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glints from between the thick green cov- the woman and her account-book! She ert. To him there was an excitement in had kept away from her daughter when everything to-day which might have been she might have been of some use, and due to the warm west wind notoriously now she was evidently going to stick to of a heady character — but may also have her like a leech for the remainder of her been due to less material causes.
life. If he required a sedative, he certainly A dancing step outside upon the gravel, received one. He was shown by a servant and little Jan darted like a willow-wren into the principal drawing-room, and found into the opening, and stood there poised it tenanted by Lady Helversdale, who was upon one foot, her head on one side. seated before a writing-table, a large mo. " This is my little granddaughter," Lady rocco account-book with a coronet upon Helversdale observed with gracious exthe corner, open before her, and display- planatoriness. “She is very shy with ing a formidable double column of ascend. strangers, unfortunately. Janetta, my dear, ing figures. John Lawrence remembered come here and with some inward amusement that she had But, with a scream of delight, Jan had been engaged in precisely the same occu- rushed past her, and was clutching this pation when last he had had the advantage particular stranger rourd the neck. of seeing her ladyship, some fifteen years " Colonel Laurie! It is my Colonel earlier.
Laurie! Where have you been? Oh, The room was large, and furnished with where have you, have you been, you an elaboration of ornament that was be- naughty, naughty man? I have wanted wildering. A visitor had to make his way you so dweadful bad, and muddie too, so through a complicated maze of objects of mutch, so very, very mutch!” art which blocked one another up. The She was hanging on to his neck, she windows opened upon a broad, gravelled was clutching at his arm with both hands, terrace, beyond which a steep, grassy her little pale face flushed pink to the slope dropped to the river-side, leaving very brows with delight at seeing him. only room for a double row of big lime. The next minute she was pulling him trees, between which ran a walk.
vigorously towards the open window. He apologized for the intrusion, ex- “Come," she said authoritatively –
– plaining that he had asked for Lady Elea- come!” nor. Lady Helversdale was civil but “Come where, Jan dear?” stately, " She was not certain,” she said, Out," was all the answer vouchsafed, “whether her daughter would be able to and with a bow and a word of apology to see any one as yet or not. If she could, the astonished countess, the colonel went she was sure she would willingly make an out accordingly. exception in favor of so old an acquaint- Once outside, Jan made for the slope, ance as Major Lawrence. She would ring pulling him after her by the hand. It and enquire."
was a long, rather steep slope, reaching, The old acquaintance sat down rather as has been said, to the edge of the gloomily in a chair, while a servant went stream, where another walk ran under the to make enquiries. Presently he returned, shade of some large lime-trees, and here a with the information that her ladyship figure was seen slowly pacing along in the was out walking in the grounds.
shade. Jan's impulse was not to be re“ Ah,” Lady Helversdale said, in a tone sisted ; at any rate, was not resisted. of finality, “I'dare say then you will kindly John Lawrence yielded, his feet moving call again, as you tell me that you are faster and faster in sympathy with her staying in the neighborhood. Naturally two little urgent ones. All at once, as if my daughter is not in spirits to see any one of the swallows overhead had swooped but her own relations at present." There and carried it away in its beak, the gloom was a pause, and then, “You were ac- and hurt susceptibility of the last few quainted with my late son-in-law, were you minutes seemed to melt and roll away. not?” she added in a tone of conversa. There was an exhilaration in the scene tional gravity.
itself which it was difficult to resist. It The visitor responded somewhat grimly had seemed as if the whole summer had that he had had that privilege. How been spent in that long wait in the breath. well he had done to stay away, he said to less valley and upon the scorched hillhimself; nay,
what a fool he had been to top, and yet how young and fresh the come at all! He pulled his moustaches, world looked still !' It was, in fact, still and glared under his eyebrows savagely only July, and a late season.
The flow at the unconscious countess. Deuce take lers in the beds had hardly attained full
beauty; the lime-trees were covered with nature subdued to man, fitting into his blossom, a crowd of bees, like assiduous needs, and anticipating his wants. It was courtiers, surrounded them, their hums an afternoon that seemed prophetic. It of flattering commendation filling the air suggested other afternoons following one with an obsequious murmur.
another in a long-drawn sequence, a suolit The scent of the line-trees, the crisp procession, the more distant members of touch and rustle of the grass, the child's which were lost from sight in a golden eager little hand like some small, warm perspective. bird half enclosed in his grasp - it all When they reached the first turning of seemed to go to our poor patient friend's the walk she paused a moment, and turned head. He hardly knew where he was towards him. until he found Lady Eleanor's hand too “ You have been a long time coming to in his, and his eyes meeting hers in a see me,” she said, and there was an accent long look of enquiry:
of reproach in her tone. She had stopped in her walk as he ap- Already, alas ! the heaven-lit plains were proached, dragged along in triumph by beginning to recede. Already self, the Jan, a faint smile parting her lips as she clamorous, the never-to-be-pacified, was stood there, a pathetic figure in her heavy thrusting up an angry head. black, amid the green upspringing grass " I didn't think I was wanted," he said and under the gilt-edged shadows of the grufily. "You had so many others, nearer boughs.
to you, and Too full of all they had to say, too full “ You should not have thought so," she of a hundred memories to speak, they interrupted. “No one takes walked along almost in complete silence, no one knows just what you do. I have Jan, after chattering for a few moments, wanted, besides, to consult you about so darting off in pursuit of a dragonfly. many things.” She paused a minute and
His irritation had vanished utterly by sighed. "First about poor Mrs. Cathers. this time, melted away in the joy of her I hear she went to see you the other day. presence, in the deep, untroubled calm of What do you think of hér? I have wanted the scene. It was almost like meeting in so much to know. Do tell me.
I am so a new world; one of those moments which uneasy, so miserably anxious and unhappy solace us by their intensity, while they tor- about her. I can think of nothing else.' ment us by their brevity. Life seemed to For some unaccountable reason, to be stretch away before him like a heaven-lit sought for, no doubt, in the innate deexpanse, she walking on the flowers, he pravity of human nature, the colonel with somewhere near at hand. He did not difficulty repressed an impious ejaculation. think then of any nearer claim; his being Why he felt so angry he would have found for the moment was, as it were, absorbed it difficult to say. Half an hour ago be and gathered up in hers. After work rest, would have said that no one could have he thought, and after trouble peace. All been more interested in poor Mrs. Cathers that had made the discord of her life; that than himself, no one more eager for any had spoiled its music; that had dimmed remedial measures that could be devised. her youth; that had refused her nature Now, however, he felt suddenly angered rooni to expand, - all was buried and almost past bearing by the mere mention passed away forever now. Only the best of the poor lady's name. “ Was there blessings, only a wider grasp of reality, never to be an end of these Catherses?" only her children's love, only the benignity - that was the sentiment he would have of sorrow, of a life resuscitated to nobler expressed if the natural man had spoken uses - only these remained. He saw her aloud. Fortunately the natural man canpassing on from height to height, a well not and dares not speak aloud in such of healing, a benediction to all who ap- fashion. Decency, a hundred invisible proached her. Even the charm of the ligaments, hold him back and hinder it. scene seemed but to reflect and make part The impulse was alarming, however, and of hers. That peculiar beauty serene, he rushed into speech to avoid the peril. orderly, benignant, of which English land “I thought her very ill,” he said. scapes keep the secret
was strong to- seemed hardly to know where she was, or day upon everything, upon the closely what was happening around her. I supshaven sward, upon the great trees and pose she has seen doctors ? What do trim flower-beds, upon the smooth unrip- they say ?” pled surface and silent flowing of the They don't seem to know; they are river, -in every tint, and touch, and line; puzzled, I think. Most of them say that a sense of order and of permanence, of by degrees her mind will recover its tone;
that we must avoid excitement and agita- | pressed upon him than ever as he went tion until she has recovered from the down the avenue. Was not everything he shock she received. All but Dr. Mulligan, saw, touched, handled, his and no one who knows her best. He says she will else's? The wood-pigeons in the branches, never, never be any better than she is the baby rabbits waggling ridiculous tufts now.'
of tails, the green arums under the beeches, She glanced up at one of the windows, the blue speedwells peeping up with sweet, as she finished speaking, with an anxious impertinent faces from the ass. It was expression. The river gurgled on, utter- all Algernon Cathers's. And she? that ing an occasional choking sob; the bees beautiful woman whom he had just left? gathered in a brown cloud, a straggler Was she his also ? Would she always from the ranks passing close to their be his ? Would his shadow never be off heads, cleaning his pollen-coated legs one her life? It seemed to him that it never against the other as he did so, and pack- would. Did she desire that it should ? It ing the dust carefully into the basket-like was his deliberate opinion that she did not. receptacle he carried for the purpose. Lady Eleanor looked round with another sigh.
The next time he went he saw Mrs. “ I have so much to learn, I feel dread. Cathers. He had been told by the serfully bewildered sometim at the thought vant that the ladies were outside, so of it all," she said. " Have you heard stepped out of the drawing-room on to the that it has -- that my husband - that it terrace. has all been left in my hands to do just He found the poor thing sitting upon a what I like with, until little Algy comes of garden-chair over which a parasol had age? My poor little Algy! Such a mite. been arranged. Her eyes, expressive of Only three !"
a sort of astonished immovability, were He nodded to signify that he had heard. riveted upon the gravel, where the small Lady Mordaunt had told him.
Algy was occupying himself with building “ Ít was wonderfully generous, it showed a fort of wooden bricks, surrounded by an a great deal of trust in me," she went on outer circle of small heaps of gravel, into with a sort of wondering sadness. “It each of which he was carefully planting a gives one a terrible sense of responsibility tin flag borrowed from a box of toy sol. - so much to do, so much to think of, so diers which lay scattered on the ground. much money to spend. I, too, that know Evidently his grandmother's mind was so little about money.
entirely concentrated upon these military “ You will soon learn that. We can all operations. She sat with her lips a little learn to do with money, it is the doing apart, her face expressive of rapt absorpwithout it is the difficulty,” he said gruffly. tion, and not even moving when the door
“ You speak as if there was something opened and the visitor appeared. you wanted that money could get ? ” she He went up and spoke to her. She answered in a tone of surprise. “Do tell shook hands, looking up in his face with a me if there is. Why should not friends gentle, wavering smile. She knew him, help one another?”
and called him by his name, but in a “ No, no, nothing of the sort, I assure minute her attention strayed away and you. I only spoke generally. It is the became absorbed again in the child's procustom, as you are aware, of impecunious ceedings. There was a likeness between mankind to grumble about money, and the two faces which brought out the concarp at its possessors. I only yielded to trast between them with painful vividness. the common impulse.”
The little peach-faced boy, his small He left soon after this, taking leave of mouth set in a mould of baby determina. her rather abruptly. He felt that it was tion; the poor feeble-faced woman, still impossible to remain. He should make comely, young too, comparatively speaksome outrageous demonstration; say some ing, but with that look of utter vacancy. thing that would shock her, that might worse than the worst ravages of remorse. shock'even himself afterwards. Better go less age. before anything of the sort happened. Lady Eleanor, who was only a little way
She had not uttered a word expressive off, came forward and shook hands with of any particular heart-brokenness, rather the visitor, and they stood together look. had seemed to avoid anything of the sort, ing down at the pair before them. After and yet the sense of Algernon Cathers's a minute, by mutual consent they turned proprietorship, and of his own vehement away, and walked on along the broad exopposition to it, was more strongly im. I panse of terrace.
When he turned to speak to her he saw heart he was sure of that — and not that the tears had gathered in her eyes, allow herself to be urged into doing any. and were falling fast over her black dress thing in the slightest degree contrary to
“ It breaks my heart to see her; I can't its impulses. bear it!” she said brokenly: “ It is so He stayed longer with her than on bis piteous, so cruel! I sometimes wonder last visit, and came back again a few days what I can be made of to be so different later, and from that time forward was - so-so I don't know what – like a pretty constantly at Redcombe. thing of wood or stone. Why should she Mrs. Cathers grew rapidly worse. It be like that, and I not?"
, at longer and longer intervals “ Thank God you are not !” he ex- that she knew that her son was dead. At claimed fervently,
other times she spoke of him as alive, but “I have my children that is one absent. Although she had nominally thing. She has nothing. All her life she made her home with them, they had often has lived for him, thought of him, cared been apart for long periods, so that her for him and him alone — and now she has mind probably reverted easily to those nothing. Does it not seem hard? She periods, and she believed this to be sim. has never been to blame, she has always ply one of them. As a rule, she was per. been good, kind, unselfish, and yet you fectly docile, though now and then she see what she is - a ruined creature, like would take some fancy into her head, from the bough of a tree that is broken. What which no coaxing could turn her. John good can one's pity do her? what good Lawrence had a considerable influence will anything do her ever, ever again ?" over her. The poor thing always knew
He did not immediately answer. To him, and seemed pleased to see him. his apprehension, the most piteous part of Sometimes she would talk a great deal, the tragedy lay in the utter worthlessness wandering from one subject to another in of its object. That, however, was one of a gentle guileless babble, painful only those sentiments which must forever, he from its inconsequence. At other times felt, remain buried in the depths of his she would be silent for hours, her hands own breast.
upon her lap, her eyes fixed upon some Little Jan came running up, excited and object in front of her, her poor lips workeager to talk to her friend, and they walked ing silently, or uttering over and over some on in the direction of the kitchen garden, baby word of endearment, which she had the nurse being at hand in case Mrs. Ca- no doubt used to her son when he was a thers wanted anything. Lady Helversdale, child. her daughter told him presently, had left To the colonel the sight was always unthree or four days before, and she did not speakably pathetic, filling him with a pity expect her back for some time. From reaching down to some of the deepest what she said he gathered that all her rel- roots of his manhood. Even without that atives had got one by one out of patience bribe which stood beside her, his kindly with poor Mrs. Cathers's childlike vaga. impulse would have been capable of urgries, and had left Redcombe.
ing him to devote himself to her relief. They did not know her formerly, and He had his bribe, however, so we must be have had no opportunities, therefore, of chary of giving him too much credit for knowing what she is, what a beautiful un- what he might have done without it. selfish nature she has," Lady Eleanor said Insensibly his life grew into a sort of in an explanatory tone. “They only see supplement of theirs, as it had once before what is painful and distressing: They grown into a supplement of the life at think that she ought to be controlled, that Mordaunt. The place seemed to open for I ought to induce ber to remain in one him, and he dropped into it so naturally part of the house, so that there would be that it hardly seemed to be a voluntary act no fear of her coming in contact with oth at all. Lady Eleanor clearly wanted help,
But I say that I could not bear to do and equally clearly counted as a matter of so. She would not understand, and would course upon receiving his. There was a be more restless and wretched even than good deal of one kind and another to be she is now. Besides, why should I? What done, and there was no one in particular to right have 1? She was mistress here long do it. Her brother was with his regiment; before I was, and it seems to me that, as the agent of the property, was old; of far as is possible, it is she who ought to available neighbors there were, save himbe mistress still. Don't you think so? self, none. Two trustees had been apDoesn't it strike you in that light?” pointed under Algernon Cathers's will
, He said yes; she must follow her own but of these one was that trouble-bating
personage the Earl of Helversdale and with secret wonder at her devotion, at the Kenneth ; the other was Sir Peter Bath- patience with which she met all her poor erwick, of City celebrity, whose well-charge's many and wearying requirerounded life admitted of his bestowing ments; tender as a daughter, vigilant as a little more than a vague and distant super- nurse that is paid for her services. He vision. Under ordinary circumstances the would have expected it, and yet it filled ties of kindred would have been felt, no him with as keen an admiration as if it doubt, to be imperative, and no lack of had been a surprise. He was very susrelations would have rallied about the ceptible, poor fellow, to admiration in that magnificently endowed widow and her lit- direction. tle boy; but against this affectionate Had its destiny even been a less un assiduity poor Mrs. Cathers's condition friendly one, the keynote of his love would presented an almost impassable barrier, probably always have been devotion. Its and for this it must be owned John Law- ruling thought would have been less, rence secretly offered the poor lady an “ How this dear woman adores me!” than eternal meed of gratitude. Nothing would "What a woman this is that I adore !" induce Lady Eleanor to alter the line There was a touch too of the creator's which she had laid down for herself. Not pride in it. Standing there in her wononly would she never consent to banish derful beauty, in the finished perfection Mrs. Cathers, but she refused, save now of her womanhood, the centre of so much and then for an hour or so, to relegate her love, honor, admiration, the pivot round to the care of the servants. Lady Hel- which a wbole little world revolved, she versdale on two occasions appeared upon was still to him his Elly, the colt-like creathe scene, but on each occasion retreated ture whom no one else could tame, who at the end of a day or two, declaring the had been almost thrust into his hands like impossibility of her being expected to a wild bird or bright-eyed creature that remain under the circumstances. Really, puzzled its captors. The creator's rôle is to have that poor unfortunate creature never an easy one, and John Lawrence mopping and mowing, and going on in had a full share of its pangs. It took the such a way in the drawing-room- no one form of a rigid watch over himself. Not had ever heard of such a thing! Only by word, look, gesture, would he add to Eleanor's ignorance of what was cus- her burden; not by word, look, gesture, tomary could excuse it. Why, when old risk that friendship dearer to him than Lord Santander a delightful man - had anything else he possessed. Even had been ambassador at Berlin - got that dis- their circumstances been more nearly tressing softening of the brain, his family equal, with what face could he ask her to never allowed him to be seen down-stairs. turn over this tear-blistered page, and He had his own rooms and attendants, so complacently begin another? But how that you might actually have stayed in the far were they from being equal! She was house without knowing that he was there a rich woman - the richest, it was said, at all.
in the county - while he — the juxtaposiIn her dismay she even took the step of tion was enough – proprietor of a tumappealing to John Lawrence, demonstrat- ble-down shanty, and half-a-dozen acres of ing to him the utter unreasonableness of gorse and scrub! No. Honor, pride, deLady Eleanor's conduct, — ruining, her cency, every sort of respectable, if inconlife, inconveniencing all her own relations ! venient virtue, forbade the idea. His rôle and for what? For the sake of a person was fixed, and there were few greater who really had hardly any claims upon her mistakes than for a man to try too late now at all.
to alter his rôle. She got very little satisfaction out of Under this self-denying ordinance the that sturdy partisan. He all but told her situation was not precisely thrilling, and in good round terms that she was not yet John Lawrence found little to comacquainted with her daughter and never plain of. As the summer passed away, had been. An Eleanor Cathers seeking and September faded, and October began her own ease; pushing aside uncomfort. to sicken towards November, and the able duties; hoisting society on to its ac. hedges and ditches were cumbered with customed throne, and letting everything the ranks of the dead and the dying, the · else grovel at its feet, would simply not sense of continuity and security deepened have been Eleanor Cathers at all, but upon him till he began to feel it a sort of some one totally dissimilar.
order of nature that he should start as Even he — well as he flattered himself early as decency permitted in the after. he did know her was filled now and then I noon, spend the remainder of it at Red