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whole ceremonial that followed lasted at the uttermost ten minutes.
Lancelot's absence excited no attention, because it was so common: the father satisfying himself under this and all other delinquencies, with that modern pernicious proverb about "wild oats," which has brought so many sons to ruin: and with another, less harmful, about old heads on young shoulders. Both of which proverbs have nothing analogous to them in Solomon's.
Right opposite to where the master of Kyle stood on the hearth-rug, was fixed a life-size portrait of himself and favourite hound, taken in the "Bayard" days. The same man, with all the characteristics in bud which were now in full fruitage: yet grievously not the same, no more than the spring leaf confronting the autumn's sere foliage can claim to be identical.
"My dear," said Mrs. Latymer, when the hassocks were removed, and the ponderous Bible put on a little side altar by itself—"I hope you gave Mr. Etough distinctly to understand that you must reduce that pension to the widow Lake?"
The master of Kyle shifted his feet a little uneasily, "I told him that I could not afford to pay so much to my sister Sarah as she had been in the habit of receiving. Her son ought to be able to help her now. though I don't imagine Etough gives him much salary."
"I wish Etough had not taken 1dm at all," observed the lady, petulantly. "The farther such undesirable connexions are kept from one's family the better. How she ever could have done such a thing !"
The "thing" had been done more than twenty years, so that wonderings and regrets were rather late: it signified the elopement of Mr. Latymer's sister with her too fascinating music-master, Mr. George Lake. For which folly the poor woman had sorely suffered, in the customary consequences of poverty and disrepute.
"And the idea of calling her son after you—Hugh Latymer Lake, forsooth !—as if there was any connexion acknowledged by the family'.
I call it an act of great presumption. And then to threaten you with keeping a shop!"
"Well, my dear, we will not talk of that now. She was my sister, after all, though she certainly showed very little sense of her position, and the privileges of good birth," said Mr. Latymer, pulling at his white waistcoat till it was utterly creaseless, and seemed like a vesture of plaster-of-Paris. For an iron uprightness of carriage wasone characteristic of the Family: and a tendency to stoop, whether in spine or in social position, was regarded as a sad derogation.
Often had Beresford heard allusion to this poor aunt and her low marriage ins it was styled); yet she knew literally nothing about her. And a yearning towards her loneliness and poverty tilled the goodnatured girl's heart now, when she thought what a blow it must be to lose a part of her paltry income. How much Mr. Latymer allowed his sister she did not know: but judging by the tightness of money at home it could be no great sum.
Ah, that tightness of money! It had first led Beresford to attempt what occupied her for some hours before going to bed the same night. She drew forth an old portfolio from a press in the wall, where were kept her peculiar treasures, and began to write. Many a page was spoiled before one satisfied: for she had learned to be severely critical upon her own efforts, owing to the stern teaching of three or four bundles of returned papers. She was wise enough not to throw all the blame on the editors who would not see her excellences and apportion none to the unskilled 'prentice-hand: though with more than one sigh she went to work to repair the breach in her house of cards, and make herself worthy of a different result.
And Lancelot? She heard him stealing along the corridor when midnight was long past, and rejoiced that whatever drinking had taken place among the racing-men (in whose proximity every vice seems to flourish), it had injured her brother no further. Well she knew how the young squire was flattered and fooled in such company, and his every fault fostered by those with whom he should truly have disdained to hold fellowship. But here was a curious phase of the Latymer pride; it much preferred contact with the professed inferior, than with the possible equal.
Which principle had been acting deleteriously upon Lancelot since he was born. None of the well broughtup children in the village were good enough company for him: but the gatekeeper's and gardener's sons, the stable boys and grooms, all who had the strongest motive for being sycophants to the young squire, were permitted to be Ids associates. What wonder if he grew up arrogant and overbearing? What wonder that his education was of the scantiest, for want of taste to assimilate any learning whatever into his mental constitution? Nevertheless a very splendid animal was Lancelot Latymer: and not without germs of something higher in him likewise.
The young man was intended for "an appointment." It was always being expected for him, chiefly through the interest of his mother's relative, the Earl of Bar-Sinister: who had meanwhile conferred on him a uniform, by means of a lieutenancy in the county militia. The heir to Kyle, his elder brother, Hugh, was serving with his regiment in India. And Lancelotbeing educated for nothing in particular, was considered the very young man whom government ought to "appoint :"—" scion of an old family, influential in the county," &c, ; excellent reasons why he should be paid by the public. Such have qualified for the best places in Church and State.
"Lancelot, did you ever see Hugh Lake—our cousin Hugh?" asked Beresford of him next day, as he was sorting a fishing-book full of those impossibly-brilliant flies which tempt British trout to ruin.
"• Our cousin Hugh I.' " he repeated with a slight whistle. "Let my lady-mother hear you say that!"
No matter. I should like to see him and his sister, and poor Aunt
Sarah. I don't believe mamma would be so hard against them if they only met—even for once."
"Perhaps so, but my mother would be shocked at once with Hugh. She would say he was so very plebeian—the very reverse in appearance, Berry, of your friend the curate: a short, black, determined-looking chap, with a fist that could double up Mr. Ohetwynd in about five seconds."
His sister made no answer to this distasteful comparison.
"I don't think he'd stand any nonsense of any sort: I'm certain he would put me down at once if I attempted to come the grand cousin over him: how he can bear to stay with that cringing Etough, I know not."
"Then you liked what you saw of him?"
"Yes, pretty well. He and I would fight before long, but that's no matter. There's a temper under his clever black brows."
"Is he one that's likely to go and work for his mother? I should like to think that poor Aunt Sarah had comfort in her children."
"He's not a bit disposed to make up to the Latymer side of his family, I can tell you: but I should say he would hold by his own through thick and thin. I wish my mother saw his face and heard his haughty' no, thank you !' when I asked him to come and see me at Kyle, some day. —Holloa! there are the horses round from the stables—going to visit the Charles, I hear: are you going?"
"No ; mamma is not sure as to whether the girls would be desirable acquaintances."
"Ah, I must not forget to inform my mother that Dora Charley is tho prettiest girl I know," interrupted Lancelot. "She believes thatevery young woman has a design on her sons : I only wish Dora had a design upon me ! But she is far too nice, too noble—"he hesitated, and positively blushed redder than the Mayflies in his fishing-book, as he bent over them.
Now the young gentleman had met the young lady twice in his life, on the second of which occasions he had heard her speak about twenty words, chiefly concerning the weather. But, as customary with his sex at his age, he was ready to credit her with the whole calendar of virtues, on the strength of her pretty face alone.
"What a muff I am !" and Lancelot rose from his fishing-book, and stretched his great figure to its height, as if he had been suffering collapse while stooping. "Now you'll be thinking all sorts of things. Ah, there's my mother! I must go and put her into the carriage."
So he made his escape behind this unusual piece of politeness.
THE PARVENU FAMILY.
The carriage was an ancient family coach, roomy enough for a small chamber, and so darkly recessed that parties on the opposite seats had but imperfect vision of each other. On the panels were emblazoned the Latymerarms with numerous quarterings, among which an heraldic student might trace a palpable allusion to the noble house of Bar-Sinister, per favour of the present Mrs. Latymer. Four horses, which had also a venerable contour, drew the equipage, and the whole turn-out might have been prepared for thirty miles instead of three. Marvellously in keeping was it with the decayed greatness of Kyle and its owners: with the ruinous stables and kennels which once held the Latymer fox-hounds and the Latymer stud: with the unfinished wine and its gaping ball-room and half-built tower. But sanguine Mr. Latymer intended to have an observatory there, at some future period, whenever his embarrassments should be less like a millstone about his neck.
Now we must apologise for this, as altogether an inappropriate figure as regarded Mr. Latymer's state of mind. The embarrassments would have been as a millstone to another man: but to him, they were light as vanity. He had a happy way of spreading roseate hues over the
future: his plans were to him as enjoyable as actual performances. He sometimes affirmed that he was glad of the pause in the aforesaid building (where the workmen had vulgarly struck for arrears of pay), because it gave him time to alter and perfect his designs.
There was scarcely a tree in the grounds at Woodlawn which that coach and four did not dwarf. Being a place of perfectly new manufacture, Mr. Charley's residence had a callow and fledgling appearance, as having just chipped the shell. The nurseryman's hand was visible among its infant groves: most of the firs and beeches had lately been on sale, and looked it. In twenty-five years there might be a belt of foliage to cover the house from inspection by the gate-lodge; but now the house, bran-new from the masons' anil glaziers' hands, stood in full view on the slope of the hill looking south, every window of its front gleaming back the scant November sunshine as freshly and pleasantly as possible.
"How d'ye do, Mr. Latymer'." And how is your good lady? Oh!" -—as Mrs. Latymer's handsome portly form came to sight from the depths of the conveyance—" Proud to see you at Woodlawn, madam. Pray allow me to assist you"—and thus went on the clear cheery voice of Mr. Charley, who had seen the approach, and wished to welcome them with due emprenement.
The grand frigidity of the lady chilled him not a particle. Through a hall flooded with sunlight from broad windows he led her to a drawing-room also brilliant as if blinds had no existence: where were sitting at work the comely middleaged Mrs. Charley and her two daughters.
•• My dear, allow me to introduce Mrs. Latymer of Kyle, who has come to call on you: you recollect the fine entrance I pointed out to you when we were driving the other day? By the way, sir," turning to Mr. Latymer, '■ I wish you would let me have some of your splendid elms at a valuation: quickly I'd toss out these shaving-brushes of larches! But I'm afraid my trees must get time to grow before I enn have them like yours!" and he laughed very heartily.
It didn't take much to make Mr. Charley laugh. He seemed to have struck a perennial spring ofpleasantuess somewhere, and to look at everything in the most agreeable point of view. His circumstances were easy, his disposition happy; he had worked for gold and won it, and was now inclined to wear it joyously, as why should he not?
But ihere was another reason for Mr. Charley's brightness of temper: he was a truly converted man. His carols were hymns of praise sung deeply from the heart. As Mrs. Latymer glanced furtively about the sumptuously furnished rooms, she
"As for me and my house,
and the principle ran through all his domestic arrangements. An influential text with him, as master of a family, was Gen. xviii. 19: he believed that pattern binding still, and trusted that thus he should have sons obedient as Isaac, and servants faithful as Eliezer.
During the refreshment of which the visitors designed to partake, Mr. Eatyiner inquired after his host's sons. •' I suppose you intend them for the liberal professions, Mr. Charley?"
•" Well, sir, can't say that I do. I've no great opinion of the professions as a means of making one's bread: and I've brought them up to work, as their parents worked before them, sir. Robert's in the north, looking after the business: Tom is helping me to farm, here at Woodlawn. We are scarcely up to that branch of business yet," he added, smiling: "I'm sure we make great mistakes sometimes. By the way, sir, if you're a good judge of stock, I've got a pure-bred young two-yearold worth looking at?"
Mr. Latymer followed him to his very complete set of farm-offices, where nought that money could provide was wanting: where the lazy luxurious cows lounged in wellbuilt stalls, with nothing to do but munch oil-cake and mangold-wurzel all day long. "We don't make it
saw the unwonted sight of texts of Scripture framed as ornaments among the pictures. The proprietor deemed them gems choicer than the pictures. He was wont sometimes to stand before one and drink in its spirit for his strength. It was a manner of showing that he was not ashamed of God or of His Word: and for those who could stigmatize it as hypocrisy or can't, he had the answer of a good conscience: and he did not think that because of a possible or probable sneer he should withhold his testimony that his dwelling was inhabited by the servants of the living God, those who desired to acknowledge Him in all their ways.
And so, over the dining-room mantel-piece he had emblazoned—
we will serve the Lord!"
pay, sir—we can't make it pay : but I like to see the poor beasts happy!" Such was Mr. Charley's excuse for his lavish expenditure, and its total failure as a profitable investment.
"For, Mr. Latymer, I hope I have your approbation, sir, when I say it's my principle that the end of money is to spread happiness. And when I found I was making money I said to my wife—' Now, Eliza, we'll see how much happiness we can make with this! First, for ourselves and the children, then for everybody that comes across as,' I hope we've carried it out: I know we've tried; and as to the beasts, God Almighty thinks so much about them!"
His auditor could in his ignorance have asked''How?' unthinking of the cattle that were in doomed Nineveh, and the sparrows whose earthly value was half a farthing, yet were not forgotten in heaven :— but he did not relish the whole tone of the conversation, which he inwardly stigmatised as intensely vulgar and pretentious. Yet nothing was farther from Mr. Charley's thoughts than any puffing of himself and his possessions : he was just a sanguine-blooded, warm-hearted man. of a mind more objective than subjective; and believing that it was his God who had done the great thing for him of raising him from poverty to wealth, he thought no harm to talk about it.
Meanwhile, the placid, comely Mrs. Charley had been doing the honours of her home to the stately lady, whose uncommon dignity almost froze the speech of her pretty daughters: so that the description could afterwards be given to Beresford—" Mere dolls, my dear: no conversation whatever. Good-looking, rosy-cheeked dolls, with really splendid hair: just what all the lower orders have: but how Lancelot could think her so pretty!"
Despite any such description. Dora Charley remained one of the fairest fairies that ever bewitched a wiser head than Lancelot's. The purest complexion, and clearest blue eyes of the colour you see in the Alpine gentian: features perhaps irregular, but animated by an expression of the most winning gentleness. '• Insignificant" was the sweeping sentence of her own sex: "charming," the general verdict of the other sex: especially of gigantic specimens like young Latymer.
Mrs. Charley spoke of the choral society which the curate wished to form.
'• Mr. Chetwynd seems a good young man. but I fear inclined to High-Churchisni," she said: "he's so anxious about the choir."
"Indeed," responded her visitor, "I did not know that was peculiar to the Puseyite party."
Mrs. Latymer had very quickly fathomed the honest, simple nature of the manufacturer's wife, and despised it.
"Oh, but I never knew a clergyman who made such a rout about the singing that wasn't a Pusevite," said Mrs. Charley, quite earnestly. "They're always putting white shirts over little boys' clothes, and making 'em learn the notes, and chaunt tunes that nobody knows. See if it won't be the way with Mr. Chetwynd before long."
"Perhaps his Iligh-Churehism would not do any harm, if it made us all more attentive to our duty," said Mrs. Latymer in a semi-religious manner. "Though if there
is one thing more objectionable than another, and more opposed to the tone of genteel society, it is the cant that pretends to be better than one's neighbours."
And Margaret Charley, the eldest of the young ladies, was so weakminded as forthwith to blush for the emblazoned text over the mantlepiece. It was not that she was no Christian, for she had indeed been renewed in the spirit of her mind; but oh ! for the miserable shrinking that we have from the open confession that we are, first and before all tilings else, the followers of Christ! Even in these days, when religion wears her silver slippers, and walks in comparative honour, wo of the weak heart would fain be deemed world-borderers still, and so eschew the glorious reproach of our Master.
The gentlemen returned just then, and had also been conferring on the Puseyite proclivities of the curate, "But I told him," said energetic Mr. Charley, "that in any changes he must look for my determined opposition: and you know they made me churchwarden last vestry."
"I scarcely understand," said Mr. Lat3-mer, "how you consider this alteration of desks so important as to be worth opposition."
"What, sir! to have the prayers all read sidelong in a chancel, and then have him come out to a little stool, as a great favour, to give us the lessons! No, sir; the public worship of God implies the assent of the whole congregation, and I would like to hear everybody say the responses as loud as I do myself: and I will have no such assumption of peculiar holiness by the minister ; he is only a worshipper, like any of his people; only a poor sinner, that has to be saved by the same precious blood of Christ."
Very reverently did Mr. Charley utter the last words, as we speak the name of one who is dearly loved. And easily he saw that to the Latynicrs that name was as of a stranger and a foreigner: a deep pity for them entered into his soul.
And a certain enmity into theirs. For, as in Abraham's time, he that