Page images

wrong with her. On the whole, she had | dowed and passionate as Julia Ilaviland's managed her husband wonderfully well, was. When she was well and strong she surprisingly easily, considering the mate- did battle with this insidious ennui, whose rials she had to work on; but she felt a lit- harmfulness she knew; but she was ill and tle misgiving about how she might be able weak now; she could not fight with it, and to manage him in the future, if her health, it had its own way. strength, and vivacity were to fail her. Frank Burdett understood her very well. She had not really repressed his self-will, or He did not say so; he never officiously voldecreased his selfishness; she had merely unteered to put her moods into words, but kept them in check by the greater imperi- he knew as much about them as any one ousness of her own nature; and she thought but Julia herself could know. He applied if her strength, her capacity for caring to himself to the judicious soothing of Stemanage him, should fail

, if the strange in- phen's apprehensions and temper, rightly difference to all things which sometimes considering that he could thus do Julia came over her but passingly, should be most good. He bores her,' said Mr. Burcome a permanent state of mind with her, dett, with that candour which is wisely reshe would probably find him very trouble- served for soliloquy; 'he fidgets her and some to herself and to other people. It he bores her. He is at a loss without her, was natural that she should feel this gen- and he does not like to feel that that is the eral languor just now; it did not indicate case. The best thing I can do for her is to the real decline of her characteristic strength, keep him away.. It's the Haviland way. tact, and firmness, - it was caused by ill- Whenever anything ailed me, Selina was ness, it would pass away with returning awful.' health.

Though Julia was sufficiently ill to be From the windows of Julia's room she confined to her room, and though she did could see the flower-garden in which she not get better with such celerity as Stephen had been used to walk with her husband's Haviland considered would have been the mother; and, lying on her sofa, weak, suf- right thing, and what might have been exfering, and alone, her thoughts would turn pected of her, she was not too ill to feel inback to those far-distant days, and she terested in hearing all that was going on would recall the victory she had then won in the house. The sounds which told of without any exultation now; indeed, with life and stir and amusement, came but weariness. After all, the love and the faintly and distantly to her quiet rooms, gratitude of the kind old lady had been the and disturbed her not at all. She liked to very best and most precious things which lie there with closed eyes and listen to her success had brought her. She was not them without any need for exerting herself. more sentimental or more credulous now She liked Madeleine's visits, when the than she had ever been; but she knew this bright, happy young girl — who had seen for a fact. All through these years, during so little of illness, and had so little notion which she had been rich, prosperous, ad- of suffering that it never occurred to her to mired, beloved, in every sense successful, feel any uneasiness about Julia — would she had suffered, more or less frequently, cheer her up with accounts of the day's from the inexorable ennui which is at the proceedings, and occasionally with amusing bottom of all human existence,' but less of sketches, full of fun, but quite devoid of late than in her youth. Was not this ennui, malice, of the untiring exertions of Angelike the vague 'melancholy which is of the lina and Clementina in the unvaried occuessence of youthful poetry, an attribute of pation of their lives — the pursuit of adyouth? Does it not cease to be felt as mirers who might be turned into husbands. time begins to move with the accelerated There was something touching to a contemspeed which we all recognise in middle age, plative mind in the sustained and courwhen things are more commonplace and ageous industry, dash, and daring of their comfortable? It was time that she should devotion to this noble avocation. Nothing be done with it, but she was not; it lurked daunted, nothing disheartened them. When in her path still, making her feel that her the chase' got away, clean out of sight, inmost spirit assented to the ancient faith they immediately looked out for another; of the Eastern sage, who held that silence and when, as had frequently happened, a was better than speech, sleep than pleas- rival carried off the prize, they regarded ure, death than life.

the circumstance with disdain, as the result In the pauses in life of which this was of an unprincipled manæuvre to which a one, the vacuity of it makes itself felt, if wretched male victim had been sacrificed, indeed it be empty of the nobler aims, the expressed the deepest compassion for him, purer emotions, by every nature largely en- land turned their attention elsewhere. They

did not very often get the chance of pur- men of his sort, he is very susceptible of suing this praiseworthy vocation at Meri- flattery, and I should not be at all surprised ton, but whenever the opportunity did if Angelina were to succeed in her devices, arise, they took the utmost advantage of it. if she only does the humble and devout The Honourable Herbert Bingham and worshipper with sufficient consistency, and Captain Medway were just at present the sticks to it long enough.' objects of the unremitting attention of the Madeleine made no answer to this remark young ladies. Angelina had made up her beyond a blush and a look ef embarrassmind to be Mrs. Bingham, and Clementina ment which Julia observed. had resolved to be Mrs. Medway; and What's the matter, Maddy?' she asked. though the respective gentlemen did not what makes you look as if you differed

see it,' and made their blindness percepti- from me, for some reason specially known to ble to every one besides, the ingenuous yourself? Angelina and Clementina cherished their Madeleine blushed again, and laughed delusion, all unsuspecting, and afforded' a uneasily. I hardly like to tell you, aunt,' great deal of not too good-natured amuse- she said; it seems like such ridiculous conment to the on-lookers at this very unequal ceit, it seems so like the sort of thing one game.

laughs at the Marsh girls for; but -- but I The enforced seclusion of Julia was not cannot help fancying that Herbert Bingham regretted by the Misses Marsh. They has made up his mind, in his high-and-mighty would have resented with indignation such way, to confer the honour of his alliance on an imputation as that they were afraid of me." their uncle's wife; but they were afraid of Indeed!' said Julia ; that is rather an her; her perfectly polite but invincibly cold awkward complication. What has made manner had a repressive effect upon them, you think so ?' and they preferred to carry on what they It is so hard to tell you exactly,' Naregarded as their flirtations, but which were deleine answered; but the impression is in reality their aggressive attacks upon

mas- irresistible. One reason for my thinking culine freedom, out of the range of her this is his insufferable way of keeping persteadily observant and contemptuous eyes. petually beside me, and seeming impatient That she was, as they elegantly termed it, if I am. ever occupied with anybody else. 6 safe' for the present, was a subject of fre- He was positively rude this evening when I quent confidential congratulations of each was at the piano; interrupted me three other on the part of the sisters, and they times when I was speaking to Mr. Holmes, regarded their prospects as cheering and fa- and took no more notice of him than if he vourable.

was not there. He is exactly like his * The idea of Angelina fixing on Herbert mother in that horrid way of walking Bingham!' said Madeleine, on an occasion over people," as papa calls it. I should not when she had been relating the day's pro- have minded it so much to-night if he had ceedings to her aunt. · He would be as- been rude to anyone except Mr. Holmes, tounded if he could be made to understand but it is such bad taste when there can be her presumption. Ile appears to me to any doubt or question about the rank of think he does uncle Stephen a great honour one's guest.' by coming here, and nothing that Verner • It is, indeed,' said Julia abstractedly. told us of his father and mother equals bis She was thinking if Madeleine should be pride and stiffness. They are not pleasant right - and a woman's instinct may genpeople to look forward to belonging to, cer- erally be trusted in such matters — what the tainly. He was speaking of Verner yester- true love of her piece and Verner Bingham day in such a slighting way, I longed to tell would not be likely to run the smoother; him what an improvement it would be to as, in that case, Herbert would hardly act him to be just the least little bit in the as their friend with Lord and Lady Bredisworld like his younger brother.'

holme. Not that Julia really cared about Julia smiled.

their opinion, or had any doubt that she * But he is so different,' Madeleine con- could render Stephen also indifferent to it tinued; he is so selfish, and so little-mind when the fitting time should have arrived, ed, and so mean in all his ways. But An- but that she disliked the arising of a diffigelina sees all perfection in him.!

culty, and here she foresaw one. • No, she doesn't, my dear,” said Mrs. " I wish he would go away,' she said. Haviland; "she sees the Honourable Mr. I fancied he only came here to fill up a Bingham, the future Lord Bredisholme, in gap in his time, until his father and mother him. I grant you that that is Angelina's release some unhappy people they are visitnotion of perfection. I fancy, like most ing from their presence, and return to Bre

disholme. He does not care for shooting, I mean. When Herbert Bingham succeeded does he ?'

in interrupting him this evening, he stood • Not in the least,' answered Madeleine; apart, leaning against the window, and lookand papa can't bear to have him out with ing as absent-minded as if he were not one them, he makes himself so disagreeable. of us.' I confess I have beguiled him into remain * Well, you know, in a certain sense he is ing with us sometimes, just to get papa rid not,' said Julia. of him.'

*Yes, but I don't mean that,' said Made* And your filial duty may be rewarded leine. • There is nothing about him to imby a coronet in perspective,' said Julia. ply his feeling himself out of place in any • What a pity you are not Angelina, or An- society; you will understand what I mean gelina you! But seriously, you will have to when you see him. He is very clever, I be very careful,, Maddy; it would be very am sure, in every way, and I don't think unpleasant to have to refuse Verner's even Aunt Marsh could contrive to patronbrother - it would create an awkwardness ise him; and as for Angelina and Clemenfor you afterwards.'

tina, they do not like him at all.' Madeleine made a pretty little movement No, I should fancy, from your descripwith her head, which implied that she had tion, he would not suit them. I suppose perfect, undoubting, not-to-be-shaken faith they would not have even tried their “ 'prenin . afterwards ; ' but she acquiesced in her tice hand” on a mere artist. Mr. Holmes aunt's caution, remarking that Angelina, is quite a young man, is he not?' who never let Mr. Bingham out of her *Yes, I should think so,' said Madeleine. sight if she could avoid it, would unconsci- . He is so dark that it is not easy to tell ously render her invaluable assistance in whether he is very young.' preventing his making a fool of himself.' “Your uncle speaks of asking him to stay

• What sort of person is this young art- here when the Mitfords leave,' said Julia. ist, Mr. IIolmes?' Julia asked after a • So he said this morning; and you should pause, during which Madeleine had arranged have seen Aunt Marsh's face! She did not her pillows, and rendered her sundry little venture to say anything, but there was a services with a skilful hand. Your uncle great deal of the true Haviland eloquence seems to like him very much.'

in her glance. Artists, indeed!' and MaO, he's so nice !' replied Madeleine, al- deleine, who had a dangerous turn for most eagerly; he is very handsome mimicry, gave her face a certain sour-lookvery dark, with such keen black eyes, and ing twist common to the Haviland physiogsuch fine curly hair - one of the handsomest nomy in moments of irritation or offended men I ever saw, I think; but rather stern- dignity which made her aunt laugh, though looking. I'm sure he is a proud man. she held up a rebuking finger. Papa thinks him very handsome; he fancies • I had better go away, I think,' said he has seen him before;, but Mr. Holmes Madeleine, with much penitence. Uncle does not remember ever to have seen him, Stephen will be coming to say good-night, and says it is most unlikely, as he has not and he will blame me for that flush on your been in England until last winter for years. cheeks,- and if you cough!

- but you Uncle Stephen showed you his drawings, mustn't cough, aunt, or I shall be banished aunt, did he not ??

altogether. Make haste and get well; I • Yes, he brought me a portfolio full to- want you so much downstairs to keep Herday which Mr. Holmes sent up from the bert Bingham at a respectful distance, to village to amuse me. They are very fine in- prevent Clementina getting an unqualified deed, as far as my judgment goes.' refusal from Captain Medway, and to hear

•O) yes, beautiful! And he is so fond of your opinion of Mr. Holmes. his art; it is quite delightful to hear him She laid her bright, soft cheek fondly talk about it; and he is so perfectly gentle- against her aunt's still beautiful face, and manly in his manners — almost too grave, in Julia held it there for a minute while she fact. I'm sure all one hears about the slang said, talk and the good-for-nothing ways of art • Nothing has been said to Mr. Holmes ists does not apply to him, at all events. as yet, I suppose, about his giving you lesHis manners are as good as good as Ver- sons ?' ner's, and he talks better than anyone here.' · No,' replied Madeleine; it will be

* Quite a hero of romance!' said Julia, time enough when we know him a little betwith a kind smile.

• He is indeed, aunt; and do you know, The opinions expressed by Stephen Haviwhen he is not speaking he looks like a man land and Frank Burdett concerning the with a story — you know the kind of thing stranger were as favourable to him as Mad


[ocr errors]

eleine's. The first pronounced him clever heard nothing since, or he would have let and agreeable; and the second, still puz- us know.' zled by a notion that he had seen him pre • Nothing since that strange meeting in viously, though he could not remember Paris,' said Madeleine. •I almost wish he where, said he was a gentlemanly young had not seen her at all; now he knows she man, with something to talk about worth is living, and unhappy, poor girl ; what listening to, and content to acknowledge does it all mean?' himself ignorant of subjects he knew noth The beautiful brown eyes of Madeleine ing about. Mr. Horace Holmes had not a filled with sudden tears, and an expression little propitiated Frank Burdett's liking by of sweet, heavenly compassion came into promptly declining Stephen's invitation to her face which became it better than its join the shooting-parties, adding a candid brightest, gayest, most smiling aspect. confession that he had not the least notion She is not much older than I am, aunt,' how to use a gun.

the girl continued; she was seated on the *So different from that fellow Bingham!? floor, beside Julia's sofa, and her nutsaid Frank, who felt deeply and spoke brown head nestled by her aunt's side; strongly about this, his favourite grievance; "and she has known so much trouble that 'he delights in spoiling sport, I do believe. we are sure of, besides what we cannot even How Gaynor can ever have put up with that guess at. How strange it is that the destiinsufferable booby, who must have been still nies of people in this world should be so more odious when travelling than when different! Think of her and me,- and staying at home, I cannot make out.' she so good and useful too. I think I al

But then, you see, Mr. Gaynor is of a most ought to be ashamed of being so happy." patient disposition, and you are not,' said • But you are good and useful too, MadMadeleine; • you are such a terrible Turk. dy,' said Julia ; "your sunshine is not all I am sure, however, you are right about undeserved, my dear.' Herbert Bingham's being an unpleasant

• Ah,' said Madeleine, with momentary travelling-companion; I could make that thoughtfulness, 'I am only a creature of out from his own account - always stand- the human-butterfly species, after all, and ing on his own rights, and not caring in the you all spoil me. It's very nice to be least about any other person's tastes or spoiled, and I hope none of you will leave wishes.'

off, mind.' • You have not heard from Gaynor lately, • I don't think we shall,' said Julia, with have you ? ' asked Mr. Burdett of' his broth- a grave smile; and then she lay still for er-in law.

some minutes, her hand, thinner and whiter •No,' said Stephen. “I suppose we shall than it usually was, resting on her niece's see him when he returns.'

sunny head. The young girl's words had This trifling conversation was destined to sent her fancy back to her own youth, and have an effect out of proportion to its to a brief contemplation of the dealings of seeming insignificance. Madeleine laugh- destiny with herself. How completely all ingly related her father's strictures on Iler- the conditions of her early life were reversed bert Bingham, and his reflected commenda- now! What calm and prosperity bad come tion of Horace Holmes, to her aunt, and so after the storm! Must there indeed be led their conversation in the direction of storm in every life, sooner or later? Could Hugh Gaynor, to whom Madeleine - grate- it not be that Madeleine's life might pass fully aware of his sympathy in her love- without any tempestuous weather? affair, and confident in his taking her view • I wonder,' said Madeleine, breaking of the inviolability of her faith and Verner's, through Julia's reverie suddenly, and litting and the eternal nature of their reciprocal up her face full of the animation of a new constancy — was sincerely attached. idea, -"I wonder whether those French

I wonder whether he has learned any- clergymen in Paris that Herbert Bingham thing about Alice Wood,' said Julia thought- knows - you remember the people I mean; fully. It was so like him to be so ear- Lady Bredisholme worries us about collectnestly anxious about the poor girl ; so like ing for their church, don't you recollect? him not to forget her among all his other but said the demands upon her own purse anxieties and cares. It does one good to were so numerous she could not give anysee any human being so disinterested and thing herself — could help Mr. Gaynor? so conscientious; one cannot imitate, I Alice Wood being English and a Protessuppose at least, I could not — but one tant, I should think it likely they might can admire him. I wonder what has be- know something about her — should not come of her? I feel pretty sure he has you ? She was so pretty, and so very un

you credit.

common-looking, if she came across them | Angelina considered them quite vulgarly at all they would be certain to take an in- expressive - dark eyes of his, and anyone terest in her, and remember her. Don't might perceive by their glance when Madeyou think so, aunt?'

leine's figure was hidden by the row of • Certainly I do,' answered Julia. "That plants and the orange-trees, and when it is a capital idea of yours, Maddy, a most emerged into the light, as she and her comexcellent idea. Everything renders it likely panion walked and talked in the conservathat the Protestant clergymen in Paris, or tory. After some time, Herbert Bingham one of them at any rate, should know some came from the conservatory into the drawthing of the poor girl, especially her being ing-room, crossed that apartment without a in some undeniable trouble.'

moment's delay, and left it by the opposite *Then do you think I might write to Mr. door - proceedings which Angelina regardGaynor, — when I ask Herbert Bingham ed with intense curiosity. Madeleine was the names and addresses of Lady Bredis- evidently awaiting his return. Angelina holme's friends, — and tell him you think it placed the chess-table in a position whence likely they could help him to find Alice she could command a good view of the conWood? I cannot tell you what a strange servatory, sat down, and began to arrange feeling I have about this matter, aunt; I the chessmen. The young artist stood becannot make you understand it exactly, hind her chair, and asked her — his eyes as if I might show some thankfulness for still following Madeleine — the names of the being so happy, and so well taken care of, pieces on the board. . After a few minutes, and protected against every kind of trouble Herbert Bingham returned and rejoined myself, by helping, in any little insignificant Madeleine. As he passed her by, Angelina way that I could, to bring some consolation saw that he carried a pocket-book in his to this poor girl.'

hand. The interview in the conservatory I understand your meaning perfectly,' soon came to a termination, and when said Julia; 'and I think the feeling does Madeleine rejoined the party in the draw

ing-room, her face was troubled. Mr. Madeleine seized the first opportunity Bingham did not seem to be in a particuafforded her of getting the desired infor- larly good humour either; and though Anmation from Ilerbert Bingham. That op- gelina succeeded in inducing him to play portunity occurred after dinner, when An- chess with her, she was unpleasantly congelina was preparing to ensnare her hon- scious that she did not make progress in ourable victim into playing a game of chess her other little game. with her. This was a solemn sort of pastime which suited the slow and pertina *Can you imagine anyone being so selfish, cious temperament of Mr. Bingham, and in so utterly inconsiderate of other people's it Angelina had great hope. Extreme, feelings, aunt?' said Madeleine, her eyes therefore, was the indignation with which sparkling with anger as she narrated to she beheld Madeleine approach, intimate to Mrs. Haviland the particulars of her interMr. Binghain that she had a message for view with Herbert Bingham. “Just fancy him from her aunt, and withdraw with him his coming back to Paris, and the waiter's from the drawing-room to the conservatory, faithfully giving him the memorandum where she immediately began to talk to him look there, and she pointed to the last line with an air of confidential animation inex- of some writing on a paper in Julia's hand, pressibly disgusting to Angelina. That - This is very important to Mr. Gaynor,'— discomfited young lady had not even the and never sending it on, or telling him he satisfaction of expressing her sense of had got it, or anything. I have no patience Madeleine's conduct to Clementina, who with such people! Ånd he talks cant by was at the other end of the room, gazing at the hour, like his mother, and thinks no Captain Medway, and welcoming every silly amount of attention and consideration too sentence he uttered with fish-like gasps of much to be shown to him.' admiration. No one was near her but Mr. *Not at all an uncommon character, my Holmes, and he seemed more than usually dear,” said Julia, who was amused at the absent-minded; besides, Angelina did not young girl's vehemence, while she fully 'cultivate' Mr. Holmes, who had, in addi- shared her solicitude. It strikes you betion to his inherent insignificance, the un- cause you have not reached the age of obpardonable fault of having followed the servation yet; it is not new to me, I assure multitude to do homage to Madeleine Bur-you.' dett. It was really too laughable, but at • It's very disgusting to me, I can tell you that very moment he was following her that," said Madeleine; and if I found Verwith those singularly expressive - indeed Iner out in anything of the kind, I should –

« EelmineJätka »