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The Two Guardians
by Charlotte Mary Yonge
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The book was spread upon the table, and the expressions of horror from the three ladies of the school-room were as strong as could reasonably be expected.

"Indeed," pleaded Miss Morley, in her deplorable tone, "I am continually ordering Sir Gerald not to scribble in books, but he never will obey."

"That is not true!" cried Gerald, in a loud, startling voice.

"Gerald," said Mrs. Lyddell, "that is no proper manner of speaking; you have behaved very ill already—do not add to your fault. Before any more is said, beg Miss Morley's pardon."

There was a silence, and she repeated, "I desire that you will ask Miss Morley's pardon directly—still silent? what is the meaning of this?"

Gerald stood bolt upright, and very rigid; poor Marian glancing appealingly, first at him, then at Mrs. Lyddell, then at Miss Morley, all equally without effect. She saw it all—that he might have been brought to own that be had done wrong about this individual case; but that the sweeping accusation of disobeying orders, which, as they all knew, were never given with anything like decision, had roused a proud, determined sense of injustice, and that he was ready to suffer anything rather than apologise. She was wild to speak, to do something; yet what could she attempt?

Mrs. Lyddell would not begin upon the book-scribbling subject till she had conquered the spirit of defiance, and continued to insist on his begging Miss Morley's pardon; but the more she ordered, the more determined he grew. There he stood, his proud, dark eye fixed on a picture on the wall, his lip curled with a sort of disdain, and an expression in his whole motionless figure that, had his cause but been good, would have been resolution, whereas it now was only indomitable self-will and pride.

At any rate, it was an expression that showed that he was not to be conquered by woman, though he might have been won over by her: and Mrs. Lyddell had tact enough to give up the battle without owning herself defeated, and without further discussion said, "Go to your own room, Gerald; I shall give you time to reflect and get the better of your obstinacy. You may come here again when you are ready to ask Miss Morley to forgive you for your very improper conduct towards her."

Without turning to the right or left,—without one look towards his sister, Gerald walked out of the room, and even shut the door after him gently. Poor Marian, who could guess all that she felt?

"This is very extraordinary," said Mrs. Lyddell, "so well-behaved a boy as he is in general."

"Ah! boys of his age always get quite beyond ladies' management," said Miss Morley.

"Such determined obstinacy!" said Mrs. Lyddell.

"Perhaps he did not understand you," said Marian, unable to keep from saying something, though she could not in her agitation think of anything to the purpose.

"Understand? that is nonsense, Marian. What was there to understand? He spoke very improperly, find I desire him to apologise; and if he is obstinate, it is very wrong of you to defend him."

Marian was silenced, though her heart was swelling and her temples throbbing. In another minute Mrs. Lyddell was summoned to some more company, and Marian had nothing worse to hear than her companions' commiseration for the book, and declarations that India rubber would do it no good.

The afternoon passed away, and nothing was heard of Gerald: indeed, Marian understood him well enough to expect that nothing would be heard. As she was on her way to her own room, looking wistfully at his door, Lionel overtook her; and thumping her hard on the back, exclaimed, "Isn't it a jolly beast, Marian?"

"O, Lionel, it was very naughty of you. How could you make Gerald behave so ill?"

"Never mind, Marian, he will get out of it soon enough. Come, don't be savage; we did it all for your good."

"My good! how can you talk such nonsense?"

"Why, I'll bet you anything you like, that mamma will never be for having the little beastie down to show the company."

Marian half smiled; it was pleasant to find that, towards her at least, the boys' intention had been anything but unkind, but still she hardly knew how to be placable with Lionel when he had led her brother into mischief, and then left him to bear all the blame.

"It was very wrong," she repeated.

"Come, don't be cross, Marian. You don't mean that you really cared for that trumpery picture?"

"I did not care for it so much," said she, "but it was a valuable book, and it was very kind of your papa to give it to me, so I was sorry to have it spoilt."

"Won't it rub out?" said Lionel.

"No, of course not."

"I thought pencil always did."

"And then, Lionel, why could you not have thought what disgrace you were leading Gerald into?"

"You don't think, Marian, I was going to be shabby enough to leave Gerald alone in the scrape? No, if I do, I'll give you leave to tell of me or do whatever you please; but you see now he is not in disgrace for drawing that pretty little beast, but for giving poor unfortunate a bit of his mind, so what use would there be in my putting my neck into the noose before my time? No, if Gerald is the fellow I take him for, and stands out about begging her pardon, the whole business of the book will blow over, and we shall hear no more of it."

Marian shook her head. "O, Lionel, if you would only think whether a thing is right before you do it!"

"How can you wish me to be so stupid, Marian?"

"I am sure, Lionel, the funniest, merriest people that I know, think most about what is right."

"Well, that may do in Devonshire perhaps," said Lionel, stretching himself, "but it won't here except with you. Indeed there is nobody else that I know of that does make such a fuss about right and wrong, except Walter, and he hasn't got an atom of fun to bless himself with."

"But, Lionel, what good will all the fun in the world do us when we come to die?" said Marian, whispering.

The boy looked full at her, but would not show that he felt any force in her words. "I don't mean to die just yet," he said, and by way of escaping from the subject he mounted on the balusters, and was sliding down as he had often done before, when by some hitch or some slip he lost his balance, and slid down without the power to stop himself. Marian thought him gone, and with suspended breath stood, in an agony of horror, listening for his fall on the stones of the hall far beneath; but the next moment she saw that he had been stopped by the turn of the staircase, and the instinct of self-preservation had made him cling fast to the rail with both hands, though he was unable to recover his footing on the narrow ledge of the steps beyond it. She did not scream or call, she ran down to the landing place—how she did it she knew not—but she threw her arms round him and succeeded in lifting and dragging him over the rail, which was not very high, till he stood on the safe side of the balusters, Her heart beat, her head swam, and she was obliged to sit down on the step and pant for breath; Lionel leant against the wall, for his nerve was not restored for a moment or two, after his really frightful peril. Not a word was spoken, and perhaps it was better that none should pass between them. Mr. Lyddell's step was heard ascending, and they both hurried away as fast as they could.

No one was told of the adventure, it was not Marian's part to speak of it, if indeed she could have done so, and it did not appear that Lionel chose to mention it. Perhaps it was that he did not like to enter upon it seriously, and it had been too much of an answer to his light speech to be made a laughing matter. At any rate he was silent, and Marian was very glad of it.

Mr. Lyddell was coming up to visit the prisoner and try if he could bring him to reason, but it soon transpired that all his attempts had been in vain, even though he came to a threat that unless Gerald made his submission before the next day was at an end, he should be sent to school with Lionel at the end of another fortnight.

Marian's distress increased, she was equally wretched at her brother's increasing misbehaviour and at its punishment, It was provoking to see Johnny walking about in all the grandeur and self-consequence of being quite out of the scrape, and evidently rejoicing that Gerald was in it; it was provoking to hear Miss Morley and the girls wondering, even Saunders' pity was provoking, and there was nothing that gave her the least comfort but the perception that Lionel was certainly graver and more subdued.

She was allowed to go to her brother for a little while that evening, with some hope that she might prevail with him. She found him leaning against the window in the failing light, listlessly watching the horses and grooms in the mews, which his high window overlooked. He turned his head as she came in, but without speaking, and then looked back at the window, till she came up to him, put her arm round his neck and turned his face towards her. It was a sullen, dogged countenance, such as she had seldom or never seen him wear before.

"Gerald, dear Gerald, what is the meaning of this? You never used to behave so?"

"I never was served so before," muttered he.

"You have drawn it on yourself. Why will you not submit and ask her pardon?"

"What should I ask pardon for? I said nothing but the truth."

"How can you say so. Gerald? Did you not know that you ought not to scribble in books? Can you say that Miss Morley has not often spoken to you about the Atlas?"

"If you call 'O Sir Gerald!' and 'O you sad boy,' desiring me in a rational way, I don't," said Gerald, imitating the tones, "laughing and letting me go on; I thought she liked it."

"Now seriously, Gerald."

"Well, I mean that she did not care. If people tell me a thing they should make me mind them."

"You should mind without being made, Gerald.

"I would if I thought them in earnest. But now, Marian, was it not a horrid shame of her to speak just as if I had been always disobeying her on purpose, making Mrs. Lyddell go into a rage with me for what was entirely her own fault?"

"No, no, Gerald, you cannot say it was her fault that you spoilt the picture."

"I think she ought to beg my pardon for telling such stories about me," repeated Gerald sullenly.

"Recollect yourself, Gerald, you know she meant that she had put you in mind that you ought not; and don't you think that, true or not, your speech was very rude?"

"If I was to beg her pardon it would mean that she spoke the truth, which she did not, for she never took any pains to prevent me from drawing in the map-book, or any where else."

"It would not mean any such thing if you were to say, 'Miss Morley, I misunderstood you, and I am sorry I was so rude.' I am sure you must be sorry for that, for it was not at all like a gentleman. Will you come and say so?"

"You're like the rest," mumbled Gerald, turning his back upon her, and sitting like a stock.

"Don't you think it would be the best way? Would it not make you happier? O what is the use of being obstinate and disobedient? Think of going to school in disgrace. O! Gerald, Gerald, what is to be done?"

Still she spoke with earnest pauses and anxious looks, but without the least effect, and at last she said, "Well, Gerald, I must go, and very much grieved I am. How would dear mamma like to see her little boy going on in this way?"

She went to the door and looked back again there, and beheld Gerald, with his hands over his face, striving to suppress a burst of sobbing. She sprung to him, and would have thrown her arms round his neck, but he pushed her off roughly, and with strong effort, drove back the tears, and put on an iron face again. Again she entreated, but he would not open his lips or give the least sign of listening, or of attending to any persuasion, and she was obliged to leave him at last without hope of subduing his obstinacy. How far he was now from being the gentle, good child that he once had been! and by whose fault was it? Her spirit burned with indignation against those who, as she thought, had worked the change, and O! where was the influence from which Edmund hoped so much?

The next day was long and miserable, for Gerald gave no sign of yielding, but remained shut up in his room, maintaining an absolute silence, when, at different times, Mrs. Lyddell went to visit him, and assure him that Mr. Lyddell was fixed in his determination to send him to school if he did not yield before the time of grace was up.

The time of grace was at an end the next morning, and at nine o'clock, Gerald was summoned to the dining-room, where Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell were at breakfast. He wanted to carry it off with a high hand, but his long day of solitude had dulled him, and he looked pale and weary.

"Gerald," said Mrs. Lyddell, "I am sorry you have so persisted in your misbehaviour to oblige us to punish you, as we threatened to do. Are you now willing to own that you did wrong?"

"I ought not to have spoilt the book," said Gerald boldly, "and I was rude to Miss Morley."

"There is a brave boy," said Mr. Lyddell, very much relieved. "Well, Gerald, I am glad you have given, in at last; I hate obstinacy, as I told you yesterday, but that is over, and we will say no more about it; only you know we told you that you should be sent to school, and we must keep our word."

"Yes," said Gerald, trying not to let a muscle of his face relax; though now the die was cast, his consternation at the thought of school was considerable.

"Well, you may go," said Mr. Lyddell, "and remember that obstinacy must be got out of a boy some way or other."

Gerald went, and soon entered the schoolroom, where he walked up to Miss Morley, saying, "I am sorry I was rude to you the day before yesterday."

"Ah! Sir Gerald, I was sure your better sense—your generous spirit—but I hope your submission—I hope Mr. Lyddell forgives—overlooks—"

"I am to go to school when Lionel does, if that is what you mean," replied Gerald, and then he came up to his sister, and looked earnestly, yet with an inquiring shyness into her face. Marian might have been hopeful, for his manner showed that it was for her opinion that he really cared; but she was sad and unhappy at seeing his pride still so far from being subdued, and though her heart yearned towards him, she shook her head and looked coldly away from him to her book.

Gerald was chilled and went back to Lionel, who had plenty of ready sympathy for him; a story half caught from his mamma's report, half guessed at, that the old lady had looked full at the beast's curly tail, and had said she had never seen anything so like Lady Marchmont; the assertion of his own certainty that Gerald would never give in nor own that poor unfortunate had spoken the truth, and Gerald felt triumphant, as if his self-will had been something heroic, and his imprisonment and going to school a martyrdom. It did not last, Gerald's nature was gentle and retiring; he dreaded strangers, and his heart sank when he thought of school. He wanted his sister to comfort him, but he would soon be out of her reach. No Marian—all boys—all strange, and there was no help for it now. Gerald rested his forehead against the window and gulped down rising tears. But when he found himself on the point of being left alone with Marian, his pride rose, and he would not confess that he had been wrong or that he was unhappy, so he ran down stairs to find the other boys and to get out of her way.

So it went on, Marian was very unhappy at this loss of his confidence; but the more she attempted to talk to him, the more he avoided her, being resolved not to show how great his dislike and dread of school was.

"Gerald," said Lionel, the last day before they were to go, "I have been thinking I should like to give Marian something instead of that book."

"So should I," said Gerald, delighted with the idea, for he was feeling all the time that he was vexing his sister, and wishing to do something by way of compensation.

"I did not mean you," said Lionel, "for it——for you would never have been sharp enough to think of the beast for yourself. I only told you because you could tell me what she would like best. Papa has just given me a sovereign."

"He has given me another," said Gerald, "and we will put them together, and do it handsomely."

"Well, what shall it be? Not that stupid book over again."

"O no, no, she has had enough of that already, and there are plenty of other books that she wants."

"No, don't let it be a book," said Lionel; "I can't think how anybody can like reading, when they can help it."

"Well, I do like some reading, when it is a shipwreck, or a famous bloody battle," said Gerald.

"Yes, but then it makes one's eyes ache so."

"It does not mine."

"Well, if I go on long it always makes mine ache," said Lionel. "And don't the letters look green and dance about, when you read by candle light?"

"No," said Gerald. "How funny that is, Lionel. But I'll tell you what, we will get Walter to take us out, and we shall be sure to see something famous, in some shop-window or other."

Walter was at home for the Easter vacation, and under his protection the boys were allowed to go out. Very patient he was, and wisely did he give his counsel in the important choice which, if left to the boys themselves, might probably have been really something famous. Marian would have been grateful to him, had she known all that he averted from her, a stuffed fox, an immense pebble brooch, a pair of slippers covered with sportive demons. At every shop which furnished guns, knives, or fishing tackle, they stopped and lamented that she was not a boy, there was nothing in the world fit for girls; they tried a bazaar, and pronounced everything trumpery, and Walter was beginning to get into despair, when at last Lionel came to a stop before a print shop, calling out, "Hollo, Gerald, here's Beauty and the Beast itself!"

It was the beautiful engraving from Raphael's picture of

Saint Margaret in meekness treading Upon the dragon 'neath her spreading.

And Walter, rejoicing that their choice was likely to fall on anything which a young lady might be so glad to possess, conducted them into the shop, and gave all the desired assistance in effecting the purchase. It was a fine impression, and the price was so high as to leave the boys' finances at rather a low ebb; but Walter, in his secret soul, thought this by no means to be regretted, since it was much better for them that it should be generously spent at once in this manner, than that it should be frittered away in the unaccountable and vain manner in which he had usually seen schoolboys' money wasted.

So S. Margaret was bought and rolled up, and so afraid were the boys that she should not be rightly sent home, that they insisted on carrying her themselves, and almost quarrelled as to which should have the first turn.

Marian, on coming into her room, found both the boys on the top of the chest of drawers, trying to pin the print up against the wall, and though her arrival caused them some discomfiture, it was on the whole a fortunate circumstance, since it saved the corners from extensive damage.

"O Lionel! O Gerald! how beautiful! how very nice! What a lovely face! Is it really for me? How I do thank you, but I am afraid you have spent all your money."

"It is a better Beauty and the Beast than the old one," said Gerald, "Isn't it, Marian?"

"A better beauty, but not a better beast," said Lionel.

"It is very beautiful indeed," said Marian; "I shall get a frame for it, and it will always put me in mind of you both."

"Yes, you will always think of me when you look at the beauty," said Lionel, "and of Gerald when you look at the beast."

"S. Margaret and the dragon! I wish I knew the story," said Marian; "but I suppose it is an allegory like that of S. George. How good and innocent she looks! Yes, see, Gerald, she is walking pure and white through the park forest, and conquering the dragon. You see the palm in the hand for victory. So innocent and so fearless."

"I thought it would be one of those funny Roman Catholic stories, like what Caroline was reading one day," said Lionel.

"I don't like making fun of those," said Marian. "They often mean a great deal, if you don't laugh at them, and tell them properly. I am sure this print is to put us in mind of how we are to overcome temptation, and I do like it very much. Thank you both."

Lionel was here called away, but Gerald remained, and proceeded to a more minute examination of the beauties of the print, of which he was very proud.

"O, Gerald, dear, if we could be like it," said Marian.

"Like it? That you'll never be, Marian; your hair is too black."

"Yes, but like it within. Pure and clear from sin in the midst of a bad world. I shall look at it and think of that very often, and you must think too, Gerald."

"I mean to be good at school," said Gerald.

And leaning against his sister, he let her talk to him as in times of old, advising him with all her might, for he really liked it, and was comfortable in having it so, though he would have been ashamed to own that he did. Her advice was at once childish and wise; sometimes sensible, sometimes impracticable. Let any sister of fourteen think what counsel she would give a brother of nine if he would but listen to her, and she will have a very fair idea of it. Gerald listened and promised earnestly, and she thought, hoped, and trusted that his promises would be kept: she reminded him of all that could strengthen his resolution, and talked of the holidays with what cheer she might. She had copied out a morning and evening prayer from her own treasured book, rather than give him such another, because she thought he would perhaps heed them more in her handwriting, and she now gave them to him, folded up in a neat little silk case, which he could keep without observation. How she put her arm round him and pressed him towards her as she gave them into his hand, and felt that she was doing what her mother would have done, so earnestly, so tearfully, so much more impressively. O was she watching them now?

The brother and sister were interrupted at last, and called down to tea. The evening passed away heavily, spent as it was for the most part in the drawing-room; and the last thing before the boys went to bed, Lionel pushing Gerald roughly off, held Marian fast by the hand, and whispered in her ear, "I say—you've written out something for Gerald."

"Yes," she answered, horrified that he should have found it out.

"Would you mind doing it for me? Don't tell any one."

Was not this a pleasure? Marian sat up in her dressing-gown that night to write the prayers in her very clearest writing, for she knew Lionel never liked to read what was not large and clear, and she guessed that late in the evening, after all his lessons, he would have too many "green and blue monsters," as he used to call them, before his eyes, to be willing to give them more work than he could possibly help. She thought her mamma would have been very uneasy if she had heard of those green and blue monsters, and she wondered whether Mrs. Lyddell knew or cared about them, but Lionel was one of the least regarded of the family, and nobody but Johnny ever thought it worth while to make a trifling complaint to her. It was far worse that Lionel should be left to obtain a form of private prayer by such a chance as this. Alas! alas for them all! She was too unhappy to think more of Lionel, and in the midst of earnest prayers for Gerald, she cried herself asleep.

Poor child, she was too miserable all the next day to give us any pleasure in contemplating her.



CHAPTER VIII.

"Too soon the happy child His nook of homeward thought will change; For life's seducing wild; Too son his altered day-dreams show This earth a boundless space, With sunbright pleasures to and fro, Coursing in joyous race."

Christian Year.

A couple of weeks had passed away, and Marian was beginning to feel rather more accustomed to the absence of Gerald and Lionel, and to find pleasure in the letters which spoke of her brother taking a good place, and from which it did not appear that he disliked school so much as she had feared. Still she could not but miss him grievously, and feel the want of some one to cling to her, bring his troubles to her, and watch for moments of private conference. Her days seemed to follow each other without animation or interest; and if it had not been for some of her lessons, and for his letters and Agnes Wortley's, she felt as if she could have done nothing but yawn till the holidays.

One day, as the young ladies were returning from a walk in the park, they saw a carriage standing at their own door,—too frequent an occurrence, as Marian thought, to call for such warm interest as Clara expressed. Yet even Marian grew eager when she heard her cousins exclaim that there was a coronet on it,—a Viscount's coronet. They were now close to the house, just about to ring, when the door opened, the visitor came out, and at that moment Marian sprang forward with a joyful face, but without a word. The lady held out both hands, and standing on the top of the steps of the door, she drew Marian up to her, and kissed her on each cheek with great eagerness, completely regardless of the spectators.

"Marian, dear little Marian herself! I was afraid I had quite missed you, though I waited as long as I could. You look like your own self, little pale cheeks! Well, I must not stay; I have arranged with Mrs. Lyddell for you to spend to-morrow with me. I will send the carriage for you, and you know how much I have to show you—my husband and my son! You will come, Marian? Not a word? Ah! your own way. Good-bye; you will find your tongue to-morrow. Good-bye."

She let go the hands and sprang into the carriage, giving a smile and nod as she drove off, that filled Marian's soul, almost to overflowing, with a rush of memories. It was as if she was no longer standing on the hard steps, with black streets, and tall, dingy yellow houses bounding her view, and carriages thundering in her ears; no longer lonely among numbers, but as if she was on the bright green grass-plat by the Manor-House door, the myrtles and sycamore nodding round her; the shadows of the clouds chasing each other in purple spots over the moors; her father at the window; her mother, Gerald, Edmund, Agnes, all standing round; that sweet voice, with, that same bright smile, that same arch little nod, repeating the "good-bye," and speaking of meeting next year; and Marian herself thinking how very long a year would be. And now two years had passed since that time, and such years! How much older Marian felt! But there was Selina—Selina herself, not the Beauty—that was enough for joy!

Marian was roused from her dream by exclamations of delight and admiration from her cousins, "How very beautiful!" "O, I never saw anything so lovely!" "Marian, how could you say that she was not like her picture?"

"I don't know," said Marian, gradually waking from her trance.

"Don't you think her the most beautiful creature you ever saw?"

"I don't know."

"Don't know!" cried Caroline, impatiently. "Do you know whether your head is on or not?"

"I don't—nonsense," said Marian, laughing heartily, "The fact was, I never had time to look or think whether she was pretty; I only saw she was just like herself."

"Well, Marian; so you met her?" said Mrs. Lyddell's voice in its most delighted tone, at the top of the stairs. "I never saw a more charming person. So very handsome, and so elegant, and so very agreeable. You have heard of her invitation?"

"Yes; thank you for letting me go," said Marian.

"O yes, of course! I am delighted that you should have the advantage of such an acquaintance. I hope it will be quite an intimacy. I am sure whenever—Well, certainly, I never met with anything more fascinating. She spoke of you with such affection, my dear; I am sure she must be the most delightful person!"

Marian was not suffered to proceed up stairs till she had been told all the particulars of Lady Marchmont's visit, and had answered many questions respecting her; and, when she went up to the school-room, it was the same thing. The party there seemed to look upon their good fortune, in having had a sight of her, something as if they had seen the Queen, or "the Duke;" and it was with a sort of awe that Clara pronounced the words "Lady Marchmont," as she talked over every particular of her dress and deportment.

All this in some degree perplexed Marian. Titled ladies were by no means unusual among Mrs. Lyddell's visitors, and did not create anything like this sensation; and she had not been used at home to hear Selina Grenville talked of as anything more than a wild, gay-tempered girl, whose character for wisdom did not stand very high. To be sure she was now married, and that might make a difference; but then Edmund had since spoken of her as giddy, and as if he had not the highest idea of her discretion. Moreover, it struck Marian herself that she had spoken of her husband and child just as if they were two playthings, to be shown off. Of course that was only in fun, but Marian's was the time of life to have great ideas of the requisite gravity of demeanour in a married woman. Altogether, much as she loved Selina, and clever and engaging as she thought her, it astonished her not a little to find that the relationship conferred upon herself such distinction in the eyes of her cousins; and she spent the evening and the next morning alternately in speculations of this kind, hopes of a home-like day, and fears that Selina after all might prove the affected Viscountess of the Wreath of Beauty.

The time came, the carriage was sent punctually, and in due time Marian was being marshalled up the broad staircase by the tall servants, in all the trepidation of making her first visit in state on her own account, and feeling at every step as if she was getting further into the Wreath of Beauty. Across a great drawing-room,—such a beautiful grand room,—a folding door is opened; "Miss Arundel" is announced, and there she stands in all her stiffness.

There was a little table near the fire, and beside it sat Lady Marchmont, writing notes, in the plainest and most becoming of morning dresses,—a sort of brown holland looking thing, with a plain, stiff, white collar, and a dark blue ribbon, her only ornament, except one large gold bracelet. Her hair was twisted in glossy sunny waves behind her ear, as in some Greek statues; her blue eyes were bright and lustrous, and nothing was ever clearer and more delicate than the slight tinge of red on her cheeks. Lord Marchmont was standing leaning on the mantelshelf, apparently in consultation with her.

As soon as Marian entered, Selina's pen was thrown down, and she flew forward, throwing her arms round her little cousin, and kissing her repeatedly. Then, her arm round Marian's neck, and her hand on her shoulder, she led her towards Lord Marchmont, who stepped forward to receive her, saying, "Yes, here she is, here is your little cousin; and hero, Marian, here is your great cousin. Now I would give five shillings to know what you think of each other."

"I suppose one part of that pleasure will only be deferred till I am out of the room," said Lord Marchmont, as he shook hands with Marian in a kind, cordial, cousinly manner. He was a brown, strong-featured man of three or four and thirty, hardly young enough, and far from handsome enough, in Marian's very youthful eyes, to be suited to his wife, but very sensible and good-natured looking.

"No, Marian is a safe person, and will get no further than 'I don't know;' at least if she is the Marian I take her for," said Lady Marchmont.

"Very prudent," was his answer, smiling at Marian; and then, in compassion to her confusion, gathering up his papers, and preparing to depart.

"Are you going?" said his wife. "Well, I do you the justice to say that, under the circumstances, it is the wisest proceeding in your power; for I shall not get three words out of Marian all the time you are here."

After a few more words of consultation on their own affairs, he left the room, and then Selina caught hold of Marian again, and said she must have a thorough good look at her all over, to see how much of dear old Fern Torr she had brought with her.

Selina Grenville was the youngest daughter of a sister of Sir Edmund Arundel, who had, like the rest of her family, died early. She had been a good deal abroad with her father and a married sister. Her uncommon beauty and engaging manners gained her, when she was little more than eighteen, the affection of Lord Marchmont, a more distant connection of the Arundel family; and happily for Selina, she appreciated him sufficiently to return his love so thoroughly, as to lay aside all the little coquetries which had hitherto been the delight of her life; and to devote herself to him even as he deserved.

It might have been that the poem had said too much in pronouncing her to be a woman as well as a wife; for Selina Marchmont was almost as much of a child as Selina Grenville had been, and only now and then did those deeper shades of thought pass over her face, which showed how much soul there was within her as yet only half developed. Her manners were almost more playful than suited her position, though they became her perfectly; her husband delighted in them; but it was this that had given her grave and saddened cousin, Edmund, an impression that her sense was not of a high order.

She was very warm-hearted. She had been exceedingly attached to her uncle and aunt at Fern Torr; and now it seemed as if she could never fondle Marian enough. The first thing was to show her baby, but she premised that she did not expect Marian to go into raptures about him; she never did expect any one to like babies. "In fact, Marian," she whispered, "don't betray me, but I am a wee bit afraid of him myself. It is such a very little live thing, and that nurse of his never will let me have any comfort with him, and never will trust me to get acquainted with him in a tete-a-tete, poor little man! O, here he comes! the Honourable William James Bertram Marchmont—his name nearly as long as himself."

In came a broad, tall, dignified nurse, large enough to have made at least four Selinas, carrying a small bundle of long white robes. Selina took the little bundle in her arms rather timidly, and held it for Marian to see. Pew babies were ever looked at more silently; he was a small, but pretty, healthy-looking child of between two and three months old,—a very wax doll of a baby, with little round mottled arms moving about, and tiny hands flourishing helplessly, he looked just fit for his mamma. She held him with the fond, proud, almost over care with which little girls take for a moment some new brother or sister; and as she gazed upon him without a word, the earnest intensity of expression gathered upon her beautiful face. After about five minutes thus spent, she roused herself, and began gaily to tell Marian not to trouble herself to seek for a likeness in him to anybody, or to say anything so wild as that he in the least resembled her or his papa; and then she nodded and smiled at him, and seemed as if she would have talked to him and played with him, if his nurse had not been standing close by all the time, looking as if she was being defrauded of her property.

"It is time Master Marchmont should be taken out before the sun goes off, my Lady," said she, authoritatively.

"Very well, I suppose he must," said Selina, reluctantly giving him back again after a timid kiss.

"There goes my lady nurse and her child," said she with a sigh, hidden even from herself by a laugh. "I am sure he seems a great deal more hers than mine; but there, I should never know what to do with him. Come, Marian, now for all about yourself, my poor child. How do they use you?"

Much indeed there was to hear; and much to tell on either side, and scarcely for a moment did the two cousins cease from talking as they sat together in the morning, and drove together in the afternoon. Selina was one of those people who have a wonderful power of dispelling reserve, chiefly by their own frankness; and when she had told Marian all the history of her first sight of Lord Marchmont, and the whole courtship, and all that she had thought "so very noble" in him, and tried to make her understand how very happy she was, Marian's heart was open in her turn. Not the depths of it,—not such things as by a great effort she had told to Edmund, and might possibly tell to Mrs. Wortley, but much more than she could ever have said to any one else; and free and abundant was the sympathy and pity she received,—pity even beyond what she thought she deserved. She was surprised to observe that Selina spoke of the Lyddells with a sort of contempt, as if they were wanting in refinement; whereas she herself had never thought of their being otherwise than lady-like, and certainly very fashionable; but she supposed Lady Marchmont knew best, and was pleased to find herself considered superior. Gerald was of course one of their subjects of conversation, and gradually Marian, with her strict regard to truth, from a little unguardedness, found herself involved in a tangle from which there was no escape, without telling the whole story of the Wreath of Beauty.

She need not have been afraid; Selina laughed as if nothing would ever make her cease, and insisted on Marian's bringing the portrait the next time she came to visit her. She vowed that she would patronise Lionel for ever for his cleverness; and when Marian looked sorrowful about the consequences, she told her that it was much better for Gerald to be at school, and she was very glad he was gone; and then she patted Marian's shoulder, and begged that she would not think her very cruel for saying so.

Marian was very glad to be able to acquit her of vanity, when she heard the history of the insertion of the engraving, which had been entreated for by persons whom Lord Marchmont did not like to disoblige. The engraving both he and Selina disliked very much; and when Marian saw the original portrait, she perceived that the affectation did not reside there, for it was very beautiful, and the only fault to be found with it was chiefly attributable to the fact that miniatures always make people look so pretty, that this did not give the idea of a person so surpassingly lovely as Selina.

Lord Marchmont came in several times to speak to his wife, but Marian did not see much of him till dinner-time, and then she liked him very much. He was certainly rather a grave person, and she wondered to see how Selina could be so merry with him; but he was evidently amused, and Marian had yet to learn how a clever and much occupied man likes nonsense to be talked to him and before him in his hours of relaxation. He behaved to Marian herself very kindly, and just as if she was a grown-up person,—a treat which she had scarcely enjoyed since she left Fern Torr; and though she was silent, as usual when with strangers, it was with no uncomfortable shyness: she was more at ease already with him than with Mr. Lyddell.

Selina told him the history of Gerald's works of art in so droll a manner, that Marian herself saw it in a much funnier aspect than she had ever done before. He was much diverted, and turning to Marian, said, with seriousness that would have alarmed her, but for Selina's laughter, and a certain sub-smile about the corners of his mouth, that he hoped he was not to take the Beast as anything personal. Selina told him that she wanted him to convince Marian that it was a very good thing for Gerald to be sent to school, and he set to work to do so in earnest with much kindness, and by asking sundry questions about her brother's attainments and tastes, he so won her, that she was ready to do him the honour of acknowledging him as one of her own cousins.

The evening came too soon to an end, though the carriage had not been ordered to take Marian home, till ten o'clock. It had all been like one dream of brightness, and Marian, when she awoke the next morning, could hardly believe that it was the truth that she had enjoyed herself so much, and that a house containing such happiness for her could be in London or so near her.

The schoolroom looked very black and dull after the bright little sitting-room where she had parted with Selina; the lessons were wearisome, her companions more uncongenial than ever; she felt actually cross at the examination to which Clara subjected her about every trifle she could think of, in the house of Marchmont. She could have talked of its delights if there had been anybody to care about them in her own way, but that was the great if of Marian's life. She was conscious that her day's pleasure had unhinged her, and made her present tasks unusually distasteful, and she thought it the fault of the Lyddells, and in a great fit of repining blamed Edmund for injustice to Selina in not letting her house be their home. Her great hope was of another day there, the only thing that seemed to give a brightness to her life, and she looked forward to an intercourse between Lady Marchmont and Mrs. Lyddell, which would produce continual meetings.

However, time passed on, and she did not see Selina. Mrs. Lyddell took her when she went to return the visit, but Lady Marchmont was not at home. It was not till after more than a fortnight that she received a little note from her, saying that they were going to a show of flowers, and would send for Marian to go with them.

There was quite a commotion in the house on the occasion; not that all were not willing that Marian should go, but that Mrs. Lyddell thought her dress not at all fit; the plain straw bonnet which Marian would buy, in spite of all that could be said to the contrary, and that old black silk dress which did very well just for going to Church in, with a governess, but——

Mrs. Lyddell and Saunders were for once in their lives agreed; and Marian, who thought her money would have served her this time to fulfil her grand scheme of buying Tytler's History of Scotland, was overpowered, and obliged to let them have their will, and wear it outside her head, in white silk; instead of inside, in Robert Bruce's wanderings.

She was quite ready, in new bonnet and mantle, by the time Lady Marchmont's carriage was at the door, and very happy she was to find herself by her side again. Perhaps there was a little consciousness of newness in the manner in which she wore them, for Lady Marchmont remarked upon them, and said that they were very pretty, as in fact they were. Marian looked disconsolate, and Selina laughingly asked why. She told her former wishes, and was further laughed at, or rather Mrs. Lyddell was. Selina said the old bonnet would have done just as well; "it was so like such people to smarten up for a great occasion."

Such people! Marian wondered again, and disliked her white bonnet more than ever, resolving for the future to trust her own taste. She soon forgot all this, however, in the pleasure of seeing green grass and trees, and the beautiful, most beautiful flowers, with their delicious perfume. This was real delight, such as she had never imagined before, and she thought she could have studied the wonderful forms of those tropical plants for ever, if it had not been for the crowds of people, and for a little awe of Lord Marchmont, who had given her his arm, and who did not seem to know or care much even for the dove orchis or the zebra-striped pitcher-plant. She wished she could turn him into Edmund, and looked at every plant which she fancied a native of the Cape, almost as kindly as if it had been a primrose of Fern Torr.

It was another delightful day. Marian went back with her friends, and sat by while Selina was dressed for an evening party, heard a description of her home in the country, and gave a very unflattering one of Oakworthy, gained somehow or other a renewed impression of her own superiority to the Lyddells, and went home to indulge in another fit of discontent.

Such were Marian's visits to Lady Marchmont, and such their effect. Mrs. Lyddell did much indeed that was calculated to give strength to the feeling by the evident pride which she took in Marian's familiarity with Lady Marchmont, and even in the cold, distant, formal civility with which she herself was treated.

There was danger around Marian which she did not understand, the world was tempting her in a different way. She disliked what she saw among the Lyddells too much to find their worldly tastes and tempers infectious, but her intercourse with Selina was a temptation in a new form. She loved Selina so heartily as to see with her eyes, and be led by her in opinions: especially when these were of a kind according with her own character. It was from her that Marian imbibed the idea that she was to be pitied for living in her present home, not because Mrs. Lyddell's mind was set on earth and earthly things, but because she did not belong to those elite circles which Marian learnt to believe her own proper place. Edmund had told her she might stand on high ground, and she believed him, but was this such high ground as he meant? The danger did not strike Marian, because it did not seem to her like pride, since the distinction, whatever it was, did not consist in rank; she would have had a horror of valuing herself on being a baronet's daughter, but this more subtle difference flattered her more refined feelings of vanity; and though she was far from being conscious of it, greatly influenced her frame of mind, and her conduct towards her cousins. It was not without reason now that Caroline thought her proud.

It must not, however, be supposed that this was Marian's abiding frame of mind; it was rather the temper which was infused into her by each successive visit to Selina during the next three years. Of course, every time it was renewed, it was also strengthened, but it was chiefly her London disposition, and used in great degree to go off when she was taken up with the interests of Oakworthy, and removed from the neighbourhood of Lady Marchmont.

Oakworthy was so preferable to London, except so far as that she was there out of Selina's reach, that she began to have a kindness for it. She knew some of the poor people there, in whom Caroline had kept up an interest ever since Miss Cameron's time; the smoky streets of London had taught her to prize the free air and green turf of the Downs; and, thanks to Edmund, her own dear Mayflower awaited her there, and she enjoyed many a canter with Caroline and Walter. She began for the first time to become acquainted with the latter, and to learn to look upon him with high esteem, but to obtain a knowledge of him was a very difficult matter. He was naturally diffident and bashful, and his spirits were not high; he had been thrown more and more into himself by his mother's hastiness of manner and his father's neglect. His principles were high and true, his conduct excellent, and as he had never given any cause for anxiety, he was almost always overlooked by the whole family. Nor was he clever, and the consciousness of this added to his timidity, which being unfortunately physical as well as mental, caused him to be universally looked down upon by his brothers. Even Marian began to share the feeling when she saw him turn pale and start back from the verge of a precipitous chalk pit where she could stand in perfect indifference, and when she heard him aver his preference for quiet horses. Mayflower's caperings were to him and Caroline so shocking, and it appeared to them so improper that she should be allowed to mount such an animal, that but for her complete ease, her delight in the creature's spirit, and her earnest entreaties, a complaint against Mayflower would certainly have been preferred to the authorities.

In spite of all this, there was satisfaction in talking to Walter, for he saw things as Marian did, right and wrong were his first thoughts, and his right and wrong were the same as hers. This was worth a great deal to her, though she was often provoked with him for want of boldness in condemnation. A man grown up could, she thought, do so much to set things to rights, if he would but speak out openly, and remonstrate, but Walter shrank from interfering in any way; it seemed to cost him an effort even to agree with Marian's censure. Yes, she thought, as she stood looking at the print of S. Margaret, Walter might pass by the dragon, nay, fight his own battle with it, but he would never tread it manfully under, so that it might not rise to hurt others. He might mourn for the sins around him, but would he ever correct them? Marian thought if she was a man, a man almost twenty, destined to be a clergyman, she had it in her soul to have done great things; then she would not be shy, for she should feel it her duty to speak.

In the meantime, Marian had a trouble of her own, a sore place in her heart, and in its tenderest spot, for Gerald was the cause. The first holidays had been all she could desire; he was affectionate, open, full of talk about home and Edmund, with the best of characters; and with the exception of all the other boys being "fellows" and nameless, there was nothing like reserve about him; but the next time, he had not been three days in the house, before she perceived that the cloud had come down again, which had darkened the last few weeks before his going to school. He avoided being alone with her, he would not let her ask him questions, he talked as if he despised his governors and teachers, and regarded rules as things made to be eluded. His master's letter did not give a satisfactory account of him, and when Marian tried to fish out something about his goings on from Lionel, she met with impenetrable silence, Lionel himself seemed to be going through school pretty much in the same way, with fits and starts of goodness, and longer intervals of idleness, but he made his eyes a reason, or an excuse, for not doing more. They were large, bright, blue, expressive eyes, and it was hard to believe them in fault, but strong sunshine or much reading by candle-light always brought the green and purple monsters, and sometimes a degree of inflammation. It was said that he must be careful of them, and how much of his idleness was necessary, how much was shirking, was a question for his own conscience.

Every time Gerald came home, Marian saw something more that pained her. There was the want of confidence that grew more evident every time, though it was by no means want of affection; it was vain to try to keep him away from the stables; he read books on Sunday which she did not approve, she did not think he wrote to Edmund, and what made her more uneasy than all was, that Elliot was becoming the great authority with him. Elliot had begun to take a sort of distant patronising notice of hint, which seemed to give him great pleasure, and which Marian who every year had reason to think worse of Elliot, considered very dangerous. She could not bear to see Gerald search through, the newspapers for the racing intelligence, and to see him orating scientifically to Lionel and Johnny about the points of the horses; she did not like to see him talking to the gamekeepers, and set her face, more than was perhaps prudent, against all the field sports which were likely to lead him into Elliot's society.

In her zeal against this danger, she forgot how keen a sportsman Edmund himself was, and spoke as if she thought these amusements wrong altogether, and to be avoided, and this, together with the example of Walter, gave Gerald a very undesirable idea of the dulness of being steady and well conducted. That he spent more money than was good for him, was also an idea of hers gathered from chance observations of her own, and unguarded words of the other boys; but this was one of the points on which his reserve was the strictest, and she only could be anxious in ignorance. The holidays, anticipated with delight, ended in pain, though still she cherished a hope that what alarmed her might be boyish thoughtlessness of no importance in itself, and only magnified by her fears.

She was encouraged in this by finding that Lord Marchmont, when he saw him once in London, thought him a very fine, promising boy, and that Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell did not seem to see anything seriously amiss. But then Lord Marchmont had not seen enough of him to be able to judge, and would not have told her even if he had thought there probably was anything wrong; and she could not trust to Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell. It was very painful to imagine herself unjust to her only brother, and she drove the fears away; but back they would always come, every time Gerald was at home, and every time she looked and longed in vain for a letter from him.

Thus passed, as has already been said, three years, spent for the most part without event. Caroline, at eighteen, was introduced; but though her evenings were given to company, her mornings were still spent in the schoolroom, of which indeed she was the chief brightness. Marian, though she had the offer of coming out at the same time, was very glad to embrace the alternative of waiting another year. She was now a little past her seventeenth birthday, which emancipated her from being absolutely Miss Morley's pupil. She breakfasted with the rest of the family, dined with them when there was not a large party, learnt more of masters, and studied more on her own account than she had ever done before; and only depended on Miss Morley and Clara for companionship in walking and meals, when Caroline was otherwise engaged.

She was more with the Marchmonts than ever during this spring. She rode with them, kept Selina company when her husband went out without her; went about with her wherever a girl of woman's height, though not yet come out, could be taken; and was almost always at any of her dinners or evening parties, where she could have the pleasure of seeing anything that was distinguished. It was a very pleasant life; for she was new to the liberty of being loosed from schoolroom restraints, and at the same time the restraints and duties of society had not laid hold upon her. Among Selina's friends she was not expected to talk, and could listen in peace to the conversation of the very superior men Lord Marchmont brought around him; or if she chanced to exchange a few words with any of them, she remembered it afterwards as a distinction. Selina, with all the homage paid to her beauty, her rank, her fascination of manner, and her husband's situation, was made much of by all, and was able to avoid being bored, without affronting any one; and a spoilt child of fashion herself, in her generosity and affection, she made Marian partake her pleasures, and avoid annoyances as far as she could, like herself. It was a pleasant life, and Marian thoroughly enjoyed it but was it a safe one?



CHAPTER IX.

"So too may soothing Hope thy leave enjoy, Sweet visions of long severed hearts to frame; Though absence may impair or cares annoy, Some constant mind may draw us still the same."

Christian Year.

"Here are two letters for you, Marian," said Mrs. Lyddell, meeting the girls as they came in from a walk; "Lady Marchmont's servant left this note."

"An invitation to dinner for this evening," said Marian opening it; "ah! I knew they were to have a party; 'just recollected that Lady Julia Faulkner used to know Fern Torr, and I must have you to meet her, if it is not a great bore.'"

"Then, my dear, had you not better send an answer? James can take it directly."

"No, no, thank you; the carriage will call at seven. Who can this Lady Julia be? But—" by this time Marian had arrived at her other letter, and, with a sudden start and scream of joy, she exclaimed, "They are coming!"

"Coming? Who?" asked Caroline.

"Agnes—and Mr. and Mrs. Wortley! O! All coming to stay with their friends in Cadogan Place. I shall see them at any time I please."

"I am very glad of it," said Caroline.

"Tell them that their earliest engagement must be to us," said Mrs. Lyddell. "When do you expect them?"

"Next week, next week itself," cried Marian, "to stay a whole fortnight, or perhaps three weeks. Mr. Wortley has business which will occupy him—"

Few faces ever expressed more joy than Marian's in the prospect of a meeting with these dearest of friends; Mrs. Lyddell and Caroline smiled at her joy as she flew out of the room to make Saunders a partaker in her pleasure.

"Strange girl," said Caroline; "so cold to some, so warm to others; I shall be glad to see these incomparable Wortleys."

"So shall I," said Mrs. Lyddell; "but I expect that Marian's opinion of them will soon alter, she has now become used to such different society. However we must be very civil to them, be they what they may."

In the meantime Marian penned a letter to Agnes, in terms of delight and affection twenty times warmer than any which had ever passed her lips, and then resigned herself to Saunders' hands to be dressed, without much free will on her own part; too excited to read as usual during the operation, sometimes talking, sometimes trying to imagine Agnes in London, a conjunction which seemed to her almost impossible.

The carriage came for her, and in due time she was entering the great drawing-room, where Selina, looking prettier than ever in her evening dress, sat reading a novel and awaiting her guests.

"O Selina, only think," she began; "the Wortleys are coming!"

"What say you? Why, Marian, you are in a wild state. Who are coming?"

"The Wortleys, Selina, my own Agnes."

"O, your old clergyman's daughter! You constant little dove, you don't mean that you have kept up that romantic friendship all these years?"

"Why, Selina!"

"Yes, yes, I remember all about them now: the daughter was your great friend."

"She was more yours," said Marian, "when you were at Fern Torr, because you were more nearly the same age. Don't you remember how you used to whisper under the sycamore tree, and send me out of the way?"

"Poor little Marian! Well, those were merry times, and I rather think your Agnes promised to be very pretty."

"And shall not you be glad to see her?"

"When do they come?"

"Next Monday, to—Cadogan Place."

"Close to you. Well, that is lucky; but now, my dear, if you can come down from the clouds for a moment, I want to tell you about Lady Julia."

"Who is she?" said Marian, bringing back her attention with an effort.

"A tiresome woman," whispered Selina, with a sort of affectation of confidence; "but the fact is, Lord Marchmont used to know her husband, or his father, or his great grandfather, sometime in the dark ages, and so be wants me to make much of her. She is one of the people that it is real toil to make talk for; but by good fortune I remembered that I had heard some legend about her once knowing my uncles, and so I thought that a cross-examination of you about Gerald and Fern Torr would be a famous way of filling up the evening."

"O!" said Marian in a not very satisfied tone, "so she has a husband, has she? I fancied from your note that she only consisted of herself,"

"She consists of a son and daughters," said Selina.

"Her husband is dead, but the rest of the house you will presently see."

"Eh?" said Lord Marchmont, coming out of the other room where he had been writing, and greeting Marian.

"You don't mean that you have invited that young Faulkner?"

"You would, not have me leave out the only agreeable one of the party—something to sweeten the infliction."

Lord Marchmont smiled at the arch, bold, playful manner with which she looked up in his face, as if to defy him to be displeased; but still he was evidently vexed, and said, "It is hard upon Marian only to take her from Elliot Lyddell's society to bring her into Mr. Faulkner's."

"Indeed! but that is hard on Mr. Faulkner," said his wife. "As to worth, I suppose he and Marian's cousin are pretty much on a par, but it is but justice to say that he has considerably the advantage in externals."

"It cannot be helped now," said Lord Marchmont; "but I wish I had told you before, Selina. The esteem I had for that young man's father would make me still more reluctant to cultivate him, considering his present way of going on."

"Well, one invitation to dinner is not such a very agricultural proceeding, that you need waste such a quantity of virtuous indignation," said Selina; "I daresay he will not grow very much the faster for it."

The arrival of some of the party put a stop to the conversation, and presently Lady Julia Faulkner, Mr. and Miss Faulkner, were announced. The first was a fair, smooth, handsome matron, who looked as if she had never been preyed upon by either thought or care; her daughter was a well-dressed, fashionable young lady; and her son, so gentlemanlike and sensible looking, as to justify Lady Marchmont in saying that in externals he had the advantage of Elliot Lyddell. Marian sat next him at dinner, and though she meant to dislike him, she could not succeed in doing so; he talked with so much spirit and cleverness of the various exhibitions and other things, which are chiefly useful as food for conversation. Something too might be ascribed to the store of happiness within her, which would not let her be ungracious or unwilling to let herself be entertained, for on the whole, she had never been so well amused at a dinner party.

In the drawing-room the examination took place with which she had been threatened, but she had grown hardened to such things with time, and could endure them much better than she used to do. It was always the custom for her to outstay the guests, so as to talk them over with her cousins; and, on this occasion the first exclamation was, how very agreeable and clever Mr. Faulkner was.

"So much the worse," said Lord Marchmont gravely; "I think worse of him than I did before, for I find he has taken up Germanism."

Marian had some notion that Germanism meant that the foundations of his faith were unsettled, and she looked extremely horrified, but she had not time to dwell on the subject, for the carriage came to the door, and she was glad to be alone to hug herself with delight. The gas lamps looked as bright to her eyes as if there were an illumination specially got up in honour of her happiness, and the drive to Mr. Lyddell's was far too short to settle a quarter of what Agnes was to see and do.

It was almost four years since she had parted with her, but the correspondence had scarcely slackened, nor the earnestness of her affection and confidence diminished. There was no one, excepting Edmund, to whom she could look for counsel in the same manner, and the hope of long conversations with Mrs. Wortley was almost as delightful as the thought of seeing Agnes once more.

She had begged them to call the first thing, and accordingly soon after breakfast one fine Tuesday morning, a loud double-knock caused her heart to leap into her mouth, or rather her throat, and almost choke her. Mrs. Lyddell, Elliot, and Caroline were all present, and she wished them forty miles off, when the announcement was the very thing she wished to hear!

There they were, Mrs. Wortley giving that fond, motherly kiss, Agnes catching both hands, and kissing both cheeks, Mr. Wortley giving one hearty squeeze to her hand! There they really were, she was by Mrs. Wortley's side, their own familiar tones were in her ears! She hardly dared to look up, for fear Agnes should be altered, but no, she could not call her altered, though she was more formed, the features were less childish, and there was more thought, though not less life and light than of old, in the blue eyes. Indeed it came upon Marian by surprise, that she had not known before that Agnes was uncommonly pretty as well as loveable. She was surprised not to see her friend more shy, but able to answer Elliot's civilities with readiness and ease; whereas she who still felt stiff and awkward with a stranger, had supposed that such must be doubly the case with one who had lived so much less in the world.

That day was to be devoted by the Wortleys to visits and business, but they reckoned on having Marian to themselves all the next, and were to call for her early on their way to some of the sights of London. Mrs. Lyddell made them fix an early day for coming to dinner, and they took their leave, Marian feeling as if the visit had not been everything that she expected, and yet as if it was happiness even to know that the same city contained herself and them.

No sooner were they gone than the Lyddells began with one voice to admire Agnes, even Elliot was very much struck with her, and positively gained himself some degree of credit with Marian, by confirming her opinion of her friend's beauty. It was delightful indeed that Agnes should be something to be proud of; Marian would not have loved her one whit the less if she had been a plain, awkward country girl, but it was something to have her affection justified in their eyes, and to have no fear of Agnes being celebrated only for her cricket.

They called for Marian early the next morning, and now she received the real greeting, corresponding to her parting, as Mrs. Wortley's second daughter. Then began the inquiries for everything at Fern Torr, animate or inanimate, broken into by Agnes's exclamations of surprise at everything new and wonderful in the streets, a happy, but a most desultory conversation.

At last they got into a quiet street where Mr. and Mrs. Wortley went to choose a carpet, and the two girls were left to sit in the carriage.

"O Marian!" began Agnes, "so you have not quite lost your old self! I am glad to see how it all is at least, for I have something tangible to pity you for."

"I wonder what it is," said Marian, too happy for pity at that moment.

"O, my dear! that Mr. Elliot Lyddell!"

"He is hardly ever in my way," said Marian.

"And his sister! Her dress! What study it must have taken! In the extreme of fashion."

"Caroline's dress is not exactly what she would choose herself," said Marian.

"That must be only an excuse, Marian; for though you have a well-turned-out look, it is not as if you were in a book of fashions."

"I am not Mrs. Lyddell's daughter, and though I do expect a battle or two when I come out, it will not be a matter of obedience with me, as it is with Caroline."

"Is it very painful obedience?" said Agnes laughingly; "well, you do deserve credit for not being spoilt among such people."

"In the first place, how do you know they are 'such people?' and next, how do you know I am not spoilt?"

"You must be the greatest hypocrite in the world, if you are spoilt, to write me such letters, and sit so boldly looking me in the face. And as to their being 'such people,' have not I seen them, have not I heard them, and, above all, has not Mr. Arundel given me their full description?"

"But that was three years and a half ago," said Marian.

"And have they changed since then?" asked Agnes.

"I don't know."

"O how glad I am to hear that!" cried Agnes. "Never mind them; but to hear you say 'I don't know' in that old considering tone is proof enough to me that you are my own old Marian, which is all I care for."

"I don't—" began Marian; then stopping short and laughing, she added, "I mean I was thinking whether it is really so. Can any person live four years without changing? Especially at our age. What a little girl I was then!"

"Yes, to be sure, you have grown into a tall—yes, quite a tall woman, and you have got your black hair into a very pretty broad braid, and you wear a bracelet and carry a parasol, and don't let your veil stream down your back; I don't see much more alteration. Your eyes are as black and your face as white, and altogether you are quite as provoking as ever in never telling one anything that one wishes to know."

Marian gave a stiff smile, one which she had learnt in company, and grew frightened at herself to find that she was treating Agnes, as she treated the outer world. She did not know what to say; her love was deep, strong and warm within, but it was too soon to "rend the silken veil;" and this awkwardness, this consciousness of coldness was positive suffering. She was relieved that the return of Mr. and Mrs. Wortley put an end to the tete-a-tete, then shocked that it should be a relief; for, poor girl, her extreme embarrassment overpowering the happiness in her friend's presence, made her doubt whether it could be that her affection was really departing, a thought too dreadful to be dwelt upon.

Who would have told her that she should endure so much pain in her first drive with the Wortleys?

They went to call on Lady Marchmont that day, and, as Marian expected, did not find her at home. Agnes renewed the old lamentation that Marian could not live with her and thus avoid Mrs. Lyddell's finery and fashion. "Now why do you laugh, Marian? you don't mean that Selina Grenville can have turned into a fashionable lady? she was the simplest creature in the world."

"She is what she was then," said Marian; "but as to being fashionable—. My dear Agnes, you don't understand."

"We have not to reproach Marian for want of knowledge of the world now, Agnes," said Mr. Wortley, smiling at his daughter's bewildered look.

"Ah!" cried Marian, and there stopped, thinking how grievously she must be altered, since this was the reproach that the Lyddells used so often to make her. Some wonderful sight here engaged Agnes, and Marian's exclamation fell unheeded.

She spent a good many hours with the Wortleys while they were in London, but usually in the midst of confusion and bustle: Mr. and Mrs. Wortley were busy, and Agnes almost wild with the novelties around. Marian's heart ached as she recollected a saying which she had read, that a thread once broken can never be united again. Her greatest comfort was in the prospect of a visit to Fern Torr; for Mrs. Lyddell willingly consented to her accepting Mrs. Wortley's invitation to return with them, and to stay even to the end of her brother's holidays, which he was also to spend at home. She should know better there whether she was really changed; she could take it all up again there, and now she could afford to wait, and not feel the necessity of saying everything that would not be said in so short a time.

One thing was certain, she did not like to hear Agnes talk against the Lyddells. She could have done it herself; nay, she did so sometimes when with Lady Marchmont, but then that was only about "nonsense." She had lived with them too long, had shared in too many of their conversations and employments, was, in fact, too much one of the family, to like to hear them condemned. She thought it very strange, and she could not tell whether it was from having grown like them, or from a genuine dislike to injustice; at any rate it was this which convinced her that she had come to regard them in some degree as friends.

She wished them to appear to as much advantage as possible, but this they really seemed resolved not to do, at least not what was in her eyes and those of the Wortleys, to advantage. Mrs. Lyddell would have a grand dinner party to do honour to her friends, and the choice of company was not what she would have made. To make it worse, Elliot sat next Agnes, Walter was not at home, and the conversation was upon religious subjects, which had better not have been discussed at all in such a party, and which were viewed by most present, in the wrong way. All this, however, Marian could have endured, for she did not care to defend Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell or Elliot, individually, only when considered as forming part of "the Lyddells," but she really wished Agnes to like Caroline and Clara.

She did not know whether Agnes was not perverse about Caroline, whom she continued to call a mere fashionable young lady, not being able to find any other reproach than this vague one; but as to Clara, Marian herself could have found it in her heart to beat her when she made sillier speeches than usual in Agnes' hearing, and, above all, for having at this time a violent fit of her affection for Marian herself, whom she perseveringly called a dear girl, and followed about so closely as to be always in the way.

Marian would have been still more provoked with Clara, had Agnes not had forbearance enough to abstain from telling her all that Clara had said, when once, by some chance, left alone with her for ten minutes. After a great deal about her extreme friendship for "dearest Marian," she said, "Some people think her pretty,—do you, Miss Wortley?"

"Not exactly pretty," said Agnes, "but hers is a fine face."

"Ah! she has not colour enough to be pretty. She is much too pale, poor dear, but some people say that is aristocratic. And she is like her cousin, Lady Marchmont, the beauty. Do you know Lady Marchmont?"

"I used to know her as a girl."

"Ah! she is very handsome, and so much the fashion. It is such an advantage for Marian to be there, and I hope she will slyly bring us acquainted some of these days. But then all the Arundels are proud; Marian has a good deal of pride in her own way, though she is a dear girl!"

"Marian!" exclaimed Agnes.

"O yes! She is a dear girl, but every one in Wiltshire speaks of her pride; all our friends do, I assure you. I always defend her, of course, but every one remarks it."

Agnes was wondering whether simply to disbelieve anything so preposterous as that all Wiltshire should be remarking on poor Marian's pride, or whether to explain it by her well-known shyness, when Clara made another sudden transition. "Do you know Mr. Arundel?"

"O yes."

"Is not he a fine, distinguished looking man? We did admire him so when he was here. I assure you we are all quite jealous of Marian. Miss Morley says there can be but one denouement."

Here Marian came into the room, and Agnes proceeded to question within herself which was most wonderful,—the extreme folly of Clara, or of the governess.

Another vexation to Marian was the behaviour of Lady Marchmont. She herself was invited as often as usual to come to her cousin, but she could not spare a minute from her dear friends, and only was surprised and vexed that they were not included, and that Selina had not yet called upon them. She knew that one of her parties consisted of persons whom Mr. Wortley would have been particularly glad to meet, and she watched most anxiously for a card for him; she even went so far, as in her own note of refusal to give a very far distant hint, thinking that Selina only required to be put in mind of his being in London.

At last, only two days before they left town, Lady Marchmont left her card for Mrs. Wortley, but without asking if she was at home; and Marian, who was in the house at the time, felt the neglect most acutely. Mrs. Wortley saw the bright glow of red spread all over the pale check, and was heartily sorry on her account. Agnes broke out into exclamations that there must be a mistake,—the servants must have misunderstood, and she would have asked questions; but Marian said, in a voice of deep feeling, "No, Agnes, it is no mistake. You understand me now when I say Selina Marchmont is more of a fine lady than Mrs. Lyddell. But O, I never thought she would have neglected you!"

"Say no more, my dear," said Mrs. Wortley; "Lady Marchmont must have too many engagements to attend to us dull country folks. Indeed, it gives me no pain, my dear, except to see it grieve you. You know she has done her duty by us."

"Her duty by herself, she may think," said Marian, "in not doing what would be called rude, but not her duty by you; you, to whom all who ever—who ever loved them, owe so much."

The tears glittered in Marian's eyes, and her cheek was flushed.

"Marian, my dear, cool down a little," said Mrs. Wortley; "think how long it is since Lady Marchmont knew us, and recollect that the—the causes, which you think you have for caring for us, may not appear the same to her. She only thinks of us as dimly remembered neighbours of her cousin's, coming to London for a little while; she is full of engagements, and has no time for us, and just follows the fashions of other people."

"That is it," said Marian. "How shall I ever wish her good-bye in charity?"

They were interrupted; and it was not till Marian was gone that Agnes had the satisfaction of a full outbreak of indignation at all fine ladies, and of triumph in the impossibility of their ever spoiling her own dear Marian.

Marian had to spend the evening with the Marchmonts, and she was more constrained with them at first than she had ever been before. Yet it was not easy to continue constrained with Selina, who was perfectly unconscious that she had given any offence; and the feeling was quite removed by half an hour's play with little Willy, who was now promoted to be a drawing-room child for various short intervals of the day. He was under a nursery governess, who let his mamma have a little more property in him.

Selina asked about the intended journey, and thus renewed Marian's feeling of the wrongs of the Wortleys; but when Selina scolded her for not coming oftener, supposed she had been very happy, and envied her for going to dear old Fern Torr, Marian began to forgive, and did so quite when she wished she could have seen them, and lamented that she had been so much engaged. Three times she had gone out, fully meaning to call on them, and have a good long chat, but each time something delayed her; and the last, and fourth, she really was obliged to be at home early, and could not possibly make a call.

The charm of manner made all this appease Marian; but when the immediate spell of Selina's grace and caressing ways was removed, she valued it rightly, and thought, though with pain, of the expressive epithet, "fudge!" Could not Selina have gone to her aunt's old friends if she would? Had not Marian known her to take five times the trouble for her own gratification? Marian gained a first glimpse of the selfishness of refined exclusiveness, and doubted whether it had not been getting a hold of herself, when she had learnt of Selina to despise and neglect all that was unpleasing.

O the joy of knowing that she should turn her back on the great wicked world again, and measure herself by the old standard of home! And yet she trembled, lest she should find that the world had touched her more than she had thought.



CHAPTER X.

"Yes, friends may be kind, and vales may be green, And brooks, may sparkle along between; But it is not friendship's kindest look, Nor loveliest vale, nor clearest brook, That can tell the tale which is written for me On each old face and well known tree."

R. H. FROUDE.

It was a happy day for both Agnes Wortley and Marian Arundel when they again entered Devonshire. Agnes seemed to feel her four weeks as serious an absence as Marian did her four years, and was even more rapturous in her exclamations at each object that showed her she was near home.

They walked up the last and steepest hill, or rather bounded along the well known side path, catching at the long trailing wreaths of the dogrose, peeping over the gates which broke the high hedge, where Marian, as she saw the moors, could only relieve her heart by pronouncing to herself those words of Manzoni's Lucia, "Vedo i miei monti." ("I see my own mountains.") She beheld the woods and the chimneys of the Manor House, but she shrank from looking at it, and gazed, as if she feared it was but a moment's vision, at the rough cottages, the smoke curling among the trees, the red limestone quarry, and the hills far away in the summer garb of golden furze. It was home, her heart was full, and Agnes respected her silence.

Down the hill, along the well-known paling, past the cottages, the dear old faces smiling welcome; the Church, always the same, the green rail of the Vicarage garden, the paint was the only thing new; the porch, with roses hanging thicker over it than ever; Ranger, David Chapple, Jane, the housemaid, all in ecstasy in their different ways.

That first evening was spent in visiting every nook of the garden with Agnes, and hearing the history of each little innovation; then, after a slight interval of sleepiness, came those fond, cordial "good nights," which dwell no where but at home.

She woke to the reality of a Fern Torr Sunday, not to shake off with disappointment and wearinesss, the dream of such a day. There was the pinkthorne, dressed in all its garlands, before her window, the dew lying heavy and silvery on the grass; the cart-horses enjoying their holiday in the meadow, the mass of blossom in the orchard, the sky above, all blueness, the air full of a delicious quietness, as if the sunshine itself was repose, Marian leant out at her window, and wondered if it was possible she should have been so long away, so familiar, so natural did it all seem.

The hurried breakfast, the walk to school, the school itself, how well she knew it all, and within the school how old a world it was, and yet how new! The benches, the books, the smiles, the curtsies, the very nosegays, redolent of southernwood, were unchanged, but all the great good girls of her day, the prime first class, where was it? Here was the first class still, Agnes' pride; but, behold, these are the little ones of her day, and the babies for whom she had made pink frocks and frilled caps, now stared up in her face responsible beings, who could say more than half the Catechism. Her own little pets of school-days were grown out of knowledge into the uninteresting time of life, the "old age of childhood," and looked as if they found it equally difficult to recognize "little Miss" in a lady taller than Miss Wortley. Next followed the walk to Church, full of meetings and greetings, admiration of her growth, and inquiries after Sir Gerald.

Yes, Marian did feel like the old self: her four years' absence was like a dream that had passed away, and was nothing to her; she could think only of home, home thoughts and home interests; the cares and the teasings, the amusements and the turmoils of Oakworthy and London, were as things far distant, which had never really concerned her, or belonged to some different state of existence. She was at home, as she continually said to herself; she felt as if she was in some way more in the presence of her parents, as if their influence was sheltering her, and shielding her from all external ill, as in the days of yore. Happy they who can return after four years' trial as Marian did.

She was preparing for Confirmation; for, to her great joy, she was in time to form one of Mr. Wortley's own flock, He gave her half an hour every other morning; and now it was that all the difficulties raised in her mind in arguments with Caroline, doubts with right or wrong, or questions why and wherefore, were either solved or smoothed down. Her principles were strengthened, her views were cleared up; she learnt the reasons of rules she had obeyed in ignorance, and perceived her own failures and their causes.

These were her graver hours. At other times she read, drew, and studied German with Agnes, who gladly availed herself of the aid of one well crammed by London masters, and who could not but allow, even to the credit of her enemies, that they had made Marian very accomplished.

There were long walks to every well-remembered hill and dell, with further expeditions planned against the return of the boys, and numerous visits to old friends at the cottages to present Marian's gifts, which had fairly overpowered Saunders' powers of packing. Delightful walks, how different from the parade on the chalk roads, over high hedges, through gaps doubly fenced with thorns, scrambling, at the risk of neck us well as of dress, over piles of fern and ivy-covered rocks, or hopping across brooks on extemporised stepping-stones, usually in the very thick of some mauvais pas, discussing some tremendous point of metaphysics or languages and breaking off in it to scream at the beauty of the view, or to pity a rent muslin.

Marian and Agnes talked considerably now, and, allowing for the difference in age, just as they used to do. Marian's fears of her own coldness and doubts of her confidence in Agnes had all melted in her native atmosphere, and were quite forgotten. She could speak of the Lyddells now, though still she did not find fault with them, nor make complaints; indeed, it was Agnes' abuse of them that made her first discover that she had a regard for them.

This prejudice, as she began to call it, seemed to her unaccountable, since she had never written complainingly, until she found at last, (which made her inclined to treat it with more respect,) that it was founded on what Edmund had reported. He had come to Fern Torr immediately after his visit to Oakworthy, very much out of spirits, and had poured out his anxieties to his friends, talking of Mr. and Mrs. Lyddell with less caution than he had used with Marian, and lamenting over the fate of his poor little cousins like something hopeless. Marian thought of Gerald, and her heart failed her, then she hoped again, for Gerald was coming home, and then she understood what Edmund had thought of it all, and knew that it was perfectly consistent with his last conversation with her. So she said that was four years ago, and that Edmund was very kind.

The time of Gerald's arrival came. Charles and James Wortley preceded him by about a fortnight, and all that Marian saw of them made her rejoice in such companionship for him. Mr. Wortley drove her to meet him at Exeter, and never was greeting more joyful. Lionel had sent her a message that Oakworthy would be as dull as ditch water without her, and if she did not come back before the end of the holidays, he should certainly be obliged to go back to Eton again to find something to do. Having delivered this message, Gerald made both his companions laugh by gazing about as if surprised to find Exeter still in the same place, and wondering at reading all the old names over the shops.

Marian was delighted that he recognised all the torrs on the drive home, and very proud of his height, his beauty, and his cordial, well-bred gentlemanlike manners, which gave the Wortleys general satisfaction.

The first thing he did was to go out and visit his old pony in the paddock, patting it very affectionately, though he seemed much surprised that it was so small.

In the evening they went to the Manor House. Marian had spent many hours there, sat in the empty rooms, wandered in the garden, and mused on past days, or dwelt on them with Agnes, and she had looked forward with great pleasure to having her brother there.

She wished to have had him alone, but he asked Agnes and the boys to come, and they all set out together up the rocky steps, Gerald far before the rest, and when Marian came up to him he was standing on the lawn, at the top of the steps, looking at the house.

"I thought it was larger," exclaimed he.

"But, Gerald, see how high the magnolia has grown, and how nice and smooth old Lapthorn keeps the lawn. Does it not look as if we had gone away only yesterday?"

"Yes, and there is the little larburnum that we planted. How it is grown! But how very small the house is."

By this time the door had been opened by the old housekeeper, and Marian, running up to her, exclaimed, "Here he is, Mrs. White! Come, come, Gerald, come and speak to Mrs. White!"

Gerald came, but with no readiness of manner. His "how d'ye do?" was shy and cold, and not at all answerable to her eager, almost tearful, "Pretty well, thank you, Sir. It is something to see you at home again, Sir Gerald; so tall, and looking so well. 'Tis almost old times again, to see you and Miss Marian."

He stood silent, and Agnes spoke, "Yes, Mrs. White, is not he grown? It does not seem to be so very long before we shall really have them here for good."

"Ah! Miss Wortley, that is what I have always wished to live for; I have always said, let me only live to see Sir Gerald come back, and find things in order as he left them, and then I would die contented."

"No, no, live to keep his house many more years," said Marian. "It is four years less now you know, Mrs. White; only eight more before we shall be able to live here. For, I suppose you would like to have me back too."

"I don't know Miss Marian; you will he married long before that, such a fine young lady as you are grown to be."

Marian laughed and passed on into the house, sorry that Gerald had taken no part in the conversation. They went into the drawing-room, that room where he had wept so bitterly the day before his departure. Again his observation was, "I thought this room was twice the size. And so low!"

"You have been looking in at the large end of a telescope lately, Gerald," said his sister with some sorrow in her tone, as she sat down on one of the brown holland muffled sofas, and looked up at her father's portrait, trying to find a likeness there to the face before her. There was the same high brow, the same dark eyes, the same straight features, the same bright open smile. Gerald was more like it, in some respects, than he had been, but there was a haughty, impetuous expression now and then on eye, brow, and lip, that found no parallel in the gentle countenance which, to Marian's present feelings, seemed to be turned towards him with an air of almost reproachful anxiety.

Perhaps he saw some of the sadness of her expression, and; always affectionate, wished to please her by manifesting a little more of the feelings which really still existed. He came and stood by her, and whispered a few caressing words, which almost compensated for the vexation his carelessness had occasioned. He looked earnestly at the picture for a few moments, then, turning away, suddenly exclaimed, "I should like to see the old dressing-room."

This was Lady Arundel's morning room, where many a lesson had been repeated, many a game played, and where, perhaps, more childish recollections centered than in any other part of the house. The brother and sister went thither alone, and much enjoyed looking into every well-known corner, and talking of the little events which had there taken place. This lasted for nearly a quarter of an hour, when they rejoined their companions to make the tour of the garden, &c. All was pleasant here, Gerald recollected every nook, and was delighted to find so much unchanged.

"Let us just look into the stable yard," said he, as they were coming away. It was locked, but a message to Mrs. White procured the key, and they entered the neat deserted court, without one straw to make it look inhabited, though the hutch where the rabbits had lived was still in its place; and even in one corner the reversed flower-pot, which Gerald well remembered to have brought there to mount upon, in order to make investigations into a blackbird's nest, in the ivy on the wall.

He now used the same flower-pot to enable him to peep in at the hazy window of the stable, and still more lamentable was his exclamation, "Can this be all! How very small!"

"Nothing but low and little, you discontented boy," said Agnes.

"Why, really, I could not believe it was on such a small scale," said Gerald. "Marian, now is it possible there can be only six stalls here?"

"Why, what would have been the use of more?" said Marian.

"Ah! why to be sure, there was no one to ride much," said Gerald. "But yet I can hardly imagine it! What could my father have done in his younger days? Only six stalls! And no loose box. Well, people had contracted notions in those days! And the yard so small! Why, the one at Oakworthy would make four of it."

"And you had really managed to persuade yourself that this was a grander place than Oakworthy?" said Marian.

Gerald made no answer; but after walking backwards till he had a full view of the stable and surrounding regions, broke out into the exclamation, "I see what is to be done! Take down that wall—let in a piece of the kitchen garden—get it levelled—and then extend it a little on the right side too. Yes, I see."

"You are not talking of spoiling this place!" cried Agnes, in dismay.

"Spoiling! only making it habitable," said Gerald. "How can a man live here with a stable with six stalls, and nothing like a kennel?"

The utter impossibility of such an existence was so strongly impressed on the mind of the young baronet, that as soon as tea was over he commenced a sketch of his future stables, adding various explanations for the benefit of Charles and James. There was almost a daily quarrel on the subject with Agnes, and much laughing on each side; but Marian, afraid of making him more determined, took no part in it.

Much might happen in eight years to make him change his mind, and this stable in the clouds might be endured, if everything else had been fully satisfactory.

Very happy were the boys next morning, setting off to the woods to study the localities of the game; very happy were they fishing and rabbit shooting; very happy, galloping over the country by turns on the two ponies; very happy were the whole party in pic-nic expeditions, and in merry evening sports; but these could not take up every hour and every minute; and Marian could not help observing, that while Charles and James could always find some work on which to be employed in the intervals, Gerald was idle and listless. There were hours in the morning when they had their Latin and Greek to study, while Gerald was usually loitering in the drawing-room. That he should voluntarily touch Latin or Greek in the holidays was perhaps more than mortal could expect; but that he should not read anything was disappointing. The vicarage afforded no periodical novels, no slang tales of low life, no manuals of sporting. The Waverley novels he had read long ago, and nothing of a more solid description would he touch; so his mornings were chiefly spent in drawing caricatures, and chattering to his sister and Agnes. He was indeed very amusing, but this was not all that could be desired. Now and then there were stories of feats which did not seem likely to be those of the best and wisest set of boys; and his idea of the life of a boy, if not of man, was plainly that it was to be spent in taking pleasure and shirking work. Then he took in a sporting paper, and used to entertain them with comments on the particulars of the races, and of bets, which no one in the house understood but himself; but these were never in the presence of either Mr. or Mrs. Wortley, where he was on his guard.

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