Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER XXXIX.

A SPIKE IN THE NEST.

Did he know anything about cattle ? He | allusion had been made by him or his had had no experience, and not a farmer mother to the fortune of Gabriel Cotham. would intrust his cattle to him, that he They had but to make their necessities might acquire experience on them. Could known, and they could have as much he plough? He had never tried; and money as they needed. But Richard good ploughing is not easily acquired. A would have died, his mother would have walking postman was needed for five par- died, one and other would have sat silent ishes, the pay six-and-sixpence per week; and watched the seven little girls die of the distance to be walked, fair weather or starvation, rather than touch a penny of foul, twenty miles — but then, Richard that fortune. They were proud, were was lame ; so he refused the six-and-six. these Cables, mother and son; their pride

The parish authorities, the whole neigh- was inflexible as iron. borhood that is, all five parishes — took it ill that he rejected the office of walking postman so liberally offered him. That he was lame, was his concern, not theirs. He rejected the office because he was The mind of Mr. Cornellis was at ease. proud; he was puffed up with pride be. So completely satisfied was he that nothcause he was a foreigner. What could be ing was to be apprehended which could expected of a man who had seven little annoy him, that he went to town “ on busigirls and not a boy? Seven little maids ! ness," as he told his sister and daughter ; What was to become of them if their really, that he might amuse himself, and father died? They and their grandmother he remained away from Hanford over a would have to go to the workhouse; and fortnight. who would have to pay for them there, for When his affairs were in an unsatisfacfeeding, for fattening of them, for clothing, tory condition, and he saw that only desand educating them? Who but the rate- perate measures could avail, pot to recover payers? No wonder that, with such a him, but to stave off a complete break-up, prospect, the ratepayers looked on Rich he had begun to draw towards his old asard Cable with a resentful eye.

sociates and dupes. His conversation He got work at last work for the time had acquired a sanctimonious savor, and being – he took it resentfully, surlily, with the cut of his coat had something clerical gall in his heart — work on the roads. about it. He laid aside his rather highly

There was another matter which had colored ties, and adopted black. A mous. not conduced to diffuse a kindly feeling tache he had been cultivating disappeared towards Cable in the place. One day, a But when Josephine acquired the fortune village boy had knocked little Mary down of Gabriel Gotham, all necessity for pickout of wanton wickedness. She was a ing up the old threads of his former life foreigner. He had heard his parents, the passed away, and he dropped once more entire parish, speak against these foreign- the acquaintances and the formalities and ers, and he thought himself at liberty to restraints he had with a bad grace reasdemonstrate his dislike by outward act. sumed under the cogency of adverse cire When Richard heard this, he was as one cumstances.

He was an exceedingly possessed. He went after the boy and shrewd man, as shrewd as he was unprinhalf killed him in his fury: He barely cipled; he knew the foibles, the follies, escaped a summons for this retaliation. the weaknesses of men; but what he did The boy's father was a carpenter, and was not know, and made no allowance for, related to every one else in the place. In were the noble and generous impulses of St. Kerian, if you touched one, the whole the heart. He traced all action in life to population came out against you as a hive springs — but these springs were always of bees. That the boy had done what was mean and selfish; consequently, he was wrong occurred to no one. An outrage occasionally foiled in his calculations. had been committed by this lame foreigner He did not understand his daughter's on a member of the community, and the nature, because he was unable to underentire community took it up and resented stand that she could be actuated by any it angrily

motives involving self-sacrifice. He reSince Richard had crossed the thresh- spected her intelligence, and he relied on old, not once had Josephine been named. her wit saving her from doing anything One might have supposed that, as far as injurious to her prospects. Her marriage Richard was concerned, no such person with Cable had been a puzzle to him; but existed.

he supposed that it was due to an unreaSince he had entered that cottage, no soning passion for a time blinding her

[ocr errors]

eyes to her interests. That she regretted world of men from opposed points. The
her marriage, he had no doubt; that she latter was surprised and troubled when he
no longer loved Richard, he was aware, found that other motives swayed men's
and he was consequently well assured that conduct than truth and honor and love;
she would take no steps to bring about and Mr. Cornellis was perplexed and
a reconciliation, and a repetition of the angry when he came across those who
ridiculous and disagreeable incidents of were not either intensely stupid or wholly
the past month, which must follow in the self-seeking. Neither liked the other. Mr.
train of a reconciliation. As there are Sellwood was forced to mistrust Cornellis ;
two hemispheres in the brain, and we can but he never could persuade himself that
therefore simultaneously think of two mat- Josephine's father was as devoid of prin-
ters at once — -as, for instance, we can ciple as his clear common sense obliged
read aloud, and be meditating at the same him to suspect.
time on something different; or we can When Mr. Cornellis went to town“ on
converse with a visitor, and whilst so do-business," he gave no address where he
ing take an estimate of her dress, and note might be found ; he did not desire to be
where the braid is off and a glove is burst worried by his sister's letters concerning

so are there double, and even more the trivialities of Hanford life; conse.
than double springs in every heart, and quently, his daughter was unable to com-
none can tell at once which is in the municate her intention to him till he was
ascendant. There is always, and there pleased to emerge from the seclusion in
always must be, an element of uncertainty which he had kept himself and shrouded
in the determinations, and consequent ac his acts whilst in town. When, after a
tions, of every man, for this reason. We visit to London that lasted somewhat over
cannot tell at once which of the springs, a fortnight, and had cost him a consider-
even if we recognize their existence, is able sum of money, Mr. Cornellis reap-
the strongest, and what the correcting and peared at Hanford, not much fagged with
controlling force of the other that is acting his business, in a completely new suit, in
in opposition. Indeed, it is not usual that the latest fashion, from the best tailor, and
any one of the springs asserts itself as a with a new diamond pin in his tie, he was
mainspring till late on in life, and in no not in the smallest degree prepared for
inconsiderable number of persons none the surprise his daughter had in store for
ever does so assert itself.

him.
Mr. Cornellis regarded his fellow-men Mr. Cornellis had never taken pains to
much as billiard-balls; he had only to gain his daughter's affections; he was
walk round the table, level his cue, rest aware that he had not her esteem ; there
the end between his thumb and forefinger, was always present between them an in-
and strike, calculating to a nicety the visible barrier. When two intellects are
angle at which the balls would fly apart; set in opposition, and the male and elder
the cannoning and pocketing would follow is aware that the other is its match, there
as a matter of course. All went by rule ensues a sense of injury and aversion. It
of dynamics. And Mr. Cornellis would dreads a contest, lest it should sustain a
have been right had all his balls been per- fall. Mr. Cornellis had seen his daugh-
fectly round, and absolutely solid, and his ter's mind and character form under his
table nicely levelled. But these were ele- eye with an independence that annoyed
ments in the game that did not enter into him. He had not moulded them they
his calculation.

had shaped themselves. Where he had
It is said that the Englishman rushes interfered, his interference had brought
into war thoroughly despising his enemy, about results the opposite to what he de-
and that this is the cause of the majority sigiied. The chronic antagonism between
of the disasters which mark the initiation them had not broken out into civil war till
of a campaign. Mr. Cornellis shared the Josephine had declared her intention to
Englishman's contempt for an enemy her father of taking Richard as her hus-
that is, for every one with whom he had band. After one savage passage-of-arms,
dealings. He undervalued his powers; a truce ensued; the father knew he had
be disbelieved in moral force, and conse- gone too far, and he used all his arts to
quently made no provision to counteract recover the lost ground. The marriage of
its effects. Stupidity he could allow for; Josephine had brought her closer to him
and when he encountered strong principle, than she had been in her previous life.
he misjudged it, and eschewed it as stu- She had been forced to acknowledge that
pidity deeper than what he had allowed. he was right in his opposition, and to
Mr. Cornellis and the rector viewed the ! submit to his guidance. He had acquired

3082

[ocr errors]

LIVING AGE.

VOL. LX.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

an ascendency that satisfied him, and he quarrel with him which had driven her rashly supposed that this ascendency was desperate and made her plunge into the final and secure. Mr. Cornellis had writ- sea, she shrank from a private interview; ten to announce his return, and to order and she knew that if he were told what the carriage to meet him at the station. she had decided on whilst she remained He was surprised to see Josephine on the at Hanford, the house would be insupplatform ready to receive him, when he portable. Whatever he might say, he arrived from town by the train he had could not alter her mind. His absence mentioned. This was an attention he had had enabled her to dispose of everything, not anticipated. She was dressed very undisturbed; and now all that remained quietly in her blue serge, and with a close to be done was to inform him of arrangestraw bonnet trimmed with navy-blue rib- ments already completed; and as soon as bons.

this was done and she were away, the bet• Why, Josephine,” said he, taking her ter for both. arm as he stepped out of the carriage, “For the life of me," said Mr. Cornellis, 6 what new fad is this dressing like a “I cannot see why that precious idiot of superior domestic ?"

a cook of ours should never make bisque "I am glad you have arrived as ap- to my fancy. No great difficulty in poundpointed,” said she, without answering his ing prawns, I should have thought. By question. “Had you come by a later the way, Josephine - artichoke soup with train I might have missed you. I am go- crushed almonds is worth living for." ing off by the next up-train.”

" Papa, I have something very impor6. Indeed? Whither?"

tant to tell you. Never mind about soups “Will you come with me into the ladies' now. I am afraid” - with a touch of her waiting-room — there is no one there - old self — “I am going to salt and flavor or walk with me on the platform whilst I your soup not at all to your taste.” tell you what I have to say ?”

“Go on with what you have to say; I Well — be sharp. I want to get home, am impatient to be on my way in the car. and cannot detain the horses."

riage. They walked together out of the station My train will start in five minutes. I along the platform, where there was no have my ticket, and my boxes are labelled. one to overhear their conversation. But I have only five minutes in which to

“You are looking well, papa. I hope tell you something that will surprise and, you have enjoyed your visit to town?I fear, annoy you greatly."

“I have been steeped to the ears in Upon my word,” said Mr. Cornellis business,” he replied. “I got into Kett- irritably, "you have the knack of making ner's occasionally, and had something one uncomfortable. You treat me as the really good to eat, neither over-salted nor boys treat the plovers. When they have under-spiced. When I am a little out of found a nest on the downs, they drive a sorts, I run in there and have a bowl of spiked stick into the ground at the bottom, bisque. It sets my stomach right when so that the poor bird cannot sit on her nothing else does - light and nourishing: eggs comfortably, and she goes on laying I am fond of Kettner's, quiet - and good till she has heaped her eggs over the wines. The waiter there knows me, and spike, so as to make her seat tolerable. is attentive."

What new stake have you been driving Papa, I am going.”

into my home? My whole time and en“So you have told me; but I have not ergies are taken up with covering the been informed whither."

prickles and goads you fabricate to my " I am going into Somersetshire - near torment." Bath."

“ You have been from home, papa, so it What for?

has not been possible for me to consult She hesitated. She was a brave girl, you since the rector returned from Cornbut she shrank from the scene that must wall."

The rector, aware that the inter- “ What did he find there ?" view would be unpleasant, had volunteered “ The yacht was wrecked; but Richard to relieve Josephine of the duty of telling and the children and his mother are saved ; her father what had been determined and the other poor fellows are lost." done. But she had declined his offer, " Things might have been managed betand had resolved - it must be admitted ter,” growled Mr. Cornellis. with a spice of craft - to break the intel- “Poor Richard has injured his thigh, ligence to her father almost in public and and is likely to be lamed for life.” a minute before she departed. After that “If he be tied by the leg to the Cornish

.

Occur.

.

[ocr errors]

rocks, so much the better. Are you go- live at the Hall; you will have the two ing as the eagle to tear the entrails of your hundred and fifty in addition to your own Prometheus?

private income, and have the house and Papa, I have been considering about garden rent free.” Cousin Gabriel's legacy. You let me ac- He turned his face towards her and cept it; you let me marry Richard without opened his mouth to speak. The face telling me who Richard was. I have was livid and quivering with evil passion. learned that now; and I know that Cousin Every veil of disguise had fallen; the ugly Gabriel performed an act of gross injus- villany of the man's soul glared at her out tice in not recognizing his son and leaving of his eyes. She shuddered. He looked, bis estate to him."

with his mouth open, as if he could have That was Gotham's concern."

flown at her and bitten her. He could “I have inherited what ought to belong not speak; he was too greatly agitated to to Richard. I have considered the situa- utter a word. tion, and I have resolved not to take the “ Shall we turn back towards the stalegacy."

tion?” continued Josephine. “I see it is " You have taken it."

time for me to be getting into my carriage. "I am going to - no, to be correct —I I have not mucb more to say. If I have have already surrendered it.”

forgotten anything, Mr. Sellwood will sup" I do not understand you."

ply the deficiency. Richard is angry with “I have no right to the estate. When me, and he has cause to be angry. I shall the rector went to Cornwall

, I told him to never rest till he forgives me and takes offer it to Richard. You know, papa, that me to his heart again. I have been unCousin Gabriel left everything in trust till worthy of him. I was not well advised; I married, and that at marriage I became but my own heart was rebellious. I have sole possessor, with entire liberty to do been proud, and now I am going into the what I liked with the property. I was so world to learn humility. Papa, Mr. Sellsure, when I came to consider matters, wood will explain to you the course I have that Cousin Gabriel meant the estate to elected. I have told Aunt Judith; but pass to his son, through me, that I could she cannot understand. I intend to earn in conscience do no other than transfer it my own livelihood, and earn Richard's to Richard. I have striven to do what is respect. There - the bell is ringing; I right, and I have made the transfer." really must be off. I have taken a third* You do not mean

Mr. Cornel-class ticket. Let my arm go, papa. Say lis could not finish the sentence; he had good-bye; we shall not meet again for turned the color of a Jerusalem artichoke. some time. If I have been unlike a daugh

"I do indeed mean what I say, papa. ter to you and failed in love — I ask your I have been with the lawyer, and Mr. Sell- pardon. I fear – I fear that I have driven wood has helped me, and it is all done. a spike into the nest that wounds you." The difficulty we have had to contend “ That impales me,” groaned Mr. Corwith is, that Richard absolutely refuses to nellis. accept what I offer. I did not think myself justified in retaining any share, and I wanted to make over every penny, unre: servedly to Richard; but Mr. Séllwood and the solicitor have advised me other- Miss OTTERBOURNE lived in a hand. wise, and I have retained an annuity of some old square Queen Anne mansion two hundred and fifty pounds for my sep- near Bath. It was built of Bath stone, arate use as long as I live. But, papa, I with rusticated quoins to the angles, with had already made up my mind to touch pillars to the grand entrance, A stiff, nothing of Cousin Gotham's money -so stately house, with large park-like grounds long as I do not share it with Richard, 1 and beautiful terraced gardens. The - till I can receive it from him. So house Bewdley Manor

was about I will not have this annuity for my own four miles from the station ; and when self; I give it to you. You shall enjoy Josephine arrived, a private omnibus was that; and unless Richard objects, which in waiting to receive her and her boxes. is not likely, you can live at the Hall The coachman was in half livery, the boy “On two hundred and fifty !

out of it. They had come to fetch a ser. “Of course the place must be kept up, vant, so they wore as little of the badge of and the maintenance of the house and servitude aś might be, just as the officers estate will be paid out of the estate. I do of her Majesty throw off their uniform the not see why you should not continue to moment they are off parade.

CHAPTER XL.

THE FIRST SHELF.

[ocr errors]

mean

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

up.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

at once.

Be
you
the

young lady as is coming were being lighted. She heard the coachto our place ?” asked the boy, addressing man and the boy salute and cast jokes at Josephine.

passing laborers. She saw and heard all, “If you will explain to me what your and without taking notice of anythipg place is,” answered Josephine, “I may What she saw and heard mixed with what perhaps be able to answer your question.” passed in her head, and formed a conglom

"Miss Otterbourne is our old lady," erate of conflicting and new experiences said the boy:

“You take a hold of that and ideas, that left her bewildered and end of the box, and we'll give it a boist frightened. Presently, the coachman and heave it up on the roof. Looky' shouted and drew up; then, through the here; stand on the axle, and you'll get it windows, Josephine saw a lodge, and a

girl came out and threw apart the iron “I will call the porter to help you,” ob- gates into a park. In another moment the served Josephine coldly.

carriage passed through, and the wheels “As you like, young woman; but mind rolled over the smooth drive to the house. you - you tip him if he comes and helps.” Josephine saw that the grounds were ex

Josephine considered a moment; then, tensive, wide lawns over which white mist without summoning the porter, stepped on was settling, out of which rose grand

, the axle, and assisted in lifting her box clumps of beech and elm, and here and upon the roof of the omnibus. If she there a solitary cedar. Then the omnibus tipped the porter, it would be with Rich- turned out of the main drive, and in anard's money. She had come to Bewdley other moment was rattling over the paveto be a servant; she must begin to work ment of the court behind the house. The

carriage stopped. The boy came to the When she sat by herself in the convey- door and opened it. ance with her small parcels, she began to “Here you are, miss," he said. “Step realize for the first time the complete up on the axle and help me down with change in her circumstances. In the train, your box ; unless you'd like to get on the she had thought of her father, of Hanford, roof yourself and pass it down to me." of Aunt Judith, of the Sellwoods, with a “ I am afraid I shall not be strong tenderness and melting of the heart which enough to support it. Cannot a groom or ever and anon filled her eyes. She had some other man help ?” spent a happy youth at dear Hanford, fol- “Oh, I don't know.

reckon if you lowing her own whims, going out in her want anything done here, you must do it boat as she liked, playing on her piano yourself. Every one here is so frightfully when she liked, amusing herself in the engaged over his own work, and it is no garden or in tlie house undirected, uncon- one's place to help another.” However, trolled by any one. Now, she was about the boy condescended to shout, and a to pass into a position where she would footman came to the kitchen door. not be able to call her time her own, young lady wants to be helped with her where she might follow her own desires box," said the boy; whereupon the foot. in nothing. At Hanford, she had been man came leisurely across the yard and surrounded with friends — the kin good took a good survey of Josephine, espe. Sellwoods; Lady Brentwood; old Sir cially of her face. John; her affectionate but stupid aunt. “ Come,” said he graciously, “as you're Every one knew her there. Now, she so good-looking, I don't mind helping was entering the society of total strangers. you. A little wanting in style, p'raps. I If she were about to associate with stran- am Mr. Polkinghorn, and you are Miss – gers of her own station, it would have Miss been less disquieting ; but she was plung- “Cable is my name," answered Joseing into a social stratum which was to her phine curtly. as strange as the persons composing it, “No particular objection to alter it, I who were about to become her daily com- s'pose ? " said the footman, who laughed panions.

at his joke. “But it takes two to effect It was already evening and dusk as she that don't it, miss?" And he laughed entered the private omnibus at the sta- again. “ You'll excuse my sportiveness, tion; and she was tired with her journey miss,” said he, taking the box on his by train, and with the strain on her mind shoulder, as the boy let it down from the through which she had passed. Through roof of the carriage; “ I'm generally conthe square windows of the carriage she sidered a wit.” saw dimly the meadows, the high hedges, When the box was on the ground, he the trees, the cottages, where the lamps dusted his shoulders and arms, and asked:

6. The

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »