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rather sulky at the prospect of a drive to Swampington so soon after the rainy weather.
It does not rain always, even in this part of Lincolnshire; and the July morning was bright and pleasant, the low hedges fragrant with starry opal-tinted wild roses and waxen honeysuckle, the yellowing corn waving in the light summer breeze. Mary assured her companion that she had no objection whatever to the odour of cigar-smoke; so Mr. Arundel lolled upon the comfortable cushions of the barouche, with his back to the horses, smoking cheroots, and talking gaily, while Miss Marchmont sat in the place of state opposite to bim. A happy drive; a drive in a fairy chariot through regions of fairy-land, for ever and for ever to be remembered by Mary Marchmont.
They left the straggling hedges and the yellowing corn behind them by and by, as they drew near the outskirts of Swampington. The town lies lower even than the surrounding country, flat and low as that country is. A narrow and dismal river crawls at the base of a half-ruined wall, which once formed part of the defences of the place. Black barges lie at anchor here; and a stone bridge, guarded by a toll-house, spans the river. Mr. Marchmont's carriage lumbered across this bridge, and under an archway, low, dark, stony, and grim, into a narrow street of solid, wellbuilt houses, low, dark, stony, and grim, like the archway, but bearing the stamp of reputable occupation. I believe the grass grew, and still grows, in this street, as it does in all the other streets and in the market-place of Swampington. They are all pretty much in the same style, these streets,-all stony, narrow, dark, and grim; and they wind and twist hither and thither, and in and out, in a manner utterly bewildering to the luckless stranger, who, seeing that they are all alike, has no landmarks for his guidance.
There are two handsome churches, both bearing an early date in the history of Norman supremacy : one crowded into an inconvenient corner of a back street, and choked by the houses built up round about it; the other lying a little out of the town, upon a swampy waste looking towards the sea, which flows within a mile of Swampington. Indeed, there is no lack of water in that Lincolnshire borough. The river winds about the outskirts of the town; unexpected creeks and inlets meet you at every angle; shallow pools lie here and there about the marshy suburbs; and in the dim distance the low line of the gray sea meets the horizon.
But perhaps the positive ugliness of the town is something redeemed by a vague air of romance and old-world mystery which pervades it. It is an exceptional place, and somewhat interesting thereby. The great Norman church upon the swampy waste, the scattered tombstones, bordered by the low and moss-grown walls, make a picture which is apt to dwell in the minds of those who look upon it, although it is by no means a pretty picture. The Rectory lies close to the churchyard ; and a wicketgate opens from Mr. Arundel's garden into a narrow pathway, leading,
across a patch of tangled grass and through a lane of sunken and lopsided tombstones, to the low vestry-door. The Rectory itself is a long, irregular building, to which one incumbent after another has built the additional chamber, or chimney, or porch, or bow-window, necessary for his accommodation. There is very little garden in front of the house, but a patch of lawn and shrubbery and a clump of old trees at the back.
“It's not a pretty house, is it, Mies Marchmont ?” asked Edward, as he lifted his companion out of the carriage.
“No, not very pretty," Mary answered ; “but I don't think any thing is pretty in Lincolnshire. Oh, there's the sea!" she cried, looking suddenly across the marshes to the low gray line in the distance. “How I wish we were as near the sea at Marchmont Towers !"
The young lady had something of a romantic passion for the widespreading ocean. It was an unknown region, that stretched far away, and that was wonderful and beautiful by reason of its solemn mystery. All her Corsair stories were allied to that far, fathomless deep. The white sail in the distance was Conrad's, perhaps; and he was speeding homeward to find Medora dead in her lonely watch-tower, with fading flowers upon her breast. The black bull yonder was the bark of some terrible pirate bound on rapine and ravage. (She was a coal-barge, I have no doubt, sailing Londonward with her black burden.) Nymphs and Lurleis, Mermaids and Mermen, and tiny water-babies with silvery tails, for ever splashing in the sunshine, were all more or less associated with the long gray line towards which Mary Marchmont looked with solemn, yearning eyes.
“We'll drive down to the sea-shore some morning, Polly,” said Mr. Arundel. He was beginning to call her Polly, now and then, in the easy familiarity of their intercourse. “We'll spend a long day on the sands, and I'll smoke cheroots while you pick up shells and seaweed."
Miss Marchmont clasped her hands in silent rapture. Her face was irradiated by the new light of happiness. How good he was to her, this brave soldier, who must undoubtedly be made Commander-in-chief of the Army of the Indus in a year or so!
Edward Arundel led his companion across the flagged way between the iron gate of the Rectory garden and a half-glass door leading into the hall. Out of this simple hall, only furnished with a couple of chairs, a barometer, and an umbrella-stand, they went, without announcement, into a low old-fashioned room, half-study, half-parlour, where a young lady was sitting at a table writing.
She rose as Edward opened the door, and came to meet him.
" At last !” she said ; “ I thought your rich friends engrossed all your attention.”
She paused, seeing Mary.
“This is Miss Marchmont, Olivia,” said Edward ; “the only daughter of my old friend. You must be very fond of her, please; for she is a dear little girl, and I know she means to love you.”
Mary lifted her soft brown eyes to the face of the young lady, and then dropped her eyelids suddenly, as if half-frightened by what she had seen there.
What was it? What was it in Olivia Arundel's handsome face from which those who looked at her so often shrank, repelled and disappointed ? Every line in those perfectly-modelled features was beautiful to look at; but as a whole, the face was not beautiful. Perhaps it was too much like a marble mask, exquisitely chiselled, but wanting in variety of expression. The handsome mouth was rigid; the dark gray eyes had a cold light in them. The thick bands of raven-black hair were drawn tightly off a square forehead, which was the brow of an intellectual and determined man rather than of a woman. Yes, womanhood was the something wanted in Olivia Arundel's face. Intellect, resolution, courage, are rare gifts; but they are not the gifts whose tokens we look for most anxiously in a woman's face. If Miss Arundel had been a queen, her diadem would have become her nobly, and she might have been a very great queen; but Heaven help the wretched creature who had appealed from minor tribunals to her mercy! Heaven help delinquents of every kind whose last lingering hope had been in her compassion!
Perhaps Mary Marchmont vaguely felt something of all this. At any rate, the enthusiasm with which she had been ready to regard Edward Arundel cooled suddenly beneath the winter in that pale, quiet face.
Miss Arundel said a few words to her guest, kindly enough, but rather too much as if she had been addressing a child of six. Mary, who was accustomed to be treated as a woman, was wounded by her manner.
“How different she is to Edward !" thought Miss Marchmont. “I shall never like her as I like him."
“So this is the pale-faced child who is to have Marchmont Towers by and by," thought Miss Arundel; “and these rich friends are the people for whom Edward stays away from us.”
The lines about the rigid mouth grew harder, the cold light in the gray eyes grew colder, as the young lady thought this.
It was thus that these two women met: while one was but a child in years ; while the other was yet in the early bloom of womanhood : these two, who were predestined to hate each other, and inflict suffering
each other in the days that were to come. It was thus that they thought of one another; each with an unreasoning dread, an undefined aversion gathering in her breast.
Six weeks passed, and Edward Arundel kept his promise of shooting the partridges on the Marchmont preserves. The wood behind the Towers, and the stubbled corn-fields on the home-farm, bristled with game.
The young soldier heartily enjoyed himself through that delicious first week in September; and came home every afternoon, with a heavy game-bag and a light heart, to boast of his prowess before Mary and her father.
The young man was by this time familiar with every nook and corner
of Marchmont Towers; and the builders were already at work at the tennis-court which John had promised to erect for his friend's pleasure The site ultimately chosen was a bleak corner of the eastern front, looking to the wood; but as Edward declared the spot in every way eligible, John had no inclination to find fault with his friend's choice. There was other work for the builders; for Mr. Arundel had taken a wonderful fancy to a ruined boat-house upon the brink of the river; and this boathouse was to be rebuilt and restored, and made into a delightful pavilion, in the upper chambers of which Mary might sit with her father in the hot summer weather, while Mr. Arundel kept a couple of trim wherries in the recesses below.
So, you see, the young man made himself very much at home, in his own innocent, boyish fashion, at Marchmont Towers. But as he had brought life and light to the old Lincolnshire mansion, nobody was inclined to quarrel with him for any liberties which he might choose to take ; and every one looked forward sorrowfully to the dark days before Christmas, at which time he was under a promise to return to Dangerfield Park, there to spend the remainder of his leave of absence.
Breakfast in Bed;
OR, PHILOSOPHY BETWEEN THE SHEETS.
OX THE PREVAILING MADNESS.
From all that I can see, or hear, or am told, and from a little, perhaps, that I feel, I am inclined to apprehend that there is a good deal of Madness going about the world just now. If Sir Baldwin Leighton's Night Poaching Act is definitively to put down the unlicensed capture of feathered and furry game (which it will no more do than it will enable me to marry my grandmother), it should surely have contained a clause to warrant the shutting up, under the certificate of two physicians, of all the hares next March ; for if they catch the epidemic which is raging among humanity, the chances are that they will go very mad indeed. This is most decidedly a mad world, my masters. Don't you think the Americans have gone mad, and that “a dark house and a whip” would be the fittest treatment for the delirium which has driven a mighty nation into the perpetration of political bankruptcy? They must be mad, only they have duplicity enough not to howl or tear their flesb, or scrabble at the gate (as King David did when he feigned madness), until they have withdrawn themselves from public observation. In one of Mr. Dickens's earlier works there is a terrific tale of a lunatic, who so kept the secret of his insanity for very many years. He slew his wife, and raved finely to himself when alone; but as he wore a white neckcloth, talked about the weather, and lent money at interest in polite society, he was accounted perfectly sane; until, as ill luck would have it, it occurred to him to brain his brother-in-law with a chair, and to avow, in a succession of short yelps, that he was raving mad; whereupon his relatives had out a commission De Lunatico against him, and locked him up, incontinent. It is a dangerous matter to meddle with your brother-in-law. As a rule, your father-in-law is merely a harmless bore, who borrows money from you, and in quiet confidence imparts to his friends the opinion that you never were quite the sort of fellow for his Emily; but your beau-frère has got his mother's blood in him; and the children of the horseleech are younger and stronger than their parent. I knew a man of rare talent once, who went out of his mind; whereupon quoth a cynical friend of his: “What a confounded fool X- must be! It's just like his indiscretion to go blurting out what nobody wanted to know. I've been madder than he for years ; but I always took good care not to let any body know it." How would it be if some sapient physician suddenly discovered that all those exterminating patriots in America yonder were mad,—that “Uncle Abe" had only ninety-nine cents out of the mental dollar; that there was a tile off Mr. Seward ; that Mr. Chase was a gone 'coon? The New Orleans Davoust-Haynau, Butler, may have been suffering, throughout, from cerebral congestion; and the wretch M'Neil, at the time of the Palmyra massacres, was, perchance, quite an unaccountable being. You