Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ You do not remember me?” asked a few weeks ago as one of the leading men Justin, also standing.

in your county; and now you are going to “Quite well,” he answered.

be the travelling secretary of a poor mission, You are, perhaps, aware of the change yet in its infancy." in my circumstances since I saw you last ?” Their eyes met with a frank comprehensive he resumed.

gaze, and both smiled as they shook hands “Perfectly," was the reply.

again with a friendly clasp. “I have to begin life anew,” continued “ Thank God !” they ejaculated at the Justin.

same instant. “ You are in orders," interrupted the editor, “your bishop was speaking kindly of

CHAPTER XXXV.-HOME SICKNESS. you, the last time I saw him, at Sir Robert It was still the early autumn, but though Fortescue's. There would be no difficulty the sultry heat of the summer was gone, the in getting a curacy, or a small living." streets of London, with their ceaseless stir

“I cannot take a charge again," he said, and clamour of many sounds, were oppressive “unless as a missionary, where I should have to the sick heart of Pansy, pining for her something more than the routine work of an native place, with its fresh sea breezes and English parish. I had no right to be in the tranquil silence. Solitude in the midst of a Church when I was there. I cannot, how-throng of fellow-creatures was a new thing to ever, offer myself as a missionary at present, her, for in Herford every face was familiar, till I see whether my daughter could rough and every tongue had something to say to it with me.

I want something to do for a her. There was something inexpressibly while that I can do here, till she grows painful to Pansy's warm and girlish heart in accustomed to this great change.”

passing a continuous stream of people who “Sit down, Mr. Herford,” said the editor, might be so many phantoms hurrying away resuming his chair, “and let us have a into some ghostly world of which she knew friendly chat together.”

nothing, and whither she could not follow In another minute Justin had entered them. It was a relief to her when her father once again upon a full narration of his story found a settled employment. He set about to this casual friend, whose face was half- seeking a house for Pansy at once, in the hidden from him by the hand that covered suburbs, for he could not think of planting his eyes. When it was ended, he stretched his little country-bred daughter in the midst out his hand to Justin, and grasped his of streets, where neither fresh air nor sunheartily.

shine could come to her readily. Fortu“There's one post I know of you could nately they fell in with a little old-fashioned enter into at once,” he said, “but the salary cottage on Epping Forest, before the beauty is small—not more than three hundred a of the autumn was over; and Justin, seeing year. We are looking out for a secretary for that it struck Pansy's fancy, immediately our mission to Seamen. The duties are offered himself as tenant for it. stiff. There are the chief sea-ports to visit, It stood at a short distance from one of and to hold meetings at, where you would the main roads intersecting the Forest, upon have to be the chief speaker; and now and an open space resembling a village green, then a sermon to preach on behalf of the about which were built a few scattered mission. All the correspondence would fall dwellings, most of them larger than the to you and the one clerk who is always at cottage, and one or two of them the mansions the office. There would be reports to write, of wealthy people. Past the little garden in and notices, &c., to newspapers, attractively front of their new home swept an avenue of put, you know. Of course we desire a man chestnut-trees, on which the polished brown thoroughly in earnest."

nuts were just bursting through their prickly “I would take it gladly, if you think me husks. It was this avenue that had caught suitable,” said Justin.

Pansy's eye at first. Behind the house “You're the very man,” replied the editor, stretched the long low glades of pollardheartily, “almost a seaman yourself. I shall trees and tangle of brushwood and bracken, see the committee this very night, and they and wild, uncultivated land, with shallow will jump at you. We could never have pools , lying in the hollows, and here and hoped to get a man like you."

there clumps of old oak-trees and magnificent * Thank God !” exclaimed Justin.

beeches which form the forest. This secluded “What! for such a fall in the world?" spot, within six miles of London, seemed said the editor. “You were introduced to me almost as free from the din of traffic as Herford

a

itself. The wind blowing softly through painting, or music, when there was no one the trees, and over the fields of fern and near to listen, or to look at what she was brambles, was cool and fresh. The sky was doing. She had been suddenly uprooted, still as blue as in summer, and the leaves and she could not take root again in this were only beginning to change their dark strange spot, and amid the chill and gloom green for brilliant hues of yellow or crimson. of these strange circumstances. Hollyhocks and sunflowers and some late But when her father was compelled to quit roses were blooming in the cottage garden. her for a whole fortnight's journey, on It seemed a Paradise to Pansy after two deputation from his missionary society, the months of dreary solitude in the stifling solitude and gloom grew insufferable. It streets of London.

was November, and rain and fogs had set in. Parisy fought bravely against the heart. The forest glades were a swamp, and the sickness and home-sickness that were pressing bare branches of the trees were dripping with her hard, and undermining her strength. She heavy rain-drops. The little green before the laughed as often as she had done in her old windows held pools of shallow water, and the home, but it was no longer the merry stillness surrounding the place was profound. impulsive laughter, which could be traced to It was utterly unlike any experience Pansy no cause except that of girlish mirthfulness. had ever had. There was nothing she could The servant, who had been recommended to do, but lounge in the easy-chair before the them by the wife of the friendly editor, never fire in their little drawing-room, amid the saw her smile when her father was away. brand new furniture, with a piece of needleThe absence of all familiar objects wounded work in her fingers. The London servant Pansy's eye. The utter newness of the resented all interference from her uninformed furniture, which she helped to choose herself, young mistress, and hardly made a pretence contrasted painfully with the dear old house of consulting her. It was scarcely daylight hold chattels at home, as she still called in the middle of the day, yet the long nights Herford. All was strange, and to Pansy seemed worse to Pansy, when the lamp was strangeness was terrible. Very soon her lighted, but shone upon no happy faces, as it father was necessarily occupied with his new had always done at Herford Court. Everyengagements, which were many and various. thing had faded out of her life; joy, and Sone of his work he could bring home, and sunshine, and companionship. Love was Pansy was never so happy as when he was almost gone too, thought Pansy, for there busy among his papers, in the little room was no one to love her now, except her which was called his study. She could give father. Her heart cried out bitterly yet him no help, but she could look in from time tenderly for Robert Fortescue. How could to time, or bring her sewing and sit opposite he, could he, be so false to her? to him, watching him with wistful eyes, and These lonely, laggard, brooding hours ready to smile if he glanced up at her. What were the worst mischance that could have would become of him if anything happened befallen Pansy. Justin, when he opened his to her ? she sometimes thought. She was all little daughter's letters, did not suspect how that was left to him, as he was all that was hardly his absence was telling upon her. left to her, by this wild storm that had She kept out of them the dejection she was wrecked all their former life.

suffering, and made the most of what she But very little of Justin's work could be had to tell. It seemed not unlikely to him done at home. Usually he kissed her and that her attachment to young Fortescue was bade her good-bye soon after eight o'clock in but a passing fancy, which was dying out the morning, and she saw him no more till naturally and easily now she had proved him after sunset, often not till late at night, when so unworthy of it. How gaily the child he had any meeting to attend in the city. wrote of her new home, and even the gloomy Oh! the long, silent, creeping hours ! They weather! He might throw himself into his were horrible to Pansy. She had never work with an unburdened spirit, and go been accustomed to the indoor pursuits of home when it was finished with no anxiety girls of her age and station. She could to mar his pleasure. drive, and row, and fish, and ride over the Yet all the while Pansy could hardly enfarm; she could spend hours in gossiping dure her life. The courage and cheerfulness kindly with the villagers over their affairs, she assumed, when she was writing to her or she could teach classes of red-faced lassies father, forsook her the instant the letter was in Mr. Cunliffe's school; but she could ended. She knew well where her father take no interest in solitary needlework, or would tell her to seek for comfort; and she

DEFEATED.

sought it in long hours of voiceless prayer, Herford; whilst her mother awaited with kneeling until her limbs were cramped, but fear and trembling the moment when Mr. her heart no lighter. The poor child wanted Cunliffe should wake up to the consciousness her days of careless happiness back again ; that his daughter was dwelling under the and these could never return. That which roof of the alien. Mrs. Cunliffe was building is crooked cannot be made straight. It could a splendid castle in the air. If only the never be that Justin had not yielded to master of Herford would propose to Jenny temptation; that Robert Fortescue had not before her father interfered! She could make been unfaithful. These were no sins of Jenny accept himn; and in that case she felt Pansy's; but at present she was bearing the that she could stand as firm as a rock against heaviest penalty for them. Every hour of her husband, and insist upon Jenny becomher sadness cried to God, though there ing the mistress of Herford. She watched was no desire for vengeance in her heart. nervously, and angled as skilfully for Richard Rather, if she had thought her sadness made as any fashionable mother could have done. God angry with them, she would have striven But on the other hand Mrs. Herford was quite hard to conquer it, as she strove hard to alive to the snares that were laid for her son. conceal it from her father.

She did not care to lose Jenny, especially

now Pansy was gone; like Richard she was CHAPTER XXXVI.--MRS. CUNLIFFE

pleased to see pretty, light-hearted girls

about the house. So she kept Jenny with THERE were very gay doings at Herford, her; but she was careful to thwart all the as Richard had promised. Where his new mother's deep-laid schemes. friends came from nobody knew; but they Possibly Mrs. Cunliffe might have won the flocked from every part of the country, as field if it had not been for her husband. She though there had been an universal longing heard his solemn voice ringing through the for Richard's re-appearance. But they were house late one evening, after all the children all men of the same stamp; and the life they were in bed, calling her into his study; and brought to the little fishing-village was turbu- she obeyed it with a quailing heart, and a lent and boisterous. There was a constant sense of an impending crisis. He was standcoming and going of scampish-looking horse ing at his open window, and across the dealers, or rollicking seamen, and dissipated narrow valley came the sound of very noisy townsfolk, who lounged about the village music, and of a boisterous chorus, from the street and the beach, and were a grief of terrace under the windows of Herford Court. mind to all the sober-minded people of the Mrs. Cunliffe took her place quietly at his place; and especially to old Fosse and Mr. side, and listened with him, as she braced Cunliffe.

herself

up

for a stern conflict. Mrs. Herford, though fond of stir and “How soon is Jenny coming home ?” he change, did not quite approve of her younger asked in a tone that thrilled through her. son's choice of friends, who were in the habit “I can hardly say, my love," she answered of treating her with a rough familiarity very meekly. “Poor Mrs. Herford misses Pansy offensive to her. She was an old woman, so much, it would be cruel to take her away very often in the way; and they were not too soon.” over-careful to conceal that this was their “She must come home to-morrow," he opinion. Richard himself was apt to regard said. her from the same point of view, when she "To-morrow!” she rejoined; "why toinsisted upon taking the head of his hospit- morrow, my dear? It would be impossible able but noisy table. He hinted to her that to take her away so abruptly; and I know she would be better in her own room; but Mrs. Herford cannot part with her at present. she could not brook the idea of super- No, no, my love; we cannot have her at annuating herself at the age of sixty, before home again just now.” her hair was grey. Keep to her own room ! “ Louisa," he replied, “it seemed to me Not as long as she could drag herself down but now that I heard a voice asking me how to the rooms where she had been so long I was sanctifying the lives of those pertainmistress. Though she did not feel that she ing to me, so as to make them godly exwas mistress now, as she had been in Justin's amples and patterns for my people to follow; time, when every one treated her with perfect and behold! I looked up, and saw the glitter courtesy.

of many lights, and I heard the sound oi Until this boisterous stream of life had set wild and godless mirth, in the house where in, Jenny Cunliffe had remained with Mrs. my child is dwelling. It may well be my

bounden duty to snatch her away from it your parish, and the immortal souls in it. this very night; but if not so, she must come Richard could hinder you on every hand. home to-morrow.”

It would do Jenny no harm to stay one night “You would make Richard Herford your more." deadly enemy,” she suggested.

“I will fetch her first thing to-morrow “I cannot put his enmity in the balance morning,” he said resolutely. with my daughter's eternal welfare," he Early the next morning, therefore, before replied.

Richard had slept off the effects of the last “ But, my love,” she replied, almost weep- night's revelry, Mr. Cunliffe was at the ing, “there is his eternal welfare to be con- Court, insisting upon his daughter's imsidered. We are the only people who have mediate return home. In vain Mrs. Her. any good influence over him; you must ford remonstrated, and represented her own consider that I have every hope of Richard solitary position, bereft at once of both becoming a truly good man; and he thinks Pansy and Jenny. He told her plainly so much of you ! He is a little gay at though sadly, that Herford Court was no present, with all these old friends crowding longer a fit home for the young girl, and he about him, to welcome him into his property; marched away with Jenny, who was friglitbut his heart is not with them. He wishes ened into silence by his unusual sternness. to settle and marry; and a good wife will “Jenny, my child,” he said, as they save him from all these bad habits. You walked through the little coppice which would be glad to see him with a good wife?" sheltered the drive to the Court, “ Jenny,

“To be sure, if he will be a good husband,” tell me frankly if you love this Richard answered Mr. Cunliffe.

Herford.” “He will be a devoted husband," she “Oh, no, father,” she answered, her face resumed, growing bolder, “if he can marry growing crimson, under his searching gaze ; the girl he loves. “Is it not written, 'the “what made you think of such a thing? I unbelieving husband is sanctified by the like to be at the Court, everything is so easy wife'? St. Paul had seen many a gay young and comfortable; and when Mrs. Herford is man converted by a happy marriage, I'm in a good temper it is all so pleasant; but it sure. I have great hopes of poor Richard | has not been nice at all since Pansy and her Herford, if he can only marry the girl he father went away.” loves."

“ Easy and comfortable! Pleasant and Do you know if he loves any one?” nice !" groaned Mr. Cunlifte, “Is that what asked her husband, whose eyes were still you are living for, my child ? Oh! I have fastened on the house across the valley. been very much to blame; I have been a

“Suppose - I am only supposing - it careless father. God help me to look more should be our Jenny !” breathed Mrs. Cun- closely after my duties !” lifte tremulously.

No angry fault-finding could have touched "Woman! Louisa !” he ejaculated. “I Jenny's heart so keenly as these words of would far sooner follow Jenny to the grave. self-reproach. The tears sprang to her eyes. A young reprobate like Richard Herford ! To hear her father accuse himself for her Give me my hat; and make ready a bed for shortcomings was hundredfold the child, for she shall sleep at home to than having rebukes heaped upon her head. night. The thought of it never crossed my She stepped closer to him, and put her hand mind, careless father that I am! How could within his arm. you think of such a calamity and not men "Father,” she said, with a little sob, “ I'll tion it to me?”

try to like hard things, as you do. I'll do “I was only supposing," sobbed Mrs. any disagreeable thing you like. I'll go out Cunliffe ; "and oh! Philip, if he was only a as a governess, and get my own living at good man, it would be so nice for Jenny! once. My mother says you'll be poorer She would always be close to us, and you now, because you'll only have the bare living. could take care of her eternal welfare. 1 I was talking about it to her; only she said shrink from sending her out as a governess, I must not be so ungrateful to Mrs. Herford, where nobody would care for her soul. If as to leave her now Pansy is gone. I don't Richard was only converted ! and I had care one pin for Richard Herford,” she added, such hopes he might be! Don't go to-night, with strong emphasis, to assure her father, Philip; it would wound them all so. And and restore the usual placidity to his troubled how could you manage your parish if you face. make him your enemy? Think a little of “God bless you, my daughter!" he said,

a

worse

with something of priestly dignity, "and may when he found, on coming down to a late God keep you from every snare, whereby breakfast, that Jenny's pretty face was gone, your young feet may be caught, and hindered and none but his mother's was left to meet from running in the way of His command him at his table. He made a call at the ments. I shall have to part with you ; but Vicarage during the day, but saw only Mrs. my punishment is far less than my sin. I Cunliffe, who told him, with a beating heart shall not have to mourn over your unhappi- and in her meekest voice, that Jenny was ness. I must seek a distant home for going away from home, as a governess. you."

“She'll be a confoundedly nice governess," Richard Herford muttered an oath or two said Richard ; but that was all.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »