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no more book-learning, I thought myself very far advanced indeed! I was shocked to find that Mr. Gibson considered that my
education was yet to begin. But he did teach me a good many things; it was only that he let me run over my Latin in a slovenly
“I am sure he taught you much that will be very useful. I am quite satisfied with what he has done, and with what he has been to you—a friend rather than a tutor.”
Then I told my lady that I was to read no more story-books for the present, and I made her laugh about the jam-tarts. She entirely agreed with the doctor, and asked me if I confined myself entirely to lesson-books. “Oh, no," I replied, “the doctor has lent me a book out of his own library, ‘D'Aubigné's History of the Reformation;' and, do you know, I find it nearly as interesting as a novel. I am not sure but that the part about Luther is as good as anything in Ivanhoe,' or 'The Talisman,' and his appearing before the Diet of Worms is quite equal to the tournament in the novel. I was so sorry to put it down when the preparation-bell rang! And then, all of a sudden, he is shut up in the Castle of the Warzburg, just like a real romance ! and for a long time one hears only rumours about him. The doctor asked me how I liked my new reading, and I told him, 'Extremely! It was almost, if not quite, as nice as the forbidden jam-tarts. Indeed, I almost thought it must be jam-tart of a different sort.”
“ What did he say?”
“He smiled ili that grave, pleased way of his, and said, 'No, Travis, it is very good, wholesome cake! Your mental palate is so accustomed to sweets that I thought it best to give you something which should at once please your appetite and improve your taste
. It will not do to confine you entirely to the porridge and the breadand-cheese and beef of your actual hard studies. Do not hurry with “D'Aubigné.”
I shall not expect you to finish it before Christmas.'”
And you are content to follow his counsel ?"
Quite; he is so kind. I cannot tell you, lady, how kind he is to me; but I wish - I wish
“ Tell me what you wish. Never hesitate to tell me all your heart. What is it that you desire? If it can be, it shall be.”
“I wish-Martin would be very angry with me if he heard me say it-but I do wish I might be called by any right name." The Marchioness turned very pale, and sank back in her chair
. I was afraid I had vexed her-pained her even--for her lovely features assumed an expression of sudden and intense suffering, and she sighed very deeply before she answered me. Then she said, in a choked sort of voice_“ Travis is your name. It comes
to you from your mother's family, and it was given to you in baptism by your father's express desire.”
" But then," I said, wistfully, “ one does not go by one's Christian name only. And I do so love the name of Vassall."
“So do I, Hugh. It is a beautiful name, a good, true, honoured name! A thousand times better than Dovercourt or Walton." And I could have fancied that she spoke in scorn of her lord and of her own lofty title. “ But, Hugh, there are reasons why you. cannot at present be called Vassall; they will not exist always ;. there will come a time when you may call yourself by your full name again. Only have patience, dear child; have patience and trust me. Would you like to leave Dovercourt?—to go far
away, quite away, where you would not see me again for years—perhaps never more ?"
“ Indeed and indeed, lady, I should not ! Since I knew you I seem to have found my mother, and all those longings after my real mother, who left me when I was a baby, are gone ; I am quite. content to have only you. But who would, who could send me away? Who has power over me ? Martin would not do it, and there is no one else who has the shadow of right to interfere with me. Is there anybody here who is or who was my father's enemy ? "
“ There are people here to whom the name of Vassall was once. most hateful. So much I can tell you. There were reasons—I do not say justifiable reasons; you will judge for yourself some day. Those people exacted a promise that the objectionable name should never be mentioned in their hearing. I do not say it was right to exact such a promise, still less would I say it was right to give it. But, Hugh, it was given. It is quite possible that the persons to whom I refer have by this time forgotten all about it; if they heard your name it might not be remembered, and as it is, though uncommon, not strictly peculiar, there might be no connection, in the minds of those who heard, between yourself and the persons whom they desired to forget. Yet I think it wisest, Martin thinks it wisest, not to incur any danger, any unpleasantness.”
“ Would the danger be to myself?”
“In a certain sense, yes. It is greatly to your interest that you should be unrecognised here."
“ And it would grieve you, lady, if it were discovered by these people that I am Captain Vassall's son?”
" It would grieve me deeply because of consequences. It would make me more unhappy than I have been since-since I had some heavy troubles that came upon me years ago. I should be most miserable. Hugh, darling, I know it is much to ask of you, and I have not a mother's rights."
“If you had not said that," I interrupted, “I should have thought you had. Wild as it seemed, I began to think you really were my mother, my very own mother, the wife my dead father loved so well. And yet—and yet—you never would have deserted me; besides, you are Marchioness of Dovercourt. And now, too, you say plainly you have not a mother's rights."
"I repeat it, Hugh. I have not a mother's rights."
She spoke quite calmly, but she was very pale; so pale that I feared she would faint, and I rushed for water and a smelling. bottle, as I had done on a previous occasion.
“Oh, have I made you angry?” I said at last, sorrowfully, for though she quickly recovered she sat grave and silent, not even looking at me, though I knelt at her feet and steadfastly regarded her. “I ought not to have said it," I continued.
“Of course I knew it was only my owu foolish fancy. And yet you told me to say to you, and to no one else, what I thought about things. I will never say it again; I will not even think it.”
"I am not angry,” she replied, with a sob in her voice ; “not at all angry, dearest boy. I was very silly, wishing for what cannot be. I was wishing I had you for my son ; wishing vainly, and therefore foolishly, that I had a mother's rights.”
“But you can have them if I give them to you," I exclaimed, eagerly. “I will be your son in all but the reality, if you will let me, and I will obey you in everything. May it be so, dear lady ?"
A lovely delicate rose-flush tinged her pale cheeks, and a light that seemed born of mingled joy and tenderness beamed in her sweet violet eyes, while she answered, “ Yes, yes, it is what I wish. I have said it before. I will be your mother, my son, my dearest son."
“I must not be your dearest,” I said, lightly; "there is Lord Felixstowe.”
“Ah, for the moment, I forgot him. But there is room in my heart, Hugh, for both you and him. I want you to know more of my younger children. I should like you to be kind to Felixstowe.”
The idea of being kind to the little Earl, the future Marquis of Dovercourt, rather confounded me. How could I, poor obscure Hugh Vassall, show kindness to a great nobleman, as the little Felixstowe would be, nay, was? For Philip Henry Augustus Frederic Walton was right nobly born. The blood of half the aristocracy of England was in his baby veins, for the Dovercourts counted kindred with many a lordly house and claimed even royalty itself as “ distantly connected." And to one of such birth, , and pedigree, and future state she “wished me to be kind.” I could not fathom it; it was altogether incomprehensible. Only after I was in bed that night I thought of the fable of the Lion and the Mouse, and reflected that
even so insignificant a personage as I
was, the son of a sea captain and of the pretty country lass he had made his wife, might yet be useful in some humble way or other to the little lord. And it would be so much happiness, so much honour to be useful to her child. For as regarded Lady Dovercourt my enthusiasm knew no bounds. By turns I regarded her with the chivalric devotion of a boy-lover, with the filial tenderness of an only son, with the reverential affection of a devotee to his. patron saint; and sometimes it was with a mingling of all three that I approached her presence or thought about her; for I thought about her incessantly, but never talked of her—no, not even to Martin, who seemed quite satisfied that it should be so; nor to Margery, who on her part was somewhat huffed that I did not retail to her my castle experiences.
I said I should like to be kind to Lord Felixstowe if I could, and the Marchioness played with my curls and looked fondly in
“And Lady Maude?" I asked.
“Oh, yes; you must be good to Maudie, my dear little girl. I have been thinking—we shall be quite alone this Christmas-I should like you, and Phæbe of course, to come up here for several days. Maude likes to have Phæbe to play with. Would you like it, Hugh?”
“Oh! so much."
“I do not see why it should not be. I will talk to nurse and to Sophie. Sophie has quite a passion for dressing Phoebe because she is so pretty, and, as she says, “si gentile ! si bien gentile!' And of course I shall ask Martin. Yes, why should we not have a happy Christmas together? But I hope Martin and Margery will not feel hurt."
“I do not think they will; they never thought anything of Christmas beyond the regular service in the Church. People in the north do not keep Christmas, I think."
As indeed they did not, so far as I knew. Eaglesmere went dutifully to church in the morning, and then the observance of the day ended. There was no decking of church or house with holly, no mistletoe bush to allure the lads and lasses, no roast beef even except at the Vicarage, where Dame Foster also made what she called a plum pudding, which I was always privileged to taste, and which I have since discovered to be altogether unworthy of taking rank as an orthodox Christmas pudding. I have never studied cookery, but experience leads me to conclude that the principal ingredients in Mrs. Foster's annual production were suet and treacle. The truth being that the good creature was a daleswoman born and bred, and in those parts the plum pudding was scarcely traditional
Margery always made what she called a “Christmas pudding;" she made it with great solemnity, and Phoebe and I duly appreciated it. It was nothing more nor less than a huge rice pudding made with plenty of new milk, well sweetened with coarse brown sugar, seasoned with abundance of spice, cinnamon predominating, and glorified with plums, which Phæbe and I were always expected " to stone.” And stone them we did to our heart's content, but as we preferred them in the state in which they arrived from the grocer's, I am afraid the pudding was considerably mulcted in the matter of plums. However, as Margery sagely said, if we ate them out of the pudding we could not have them in it, and bairns would be bairns. The making of that marvellous Christmas pudding always put Margery into the most amiable of moods. The sugar which she used so lavishly seemed to interpenetrate her whole being, and she was gracious to everybody, only scolding Martin just a little, lest he should think her fey.
“ Then for my sake,” said the Marchioness, after the Christmas project had been talked over, “ you will be content to be Hugh Travis only ?”
“Quite content, since you say it is best."
“My dear boy, it is best. Now be quite happy, and I—will always call you Hugh Vassall when we are quite alone. But you must go ; it is getting late. Good night, Hugh Vassall."
Such were my Sunday-night visits. All this time the Marquis was away somewhere--in the uttermost parts of the earth for aught I knew or cared. Lady Olive and her governess were still on a visit to the maternal aunt of the former, and Lady Julianæ Raskleigh had not yet returned from Dieppe, whither she had betaken herself early in October.
CHAPTER XIV. LADY OLIVE. Phæbe and I went to the Castle on Christmas-eve, and we were taken, as on the occasion of our first visit, to Mrs. Miller's room, where we found Mr. Drew, the house-steward, Mr. Spanker, the butler, Mam’sell Sophie, and our old friend Mr. Duckett.
They were all sitting round the fire when we entered, except Mr. Drew, who was buttoning up his great-coat preparatory to his cold ride across the park; for it was a real orthodox Christmastime, and the snow lay silvery white upon the ground.
"How d'ye do, Travis ?” said Mr. Drew, familiarly. Though I did not like the man, I had somehow become intimate with him. He was fond of talking to me on various subjects. He affected to treat me as much older than I really was, and though I could not, for the life of me, help entertaining a curious distrust of him, I