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as a sort of valentine. They are scarce now-a-days, but I've a tree that bears well, and I hope you'll find them good."
Whilst Mrs. Evershed was thanking her, Mrs. Hedley, her husband, Georgie, and Lawrence returned, clustering round Roger, who wheeled a barrow, on which stood a largish barrel, on which Mrs. Hedley laid her large plump hand to steady it, the hamper of apples, a very brilliant carpet-bag, a little box, and a bundle.
Our party now crossed the line. Georgie and Lawrence walked one on each side of Sarah.
"You can give the young lady and gentleman the bird you've brought for them, Sally, love," said the old grandmother, who was close behind them.
"It's a little King Harry," said Sarah, bringing a small cage tied up in a cotton handkerchief from under her cloak: "grandmother thought you would like it. Master Lawrence."
'• What is a King Harry'?" asked Lawrence, delighted.
Sarah stopped for a moment under the lamp at the station-gate, took off the handkerchief, and holding up the cage to the light, 11 beautiful little goldfinch was seen, which now, frightened by the light, fluttered about sadly.
'• What a beauty!" exclaimed Lawrence. "But it is so frightened! cover it up again. There, thank you! Now let me carry it."
It did not take long to prepare these good but simple people for their appearance in the well-lighted dining-room, where they found an abundant evening meal awaiting them.
When they were all comfortably seated, Mrs. Evershed asked the cause of their non-appearance by the first train.
A very peculiar expression passed over the countenances of the pilot and his wife, whilst old Mrs. Bendelow seemed all at once flurried andasifreadytocry. TheEversheds looked at their guests, and then turned their eyes away with an uncomfortable feeling of they knew not what.
After an awkward silence, which seemed to last a long minute, the Captain replied, but still with some- thing peculiar in his tone:
•' Oh, ma'am, it was along of circumstances. There are things that must not be spoken of, so we'll leave it, if you please, marm, for the present."
Whereupon, Mrs. Hedley, feeling that the Captain's words were unsatisfactory, added, "You must not think amiss of my bold husband, marm, but if you please, we will say nothing more on the subject till your good gentleman cornea."
This did not mend the matter, but Mrs. Evershed feeling evidently that their visitors, unaccustomed to travelling, had made some blunder about the trains, or perhaps lost their money, began to speak of something else, whilst both Georgie and Hilda felt almost unhappy in the consciousness that their friends appeared in an unfavourable light.
However, tea went on, and the general cheerfulness seemed restored, when Lawrence started up, with the exclamation, "There's papa!" and flew out of the room, and to everybody's surprise, up jumped the Captain, almost overturning his chair in his hurry, and without any apology followed Lawrence. Mrs. Bendelow and Mrs. Hedley both looking flushed and excited, as all supposed, from the extraordinary conduct of the Captain.
A sound of voices and a considerable bustle was heard in the hall, and then Lawrence came rushing back and pulling Georgie aside whispered, "There's somebody else come, but I can't think who, and Mr. Hedley and he are busy talking together, and papa's got the dog; he says its a real beauty, but it's tied up in the stable, that the Captain mayn't see it till morning, and they've brought something else, only it's a great secret."
"Do tell me!" whispered back Georgie, "only don't talk so loud."
"Come out here, then," said he, and they went behind the curtain of the lower window,
"They've brought mamma's
Malvern picture back, in such a splendid frame! It was papa who bought it, and there's E. E. on the frame, and on the back, ' a valentine from her affectionate husband.' Isn't it jolly now? only you must not say a word about it to mamma, nor let the Hedleys know."
That moment the door of the dining-room opened very wide and in walked Mr. Longniore, looking as genial as ever; then in came Mr. Evershed, who, having advanced the few steps into the room and made a general salutation to the company, said:
"Valentines are, I believe, generally presented in the morning. But there must be an exception to this excellent rule, and that is in favour of our good Captain Hedley. He, therefore, having now with him the worthiest and best valentine, which, however, has especial reference, I believe, to our excellent Patience Martin, must be allowed to present it this evening. Here, then, is the best of sons and the most faithful of lovers—the best valentine of all, one sent by a good and merciful Providence —Mr.ThomasBendelow!"
And at these words a tall, handsome man, a real gentleman, as Lawrence said afterwards, entered and stood before the whole company. All this time, poor old Mrs. Bendelow kept wiping away the tears that rolled down her rosy wrinkled cheeks, with a clean folded white pocket handkcrcliief, and Mrs. Hedley, now beaming like the noonday sun. said, turning to Mrs. Evershed, "This, marni, was the cause of our losing our train. My partner thought it best to see your good gentleman and have his permission to bring Mr. Bendelow, who, poor fellow, was so longing to see Patience."
Sarah Prior, poor girl, stood all in a twitter of joy. Here was dear Uncle Tom,whom she loved from a child, the fame and yet so different! She longed to rush forward to kiss him, but the unusual circumstances that surrounded her, and a sense of propriety kept her back. But she smiled and cried at the same time, and looked as crimson as a rose.
In the meantime the most pleasurable excitement prevailed through the company. The visitors were more than reinstated in everybody's good opinion. Mr. Evershed and Mr. Longmore shook hands with Mrs. Bendelow, and there was no end of congratulations to her son.
Whilst all this was going on below stairs, no less was the joy and heartfelt gratitude felt by the happy Patience upstairs in her chamber, whither she had hastened after having assisted her friends in preparing to appear in the diningroom. As was but reasonable, her friends had communicated to her on their meeting at the London station the joyful news of Tom's prosperous return, though not of the intention of his coming to Brackenlea that evening. She brought home with her, therefore, a great joy, and there, lying upon her dressing-table, another joy awaited her, a letter from Tom himself—such a happy letter, full of his heart-felt fidelity, and hoping very soon to see her and make her his wife. He had written this letter from Yarmouth, soon after meeting with his mother, and before the scheme of his becoming the pilot's valentine had entered that worthy's head, so that the very next happy news she had was from Georgie, who had run up to her room to tell her that Mr. Bendelow was there.
In the course of the evening all the company was assembled, Patience being amongst them, and then at the general request, Bendelow related his adventures, which were briefly as follows:—
He had gone, as all know, upwards of five years before as mate in B ship, partly of emigrants, to British Columbia. The voyage out was good, but within fourteen days after they had set sail on their homeward course, his "old sea luck," as he called it, again pursued him. They were overtaken by a terrific storm, during which the ship smTered so severely, that they were in the end obliged to abandon her. He did not tell them of the wonderful heroism which was (lisplayed by himself, but they learned it afterwards, though he related fully that of the captain. But though all their efforts were unsuccessful to save the ship, the lives of the crew and passengers were saved. Amongst these last was a Russian merchant, named Platoff, from New Arkangel, in Russian America, who had become acquainted with the mate before the storm. This gentleman falling overboard in the attempt to reach the boats in making their escape from the fated ship, was saved by Hendelow, who sprang into the furious waters and rescued him.
They were picked up, on the third day after abandoning the wreck, by a vessel on its homeward voyage to San Francisco, where Platoff had connexions as a merchant. The friendship formed in this terrible time of peril led to Hendelow being invited by the Russian merchant to become his resident agent at San Francisco, which opened to him every chance of making ultimately a large fortune. Such an offer could not be refused, and there he had now lived for the last two years in great comfort and growing affluence. One circumstance, however, entirely destroyed his happiness, and had now brought him to England. 'He had written repeatedly to his mother and to Patience, but no answer had been returned to him. Letters, of course, were lonr; in reaching England from California, but in this case, from what unaccountable cause it was impossible to say, his never reached their destination. More than two years had thus passed. He had no doubt of their faith and love, but he feared for their welfare, perhaps life, and at length, unable longer to endure the anxious suspense, had taken the long journey, over the Rocky Mountains and arriving at New York, scarcely more than a fortnight ago, went at once on board a Cunard steamer, just leaving for England, and now was here, safe and sound, rejoicing in their midst.
Next it had to be explained how he had now come here in this wonderful way, as " the captain's valentine
to Patience." This had been the captain's own idea, and he it was who now enlightened such of the company as did not understand it, and the simple facts were these:—
The day after Mrs. Bendelow came to Yarmouth, a letter followed which had been re-directed by a neighbour who knew where she was gone. The letter was from her son, then at Blackwall, where he was impatiently waiting for news from her, regarding herself and Patience. "How bad poor Mrs. Hendelow was took with joy of this unexpected news," the captain told, but we must not dwell on the lesser particulars, but simply say that Mrs. Hedley.who, as Georgie had said, did all the business, wrote back a letter at once, and the next day the so long lost son was sitting by his mother's side. From the first moment of Iris arrival, the captain had determined "to make a valentine out of him for Patience." Accordingly they had set off by an earlier train to enable them to see Mr. Evershed at Iris office, and obtain his permission to introduce a stranger to his house under these circumstances. The cheerful acquiescence of this "good gentleman," as the captain, in imitation of his wife called him, put them in still higher spirits, and meeting Patience and Sarah unexpectedly at the station, they had imparted to them the good news so far as that Tom was safe and well.and would soon come to see them. It had been hard work, however, to keep the secret, especially as they knew Mrs. Evershed must think it so queer in them to miss their train. After this the general satisfaction was immense.
The following morning everybody was up early. It was Valentine's Day, and when they met at breakfast all had received their valentines, and never surely was there such joy before. Mrs. Evershed had again reared her Malvern picture on her easel, feelingnow that its value was greatly enhanced by the affection which had restored it to her. Patience and Bendelow had taken a long walk together. Mrs. Bendelow, Sarah Prior, and Mrs. Hedley could not sufficiently admire their presents; but the greatest joy of all was the meeting of the brave pilot and his dog. Yes!—his dog, for the moment he saw it he recognized his old favourite: the dog and he might almost be said to spring into each other's arms, and both really cried for joy. It was a sight worth going any distance to see, and certainly it was very wonderful that Mr. Evershed should by accident, as it seemed, purchase for the captain the very dog which had been stolen from him only six months before. It was one of those extraordinary coincidences which do occasionally happen in life, and which are as wonderful as any iiction which could beinvented. Mr. Evershcd,however, thought that the man who sold the dog ought to be prosecuted forlmving stolen him. Whether this was done or not I cannot say, for if so it does not come into this account of the Brackenlea Valentine. At this moment we have nothing to do with anything beyond the good pilot's joy, and the joy of his most faithfully attached and sagacious canine friend. Happy Captain Hedley! He could hardly come in to his breakfast, nor would he have done so, I believe, if they had not insisted un his " Mate" coming in with him; as to going to the Crystal Palace with the rest without his dog, that
was an idea he could not think of. Therefore they went without him. What a joyful day for Patience and Bendelow— indeed for them all! And the captain and his dog, they two were no less happy together, walking up and down the grounds and along the road backwards and forwards, trying over again all the old tricks, and then stopping and caressing one another, and not knowing how sufficiently to express their joy over this happy, unexpected re-union.
The following morning all the guests departed. Bendelow accompanied his mother home, but was invited to return, and early in the spring it was fixed that Patience and he should be married.
Lawrence, in his wilfid way, alone objected. He said that he always intended that Patience should live at his house when he was married, and look after his thirteen children, not certainly as nurse, but to walk about his gardens and pluck flowers and fruit at her pleasure. But he was forced to consent. The wedding-day came in due course, as the Valentine's Day had done before. Georgie and Hilda were the bridesmaids, and Lawrence prided himself on being "best man." The happiness of this long-divided pair, and an invitation given by Bendelow to Lawrence to visit them in San Francisco, made even him as happy as the rest.
WAITING AND WATCHING FOR ME
Wuss mysterious whispers are floating about.
And voices that will not be still Shall summon me hence from the slippery shore
To the waves that are silent and chill; When I look with changed eyes at the house of the blest,
Far out of the reach of the sea,— Will any one stand at the Beautiful Gate
Waiting and watching for me?
There are little ones glancing about on
my path la need of a friend and a guide; There are dim little eyes looking up into
Whose tears could be easily dried. But Jesus may beckon the children away
In the midst of their grief or their glee; Will any of these at the Beautiful Gate
Be waiting and watching for me?
There are dear ones at home, I may bless with my love; There are wretched ones pacing the street; [around; There are friendless and suffering strangers There are tempted and poor I must meet; There are many unthought of, whom happy and blest In the land of the good I shall see. Will any of them at the Beautiful Gate Be waiting and watching for me?
I may be brought there by the unbounded grace
Of the Saviour who loves to forgive. Though I bless not the hungry ones near to ray side, And but pray for myself while I live; Bat I think I should mourn o'er my selfish If sorrow in heaven can be, [neglect, If mi one should stand at the Beautiful Waiting and watching for me. [Gate, o
THE FORTUNES OF CYRIL DENHAM.
By The Editor.
Maivh ith.—I really have a great deal to tell you, my diary. I meant to talk to you last night, when I came up to bed; but I was too sleepy, or else too lazy, or else inclined to pursue my own train of thought, and look a little way into the possible future, instead of registering the events of a day that was just gone by.
It was the day before yesterday that I wondered why the dinner-bell did not ring at the appointed time, for generally speaking our arrangements as a family seem to be regulated by clockwork. It was getting dark, and I had let my tire so low, that the room was chilly, for it was an extremely cold evening, and a sprinkling of snow lay on the frozen ground. So, being quite ready for dinner, I thought I could not do better than go to the drawing-room, where there would certainly be a noble blaze, and probably Miss Anstruther or Lady Ashburner to talk to. As for Elizabeth, she usually rushes down at the last minute, putting the final touches to her toilet on the staircase, to the utter distraction of her maid, and entering the dining-room just as grace is being said, or even as the soup is being earned round. She tells me she had ''oceans of bad marks" for "want of punctuality" when she was at school. When I entered the large drawing-room, no one, however, was there. The lamps were not lighted, and the curtains were not drawn: so I stood for a minute or two looking upon the beauteous crescent of the young March moon: on the deep blue-grey shadows in which all the background of the landscape lay; on the sparkling stars just shining out in the clear nightfall sky; and on the snow-sprinkled slopes of the lawn just below the windows. I had not watched long, only taken a glance or so, when I heard voices very near at hand.
The inner or smaller drawingroom at Forest Range is divided only from the larger room by an arched doorway, draped with thick and heavy curtains. I put them back and went to see who the talkers were.
Seated in a deep recess, with a chess-table between them—like Ferdinand and Miranda, only that the chess-men were in their usual order, and undisturbed—I saw Miss Ashburner and a young gentlemen, who might have been four-and-twenty years of age, or thereabouts. I could see them plainly, for the glow of the firelight fell full upon them, but they were evidently quite unconscious of my approach. Elizabeth's companion was slight and fair; his face was sad and dreamy, but pure and sweet in its expression: masses of beautiful brown silken curls, deepening almost into chestnut, clustered round an intellectual brow; and his voice, for he was speaking as I entered, fell upon my ear like pensive music—and I said within myself, " That man is a poet, though his song may never yet have found utterance in rhyme or measure!"
He was speaking only of some arrangements made with Sir John, on some previous occasion, but his words made me think of a low minor chant that I once heard in the Sistine Chapel at Rome. It was a singular chant. I rememberI rather monotonous, but instinct with soul, swelling now and then into a rich cadence of piercing sweetness and unutterable power. I do not know try this stranger's tones brought back so vividly the recollection of that low, melodious, solemn chant; but there seemed a wonderful fascination in his voice, as well as in his looks: and Elizabeth, bending slightly forward, and supporting that pretty chin of hers upon her lovely hands, listened to all he said with eager, deep attention.
I stood there in the shadow, stupidly enough, till I was roused