angry, foolish words that Anna had to hear, nor how Maura betrayed herself and her own manoeuvre. It is enough to say that she went home, weeping demonstratively, perhaps uncontrollably; and that Anna, after her trying scene, was able to exalt more than ever Ivinghoe's generosity towards the absent Gerald, and forbearance towards Franceska. If he had ever passed the line, it was more Maura's doing than his own.



CHAPTER XXXI. THE COLD SHOULDER



Loath to depose the child, your brother's son.-SHAKESPEARE.

A telegram early the next day announced that the Rotherwood family were on their way, and they came in due time, the kind embrace that Francie received from each in turn being such as to set doubts at rest.

In fact, the dread, first of Monte Carlo, and secondly of Maura White, had done much to prepare the way with Lady Rotherwood. If she had first heard of her son's attachment to the pretty child who acted Mona, daughter to the upstart Vanderkists, and with a ruined father of no good repute, she would have held it a foolish delusion to be crushed without delay; but when this same attachment had lasted eight or nine months, and had only found avowal on the removal of a supposed rival; when, moreover, her darling had been ill, had revived at the aspect of the young lady, and had conducted himself in a place of temptation so as to calm an anxious mother's heart, she could see with his eyes, not only that Franceska was really beautiful, graceful, and a true lady, but likely to develop still more under favourable circumstances; that she had improved in looks, air, and manner on her travels, also that she had never been injured by any contact with undesirable persons, but had been trained by the excellent Underwoods, whose gentle blood and breeding were undeniable. Nor would "the daughter of the late Sir Adrian Vanderkist, Baronet, of Ironbeam Park," sound much amiss. He was so late, that his racing doings might be forgotten.

Indeed, as the Marchioness looked up to the castle, she felt that she could forgive a good deal to the damsel who had saved the family from the "sorry Rebecca," who had cried all night, and was still crying, whenever any more tears would come, and not getting much pity from any of her relatives. Mr. White told her that she was a little fool to have expected anything from a young swell; her brother said she might have known that it was absurd to expect that any one could look at her when Miss Franceska was by; and Mrs. White observed that it was wonderful to her to see so little respect shown for maiden dignity, as to endure to manifest disappointment. Adeline might speak from ample experience, and certainly her words had a salutary effect.

However, the Whites en famille were not quite the same externally. When Lord Rotherwood, after luncheon, went to see old White at the works, and look after his font, he met with a reception as stiff and cold as could well be paid to a distinguished customer who was not at all in fault; and for the first time Mr. White was too busy to walk back with him to the castle to see Adeline, whom he found, as usual, on a couch on the terrace in the shade of the house, a pretty picture among the flowers and vines. She was much more open with him, as became one who understood more of his point of view.

"Well, Rotherwood, I suppose I am to congratulate you, though it is scarcely a fair match in a worldly point of view."

"For which I care not a rap. She is a good, simple girl, and a perfect lady."

"And Victoria? May I ask, does not she think it a misalliance, considering what these Vanderkists are-and the Underwoods?"

"There's no one I respect more than Lancelot Underwood. As to Victoria, she is thankful that it is no worse."

"Ah! I know what you mean, but you can't wonder that my husband should feel it hard that there should have been some kind of flirtation. He is fond of Maura, you know, and he does feel that there must have been some slyness in some one to cause this affair to have been so suddenly sprung on us."

"Slyness-aye, I believe there was. Tell me, Ada, had you any notion that that lad, Gerald Underwood, was engaged to Dolores Mohun?"

"No; who told you?"

"Mysie let it out. She had been warned not to mention it till his position was ascertained, Maurice's consent and all."

"I must say Mysie should have spoken. It was not fair towards me to keep it back."

"Still less fair of Maura, if that's her name, to hint at attachment between Franceska and the boy. That was the embargo upon my poor fellow. He rushed off to have it out the moment he saw how matters stood."

"Well, it was a great shame; but girls are girls, especially with those antecedents, and Maura did not know to the contrary. You will believe me, Rotherwood, I never had any desire that she should succeed. I would have sent her away if I could; but you can't wonder that Mr. White is vexed, and feels as if there had been underhand dealing."

"I see he is. But you will not let him make it unpleasant for the Underwoods."

"Oh no, no! They have not much longer to stay. They are in correspondence about a rheumatic clergyman."

Mrs. White, however, determined not to expose Maura to her husband, though she reproached her, and was rather shocked by the young lady's self-defence. It was a natural idea, and no one had ever told her to the contrary. It was all spite in Mysie Merrifield to proclaim it after having kept it back so long.

She really was in such a state of mind that Mrs. White was rather relieved that the Rotherwoods had taken Franceska to San Remo to stay till Ivinghoe had to depart. Anna was left to send off the little felicitous note that she had written to her mother.

Each and all were writing letters that would be received with rapture almost incredulous, for no one but Sophia could have had any preparation.

"It is pleasant to think of poor Alda's delight," said Geraldine, over her writing-case. "After all her troubles, to have her utmost ambition fulfilled at last; and yet-and yet it does seem turning that pretty creature over to a life of temptation."

"In good hands," said Clement. "The youth himself is a nice honest fellow, a mere boy as yet; but it is something to have no harm in him at two-and-twenty and in the Guards; and his parents are evidently ready to watch over and guide them."

"If her head does not get turned," sighed Geraldine.

"Just as likely in any other station," replied Clement. "The protection must come from within, not from the externals; and I do think that she-yes, and he too-have that Guard within them."

"I think the sooner we are away from this place the better," said Geraldine. "There are such things as cold shoulders, and perhaps displeasure is in human nature, though it is not our fault."

"Which is the worse for us," laughed her brother, "since we can't beg pardon."

The cold shoulder was manifested by a note of apology the next morning from Mr. White. He was too busy to go with Mr. Underwood to Santa Carmela on this day, but had sent the young quarry-man to act as guide, and his foreman as interpreter. So Clement had his long ride on mule-back mostly in silence, though this he scarcely lamented, for he could better enjoy the mountain peaks and the valleys bright with rich grass, with anemones of all colours, hyacinths, strange primulas and gentians, without having to make talk to Mr. White. But his journey was without result. He did find an exceedingly old woman keeping sheep and spinning wool with a distaff, who owned to the name of Cecca Benista. She once had a brother. Yes, Gian was his name, but he went away, as they all did. He had a voice bellissima, si bellissima; and some one told her long, long ago, that he had made his fortune, and formed a company, but he had never come home-no, no, and was probably dead, though she had never heard; and he had sent nothing-no, no!

Then Clement tried the priest of the curious little church on the hill-side, a memory of Elijah and the convents on Mount Carmel. The Parrocco was a courteous man, quite a peasant, and too young to know much about the past generation. He gave Clement a refection of white bread, goats' milk cheese, and coffee, and held up his hands on the declining of his thin wine. There was a kind of register of baptisms, and Giovanni Batista Benista was hunted out, and it was found that if alive he would be over seventy years old. But no more was known, and there was no proof that he was dead twenty-two years before!

That long day had convinced Geraldine that the pleasantness of intercourse with the Whites was over, and she was not sorry that a letter was waiting for Clement to say that the rheumatic clergyman would arrive, if desired, in another week. This was gladly accepted, and the question remained, whither should they go? Clement's year of absence would be over in June, and he was anxious to get home; besides that, it was desirable to take Francie to her mother as soon as possible. The only cause for delay was the possibility of Gerald's extracting something further from his mother, which might lead to further researches on the Continent; but as most places were readily accessible from London, this was decided against, and it was determined to go back to Brompton at the same time as the Rotherwoods returned from San Remo.

On the last Sunday Mr. White showed himself much more cordial than he had been since the crisis. He waited in the porch to say-

"Well, sir, you have given us some very excellent sermons, and I am sure we are much obliged to you. If I can help you any more in investigating that unlucky affair of your nephew, do not hesitate to write to me. I shall be delighted to assist you in coming to your rights."

"Thank you; though I sincerely hope they are not my rights."

"Ah, well. You are not so advanced in life but that if you came into anything good, you might marry and start on a new lease! You are pounds better than when you came here."

Which last clause was so true that Clement could only own it, with thanks to his good-humoured host, who lingered a little still to say-

"I am sorry any vexation arose about those foolish young people, but you see young women will wish to do the best they can for themselves, and will make mischief too if one listens to them. A sensible man won't. That's what I say."

Clement quite agreed, though he was not sensible of having listened to any of the mischief-making, but he heartily shook hands with Mr. White, and went away, glad to be at peace.



CHAPTER XXXII. THE TEST OF DAY-DREAMS



Faith's meanest deed more favour bears, Where hearts and wills are weighed, Than brightest transports, choicest prayers, That bloom their hour and fade.-J. H. NEWMAN.

That return to Brompton was the signal for the numerous worries awaiting Clement. First, the doctors thought him much improved, but declared that a return to full work at St. Matthew's would overthrow all the benefit of his long rest, and would not hear of his going back, even with another curate, for an experiment.

Then all went down to Vale Leston together. Mr. Ed'dard was welcomed with rapture by his old flock. Alda had been almost ill with excitement and delight, and had not words enough to show her ecstasy over her beautiful daughter, nor her gratitude to Geraldine, to whose management she insisted on attributing the glorious result. In vain did Geraldine disclaim all diplomacy, Lady Vanderkist was sure that all came of her savoir faire. At any rate, it was really comfortable to be better beloved by Alda than ever in the course of her life! Alda even intimated that she should be well enough to come to Brompton to assist in the choice of the trousseau, and the first annoyance was with Clement for not allotting a disproportioned sum for the purpose. He declared that Francie ought not to have more spent on her than was reserved for her sisters, especially as it would be easy for her to supply all deficiencies, while Alda could not endure that the future Lady Ivinghoe should have an outfit unworthy of her rank, even though both Wilmet and Geraldine undertook to assist.

There were other difficulties, for which the sojourn at Vale Leston was to be dreaded. Gerald had been of age for two months, and there were leases to be signed and arrangements made most difficult to determine in the present state of things. Major and Mrs. Harewood wanted to wind up their residence in the Priory, and to be able to move as soon as the wedding was over, since Franceska begged that it might be at the only home she remembered, and her elders put aside their painful recollections to gratify her; so that it was fixed for early August, just a year since her unprepared appearance as Mona.

After all, Alda was really too ill to go to London, and Franceska had to be sent in charge of her aunt Cherry and of her sister Mary. Lady Rotherwood would be in town, and might be trusted to have no unreasonable expectations.

Poor Sophy! Penbeacon's destiny was one of the affairs that could not be settled, and therewith her own, though her mother could not succeed in penetrating any of the family with the horror of giving Lord Ivinghoe such a brother-in-law.

In the midst of the preparations came a letter from Gerald. He did indeed write every Sunday, but of late his had been hurried letters: he was so fully occupied and had so much writing on hand that he could not indulge in more length.

"You have been urging me," he said, "to find out what my mother knows. I have not liked to press the subject while she was so ill, as she always met every hint of it with tears and agitation. However, at last, Lida brought her to it, and we really believe she knows no more than we do what became of her first husband. She never heard of him after she fled from him. She was almost a child, and he had been very cruel to her. But she did tell us where we may be nearly certain of finding out, namely from Signor Menotti, Via San Giacomo, Genoa, or his successors, a man who trained singers and performers, and moreover took charge of Benista's money, and she thinks he had considerable savings. Poor woman, I believe she had no idea of the harm she might be doing me, though it was scarcely in human nature to see prosperity look so aggressive without trying to profit thereby; and when she had put herself into O'Leary's power, the notion was to make an income out of me by private threats and holding their tongues. That I should have any objection to such an arrangement, except on economical principles, never entered their heads, and they tried to make as much as possible out of either me or Clement, by withholding all the information possible till it was paid for, and our simultaneous refusal to be blackmailed entirely disconcerted them, and made them furious. Lida said the man was violent with her mother for letting out even what she did to trousseau, and the first annoyance was with Clement for not allotting a disproportioned sum for the purpose. He declared that Francie ought not to have more spent on her than was reserved for her sisters, especially as it would be easy for her to supply all deficiencies, while Alda could not endure that the future Lady Ivinghoe should have an outfit unworthy of her rank, even though both Wilmet and Geraldine undertook to assist.

There were other difficulties, for which the sojourn at Vale Leston was to be dreaded. Gerald had been of age for two months, and there were leases to be signed and arrangements made most difficult to determine in the present state of things. Major and Mrs. Harewood wanted to wind up their residence in the Priory, and to be able to move as soon as the wedding was over, since Franceska begged that it might be at the only home she remembered, and her elders put aside their painful recollections to gratify her; so that it was fixed for early August, just a year since her unprepared appearance as Mona.

After all, Alda was really too ill to go to London, and Franceska had to be sent in charge of her aunt Cherry and of her sister Mary. Lady Rotherwood would be in town, and might be trusted to have no unreasonable expectations.

Poor Sophy! Penbeacon's destiny was one of the affairs that could not be settled, and therewith her own, though her mother could not succeed in penetrating any of the family with the horror of giving Lord Ivinghoe such a brother-in-law.

In the midst of the preparations came a letter from Gerald. He did indeed write every Sunday, but of late his had been hurried letters: he was so fully occupied and had so much writing on hand that he could not indulge in more length.

"You have been urging me," he said, "to find out what my mother knows. I have not liked to press the subject while she was so ill, as she always met every hint of it with tears and agitation. However, at last, Lida brought her to it, and we really believe she knows no more than we do what became of her first husband. She never heard of him after she fled from him. She was almost a child, and he had been very cruel to her. But she did tell us where we may be nearly certain of finding out, namely from Signor Menotti, Via San Giacomo, Genoa, or his successors, a man who trained singers and performers, and moreover took charge of Benista's money, and she thinks he had considerable savings. Poor woman, I believe she had no idea of the harm she might be doing me, though it was scarcely in human nature to see prosperity look so aggressive without trying to profit thereby; and when she had put herself into O'Leary's power, the notion was to make an income out of me by private threats and holding their tongues. That I should have any objection to such an arrangement, except on economical principles, never entered their heads, and they tried to make as much as possible out of either me or Clement, by withholding all the information possible till it was paid for, and our simultaneous refusal to be blackmailed entirely disconcerted them, and made them furious. Lida said the man was violent with her mother for letting out even what she did to Lance, and he meant to put a heavy price even on the final disclosure, in the trust (which I share) that it may prove the key to the mystery. She had no notion that the doubt was upsetting my position. Poor thing, she never had a chance in her life-gipsy breeding at first, then Benista's tender mercies and the wandering life. She could not fail to love my father till his requirements piqued her, and it was a quarrel, exasperated perhaps by the commencement of his illness, over her neglect of my unlucky self, and her acceptance of Schnetterling's attentions, that led to her abandoning him. I really do not think she ever realized that it was a sin. That good Pere Duchamps is the first priest of any kind she ever listened to, and he has had a great effect upon her. He would like to extend it to Lida and me, but Lida is staunch to her well-beloved Mr. Flight as well as to me, and there is a church on the other side the bay to which I take her when our patient is well enough to spare her to walk, or we can afford the crossing. Easter was a comfort there.

"The warm weather has revived the patient, and she may live some months longer, though she is a mere skeleton. Lida tends her in the most affectionate manner, and is really a little angel in her way. She has got some private pupils in music, and is delighted to bring in grist to the mill, which grinds hard enough to make me realize the old days you are so fond of recollecting.

"Don't ask me to send you the Lacustrian. I am ashamed of it, and of my own articles. Nothing will go down here but the most highly spiced, and it is matter of life and death to us, as long as my mother lives, to keep on the swaying top of the poplar tree of popularity. You would despise the need, and talk of Felix, but it is daily bread, and I cannot let my mother and sister starve for opinions of mine. One comfort for you is that if I ever do come home again to reign at Vale Leston, I shall have seen the outcome of various theories of last year, and proved what is the effect of having no class to raise a standard or to look up to. I don't think I shall be quite so bumptious, and I am quite sure I shall value my Cherie's tenderness much better than I have ever done, more shame for me! Love to the bride and all at Vale Leston. There is an old age of novelty about these eastern states, quite disgusting in comparison with the reverend dignity of such a place as Vale Leston. You never thought that I appreciated it! You will find no fault with me on that score now. The lake is beautiful enough, but I begin to hate the sight of it, especially when a Yankee insists on my telling him whether we have in all Europe anything better than a duck-pond in comparison. Little Lida is my drop of comfort, since she has ceased to be mortally afraid of 'Brother.' Love to all and sundry again.

"Your loving G."

There was a consultation over this letter, which ended in John Harewood's volunteering to go to Genoa, and find out this Menotti or his representative, returning in time for the wedding, and hoping that the uncertainty would thus be over in time for the enjoyment of a truly prosperous event.

A letter that came before his departure rendered Geraldine doubly anxious for the decision. Mrs. Henderson sent it to her to read, saying that it was by Lady Merrifield's advice, since she thought that it should be known how it was with Gerald, for even to Dolores he had not told half what Ludmilla related.

"MY DEAREST MRS. HENDERSON,

"It is a long time since I received your dearest, kindest of letters, and if I did not answer it sooner, it was not from want of gratitude, but attendance on my poor dear mother and assistance to our landlady occupies me at every minute that I can spare from giving music lessons to some private families, and an evening class. I am very thankful to be able to earn something, so as to take off something of the burthen on my dear brother's shoulders. For, alas! the care and support of my mother and me weigh very heavily upon him. The proprietor of the Lacustrian has parted with his other clerk, and my brother has the entire business of not only writing, extracting for, and editing the paper, but of correcting the press, and he dares not remonstrate or demand better payment, as we live from week to week, and he could not afford to be dismissed. He is at the office all day, beginning at six in the morning to meet the central intelligence, he only rushes home for his meals, and goes back to work till twelve or one o'clock at night. Even then he cannot sleep. I hear him tossing about with the pain in his back that sitting at his desk brings on, and his hands are so tired by writing, and with the heat, which has been dreadful for the last few weeks, and has taken away all the appetite he ever had. You would be shocked to see him, he is so thin and altered; I cannot think how he is to continue this, but he will not hear of my writing to Lady Travis Underwood. He is never angry, except when I try to persuade him, and you never saw anything like his patience and gentleness to my poor mother. She never did either, she cannot understand it at all. At first she thought he wanted to coax the confession out of her, and when she found that it made no difference, she could not recover from her wonder—he, whom she had deserted in his babyhood, and so cruelly injured in his manhood, to devote himself to toiling for her sake, and never to speak harshly to her for one moment. She knew I loved her, and she had always been good to me, except when O'Leary forced her to be otherwise, but his behaviour has done more to touch her heart than anything, and I am sure she is, as Pere Duchamps says, a sincere penitent. She is revived by the summer heat, and can sit under the stoop and enjoy the sweet air of the lake; but she is very weak, and coughs dreadfully in the morning, just when it is cooler, and my brother might get some sleep. She tries to be good and patient with us both, and it really does soothe her when my brother can sit by her, and talk in his cheerful droll way; but he can stay but a very short time. He has to rush back to his horrid stuffy office, and then she frets after him and says, 'But what right have I to such a son?' and she begins to cry and cough."

"Ah!" said Clement, as Geraldine, unable to speak for tears, gave him the letter. "This is a furnace of real heroism."

"Christian heroism, I am sure," said Geraldine. "Oh, my boy, I am proud of him. He will be all the better for his brave experiment."

"Yes, he had an instinct that it would be wholesome, besides the impelling cause. Real hardship is sound training."

"If it is not too hard," said she.

"'Let not their precious balms break my head,'" said Clement.

"I do not like that pain in the back. Remember how he dragged his limbs when first we had him at home, and how delicate he was up to thirteen-only eight years ago!"

"Probably it will not last long enough to do him much harm."

"And how nobly uncomplaining he is!"

"This has brought out all the good we always trusted was in reserve."

"Better than Emilia's experiment," sighed Geraldine.

For Emilia Vanderkist, before her year was over, was at home, having broken down, and having spent most of her holidays with Mrs. Peter Brown, the wife of Sir Ferdinand's partner. She had come back, not looking much the worse for her hospital experience, but with an immense deal to say of the tyranny of the matron, the rudeness of the nurses to probationers, the hardness and tedium of the work to which she had been put, and the hatefulness of patients and of doctors.

Anna sympathized with all the vehemence of her sisterly affection, and could hardly believe her aunts, who told her that things must have changed in a wonderful manner since the time of Angela's experiences, for she had been very happy in the same place, and made no complaints.

Emilia had written to her cousin Marilda to express her willingness to return so soon as the Travis Underwoods should come home, and in the meantime she remained at Vale Leston, not showing quite as much tolerance as might be expected of the somewhat narrow way of life of her sisters. She did not like being a lodger, as it were, in Sophy's bedroom; she found fault with the parlour-maid's waiting, complained of the noise of the practising of the three little sisters, and altogether reminded Geraldine of Alda in penance at home.

Major Harewood was detained longer than he expected, for on arriving at Genoa he found that Menotti had migrated, and had to follow him to his villa on the Apennines, where, in the first place, he had to overcome the old man's suspicions that he was come to recover Benista's means on behalf of his family, and then at last was assured that the man had been dead long before 1870. Still John Harewood thought it well to obtain positive evidence, and pursued the quest to Innspruck, where Menotti averred that the man had been left by his companions dying in the care of some Sisters of Charity.

So it proved. At Innspruck, the record of the burial of Giovanni Benista, a native of Piedmont, was at length produced, dated the 12th of February, 1868, happily and incontestably before Zoraya's marriage to Edgar Underwood!

John Harewood made haste to telegraph the tidings to Vale Leston and to Jonesville, and came home exultant, having dispelled the cloud that had brooded over the family for nearly a year, and given them freely to enjoy the wedding.

Would they do so the more or the less for Emilia's announcement that she had a letter from Mr. Ferdinand Brown, eldest son of Sir Ferdinand's partner, offering her marriage, and that she had accepted him? He was, of course, a rich man, but oh! how Emily, Annie, and Gerald had been wont to make fun of him, and his parents.

"But, my dear Nan," said she, "I shall be able to do much more good in that way."

"Oh!"

"And really I cannot go back to those intolerable backgammon evenings at Kensington Palace Gardens."



CHAPTER XXXIII. A MISSIONARY WEDDING



Till the smooth temper of my age might be Like the high leaves upon the holly tree.-SOUTHEY.

The neighbourhood said that nothing was ever done at Vale Leston according to the conventionalities, and the Devereux wedding was an instance.

Lancelot had brought word that Bishop Norman May had actually arrived from New Zealand for a half-year's visit, bringing with him the younger missionary Leonard Ward, and that Dr. May's happiness was unspeakable. "A renewed youth, if he needed to have it renewed."

Clement and William Harewood went over to see them, and returned greatly impressed, and resolved on convoking the neighbourhood to be stirred in the cause of the Pacific islands. At the same time, one of the many letters from Lady Rotherwood about arrangements ended with-"My husband hopes you will be able to arrange for us to be introduced to your connections of the May family, the Bishop, Mr. Ward, and the good old doctor of whom we have heard so much."

"We must invite them all to the wedding," said Mrs. Harewood, who, as still inhabiting the Priory, would be the hostess.

"Certainly," returned William Harewood, "but I don't think Mr. Ward would come. He looks like an ancient hermit."

"The best way," said Mrs. Grinstead, "would be to finish up the wedding-day with a missionary garden-party."

"Geraldine!" said Lady Vanderkist from her sofa, in feeble accents of dismay; but Mrs. William Harewood hardly heard, and did not notice.

"It would be the most admirable plan. It would give people something to do, and make a reason for having ever so many more."

"Baits cleverly disposed," said William. "The S.P.G. to attract Ward, Ward to attract the Marquis, and the Marquis to attract the herd."

"Everybody throngs to the extremest outskirts of a wedding," said Geraldine.

"They may have the presents on view in the long room," said Wilmet.

"Provided they don't have the list of them printed," said Geraldine. "Lance won't put them into the 'Pursuivant'; it is disgusting!"

"So I have always thought," said Robina; "but you hardly make allowances for the old ladies who love to spell them out."

"The Marquis of Rotherwood-a gold-topped dressing-case; Miss Keren Happuch Tripp-a pincushion," said Geraldine. "It is the idlest gossip, and should not be encouraged."

"And," added Robina, "as we go out through the cloister there will happily be no rice. Will has stopped it in the churchyard."

"And fortunately we have no school-boys to reckon with, except Adrian and Fely, who will be quite amenable."

For Kester Harewood was in India, and Edward on the Mediterranean; Adrian was at home, doing credit to Miss Mohun, and so vehemently collecting stamps, that he was said to wish to banish all his friends to the most remote corners of the earth to send them home.

Francie's elder sisters declined being bridesmaids, so that Phyllis and Mysie were the chief, and the three young sisters, Wilmet, Alda, and Joan, with two little Underwoods and two small Harewoods, all in white frocks and sashes, were to attend and make a half-circle round the bride.

All took effect as had been purposed, each party being equally desirous that it should be truly a Christian wedding, such as might be a fit emblem of the great Marriage Feast, and bring a blessing- joyous and happy, yet avoiding the empty pomp and foolish mirth that might destroy the higher thoughts.

How beautiful Vale Leston church looked, decked with white roses, lilies, and myrtle! The bride, tall and stately in her flowing veil and glistening satin train, had her own sweet individuality, not too closely recalling the former little bride. She came on her uncle Clement's arm, as most nearly representing a father to her, and the marriage blessing was given by the majestic-looking Bishop, with the two chief local clergy, Mr. William Harewood and Mr. Charles Audley, taking part of the service. It was a beautiful and impressive scene, and there was a great peace on all. It was good to see the intense bliss on Ivinghoe's face as he led his bride down the aisle, and along the cloister; and as they came into the drawing-room, after she had received an earnest kiss, and "my pretty one" from his father, it was to Dr. May that he first led her. Dr. May, his figure still erect, his face bright and cheery, his brow entirely bare, and his soft white locks flowing over his collar. He held out his hands, "Ah, young things! You are come for the old man's blessing! Truly you have it, my lady fair. You are fair indeed, as fair within as without. You have a great deal in the power of those little hands, and you-oh yes, both of you, believe, that a true, faithful, loving, elevating wife is the blessing of all one's days, whether it be only for a few years, or, as I trust and pray it may be with you, for a long-long, good, and prosperous life together."

The two young things bent their heads, and he blessed them with his blessing of eighty years. Lord Rotherwood's eyes were full of tears, as he said in a choked voice-

"Thank you, sir," while Franceska murmured to Mysie-

"I do like that he should have been the first to call me 'my lady.'"

The luncheon included only the two families, and the actual assistants at the wedding, and it was really very merry. Lady Rotherwood did inspire a little awe, but then Alda, sitting near, knew exactly how to talk to her, and Alda, who, like Geraldine, had dressed herself in soft greys and whites, with her delicate cheeks flushed with pleasure and triumph, looked as beautiful as ever, and far outshone her twin, whose complexion and figure both had become those of the portly housewife.

Meta, otherwise Mrs. Norman May, had eyes as bright and lively as ever, though face and form had both grown smaller, and she was more like a fairy godmother than the Titania she had been in times of old. She had got into the middle of all the varieties of children, dragged thither by Gertrude's Pearl and Audrey, and was making them happy.

Ethel and Geraldine never could come to the end of what they had to say to one another, except that Ethel could but be delighted to make her friend know the brother of her early youth; and show her the grave, earnest-looking man who had suffered so much, and whose hair was as white as the doctor's, his face showing the sunburn of the tropics; and the crow's-feet round his eyes, the sailor's habit of searching gaze. He did not speak much, but watched the merry young groups as if they were a sort of comedy in his eyes.

They were very merry, especially when the doctor had proposed the health of the bride, and her brother, Sir Adrian, was called on to return thanks for her.

"Gentlemen and ladies," he said, "no, I mean ladies and gentlemen, I am very much obliged to you all for the honour you have done my sister. I can tell Lord Ivinghoe she is a very good girl, and very nice, and all that, when she is not cocky, and doesn't try to keep one in order."

The speech was drowned in laughter, and calls to Ivinghoe to mind what he was about, and beware of the "new woman."

So the young couple were seen off to spend their honeymoon in Scotland, and the rest of the party could pair off to enjoy their respective friends, except that Mary and Sophy had to exhibit the wedding presents to all and sundry of the visitors of all degrees who began to flock in.

Seats were ranged on the lawn, and when every one had had time to wonder at everything, from Lady Rotherwood's set of emeralds, down to the choirboys' carved bracket, the house-bell was rung, and all had to take their places on the lawn, fairly shaded by house, cloister, and cedar tree, and facing the conservatory, whose steps, with the terrace, formed a kind of platform. It is not needful to go through all, or how John Harewood, as host, explained that they had thought that it would be well to allow their guests to have the advantage of hearing their distinguished visitors tell of their experiences. And so they did, the Bishop pleading the cause of missions with his wonderful native eloquence, as he stood by the chair where his father sat listening to him, as to a strain of sweet music long out of reach. Then Leonard Ward simply and bluntly told facts about the Pacific islands and islanders, that set hearts throbbing, and impelled more than one young heart to long to tread in the like course.

Then Lord Rotherwood thanked and bungled as usual, so that Gustave Tanneguy would have a hard matter to reduce what he called the "aristocratic tongue" to plain English, or rather reporter's English. The listeners were refreshed with tea, coffee, and lemonade, and there was a final service in the church, which many gladly attended, and thus ended what had been a true holiday.



CHAPTER XXXIV. RIGHTED



Perhaps the cup was broken here, That Heaven's new wine might show more clear. E. B. BROWNING.

"No. 14, Huron St., Jonesville, Ohio, "July 19.

"MY DEAR MADAM,

"You were so kind as to tell me to write to your ladyship if we were in any difficulty or distress, and I have often longed to do so, but my brother always said that we had no right to trespass on your goodness. Now, however, things are at such a pass that I think you will hear of us with true compassion. I do not know whether he told you that we met my poor mother on board a steamer upon this lake. Her husband had been drowned in a wreck while crossing, and she was reduced to great poverty, and had also, from exposure, contracted disease of the lungs, which, the doctor said, must terminate fatally in a few months. My brother took charge of her, and has supported us ever since, now four months, by working at the editorship of the Lacustrian Intelligencer, with such small assistance as I could give by music lessons. It involved severe labour at desk work and late hours, and his health has latterly given way, his back and lower limbs being gradually affected, and last Monday even his hands proved helpless. My poor mother broke another blood-vessel on Sunday, and died ten minutes later. My brother desired me to sell his dear violin and his watch to pay the funeral expenses, but after that I know not what we can do, as he is quite helpless, and can hardly be left even for the sake of my small earnings. Dear Lady Travis Underwood, pray help us, as I know you and Sir Ferdinand love my poor dear generous brother, and will not think him ungrateful for having declined your kindness while he could support himself and us. No doubt we shall get help from England, but not for some time, so I dare to ask you.

"I remain, your humble servant, "LUDMILLA.

"P.S.-Everybody knows him as Jerry Wood. We are at Mr. MacMahon's, 14 Huron Street."

This sad letter, in Lida's neat pupil-teacher's hand, came enclosed within a longer letter from Marilda.

"Grand National Hotel, Jonesville. "July 23rd.

"MY DEAR GERALDINE,

"You will believe that this letter from poor Lydia made Fernan telegraph at once to her, and hurry off as soon as we could reach the train. We found things quite as bad or worse than we expected. The poor children were living in two rooms in a wretched little house of an Irish collier, who with his wife happily has been very kind to them, and says that nothing could surpass their goodness to that poor mother of theirs, who, she tells me, 'made a real Christian end' at last. I am sure she had need to do so.

"The burial was happily over, conducted by the French priest, as the woman was a Roman Catholic to the last. Gerald was sitting up by the window, so changed that we should not have known him, except for the wonderful likeness to Felix that has come upon him. It seems that he had not only all the writing of that horrid paper to do, but all the compositor's work, or whatever you call it. The people put upon him when they saw how well he could do it, and he could not refuse because his mother needed comforts, and he durst not get thrown out of employment. He went on, first with aching back, then his legs got stiff and staggering, but still he went on, and now it has gone into his hands; he cannot hold a pen, and can hardly lift a tea-cup. But he is so cheerful, almost merry. The doctor says it is a paralytic affection, and that overwork has developed the former disease from the old injury to the spine, which seemed to have passed off, and there is intermittent fever about him too, a not uncommon thing in these low-lying lake districts. We have moved him to this Grand National Hotel, a big, half-inhabited place, but better than the MacMahons' house, though the good woman cried over him and Lydia at their farewells, and said she never should see such a young gentleman and lady again with hearts so like ould Ireland. She would hardly take the money that Fernan offered her; she said they had brought a blessing on her house with their tender, loving ways.

"Fernan is gone to Milwaukee to get further advice and more comforts for Gerald, and we mean, as soon as he can be moved, to take him home with us, since the air of the Rockies will revive him if anything will. This place is fearfully hot and oppressive; the bay seems to shut out air from Lake Erie, and I cannot bear to think what that poor boy must have gone through in that close little den, with the printing-press humming and stamping away close to him; but he says it is his native element, and that when he is better he must go to Fiddler's Ranch. He sends his love, and fears that you have missed his letters, but he could hardly write them, and thought Lydia might alarm you. He is a very dear boy, and I do hope we make him comfortable; he is so thankful for the little we can do for him, and so patient. He tells me to give special love to Francie, and say he is glad that Mona's game of chess was played out with a good substitute for Ferdinand. These are his words, which no doubt she will understand. We think of moving next week, but much depends on the doctor's verdict. My love too to the dear Francie; she will be a great lady, quite beyond our sphere. Perhaps she may be able to give Emily some amusements, though I fear they will only make her more discontented with our humdrum ways. I never thought hospital work would suit her. Gerald says there is nothing like trying one's theories, and that having to exaggerate his own has made him sick of a good deal of them, though not of all. Poor dear boy, I hope he will live to show the benefits he says he has derived from this sad time. It shall not be for want of anything we can do. He is as near our hearts as ever his dear father was, and Lydia is a dear little girl.

"Your ever affectionate cousin, "MARY ALDA TRAVIS UNDERWOOD."

It was a great shock, though mitigated by hearing that Gerald was in such hands as those of his first friend, and kind Marilda; but there was great surprise at no notice being taken of the tidings that secured Gerald's position. John Harewood had telegraphed them, but it only now fully broke on him that he ought to have sent them to Jerry Wood instead of Gerald Underwood, so that Italian telegrams were not to blame.

On one thing Clement ventured, being nearly certain that the reaction of Gerald's mind would not include the preventing of all Penbeacon works. He encouraged young Bramshaw to set about the plans so as to make the washings as innocuous as possible, being persuaded that this was the only way to prevent more obnoxious erections on ground just beyond. Moreover, this gave the lovers hope, and Alda had, under Clement's persuasion and rebukes, withdrawn her opposition to the engagement, so that Sophy was free to wander about Penbeacon with her Philip, and help to set up his theodolite, and hold the end of his measuring-tape.

Her mother could not well stand out on the score of unequal birth, when Mr. Ferdinand Brown, whose father had swept out the office, came down and was accepted with calm civility, it could not be called delight, even by Emilia.

But he was a worthy young man, and well educated, and it was for his sake that Clement and Geraldine had stayed on at the Priory, giving the Harewoods and their curates holidays in turn; though even this amount of work was enough to leave with Clement a dread conviction that his full share of St. Matthew's would be fatal to him, insomuch that he had written to the patron, the Bishop of Albertstown, seriously to propose resignation.

Fresh letters arrived from America, the first slightly more cheery, but the next was dated from Violinia, to the general surprise, and it was very short, from Sir Ferdinand.

"DEAR CLEMENT,

"We have the telegram, a relief to the poor lad's mind, but he has not spoken much since. It came just as we were starting in an invalid Pullman, fitted with every comfort; but the jars of these lines are unavoidable and unspeakable, and he suffered so terribly, as well as so patiently, that we had to give up our intention of taking him to Underwood. The one thing he begged for was that we would take him to Fiddler's Ranch. You know there is a mission- station here, so we have him in the clergyman's house, and the place is so advanced that he has every comfort. But I doubt whether the dear boy will ever move again. He is perfectly helpless, but his brain quite clear, and his spirits good.

"Ever yours, "F. A. TRAVIS UNDERWOOD."

There followed a long letter, dictated by Gerald himself, and partly written by Lida, partly by Marilda, at several different times.

"DEAREST, MOST DEAREST CHERIE, AND ALL-

"I should like to be able to sign my name to my thanks to all, if only to feel that I have a name, and one so honoured, but these fingers of mine will not obey me, so you must take the will for the deed, and believe that you have made me very happy, and completed all I could wish. I fear you never will believe how jolly it is to lie here, the pain all gone, since having done with that terrific train, and the three tenderest, most watchful of slaves always round me, while my Cherie is spared the sight of the wreck.-(L.)

"You know that good old Fernan established a missionary station here, building a church, and getting the ground consecrated where my father lies. I can just see the top of the cross, and there he promises that I shall lie. You will be able to put my name in the cloister under my father's, as no impostor.

"Don't grieve, my Cherie, it is best as it is; my brains were full of more notions than you ever quite guessed, and of which I have seen the seamy side out here, though there is much that I should feel bound to work out, and that might have grieved you. I was not tough enough for the discipline that was needed to strike the balance. (He is thinking aloud, dear fellow.-M. A.) I am afraid I have often vexed you in my crudeness and conceit, but I know you forgive. I am very thankful for this year, and for the way in which my poor mother was given into my hands at last. Fernan has helped me to make a short will, to save confusion and difficulty.

I have left everything to Clement, knowing that you and he will provide for all. Fernan and Marilda will care for Lida. (That we will.-M. A.) I cannot leave her to be a tax on Vale Leston. Give my books and MSS. to Dolores, and please be kind to her. My violin, which Fernan redeemed for me, the eponym (How do you spell it?-M. A.), by the way, of this place, my father's own fiddle, give to Lance for his pretty Ariel; Anna, my good sister, should have my music, which will be a memory of happy evenings. Emmie may like the portfolio of drawings that I made for the mission-house; dear old Sibby the photograph in my room of the 'Ecce Homo.' I have it in my eye now.-(M. A.)

"Everything is such a comfort, Fernan and Marilda are the best of nurses and helpers, and I mourn for the folly that chaffed about them and boredom. Tell Emmie so. Fernan has made this place a little oasis round my father's grave, and his parson, who has a mission among the remains of the Sioux, is with me every other day, and does all that Clement could desire for me. So do-do believe that it is all for the best, dear people.-(L.)

"One thing good is, that I shall not bring any bad blood into the Underwood inheritance. By the bye, tell them-(Continued by Marilda) Mr. Gracchus Van — suddenly arrived here, greatly shocked at Gerald's state, and actually wanting to marry Lydia on the spot- which of course she declined. But Fernan was pleased with him, and he told him he had never met any one to hold a candle to 'Jerry Wood,' so 'smart' and 'chipper,' as he saw at first, and then cheerful, good-humoured, and kindly, whatever happened. None of your Britisher's airs, but ready to make the best of any fixings. I don't think dear Gerald meant me to tell all this, but think of the difference from the fastidious fine gentleman he used to be! He is dozing now, I fear he is getting weaker; but he is ever so sweet and good, and I quite long to beg his pardon for having called him your spoilt boy. Mr. Fraser, the clergyman here, is very much struck with him, and Fernan remembers the time when he baptized him as he lay unconscious. Dear Cherry, it will grieve you, but I think there will be comfort in the grief.

"Your affectionate cousin, "M. A. T. U."

There were long letters to Dolores, dictated to Lida-all in the same spirit. One of them said, "Go bravely on, my Dolores; though we do not live together in our bicycle-roving castles. You will do good work if you uphold the glory of God and the improvement of man, all through creation and science. I should like to talk it over with you. Things are plainer to me than in the days of my inexperience and cocksureness. Short as the time was, in months, it showed me much more, especially my own inefficiency to deal with the great problems of these times, perhaps of all times. Remember this, but go on-if we do but put grains of sand into the great Edifice."

More was written, but these were the most memorable extracts, before the letter that told that something like a fresh stroke had come, and taken away the power of distinct speech, then that the throat had failed, and there was only one foreboding more to be told, and soon realized. The young ardent spirit, trained by so short a discipline, had passed away in peace. And they laid him beside his father, whose better spirit he had unconsciously evoked, and whom he had loved so deeply. The doctors said that the real cause of his death had been the Indian bullet, inflicting injury on the spine, which the elasticity of youth had for the time overcome, but which manifested itself again under overstrain. Ferdinand, when he awoke the child back to life, had given him years not spent in vain for himself or for others.

It would have been utter desolation to the little sister save for the motherly tenderness of Marilda, who took her to the home in the Rocky Mountains, and would fain have adopted her, but that Lida, acting perhaps on advice from her brother, only begged to be so educated as to fit her to be independent, and to be given a start in life. It would be shown in a year or two whether her vocation should be musical or scholastic.

Gerald had his meed of tears at home, but not bitter ones. Nay, those that had the most quality of bitterness were Emilia's, shed in secret lest interpretations should be put on those that had the quality of remorse, as she recollected the high aspirations that had ended so differently in the two cousins.

Dolores dried hers, to feel a consecration on her studies and her labours as she grew forward to the fulfilment of her purpose of being a leading woman in the instruction and formation of young minds, working all the better for the inspiriting words and example, and the more gently and sympathizingly for the love that was laid up in her heart.

She and his "Cherie" came to have a great affection and understanding of each other, and discussed what Dolores called "ethics" with warm interest, the elder lady bringing the old and sacred lights to bear on the newer theories.

Clement was the undoubted owner of Vale Leston, and the John Harewoods had decided on leaving the Priory. Just at the same time, when the acceptance of Clement's resignation of St. Matthew's had arrived, William Harewood was offered a canonry at Minsterham, with the headship of the theological college. The canonry had been the summit of his ambition when a boy, and there was no one fitter than he for the care of a theological college. He was pre-eminently a scholar, and his fifteen years of parish experience made good preparation for training young clergy.

So Clement could decide on presenting himself to the living of Vale Leston, with a staff of curates, and Geraldine to be his home sister, making the Priory a resting-place for overworked people, whether clergy, governesses, or poor, or mission-folk at home. It was a trust to be kept for Lancelot and his boy, who would make the summer home of the family there, to Dr. May's great content. It was a peaceful home, and to every one's surprise, Alda decided to remain at hand, chiefly to keep her boy under his uncle's influence, which thus far was keeping him well in hand, and as he would go to a public school with little Felix, might be prolonged.

It was a comfort and encouragement to feel that hereditary dangers and temperament could be subdued and conquered in Gerald; and if the sins of parents had their consequence in the children, the scourge might become a palm. When the commemorative brass in the cloister was to be put up, Geraldine said-

"I should like to put 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece that was lost.'"

"He never was lost."

"Oh no, no, my dear boy. But his work was so like the finding the stained, tarnished piece of silver, cast aside, defaced, dust-marked, and by simple duty and affection bringing her back."

"I see! Let us have the inscription in Greek. Then none can apply it to himself! It was a wonderful work, and it is strange that having fulfilled it, he who brought the child from his father's arms should lay him to his rest beside his father."

THE END

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