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dom. The curate was a capital fellow, but | seen, and whispered, I shall know you somehow he was more capital out of doors there." than in ; and whenever the rector was ill, It was characteristic of Julia Haviland and consequently irritable, he was seized that mingled with the grief and the loneliwith a sudden conviction, requiring to be ness which she felt was a keen exultation in instantly acted on, that the parish required the successful steadiness of purpose with additional supervision, and that sick-calls which she had adhered to her first resoluand other incidental duties needed to be tion. I made up my mind to do one good attended to, especially at places a good thing in my life, and I did it,' she said, as way from the rectory. On the present oc- she stood beside the closed coffin in the casion this state of things had culminated night when the Havilands proper had rein Hugh's being sent for by his mother, and tired decorously to their rooms, satisfied desired to keep his father company, and when the professional watching 'had been amuse him to the best of his ability, but duly ordered; and there is not much now, also counselled to avoid worrying him with good or evil, worth my making up my mind any of his notions.' Hugh Gaynor was pa- about. It's well for her, at any rate. tiently and perseveringly endeavouring to Hugh Gaynor understood some, if not all, carry out these rather conflicting instruc- the feelings which agitated Julia Haviland tions, with many a regretful vision of weav- on this occasion; and she was glad to know ers at once consumptive and sceptical, to how thoroughly he esteemed her conduct. whom he was in the habit of administering suit- But since then they had rarely met; and able diet and consolatory doctrine, when now Stephen Haviland's visits to Burnham the Havilands arrived at Meriton for the Rectory were tolerably frequent, but Hugh early winter season. Stephen Haviland Gaynor did not go to Meriton. He had and Hugh Gaynor had met very rarely of come to look after his father and be with late years, but when they did meet, they him, and neighbourly hospitalities tempted were as good, if not as closely confidential, him not. Thus it fell out that he talked to friends as in the days of their boyish inti- Stephen Haviland about his work at Beckmacy. Of Julia Haviland, Hugh Gaynor thorpe, and about the boy who showed such bad seen even less than of her husband, unusual artistic ability, and his singular and this by an unexplained, unacknowl- history, and told him how Henry Hurst had edged feeling on his part that there was a gone to the lawyer, who knew all about him, twist, which his straightforward mind did and failed to acquire any information. To not like, in their relations. He had a gene- all this Stephen Haviland listened with the ral knowledge of the progress of affairs in philosophical absence of interest in his felthe family, but had been closely associated low-creatures which was one of the Haviwith them only on one occasion, that of the land characteristics, and had no doubt condeath of old Mrs. Haviland, which had taken tributed to the general Haviland prosperity place two years before the period at which and content, contrasting, as almost every this narrative has arrived. Then Hugh peculiarity of the two men did contrast, Gaynor had seen much of Julia, and though with the earnest sympathy and solicitude of he clearly perceived that her marriage was Hugh Gaynor. But when mention was not a success, according to his ideas of what made of the lawyer's name, Stephen Haviconstituted a success in that portentous and land listened with more attention and indifficult human relation, he was well aware terest, but without betraying to the speaker of the blessing it had proved to the blind that he knew anything of Mr. Eliot Foster, old lady, and felt that in all that concerned His face was dark and thoughtful as he rode her Julia had the answer of a good con- back to Meriton that day, and he pondered science. The Havilands proper had all on Hugh Gaynor's communication in no. been at their post on that occasion, as be- pleasant mood. came persons bound not only to live up to •I shall say nothing about this to Julia,' the standard of their own traditional per- he thought; there's no knowing, women fection, but to set a bright example to less are so uncertain, how she might take it. It highly-endowed humanity; but the stranger might lead to some cursed folly, though she in blood was the one who trod most closely never alludes to the boy, and I fancy knows by the side of the gentle lady who had the nothing more about him than that he is not honour of being the mother of the Havi- dead, or Foster would have told her. Who lands the shadowed path to the Silent Land. the deuce would have thought of that old With almost her last breath she put up her story cropping up again, and in Gaynor's feeble hand to touch the face she had never way too ?

CHAPTER VI.

ALICE AIDS THE BUILDER.

and sufficiently-poetical effusions of love for herself. He wrote very pretty love-let

ters, that was undeniable - love-letters A YEAR has elapsed since Henry Hurst which might not have sounded utterly ridicand Alice Wood had parted in the solemn ulous if read by a third party, the severest yet bright churchyard. A year, during test to which that order of composition can which the words then spoken had never be subjected. They sufficed for the girl's ceased to sound in the girl's ears, and the mental food, and made her quite happy. If hopes then acknowledged and discussed bad she ever formed a wish or conceived an idea become more and more precious to her. A which implied that Henry Hurst could be year, during which she had lived the tran- ever so little wrong, or susceptible of imquil, useful, dream-adorned life to which provement, it was when she felt a timid she was accustomed, with one addition to wish that he would write more gratefully, its duties, with one new element of care in more kindly of Hugh Gaynor ; that he would it. Her mother's health was declining, more not dwell so much on the pleasures of perrapidly than Alice knew, though she was fect independence in the aware of the decrease of strength and energy, and though she tended her with untir

I care for nobody, no, not I,

For nobody cares me ing diligence and affection, and acquitted herself of the increased duties which de- style, to which her sensitive feelings could volved upon her to the satisfaction of the not be entirely reconciled, even by the Board. A year, during which she corres- knowledge that she was the one great and ponded with her lover, not frequently, ac- glorious exception. cording to the notions now prevalent, but It was not an uncommon event for Mrs. sufficiently often to feel that, in their know-. Wood and her daughter to have to receive ledge of the daily life and surroundings of visits from strangers, attracted partly by each other, there was strong consolation and the quaint beauty of the ancient building in support. Day by day the girl's fancy in- which they lived, and partly by the local vested the object of her love with those at- reports of the institution. Such visits caused tributes which in its purity and romantic Alice no embarrassment. With her usual fervour it held most beautiful and grand. quiet, self-possessed manner, she would The knights, the saints, the heroes, the conduct the strangers through the building, poets, and the chivalrous lovers of the past, explain the rules and practice of the house, of whose vanished daring, gallantry, grace, and leave on the minds of the least comsanctity, and fidelity, the storied stones monplace of the visitors an impression of around her seemed to speak, contributed her beauty, grace, and simplicity, which as of their ideal best to the phantom idol of sociated itself pleasantly with the stately Alice's pure worship. No human being solemnity of the old churches and their ever could have been all that she believed tree-shadowed precincts. It chanced that her young lover; hers was a nature on when a second year after Henry Hurst's dewhich disappointment was as inevitably des- parture was passing away, the gray-headed tined fall, as was the touch of time upon curate of Beckthorpe came to the school her sunny golden head. How infinitely with a party of ladies, and this visit made short of her ideal standard her lover must a deeper impression on Alice's mind than come, how entirely opposed to the truth any which had preceded it. Hugh Gaynor was her estimate of him, she was also des- and his friends had been received by Mrs. tined never to comprehend, for her faith Wood, but he had left the ladies in the was as boundless as her fancy, the vitality pretty, cool, oak-paneled parlour, where of her love was equal to its credulity. sycamore branches softly tapped the win

The accounts of himself and his doings dows, and roses in the summer shed their which Henry Hurst sent her were satisfac- leaves upon the wide window-sills, and

gone tory. He was studying and working, and to look for Alice in her accustomed place. the arrangements made for him through She was reading a letter as he drew near Hugh Gaynor's influence had proved most and called to her, and she placed it between beneficial. He was already getting employ- the leaves of a book, and rose up with a ment of a superior order and better paid sweet smile and blush of welcome on her than many of his companions of longer face. standing could procure, and his progress • I have brought you some visitors, Alice,' altogether was such as to justify to a certain he said ; .but friends of mine this time, and extent Alice's estimate of his talent. He come to see you quite as much as

the told her little of the society he kept, but Gift ”' (this was the name by which the limited his letters to the facts of his career, school was most commonly known). They

are Mrs. Haviland and her adopted daugh-| the introduction, and declared her eagerter; they are staying at Whitley Abbey, ness to see all that Alice would undertake and came into town with me to-day to see to show her. The third lady remained the churches.'

standing by the window, took no notice of They had walked on together, and neared Alice Wood beyond a stare, and did not afthe house. Alice could see through the fect to feel any interest in the object of their window the bright dresses of the ladies. visit to the school. When Mrs. Haviland She paused for a moment to take off her and her niece left the parlour, guided by straw bonnet and hang it on a hook in the Alice and accompanied by Hugh Gaynor, passage, and then presented herself to Hugh this lady - who was Mrs. Fanshaw — deGaynor's friends, of whom two were stand- clared her inability to do any more sighting in a window, and the third was seated seeing. near her mother. The girl's glance fell first * You have made me explore two dreadful on this lady, and it was to her Hugh Gay- old churches,' said Mrs. Fanshaw, who adnor addressed himself, naming Alice to her. mired nothing old except old lace, old china, Mrs. Haviland took the girl's hand with and old families; and I really cannot climb easy grace, and said a few words to her of any more stairs. I shall remain here, if this her wish to see the old buildings, and Mr. good person does not object.' Gaynor's assurance that she could find no The 'good person,'Mrs. Wood, did not such cicerone as Alice,

object, and Mrs. Fanshaw had rather a long * And your mother has been telling me,' and silent tête-à-tête with her, for Mrs. she said with a smile, and a bend of her Wood's cold propriety was fully equal to stately head towards Mrs. Wood, that you her visitor's nonchalance. The interest disknow all the other antiquities as well as played by Mrs. Haviland, her niece, and those among which you live. — Madeleine, Hugh Gaynor, in the institution, animated come here. This is Miss Wood; she will Alice to more than her usual efforts to tell you all about the ruined cloisters we see please visitors, and the two young girls from hence, and the story of the Charter talked long and eagerly in Alice's quaint House,

old room in the ancient tower, leaning on The young girl whom she addressed came the massive stone window-sill, and lookout of the embrasure of the window, from ing out over the leafy tide of greenery whence she had been looking at the solemn to the majestic spire with its glittering vane grandeur of the ancient church of Holy beyond. Probably the old stone casement Trinity, and turned on Alice a face which had never before framed such fair faces as the girl instantly made up her mind must be the two which it now enclosed, so different unsurpassed in beauty anywhere in the in their beauty, but both full of the unsulworld; a face which she did not know, and lied glory of youth. The elegance and reyet had a vague feeling that she had seen or finement of wealth, the habit of luxury, of dreamed of before. Madeleine Burdett's superb dress, unthought of, of having every girlhood more than fulfilled the promise of want anticipated, of life so easy and adorned her childhood; she retained all the bright- that its externals hardly caught her attenness, all the sunny, winning, frank, and gay tion, had given to Madeleine Burdett the beauty which had set her apart even among perfect ease, polish, and suavity of manner pretty children, and had acquired in addi- which are not found out of similar positions ; tion a perfection of feature, form, and col- but if that peculiar kind of grace was wantouring, which made her a very delightful ing to Alice Wood, she was richly endowed creature to look upon. In her air and car- with another kind, which made her suggesriage, in her smile, in the tones of her voice, tive to observers of the light-limbed sculpin every expression, she conveyed to the tured saints with folded hands and virginal beholder the impression of a perfectly hap- faces which had once filled the niches in the py human being, a favourite of nature and ancient fane, in whose shadow she had lived of fate, the idol of a household, for whom and grown into such meek and spiritual everything was ordained to be smooth and lovelinesss. The beauty of the two girls pleasant, who never was to be reached by harmonised in its contrast; Madeleine's the wind of adversity, or taught any of that rich, rippling, bright brown ringlets and rosesad wisdom which is learned through the bud cheeks lending some of their brightness experience of evil, and the convincing grip to the smooth, soft golden hair and delicate of disappointment. She came forward with waxen skin of Alice. Mrs. Haviland and a light, graceful step, and smiling at Alice Hugh Gaynor looked at the group with with a brilliancy which surprised her into a pleased interest. long look, at whose boldness she afterwards • Your young friend is a real lover of blushed, made an easy acknowledgment of books,' said the lady; see, she carries one

about with her mechanically, — a sure were few indeed. Mr. Eliot Foster had sign.'

gone abroad in the autumn on important Yes,' said Hugh, she is a great reader.' business, which was probably among the But Alice carried the book not for its own last affairs he would personally attend to. sake, but for the sake of the precious letter The shabby chambers in Gray's Inn were which lay within its leaves, whose words destined to a grand renovation before long, were making music in her heart while she and the occupancy of a gentleman of quite talked and listened.

another way of thinking, in matters of busiA kind and cordial leave-taking took ness and pleasure, than the staid lawyer who place between the visitors and Mrs. Wood had tenanted them for so long. and Alice, and the girl lingered at the end Henry Hurst's letters continued to be of the long gallery above the cloisters, to satisfactory. He had made a good conneccatch the last glimpse of Madeleine's grace- tion among engravers, and foresaw its exful figure, and the last tones of her gleeful tension. He had the great quality of indevoice. I wonder whether I shall ever see fatigable industry, and really loved his work.. her again,' she thought; or whether our What pure, unspeakable joy Alice felt in ways in life are too widely separated for any thinking of the efforts he was making, of chance of that." And then she wondered the steadiness and energy with which he was how she should ever find words in which to labouring for her! She was not above the describe to Henry Hurst the beautiful vision feminine weakness of believing this, and which had delighted her eyes for a while. dwelling rapturously upon it, though she When she returned to her mother she found had little power of appreciating the meanher quite enthusiastic, for her, about Mr. ing of a really struggling life and would Gaynor's friends.

have unhesitatingly plunged into any extent What a beautiful woman that Mrs. Hav- of poverty with him, if he had called upon iland is!' she said. “Did you ever see any her to do so. Henry Hurst did indeed one at her age so handsome? — but no, work hard, and did indeed wish and intend how could you! for I surely never did.' to marry her, but the other circumstances

•She is very handsome and grand-looking being identical, he would have done as he indeed, mother,' replied Alice. I wonder was now doing if she had not been in existhow old she is.'

Not that his letters to her were •A year or two over forty, I should think; mere lies and hypocrisy – by no means ; but it's wonderful how these fine ladies who but they were the productions of his imagihave nothing to do, and nothing to fret nation rather than of his heart; very clever them, and heaps of money, and plenty of and artistic, and adapted almost unconservants to wait on them, and nothing to sciously to the girl's character and disposithink of but their looks and their dress, tion; such letters as, if he had been writing wear their years. Their years don't wear a novel, of which an imaginary Alice was them, at all events, that's certain.'

the heroine, he would have made her imagiAlice had a notion that her mother's gen-nary lover indite to her. eralisation was rather trenchant, but her Time passed. It was late in an unusualknowledge of life was too limited to enable ly severe winter when Mrs. Wood, who had her to estimate its erroneousness quite been obliged to acknowledge much-increased rightly. They talked for a long time about feebleness of late, became alarmingly ill. Madeleine, and Mrs. Fanshaw would have Then Alice keenly felt the loneliness of her been much scandalised by the ignorance position. Not that the widow and her of the claims of the Havilands to gen- daughter were friendless among the small eral admiration, on the part of insignificant circle of their acquaintances, but that Alice's people, had she known that they never once habitual reserve, and the singularity of her mentioned or remembered her.

character and tastes, rendered it difficult for For some time after this little incident her to break through the barriers of custom, nothing occurred to interrupt the quiet and and admit others to a participation in her monotony of the life of Mrs. Wood and her cares and duties. She was frightened about daughter. They ceased to see the elderly her mother from the first, and the doctor curate of Beckthorpe after a while, for he confirmed her fears. For a while she tried was forced, by his father's state of health, to tend her mother unaided, but she was obto take long leave, providing a substitute. liged to relinquish the effort and accept the The rector of Burnham was now evidently, assistance of some neighbours, who proved though not rapidly, dying, and his son was kind and useful to her. Terror and bewilnot expected to return into Warwickshire derment made dreadful items in the sum of until after the event. The communications Alice's grief, though she had hardly enough of the little family with the outer world / worldly wisdom to speculate upon her own

ence.

position. But the idea, the actual, inevit-| introduction of an agitating subject; and able, near approach of death frightened her. when at length she felt that she could not She was sitting by her mother now, seeing, endure that her mother should die unconhearing, touching her, watching illness and scious of the future which lay before her, suffering; whose constant struggle and un- Alice found that she had hesitated too long, rest made the everlasting stirlessness of The girl's story, told, with her fair head death more inexplicable, more awful, more laid upon the pillow, beside the face touched seemingly impossible, than it appeared in the already by the mysterious separating hand, equable flow and motion of everyday health- which transfigures while it leads the dying ful life. She could not realise, she could through the shadowy gates — with much not believe, she could not bear it. In the striving for composure, and an earnest apnight when her watch was taken by one of peal that her mother would be satisfied to her neighbours, a good, kind-hearted soul, know that she was leaving her in safety, and who saw no contradiction between the strug- to such happiness as she could bave without gle and its inevitable result, and was the her - fell upon senses so near the end of most practically-useful person possible, un- their term of service that it made no impresder the circumstances, Alice would open the sion. The widow looked at her child with window of her tower-room widely, and lean a smile, feebly touched the golden head, out of it, gasping, terrified, striving to and whispered, “Yes, yes, it will all be gain calm in looking at the expanse of still right. You'll be well here, and they'll lay white snow, and the leafless branches of the you beside me in the end.' Then she fell trees, gaunt and quiet under their white gar- asleep, and never again spoke intelligibly, ment. There was the churchyard which she though she lived until late on the following loved, and the tall ash, which would be full day. of leaves again next summer, bare and When the thing in which she had not been ghostly as it was now. In a little time they able to force herself to believe, had been would make a grave for her mother near its done before her eyes; when the snow-laden roots; for her mother, whose flushed face branches of the ash shivered, and shook she had kissed just now, whose laboured down light showers of their feathery burbreathing she could hear at this moment, if den of snow upon the brown sods which she set the door open and listened with at- covered in her mother's grave; when the tention. She knew it; but no, she could dreadful time of leisure, secured to her by not, she did not believe it; and in a moment the thoughtful kindness of persons who had the churchyard which she loved became hor-esteemed her mother, and sincerely desired rible to her, and she shut the window and to befriend the little-understood girl, had threw herself on her bed, with her hands arrived, Alice Wood was frightened in and over her eyes, and her heart beating violent- by her solitude. Then she learned how ly. Then she would rise and steal down to complete, how protecting had been her her mother's room and listen, to be quite sense of her mother's presence, notwithsure that what was to come had not come standing her own strange lonely ways. All yet, and returning, tranquil and weary, the past and present were changed; in her would find herself overpowered by the bles- former beloved occupations she could no sed influence of sleep, so benignly tyrannous more take delight. One real, searching, in youth.

actual grief of her own, one irreparable, With her increased illness a kind of dul- terrible bereavement, had depopulated her ness, not insensibility, but indifference, fell phantom world and laid it desolate. No upon Mrs. Wood's mind. She could un- troop of knights and ladies, no solemn proderstand anything she was told, but she cession of monks, no stately train of kings could not care about it. Happily for her, and nobles, trod the ancient cloisters now, she had drifted rapidly out of the reach of or entered, by the western doorway, the anxiety and mental disturbance. The great church of the great Archangel. No vision est of her daughter's perplexities was whether of the historic past was borne to her upon to tell her of her own prospects or not. the pealing music of the organ, or by the She shrunk from the idea of leaving her sweet voices of the choristers. She only mother in ignorance; she cherished the hope heard the echo of the step which was never that the knowledge would bring happiness to move about the old house again; she and peace to her; she longed to have her only saw the vision of her vanished childsanction and her blessing, and the feeling hood, and the vacant place where her moththat through all her future life there would er was not. Then the fear which had come be an association between her dead mother to her so often before her mother died camo and herself, on that material point also. and stayed; and Alice, terrified in her loneBut she hesitated, naturally dreading the liness, and yet unable to feel that any of

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