The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Dalrymples

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Title: The Dalrymples

Author: Agnes Giberne

Release date: May 11, 2023 [eBook #70740]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: James Nisbet & Co., Limited, 1891


Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.









"I shouldn't wonder, but I ought to know you, sir," he said.















"I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand,

as in what direction we are moving." — O. W. HOLMES.











At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh



















































"MISS HERMINY'S a angel! That's what she be!" The old gardener at the Rectory, who was uncle to the head-gardener at the Hall, and who prided himself not a little on that social distinction, brought down his spade with an expressive bump. Then he rested his two aged and muscular hands upon the spade handle and peered upward into the face of the person addressed, before proceeding to deliver himself more fully of his sentiments.

"Miss Herminy's a angel! That's what I says! And I don't care who unsays it! She's got the wings a-wanting, and nought else. If 'twasn't for that, sir, she'd just soar right away, she would, to her native element, nor wouldn't stay no longer on this here sordid earth of ours. To look upon her now minds me of that what King David said, 'Oh that I had wings like a dove'—sir—not but what they be fitter words for an old fellow like me than a young thing like her. But sometimes I'm afeared it's that she will do one o' these days, when she comes along o' the path in her white frock, looking for all the world like a white-robed angel in them hymns we sings in Church, sir, and palms in their hands, and she so lightsome of spirit still, and her hair like gold, and a look of heaven in her blue eyes that's always smiling, and never a bit of pride nor a thought for her own self. Yes, sir, Miss Herminy's a angel, and no mistake!"

"Haven't the least doubt of it," responded the other, with a curious intonation. He might have been thirty or more in age, though young-looking for that. He was of good stature, good figure, good features, with a mouth lazily good-humoured and eyes lazily kind. As old Sutton rambled on, the younger man stood close outside the Rectory gate, one of those swing-gates which have five or six horizontal bars of wood, and another sloping diagonally from an upper to a lower opposite corner. He lounged against this gate with an air of gentlemanly indolence, partly holding it open, partly using it to support his weight.

"And if my word ain't enough, sir, why, there be the squire, and my master Mr. Fitzalan, and Miss Marjory, as is like own sister to Miss Herminy. Not for to speak of Mr. Harry, sir. And the Hall servants, sir, if I might make bold to mention 'em—and the village folk."

"Mr. Dalrymple, her grandfather!"

"Ay, sir, and a fine old gentleman he do be. I don't know a finer nowheres. And a good and God-fearing man as ever you see, who'll stand up for the poor man, and who'll set right over might, let what will happen. And he be that set upon Miss Herminy, sir! He've got nought but she in the world, and she've got nought but he; and they just do hang together, like—them two. And whatever's to become of Miss Herminy when he's a-taken away, for he's an old man, and it mayn't be long before the call 'll come; and if I'm not mistaking, it 'll be no sorrowful call to him, sir; no, for he's a man as do love and fear God with all his heart, and delights to worship in His temple. But whatever's to become of Miss Herminy when that time comes I don't know—that I don't."

"Estate entailed, I believe, on the male line," was the only remark made in answer.

"Ay, sir; so I've heard. And a wicked thing it he, giving away the place from she as has the right, to one away in furrin parts for years and years, never taking no heed to his heritage. He don't value it, sir, no more than Esau did as sold his for a mess of pottage. And Miss Herminy to have nought; and she the apple of the old man's eye. No, sir, it's a wicked thing—I don't know a wickeder."

The gentleman lifted his eyebrows. "The heir is a near relative, of course," he said.

"His father and Miss Herminy's mother they was first cousins, sir. And he as good as a brother to Miss Herminy in years past, till he took to wandering like a vagabond over the face of the earth. There's many a one thought summat 'ud surely come of that, sir; and it was Mr. Dalrymple's wish too, and no mistake. But it ain't come yet. Though there be no knowing—if so be he was to see Miss Herminy now. For if ever there was a angel on earth, it's Miss Herminy."

"She was a pretty child when I saw her last, Sutton."

Something familiar in tone and manner caught the old gardener's attention. He stared, and scratched aside two or three grey hairs which had wandered over his wrinkled forehead.

"I shouldn't wonder but I'd ought to know you, sir," he said, "if you was ever at the Hall before. I'm getting old now, and my eyesight ain't none of the best, nor my memory nayther. I shouldn't wonder if I'd ought to know you." He peered hard still, blinking a little. "And I'm thinking now as I sees summat. It ain't—surely—Miss Herminy's cousin—young Mr. Dalrymple!"

"I am Harvey Dalrymple," was the reply. "Yes—Miss Hermione's second cousin—or, if you like it, her brother."

"Young Mr. Dalrymple—his very own self!" ejaculated Sutton. "Well, well, sir—I'm glad to see you anyways. And maybe it's One above has brought you home for His own purposes, sir—if so be you'll pardon an old man saying it."

Dalrymple did not look offended; it was not his way to take offence easily.

"I hope I am come for no bad purpose, at all events," he rejoined lightly. "After eight years' absence, it is not so very astonishing that I should turn up again for a couple of nights. You can tell Mr. Fitzalan of my sudden appearance, and say that I would have called if anybody had been indoors. By-the-bye, I have not asked yet after Miss Fitzalan."

"Miss Marjory be as usual, sir. She don't never complain."

"And Mr. Harry?"

Sutton's face lighted up proudly.

"Mr. Harry do be growed a fine young gentleman, sir—as fine a young gentleman as ever I see. And they do say he be mighty thought of at the 'Varsity, he be that clever. And as fine a young gentleman! To see him a horseback now!"

The sight of Harry Fitzalan on horseback plainly went beyond old Sutton's descriptive powers. He nodded his head, and was mute.

"Good day. We shall meet again," Dalrymple said, with a friendly nod.

Sutton remained motionless, staring blankly after the retreating figure.

"Young Mr. Dalrymple, his very own self. And I to be talking of he to he, and never a thought in my head as he'd come back. And all them years in furrin parts. Well, well, he ain't too early nor he ain't too late neither. For the old squire he be living, and Miss Herminy she ain't married. And I shouldn't wonder—no, I shouldn't." Sutton shook his scant grey locks, leaving the sentence incomplete.

Meanwhile Dalrymple, following the dusty highroad by which he had already come through the village and passed the Rectory, rounded another curve and found himself close to the Church of whitish stone, matching the whitish Rectory. A square tower was dressed in a garment of aged ivy, and the windows of tinted glass had ivy fringes around them.

Dalrymple knew from personal recollection how those green leaf fringes could be seen from within, showing through the dull-tinted diamond panes. He had been used to worship in this Church, week by week, through early boyhood, standing, sitting, kneeling, by his mother's side. He had been there also in later years, but the childish remembrances were the strongest.

Almost a quarter of a century had gone by since that mother's death, yet he could recall her still, vividly as if he had seen her but one month before. The graceful girlish figure came back to him now, as he lingered, and the sweet fair face, and the heavenly calm of the soft eyes. He seemed to see himself again as a small boy in the big "squire's pew," gazing up into those rapt eyes with a child's half-adoring love, as her clear voice rang out in words of praise, mingling with the less tuneful notes of the village choir.

"If ever an angel lived in human form, she was one," he murmured.

Then he roused himself to go on, but paused anew, for a girl was coming along the road straight towards him. He knew in a moment who it was.

She wore a dress of summer serge, dark-grey in colour, fitting closely, and made in a style of absolute plainness. There were no plaitings, puffings, or braidings about any part of it, while the collar and cuffs were of thick white linen. Rather below middle height, she had a face uniformly pale, and habitual shadows under the eyes. The features generally were irregular, boasting no beauty, but the outline of the cheek seen from behind was pretty; abundant brown hair sheltered the broad forehead, falling partly over it in loose waves; and the grey eyes, with their depths of feeling, gave character to a face which otherwise was not remarkable. A straw hat hung over one arm, and she carried a mass of small white roses in an open basket.

Dalrymple went forward a few steps, and held out his hand.

"Marjory herself!" he said.

There was one swift glance of scrutiny.

"Mr. Dalrymple—is it?—" in a surprised tone; and she gave him her hand somewhat constrainedly.

"It used to be 'Harvey,'" he remarked, smiling. "Am I so altered?"

"I don't know. Things are altered. And I was a child then."

"True. Would you have known me if I had not spoken?"

Marjory lifted her eyes for another rapid examination, The eyelids had a trick of dropping—as if with their own weight—so soon as the eyes had seen enough for the business in hand.

"Yes—perhaps—I don't know. I did not expect—Hermione had not told me—"

"Hermione does not know yet that I am on English ground."

Marjory responded only by a vague "Oh!" Her face showed disapproval.

"It was a sudden resolution. I am not much given to letter-writing, as you know."

She said "Yes," and then "No," in answer, vaguely still. A slight movement brought her close to the churchyard gate.

"You are tired," he said, as she leant against it, "Come inside and sit down."

"O no! I must go home. It is only the heat."

"Not stronger than you used to be, I am afraid."

"I don't know. One learns not to give in so easily."

Harvey Dalrymple made no immediate answer. He was gazing up at the tower, and his next remark was an involuntary— "How it recalls old days!"

"When you were here last?"

"No; farther back. When my mother was living."

"Before I was born."

Though her face might have belonged to any age under thirty, Marjory was only twenty-one.

"Yes; before you were born, and before your father had the living. . . . I have just been recalling childish fancies of mine in those days connected with the big square pew. By-the-bye, that pew is soon to be a thing of the past, isn't it? Hermione writes of projected improvements. There was a certain window just in front, which, imagination, to my infant imagination, was the gate of heaven. Yes, that corner window—ivy all round, just as it used to be." He spoke half lightly, half seriously, adding, in a moved tone, "When my mother was taken, I fully believed that she had gone upward that way, through a path of sunbeams and green leaves."

"Children sometimes see farther than grown people," Marjory asserted gravely.

"At all events, they fancy more."

"They see farther sometimes."

He seemed a little amused again, and remarked, "You used to hold your opinions very strongly, I remember."

Marjory looked up, and asked, "Do you think living much in the world sharpens one's spiritual sight? I don't."

"Ah, this is old days over again! You and I were always dropping into arguments. Must you have a categorical answer? Well, perhaps not."

"I suppose—" Marjory said, and paused.

"Yes?—" questioningly.

"I was only thinking of those lines—of course you know them—"

"'But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy!'"

"Isn't that a rather serious deduction from the loss of a childish fancy about green leaves and sunshine?"

"I am not making any deductions. I do not know you well enough— yourself. We were speaking of children generally, I thought."

Perhaps Harvey had had enough, and did not care to pursue the subject. His next words were, "I have had to walk from the station, of course, through sending no previous notice. Curious to see old Sutton in your garden still!"

"Sutton is a fixture."

"Everything is a fixture at Westford. Even you are hardly changed— only, I suppose, older."

He had known her well, eight years earlier, with a brother-and-sister intimacy. It had not occurred to him, till now, that the young man's recollections of the child of thirteen might be more distinct than the child's recollections of the young man of twenty-four. In truth it was not so, for Marjory's mental pictures of Harvey were most vivid. Still, during his long absence she had passed from childhood to womanhood, while he had only gone on from an earlier to a more advanced stage of young manhood; and it was by no means so easy for her as for him to drop at once into the old grooves of intercourse.

"Yes, much older. I do not feel myself the same."

"And Hermione?"

"Hermione? Oh!" Marjory's whole face lighted up. "You will find Hermione everything that you could wish. She is—no, I can't describe her. There never was any one like Hermione."

"Angelic, in short. You and Sutton seem to be of the same opinion."

"Yes; and you will not wonder when you see her. So lovely, so unlike other girls. There are not two opinions about Hermione. At least—no, not really two; only, of course, people see differently. But I cannot tell you how she is beloved in the village—almost worshipped. The surliest man there can't say a rough word to Hermione. We all look up to her. Yes, she is younger than I am; but what of that? One looks up to another because of what she is, not because of any particular age."

"Well, perhaps—no. And Hermione is pretty?"

"She is—no, I will not describe her. You must see for yourself."

"She could be an arrant little fury, I remember, if anybody crossed her will. You were the victim occasionally."

"Was I? I have forgotten. Nothing of the kind ever happens now."

"Why, no. At nineteen one doesn't expect tornadoes of wrath."

"But there is no temper—no readiness to be vexed. She is sweetness itself. Nothing ever puts her out. If she had a temper as a child, that is all over. You had better not set me off about her, because I shall not know when to stop. I think—I almost think I could die for Hermione."

Marjory spoke the last words under her breath, and the downcast eyes glowed with a fervour of devotion. Harvey was touched, yet entertained. His easy and pliant nature, though not without its reservoirs of strong feeling, was hardly capable of understanding Marjory. Before he had decided what to say, she added, "But I ought to go home, and I must not keep you from them longer."

Harvey lifted his hat, and shook hands. In the act of turning away he stopped short, faced her once more, his sunburnt cheek slightly flushing, and said, "My old friends will have to congratulate me."

Marjory's voice and eyes alike asked, "What for?"

"On my recent marriage."

The eyes opened more widely. Harvey had not the smallest doubt that, in her mind, as in old Sutton's, he had been the destined husband of Hermione Rivers.

"Well?" he said, smiling, though not so much at his ease as usual.

"I never know how to congratulate," Marjory replied abruptly. "We don't learn that sort of thing in this rustic place—as a matter of form, I mean."

She turned off with so decisive an air that he had no choice about pursuing his solitary way.







"Shameful!" Marjory said to herself with warmth after quitting Harvey. "Without a word to Mr. Dalrymple or to Hermione!—and Mr. Dalrymple always so good to him. He might at least have written, even if he would not come home first. Such a cruel slight to Mr. Dalrymple! I shall never, never like Harvey again."

Three minutes brought Marjory to the Rectory. She paused a moment in the garden to ask of Sutton, "Has my father come in yet?"

"No, Miss Marjory, he ain't."

"Sutton, I wish you would take this basket of roses round to Mrs. Pennant's. I promised to leave them for Miss Rivers, and I don't feel now as if I could walk any farther."

Sutton rubbed his head dubiously.

"Well, now. Miss Marjory, I've got all this lot of diggin' to do: and however it'll be done, if I'm a-gadding about at all hours for 'ee—"

"Never mind. I'll take the flowers myself," said the girl curtly.

She went straight indoors, blaming herself for the tone before she crossed the threshold. Nobody was in the drawing-room. Books and work lay about carelessly, not untidily. Marjory placed the basket on a table, pulled off her hat, and threw herself down flat on a low couch, having not even a pillow under her head. Though by no means an invalid in habits, she suffered much, and had suffered for years, from spinal weakness. The amount of work Marjory got through in her home and in the Parish was astounding; but frequent short rests were a necessity. "If I can just stop now and then to breathe, I do well enough," she used to say patiently.

Ten minutes of entire stillness were followed by a light tread. Marjory did not stir, except to lift her eyelids. A gentleman entered, unmistakably her father. He was under medium height for a man, and so thin as to be bony, with long fingers and pale skin. His colouring was, however, more healthy than hers, and while it was easily seen whence she had inherited her expressive eyes, the loose hair was in him more scanty and was fast turning grey.

"Marjory resting!" he said in cheery tones, not as if surprised or anxious.

"Yes, father!"

"What have you been doing?"

"I went to several cottages, and then to see Hermione. And on my way back I met—"

"One moment. I must look at these letters the first thing."

Marjory seemed to have no objection to the delay. She shut her eyes again and lay as before, flat and motionless, her arms straight down by her sides. No other position so well suited the tired back; but sometimes nothing less than the floor would do; and even then Marjory had often an odd craving to get lower still as a relief to her weariness. She never spoke of such sensations, however.

Presently a slight movement aroused her, and she found Mr. Fitzalan to have taken a seat near.

"You have something to say," he observed.

"Harvey has come home."

"Yes!" It was a curious long syllable.

"Did you know? Have you seen him?"

"No. Sutton told me, as he doubtless told you."

"Sutton said nothing. I met Harvey. Ought I to call him 'Mr. Dalrymple'? I did at first, and he told me not. He was on his way to the Hall. I am not sure that I should have known him, if he had not stopped me; and yet he is very like his own self—the same face and manner. But—father, he is married!"

Mr. Fitzalan gave one rapid glance up, after his daughter's own fashion. He had been leaning a little forward, looking down.

"Married! Where and when?"

"I don't know. I heard nothing more. It made me angry, and I hurried away. Of course he is old enough to decide for himself, and he is quite independent, but still—still—Mr. Dalrymple has always been so good to him—surely he ought to have heard beforehand! That, at least, even if he might not say 'Yes' or 'No.' It seems cruel to have done it in this way. And when one knows what Mr. Dalrymple's great wish has been for so long—"

"Mr. Dalrymple's wish might have had a better hope of fulfilment, if he had never spoken of it to Harvey."

"Yes, perhaps; but at least he need not have kept out of the way all these years. Of course, a man must be free to choose for himself; and Hermione might never have cared for him, even if he had wished to marry her. I don't think she would be easily won. It is not that, but his way of treating Mr. Dalrymple that I mind—putting him to pain."

"Why, my dear Marjie!" for Marjory's eyes were full.

"I can't help it, father. I am cross, I know; but I can't bear to think how Mr. Dalrymple will feel, when he has so longed for the Hall to be always Hermione's home."

Mr. Fitzalan looked up again. "The old story; always trying to choose for those we love! How can Mr. Dalrymple tell what will be for Hermione's happiness?"

"No; only he does wish, and it is so natural to wish. And what I mind is the disappointment coming so very suddenly—no time beforehand for getting used to it. Harvey used to be so different. He never would have done such a thing—once! It does seem to me so wrong and unkind not to have spoken or written first. And when one has looked up to a person for years—" Marjory's voice failed.

"Or to an idealised memory of a person," Mr. Fitzalan said quietly. Few men in his place could have entered fully into Marjory's meaning; but he knew her well, and recognised at once the dethroning of a hero. His voice held the right mixture of the sympathetic and the bracing as he continued, "This is not the first time that Harvey has disappointed his friends."

"Oh, I know—people have blamed him for staying so long abroad, if he were not obliged. But Hermione and I have always believed that he had some really good reason. We never can forget what he used to be with us, always so kind and gentle. And that is not usual, father. Young men just leaving college don't generally care much for children of eleven and thirteen."

"Perhaps not, generally. Harvey would do anything for anybody, if it were not too much trouble."

Marjory made no answer, and her pale brow was knitted sorrowfully. Mr. Fitzalan moved away to the table, where he began writing letters, and presently Marjory followed him.

"Up again! Not rested yet, I think," he said, hardly pausing in his rapid penmanship.

"I don't know. I must go out."

"What for?"

"Hermione asked me to leave these roses, with her love, at Mrs. Pennant's."

"I saw Pennant just now on his rounds. Why could not Hermione leave the flowers herself, or send a servant?"

"I don't know. She asked me."

"And you never say 'No' to Hermione?"

Marjory's lips parted in a smile. "I suppose not. I did not know I should feel the heat so much. Besides, it is only down the village. I will take the basket at once, and rest afterwards."

"No—I will see to the flowers."

"But your letters?"

"They shall wait. Duties never clash, my dear."

Mr. Fitzalan's left hand went detainingly to the basket-handle, while his right, which had dropped the pen, drew her down upon a chair close to his side. She laid her head against his shoulder, and there was the sound of a long breath, half of pain, half of content. As a rule these two were more reserved in their daily intercourse one with the other than might have been expected. They loved deeply, and they "pulled together well," as the saying is: yet their "hermit-spirits" lived apart in locked chambers, seldom touching. Once in a way this seclusion was broken through, but not often. Perhaps they were too busy in outward life; perhaps too much alike in character.

"Poor little woman!" Mr. Fitzalan said musingly. "Always knocking against hard corners in this rocky world of ours! But there's balm for bruises, Marjie."

"Am I bruised?" and she tried to laugh; then whispered, "I hate to be stupid."

"It is not stupidity. You are overstrained, doing everybody's work for everybody. The fall of a wax image from its pedestal seems a woeful event at such times. Yes—wax! How much do you know of Harvey? Eight years ago he was a good-natured young fellow, amusing himself with you two children. My dear, no doubt about that. You were clever, and Hermione was pretty, and he had nothing to do. He was kind, of course, but if you expect perfection in everybody who is kind to you, I am afraid you are in for disappointments. Human nature at its best is a very mixed concern. You don't look for perfection, eh? No, not literally, perhaps; but you have a high ideal, and you fancy now and then that you have found the ideal embodied. Whereupon the embodiment falls short of the ideal, and you—"

Marjory said only, "Yes," to this. Mr. Fitzalan changed his tone.

"You will never find it, except in One—in Christ. Human craving can only be satisfied in Him. He alone comes up to the loftiest ideal, and He alone can never disappoint our expectations. The best and holiest of men and women do disappoint us more or less."

"Yes,—oh, I know, father."

"Knowing is not always believing, is it? After all, my experience will not serve for you. Now go back to your couch, and have a quiet hour. I will see to the roses."







WITHIN the Hall library Mr. Dalrymple sat before a massive escritoire, writing. All things in this commodious room were massive— bookcases, chairs, couches, pictures, ornaments, above all this central table, with its multitudinous drawers and receptacles. The June sunshine blazed in through a large bow-window, falling unheeded on the silver head of the old man.

He was tall and thin, and held himself erect, even at his desk, which after seventy-five is not usual. The silvery hair curled still about the finely-moulded head; and the clean-shaven delicate face, a uniform pale bronze in hue, was steadfastly set to the work in hand, the eyes fixed, the lips somewhat compressed.

Mr. Dalrymple spent the greater part of his life in this room. He had been there now for hours off and on, writing letters, always writing letters. A wide and varied correspondence was his, including the personal management of his property, intercourse with the friends of a long life, interchange of ideas with literary and scientific men of note, and the perpetual response to perpetual appeals for money or aid. People said he ought to keep a secretary, and he had made the attempt, only to fail. Somehow he never could find a secretary to suit him; the reason perhaps being that he never could endure to let anybody answer his letters except himself.

"If you want a thing done, do it!" is a good piece of advice, within limits. Mr. Dalrymple carried this principle to excess. He was very independent; his friends said he never would be helped.

In habits of life he was most regular. He lived by rule, rose and went to bed by rule, ate and drank by rule, worked and took recreation by rule. His was no self-indulgent existence, governed by the sway of his own desires. Always up at six o'clock, he had his morning constitutional before breakfast, except in the depth of winter; he had his ride with Hermione late in the afternoon; and each hour between held its own occupation.

He was particular and precise in his employments—not in a disagreeable fashion, but certainly in characteristic modes. Every letter that he despatched left its exact copy behind, always in Mr. Dalrymple's well-formed and beautiful handwriting. A secretary might at least have copied these letters; but no, Mr. Dalrymple would do the whole himself. Every drawer and pigeon-hole in the huge writing-table had some special use assigned to it. Every paper possessed by Mr. Dalrymple could be found without fail at five minutes' notice.

Though far too well-balanced in mind and too dignified in manner ever to fall into a hurry, there could be no doubt that Mr. Dalrymple was a genuinely busy man. Absolute leisure had been with him a thing almost unknown through forty years or more. As is often the case, he worked harder and more incessantly than do, as a rule, those who possess stated employments, and who have to earn their own living. For Mr. Dalrymple was known to be a man of means, and was counted to "have plenty of time on his hands;" therefore everybody, without compunction, appealed to him. If the response was not always what the appellant wished, at least no one was left without a response.

He was a good old man, this gentle yet prompt and resolute owner of Westford. He had served a Divine Master steadfastly through forty years. What he saw to be right he would do, no matter at what personal cost.

Busy as were his week-days, his Sundays were far from idle. Alike in summer and winter he might be seen at the early eight o'clock Holy Communion; and his silvery head was rarely missing from the Squire's pew during the morning and evening services. In the afternoon he would wend his way down to the classroom of the village-school, by Hermione's side, to teach a dozen village boys great truths in simple words.

Certainly Gilbert Dalrymple, Squire of Westford, did not spare himself; and the religion which he acted out on Sunday was by no means laid to slumber through the week.

He had gone much into questions of the day; he had read books by men of every shade of opinion; he had friends, wide asunder as the poles from him and from each other in their views; yet his own faith had lived unscathed through all oppositions, growing indeed and deepening, but keeping ever its early purity. Even those of his friends who differed most strongly from him, could not but feel the weight of that child-like trust, shown forth, not by much speech, but by a holy life.

For the trust was not in a theory, not in a doctrine, not in an idea, but in a MAN—the one Perfect God-Man, our Crucified and Risen Lord. It rested mainly not on arguments, not on skilled deductions, not on cleverly-handled theories, but on the historic testimony of the early Church, on the Divinely-written Word, and on his own personal knowledge of that Risen Lord, who had "loved and given Himself" for him—a knowledge which had sprung, as such knowledge alone can spring, from the Master's revelation of Himself to His child.

Then, it may be asked, which comes first in order of time?— the Master's revealing, or the child's seeking?—the knowledge or the trust?

How can we tell? The hidden workings which lead to either consummation lie beyond our ken. There cannot be knowledge without trust, or trust without knowledge. There will not be either without the use of God's provided Means; yet the Means of Grace are nought without the Divine outpouring into and through them. There will not be revealing without seeking, and there cannot be seeking without revealing. As each increases, the other is increased thereby. Attempting to define further, we find ourselves in a fog of terms.

As Mr. Dalrymple wrote, he lifted his eyes from time to time for a glance towards the bow-window. A small davenport stood there, and beside it a work-basket, also a lady's basket-chair. A little half-made print frock had been dropped across the arm of the chair, and a silver thimble lay on the davenport. It might have been a child's thimble, but it was not.

This was Hermione's favourite retreat. She spent many an hour of each day there, and was never so happy as in her grandfather's presence. While he, busy as he might be, was never at rest in Hermione's absence.

He struck presently a small gong, and the butler appeared.

"Where is Miss Rivers?"

"I am not sure, sir. She was, I believe, in the garden with Miss Fitzalan. I will inquire if she is gone out."

Slade was a middle-aged man, highly superior and elaborately polite. He had so quiet a step as to be suggestive of tip-toe, and no excitement ever caused him to raise his voice above the suppressed accents which he counted decorous.

"Do so," was the brief answer. "If Miss Rivers is in, ask her to come to me."

Slade vanished, and Mr. Dalrymple went on writing. As each letter came to an end, he read it through, copied it, folded it neatly, enveloped, addressed, stamped, and laid it aside; placed the copy in one drawer, and the answered letter in another; then turned his attention to a fresh claimant. There were no signs of either haste or weariness in the method of proceeding. Mr. Dalrymple seemed interested and thoroughly business-like.

Rap-rap softly at the door; and enter Slade once more.

"Well?" Mr. Dalrymple said.

"I cannot find Miss Rivers, sir."

"Have you asked Milton?"

"I have, sir. Mrs. Milton is in ignorance."

"And Stevens?"

"Miss Rivers was in the orchis-house, sir, half-an-hour since. Stevens saw Miss Rivers take the way of the shrubbery."

"Four o'clock. She will be in to afternoon tea," Mr. Dalrymple observed.

"Yes, sir," assented Slade.

A pause.

"That will do," said Mr. Dalrymple. He had a dignified yet very courteous manner of speaking to his servants.

Slade stood still, an anxious line across his forehead.

"If you please, sir, a gentleman desires to see you."

"A gentleman, eh?" Mr. Dalrymple looked up. "Who?"

"The gentleman desired me to say so much. He declined to send in any name, sir."

"What is his business?"

"He appeared to prefer telling you himself, sir."

"Ha! somebody wanting money."

"No, I believe not, sir!" Slade spoke with emphasis.

Mr. Dalrymple gave the man a questioning glance, noted the anxious horizontal line, and inquired, "Do you know who it is?"

Slade was truthful. The line deepened, but he replied, "I do, sir."

"And you don't feel at liberty to tell me?"

"Sir, the gentleman desired me not."

Mr. Dalrymple's expression was curious. He said simply, "You may show the gentleman in."

Slade opened the door, and Mr. Dalrymple returned to his work. He expected an interval of two or three minutes to elapse before the caller should appear, and two or three minutes were in his estimation too valuable to be wasted in idle waiting.

He did not see a figure just outside the door, or a silencing hand raised when Slade would have spoken; nor did he see that as Slade glided out somebody else glided in.

Five minutes or more went by before it occurred to Mr. Dalrymple that Slade really was an unconscionable time absent. He lifted his eyes involuntarily, and they fell upon a gentleman standing in an attitude of careless ease not far from the writing-table.

The sunshine was full in Mr. Dalrymple's face, while the other stood in shade. He rose politely, with an apologetic, "I beg your pardon. I did not hear your name announced."

"It was not. I would not let Slade speak."

The voice agitated Mr. Dalrymple strangely, for it was the voice of his only and beloved brother, dead many long years before. Harvey had inherited from the grandfather, whom he had never even seen, tones and tricks of speech to a singular degree. Mr. Dalrymple knew in an instant who his visitor was—would have known had the room been pitch dark.

"Harvey, my dear fellow!" he said, as three strides brought him round the table.

It had been a matter of doubt with Harvey what manner of welcome he might find. True, his was not a prodigal's return, since he had led a life free from vicious indulgences. Such things were "not in his line," he would have said. He had only been unmanageably indolent, and politely persistent in having his own way. Moreover, although he undoubtedly "owed Mr. Dalrymple something," as Marjory expressed it, he was an independent man of means; and since his own father had lived till he was twenty-one, his great-uncle had never possessed any legal control over his movements.

Still, Harvey Dalrymple was the old man's heir, and was at least indebted to him for long kindness and affection. If Harvey had a right to act for himself, Mr. Dalrymple had a right to be made aware of his intentions. This, which Marjory felt keenly, Harvey ought to have felt no less keenly.

Perhaps he did feel it, since he had hurried home before the end of his honeymoon to explain and apologise; since too he certainly counted on a measure of possible annoyance.

Even apart from the news of his marriage, he looked for something of coolness. He knew that the eight years' absence had given displeasure, and it had not occurred to him that sorrow might have been so much stronger than displeasure as to render joy at his coming the predominant sensation.

Whatever kind of reception he had pictured to himself as probable, he certainly had not pictured this—the old man's two hands clasping his in a fervent grasp, the faltering voice scarcely able to articulate, the stately grey head bent and trembling.

"My dear fellow!" came again, and then, "I must sit down."

"You are not well?"

"Nothing, nothing—only the suddenness. Yes, quite well; it is nothing."

"I ought to have given warning. How thoughtless of me!" said Harvey, really contrite. "This way—" and he guided Mr. Dalrymple's uncertain steps to an armchair. "I am sorry to have startled you so much."

Mr. Dalrymple motioned him to a second chair close by. Harvey obeyed the gesture, and watched in grave silence the lessening tremulousness.

"Hermione has not mentioned your health in writing," he said at length; "and I did not suppose—"

"Nothing whatever is wrong with my health! Nothing whatever." Mr. Dalrymple spoke almost testily. The very idea seemed to act as a tonic, and he sat upright, looked braced. "No, I am only getting old; and there is no cure for old age. But you have been much in my mind lately. I have purposed to write, pressing for your return. It seemed to me that the time had come."

"One hardly realises how the years fly," Harvey remarked a little constrainedly.

"You think not. Perhaps, at your age. But it is enough to have you here at last! Your coming removes a load from my mind. There is much to see to, much to arrange. I have waited anxiously for this day. And you have come home, I trust, weary of wandering."

"Like a vagabond, according to Sutton," observed Harvey, with a forced laugh.

"But you have had enough; you will stay at home now," urged Mr. Dalrymple, when Harvey would fain have evaded the question. "This is always your real home."

"I am afraid—not long. I have engagements," Harvey said hesitatingly. He could not resolve to speak yet of two nights only.

"Well, a few weeks will settle things, perhaps. We shall see. And when you go, it will not be for eight years again!"

"I hope not, indeed. It ought not to have been," Harvey said, touched with the gentle rebuke.

"You have not seen Hermione yet?"

"No; I am told that she has fulfilled her childish promise of prettiness."

"More—more than fulfilled it. My child is very lovely, Harvey— a strangely favoured being; and I am favoured in her." He gazed earnestly at the young man. "When you see Hermione you will understand. She is all sweetness—to me a being without fault. I never have to blame my Hermione, for I find nothing to blame. Yet she is natural, simple, girl-like; no forced hot-house plant. I do not fear to say too much of her, for indeed she surpasses all I could say. She is the sunshine of my old age. All who know her, love her as she well deserves to be loved. I trust you will appreciate what she is. My heart's dearest hope for years has been that you—"

Harvey could not let this go on. He broke in abruptly—

"Hermione and I are old friends. She has always been my little sister."

Mr. Dalrymple shook his head.

"Second cousins only—no, no! I could wish a nearer—"

"And I hope nothing will ever break through that tie," continued Harvey with haste. "By-the-bye, I have not told you yet my chief item of news. What will Hermione say to me for giving her a new cousin— a sister, if she will have me for her brother still?"

The word was repeated mechanically— "A sister!"

A minute of dead silence followed; then— "You mean—that you are engaged?"

"I have been married for more than three weeks?"

To this no answer came. Silence reigned.







"I OUGHT to have written, of course," Harvey went on. "But you know how one puts off. It was a rather sudden affair, just at last. Perhaps too I had a fancy that I would prefer to come and tell you in person."

Still silence.

"Julia is an orphan. She has only one sister—a widow, with a little child. I have left them together in Paris; but, of course—"

Continued silence.

"I am afraid it must seem unkind not to have communicated with you beforehand, only—"

Another break. Harvey was at a loss how to carry on his remarks in the face of this irresponsiveness. Though he would not say a word that was not true, he did not wish to confess that he had purposely abstained from appealing to Mr. Dalrymple until he should have put it out of Mr. Dalrymple's power to interfere. Purposely, after a fashion. Harvey was more apt to drift in the wake of his own desires than to follow out a certain line of action determined on by himself. Also, he undoubtedly was a procrastinator in the letter-writing line. But beneath the usual putting-off in this case there had been a more than usual unwillingness to yield to the temptation.

"Mrs. Trevor is the sister—Francesca Trevor. Badly off I am sorry to say. That was one reason why I thought—why delay seemed unadvisable. Julia was dependent on Mrs. Trevor, and, of course, a young widow—"

Harvey came to another stop. It was evident that Mr. Dalrymple had ceased to listen. He leant back in his chair listlessly, a pallid and even shrunken look replacing the bronzed hue of health. None but himself could know how sharply fell this blow, dispelling a long-cherished dream.

For years Gilbert Dalrymple had dwelt upon the dream, until it had grown into an almost certainty for the future. He had spoken of it to his friends, till there were few in Westford, besides Hermione, quite ignorant of his desire. He had, of course, been aware of the possibility that either Hermione or Harvey might fail to care for the other, but he had not realised it. He had scarcely allowed it, and all difficulties had gone down in imagination before his intense longing that Hermione Rivers, the darling of his old age, should possess, through marriage, the estate from which she was cut off by entail.

And now this hope was utterly at an end!

Mr. Dalrymple was not angry with his great-nephew—not nearly so angry as was Marjory Fitzalan. It did not come upon him as a matter for displeasure. That which had so grieved Marjory—the slight conveyed to himself in Harvey's silence—scarcely weighed at all, for it was lost in the sharper trouble of his slain desire. Westford never could belong to Hermione! There lay the real grief.

It was not anger with Harvey which kept him silent and pale. Rather he was displeased with himself, distressed at the strength and stiffness of his own will shown by this test. He was used to take all that came to him in life direct from Above, ignoring second causes; and the disappointment which had now fallen came thus like everything else. Yet Gilbert Dalrymple's whole being rose in protest against it, because he craved his own way in life for his darling, not God's way.

Seventy-six years old, and his will not yet subdued! Shame, shame! he told himself. This it was which bent the silver head and silenced speech, which kept him from even hearing Harvey's lame excuses. It did not trouble him, as Harvey had expected, that the wife brought no money with her. He was thinking other thoughts.

Harvey made no further attempt to gain his attention, and prolonged silence effected that which words had failed to effect. Mr. Dalrymple came back from the contemplation of his ruined dream to the consciousness of the present. He looked at Harvey, then at his watch, and stood up slowly, laying a hand on the mantelpiece, as if for support. The healthy hue had not returned to his face; it was pallid and shrunken still. Harvey could not help thinking how the old man had aged in these few years. Yet he had not thought so on his first entrance.

"Past tea-time. Hermione will be waiting for us," Mr. Dalrymple said absently.

"I shall not be sorry for a cup of tea after my walk from the station," remarked Harvey, rising also.

"True—yes—I had forgotten." Mr. Dalrymple spoke vaguely, his hand on the mantelpiece still. "Yes, we will go. There was something else which I had to say; but—"

"Time enough, isn't there?" Harvey asked, in a cheerful manner. He did not wish to have it supposed that he knew or guessed aught of what had been passing in the other's mind. "I want to make Hermione's acquaintance. She must have grown out of all knowledge."

Mr. Dalrymple's eyes were fixed upon Harvey.

"Yes; it is about Hermione," he said with earnestness. "Things have been deferred too long. It has seemed to me—perhaps—that there might be no occasion to—but I will have no more delay. I should wish to look into certain business matters with you."

"Certainly. Another day," suggested Harvey. "I think you are fatigued this afternoon, hardly up to business."

"I have done nothing to cause fatigue." Mr. Dalrymple spoke decisively, yet as he crossed the room, leading the way, Harvey noted a certain unsteadiness.

Slade stood in the hall, apparently on the watch

"Has Miss Rivers returned?" asked Mr. Dalrymple.

"Miss Rivers is in the drawing-room, sir—" Slade stopped, evidently impressed by his master's unwonted paleness.

"Well?" Mr. Dalrymple said.

"Sir, I informed Miss Rivers that you were engaged; and Miss Rivers desired me to let you know, when the interview should be over, that she is waiting tea for you."

Mr. Dalrymple said, "Right," mechanically; and Slade opened the drawing-room door.

"Grandfather! Oh, I am so glad. I was afraid from what Slade said—"

Hermione saw the stranger, and paused; then, with a pretty hesitating air, she came forward.

There were three windows on one side of the room, and a glass door at the farther end leading into a spacious conservatory, whence came a blaze of geranium scarlet to the eye. Near this door a basket-table held cup and saucers of Crown Derby china, a cosy of Indian embroidery hiding the teapot. The room contained handsome ornaments, as well as valuable oil-paintings, and the furniture was good, though somewhat old, and of a subdued tone of colouring.

"Shall I be recognised? Don't introduce me," Harvey had said outside, and Mr. Dalrymple complied, though he scarcely seemed to hear the words. He crossed slowly to a favourite armchair, absorbed and silent still.

Harvey's first glance was one of pure curiosity. He had at once to confess to himself that neither Sutton, Marjory, nor his great-uncle had been guilty of exaggeration. No tamer adjective than "lovely" would do to describe the girl coming to meet him.

She was only nineteen, not very tall, but slightly over middle height, and looking taller from her slenderness. The simple white dress was unrelieved by any colour, except that of a blue enamel brooch. The little head was well set on the little throat; and short brown hair, in wavy natural clusters, set off a skin of peculiar fairness. The nose was a trifle too short, but that is a fault on the right side for a woman; the mouth was a trifle too wide; and the blue eyes were not large.

All this, however, gives a poor idea of the true Hermione. For the attractiveness, about which none who knew her failed to speak, dwelt more in expression than in outline, more in manner than in form.

Harvey had seen many pretty girls in his lifetime but he had never seen aught before quite like this: He cast his recollections back to the child of eight years earlier, and marvelled.

There was a radiant happiness about Hermione's brow, a smiling sunshine in the eyes, a buoyant sweetness of look and bearing, indescribably fair. Form and colouring might perhaps have been matched elsewhere, though not easily, but the wonderful joyousness and grace of the whole being came upon Harvey as something unique. She seemed to be one whose life hitherto had passed without a shadow. Marjory Fitzalan's face carried already the traces of battling and pain, but Hermione's bore no such sign.

She gave one glance at her grandfather, one glance at Harvey, then drew near, her lips parted.

"Don't you know me, Hermione?" asked Harvey, and she sprang to greet him with a flash of delight.

"Oh, I knew, I knew!" she cried. "I was sure it must be Harvey himself! I knew you would come. Dear Harvey, I am so glad."

"And you will be my little sister still, after all these years?" he asked, holding her hands in brotherly fashion.

"Why, Harvey, as if anything could ever alter that!" she cried.







"So you have never blamed me for my long absence, Hermione!"

More than an hour had passed since Harvey's first sight of his young cousin. Mr. Dalrymple, after taking a cup of tea, and declining cake, had returned to the library, rather to Hermione's surprise. This was usually his accessible hour, if callers chose to come. Three callers did choose to come, and they stayed long, but Mr. Dalrymple failed to reappear. Hermione acted hostess with ease and grace, introducing her newly-arrived relative, dispensing tea, and keeping up conversation, her sunny sweetness never for an instant eclipsed.

Harvey watched her in some wonder. He had not expected this development as a result of her "rustic" training and retired life. Perhaps the absence of self-consciousness surprised him most; she had been such a "vain little puss," he told himself, at eleven; and then he almost thought that a touch of girlish shyness at nineteen may be prettier than too complete self-possession. Yet how could he wish anything altered when the entire effect was so charming? And after all, was there really no consciousness of others' very patent admiration? Not a conceited consciousness, but a happy confidence in being able to please everybody. If it were so, was that a blemish?

He did not trouble himself to help her much in the way of talk. These people, Mr., Mrs., and Miss Dalton, from a neighbouring village, were comparative new-comers, and not interesting to him, not half so interesting as was Hermione. Harvey commonly followed his own inclinations in the matter of making himself agreeable.

So he let the chit-chat flow on, sparkling on the part of Hermione, and more or less ponderous on the part of the other three, only putting in a few words here and there when politeness rendered the exertion a necessity, and keeping his attention fixed on Hermione without appearing to do so. The Daltons, who, though not brilliant themselves, could appreciate brilliancy in another, found him "gentlemanly, but tedious— a rather dull person for one who had travelled so much, and not to be compared with that delightful old Mr. Dalrymple."

Harvey cared not a whit whether they liked him or no. He was only amused at the variety of subjects which Hermione had at command for their entertainment. She really did not need his aid. Miss Dalton was a busy Parish-worker, and seemed to own no ideas beyond Parish work, so Hermione went the round of schools, districts, and cottages with her, smilingly interested all the while. Mrs. Dalton was literary and semi-scientific in her tastes, therefore Hermione launched out into a little sea of recent publications and discoveries for the elder lady's edification. Mr. Dalton was a dabbler in political and controversial subjects, and Hermione gave her opinion upon each suggested point in turn, not conceitedly or disagreeably, but with a gentle decision, and perhaps a sense that her opinion was not altogether to be despised. Harvey could not help calling to mind Marjory's words, "We all look up to her!" Did Mr. Dalton too "look up" to this young creature of nineteen? His manner was most deferential.

At length the callers departed, and then it was that some observation of Hermione's drew from him the above remark, "So you have never blamed me for my long absence." He had not yet divulged to her his "chief item of news," having avoided the subject while Mr. Dalrymple was in the room, and having been since prevented by the presence of strangers. Now the time had come for speaking out.

"I do not quite know," she answered, looking up with her sunshiny eyes. Harvey wondered if those eyes ever could be sad or grave. "Only perhaps sometimes, when my grandfather seemed so worried, and I could not think what kept you away. But Marjory would not let me blame you."

"Marjory must be a very charitable individual."

"I don't know that she is. She does not try to excuse everybody."

Harvey laughed. The idea of Marjory making excuses for him was amusing.

"I am very much obliged to her," he said. "Seriously, however, I ought perhaps to have run home once or twice, if only for a few days, for my uncle's sake."

"Yes; I have always thought so," she said, with a curious touch of rebuke which immediately put him on the defensive. "It is not as if you had been really unable."

"That is hardly a question about which you can come to a decision," he said, somewhat nettled.

The blue eyes were grave enough now.

"I thought you asked what I had felt. Marjory has always insisted that we could not understand, that you must have reasons of your own. I have let her say so; but I am not sure. You see, I know the circumstances. I know you are well off, so it is no question of expense, and you have no actual ties keeping you abroad. Very often you have been too far-away to get home easily, but from Germany or Italy surely it was possible. I do think dear grandfather has had a right to see you, at least sometimes. I think you have been wrong."

She might have been a woman of thirty sitting in judgment on a boy of ten, so gently resolute was the manner. It was hardly to be expected that Harvey should succumb to her judgment, he being a man of thirty-two, and she a mere girl under twenty. He was alike too gentlemanly and too good-natured to show anger to a lady, but considerable meaning underlay the brief response—

"You think so!"

"Unless, of course, you had reasons," pursued Hermione, as if willing to hear what he had to say for himself.

"I had reasons, undoubtedly."

"But—" Hermione looked at him and hesitated. Was she going to demand those reasons? "But you will stay now, Harvey—now that you have come!"

"Two or three nights."

"Not more! After eight years!"

"Hardly possible, I am afraid. You know a great deal about me, evidently—" there was a touch of irony here— "still you are not quite acquainted with all the circumstances of the case. There happens to be a lady in the question. I hope you are prepared to congratulate me."

The sunshine flashed back, and in a moment Hermione was again all winning loveliness.

"Are you going to be married? I am very glad. My grandfather will be so delighted. He has often said lately that you ought to think about marrying. Who is it? What is her name?"


"And how old?"


"Is she like me?"

"Not in the least."


"That may be a matter of opinion."

"And her surname?"


"How strange. Is she a distant cousin?"

"I am not aware that we have any cousins within an appreciable distance. Her name is Dalrymple now. A month ago she was Julia Pilchard."

"A month ago! But you cannot mean—it is not possible—you are not married already!"

"Yes. So you see I have, after all, something of an 'actual tie' abroad—so long as Julia remains there."

Hermione was silent. Her face was grave once more, with a gravity amounting to severity. She sat upright, one hand lying over the other on her knee. How very young she seemed! Yet Harvey, lounging in a chair opposite with his air of gentlemanly insouciance, had an odd "naughty-boy" sense of being called to account by her for his misdoings. It was quite absurd. He positively almost dreaded her next words, and found it difficult to wind himself up to a due indifference.

"Julia is an orphan, like yourself," he said, hiding the feeling of embarrassment under a light manner. "She has only one sister, a widow, Mrs. Trevor, several years older than herself. I met them in Algeria last autumn, travelling for the sake of Mr. Trevor's health. Three months ago I came across them again in a Swiss hotel. Mr. Trevor had died before Christmas."

No answer came. Had Hermione taken unknowingly a leaf out of her grandfather's book? She seemed to be thinking deeply.

"Mrs. Trevor is a most charming person. You will be delighted with her. They were both in great trouble when I found them at Chamouni—not alone from the death of Mr. Trevor. Mrs. Trevor had just heard of a lost lawsuit, which meant ruin to herself and her child—and to Julia also. Julia was dependent on her."

Hermione spoke at last in a low voice of displeasure. "Married! And without a word to my grandfather! Does he know?"

"I told him immediately. That was my object in coming here."

"But not till a month afterwards! And all the love and kindness he has shown—Marjory will not try to defend this!"

"Marjory's opinion can be of no possible importance," said Harvey, secretly irritated.

"Was that why he seemed so unlike himself when he brought you in? Yes, of course—I see now. I did not understand. Harvey, you will excuse me, please. I must go to him."

Harvey rose as Hermione stood up. "Remember," he said, "my uncle claims no authority over me. He could not claim it rightly. Whether I should have acted with greater wisdom in speaking to him earlier, is a question about which there may be two opinions. You, not knowing all the circumstances of the case, hold one view. I hold the other."

Hermione's eyes met his reproachfully. "Authority—no," she said. "But he ought to have heard: he had a right to know. It was wrong not to tell him. Nothing can alter that."

"In your opinion!"

"I cannot imagine any circumstances that would make me think differently."

"Possibly not."

"Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Nothing can change wrong into right."

"Nevertheless the question does occasionally arise—What is right, and what is wrong?"

"It may always be answered."

"Not always with absolute certainty."

"Yes; there is never any real difficulty where one is determined on doing the right. If one is merely bent on pleasing oneself—"

Harvey made a mocking bow.

"I am not jesting," she said, and the blue eyes, attractive in their soft gravity, were again lifted to his. "It is a serious question, not at all a matter for jesting. So much depends upon the way in which we do things. You know very well that a thing right in itself may be wrongly carried out."

The sweet incisive tones paused, for Mr. Dalrymple entered. He looked pale still, yet it was with a smile that he came forward, and laid a hand on the young man's shoulder. To Hermione's surprise there were no tokens of displeasure in his bearing.

"I did not intend to stay so long," he said. "More than an hour, is it not? I must have been asleep, I think. Slade announced callers, but I told him I would rest. My head is strangely heavy this afternoon as if thunder were near. Are you both inclined for a stroll on the terrace. Not a ride to-day, Hermione—somehow I do not feel equal to it. Besides, I must see the most of this dear fellow while he is with us. Perhaps on Monday a ride all together will be pleasant. He must renew his acquaintance with the country."

"Very pleasant," Harvey assented, privately wondering whether he would find it possible to carry out his plan of two nights only at Westford. If not, what would Julia say?

Hermione had drawn close to her grandfather, and was gazing wistfully into his fine clear-cut face.

"You have taken good care of your cousin," he said to her.

"Yes," she answered slowly.

"Come, then. Have you a hat at hand? I shall like a little fresh air."

The terrace, a broad gravel-walk with huge flowerpots along it at intervals, bounded one side of the house, and ran then for some distance round a lawn of green velvet, enriched by flower-beds. The roses were in full luxuriance, showing every possible tint from pure white to deep red-black; and geraniums bloomed in scarlet and crimson masses.

Hermione held one of Mr. Dalrymple's arms, unwontedly silent, as he paced the terrace. He too was still a little absent and dreaming, though he pointed out his favourite plants from time to time to the young man walking on his other side.

It might have been expected that the three would have had more to say one to another after eight years' separation. Conversation languished greatly. So long as Hermione declined to assist, Harvey's efforts seemed to be useless.

He gave her a glance now and then, growing provoked as the minutes went on. Evidently hers was a silence of judicial displeasure, acted out as a duty. She was looking wonderfully pretty in her white dress and straw hat, the summer sunshine lending brilliance to her pure skin. But after all, what business had she to take him to task in this fashion?—she, a mere child, only nineteen in age, two years younger than his young wife. And what did Hermione know about the matter? He could not of course explain to her the old man's intense desire for that which never could be, and never could have been.

No, never! Harvey felt this now more than ever. Fascinating as Hermione might be, formed by nature to reign over the hearts of others, she would never have done for him, even if he had not met with Julia. "Much too angelic and infallible a being for a lazy fellow like me!" he thought, with an inward laugh, while gravely responding to an observation of Mr. Dalrymple's; "The Baroness Rothschild, yes, a particularly fine specimen—splendid bloom—if only it had a scent."

But Hermione could not know of Mr. Dalrymple's long-cherished desire, once plainly uttered to Harvey. And Harvey would not have cared to admit even to himself, much less to anybody else, the undefined sense of weakness, which had made him so dread the moral coercion of a stronger nature and will than his own, that he had absolutely stayed away all these years from the fear of it. Then, when at length he was taken captive by Julia Pilchard, a half-cowardly dislike to the worry of possible opposition had come into play, and he had deferred speech until opposition should be useless.

He was not indisposed now to allow politely that a different course of action might have been on the whole better. But to submit his deeds to the judgment of Hermione was another matter. If she had excused him, he would have blamed himself—moderately. Since she blamed him, he stood upon the defensive.

There is a right and a wrong in all things, sometimes absolute and intrinsic, sometimes proportionate and relative. Some deeds are right or wrong always, in all places, for all people. Other deeds are right or wrong according to circumstances, and may at the self-same time be right for this person, wrong for that person.

Hermione, earnest, conscientious, decisive, saw plainly the bald fact of right being right, and wrong being wrong. Harvey, not half so conscientious, not half so earnestly bent upon doing the right, knew practically far more than did Hermione of the possible perplexities which may and do arise in connection with this ever-recurring question. But he knew also, if only he would have allowed it to himself, that there had been no such perplexity connected with the subject lately discussed.

So much for Harvey's train of thought as the trio walked the terrace side by side. Hermione's ran on a parallel line, being chiefly occupied with him. She was not grieved after the fashion of Marjory Fitzalan, for Hermione's was not, like Marjory's, a hero-worshipping nature. If Hermione worshipped any human being at all, it was all unconsciously her most sweet and attractive self. But then, of course, it was unconsciously. Other people she looked upon with a calm and gentle kindness, ready to administer praise, blame, or advice, as might be called for. Why not? Hermione was accustomed to find her praise welcomed, her blame submitted to, her advice followed. Almost everybody in her little world looked up to her, as Marjory had said.

It was a somewhat unwonted position for a girl of her age, enhanced by her extreme prettiness—not altogether a safe or wholesome position.

Mr. Dalrymple's train of thought was less definite than that of either of his companions. For he was grieving still over his shattered dream, grieving yet more over his unconquered wilfulness, and struggling against an unwonted sense of inertia and weariness. He wished to be kind and chatty with his great-nephew, but it was not easy.







This was Saturday. Harvey had purposed remaining until Monday, then spending one night in London, and starting for Paris next day. He had told his young wife as much, almost promising not to be longer away. Happily the promise had been modified by a condition— "if I can possibly help it." He began to see that he hardly would be able to help it.

"I do not think I can go into business matters to-night. My head is so heavy still—there must be thunder brewing," Mr. Dalrymple said after dinner. "I have always been sensitive to thunder. We must have our talk on Monday. You will stay with us till the middle of the week, at all events."

Harvey demurred, and Hermione's eyes rested upon him.

"After eight years!" she said.

"Not all brides would consent to even so much in the first month."

"That difficulty is not our fault," she rejoined in an undertone.

Harvey turned to Mr. Dalrymple. "I think I must say Tuesday," he remarked. "As you suggest, we can go into business on Monday morning; and a ride in the afternoon would be pleasant. I should like to visit old haunts."

"I must not ask more. We will be content with so much at the present moment. But you will bring your Julia to pay us a long visit soon. How soon?"

Harvey was touched again, as he had been before, with the old man's acquiescence in disappointment. "Then you will give her a welcome!"

"My dear fellow! You and she are one now."

Harvey wondered if the widowed sister and her child would be welcomed also. He did not care yet to confess having promised a home for the present to those two. Mrs. Trevor was, or could be, a very agreeable person; and since she had nothing now to live upon, his action was undoubtedly kind. Nobody could question that fact. But he had somehow a vague sense of having been "managed" in this arrangement, and he objected to others guessing what he suspected. After all, if he chose to add to his household, it was his own affair, certainly not Hermione's. Minor matters such as this could be divulged later.

Hermione seemed more willing to converse after dinner, though her first eagerness and warmth of manner had vanished. She showed Harvey all due courtesy and attention as to a guest, not sisterly affection as to a brother.

Mr. Dalrymple dropped asleep in his armchair, and Hermione remarked that he often did so in the evening for ten minutes, only this day it proved to be for a good deal longer. He slept on heavily, and when roused by the entrance of coffee he dropped off again, leaving his cup untasted. "I cannot think what makes him so tired," Hermione remarked uneasily; and Harvey was struck anew with Mr. Dalrymple's aged and wan look. He wondered that Hermione had never spoken in her letters of a change. Could it have crept on so gradually as to be unnoticed?

Sunday morning broke more cheerfully as to the household atmosphere, though outside in clouds and rain. For once Mr. Dalrymple did not appear until late. He had overslept himself, he said—the first time for years past—and he inquired curiously if nobody had heard any thunder. The air certainly had been charged with electricity the night before, and this morning he had quite a headache, so very unusual with him. But neither Hermione nor Harvey could speak of the most distant peal or flash, and Slade, when appealed to, stated the same in his suppressed tones.

"Well, well—it is an old man's fancy, I suppose!" and then Mr. Dalrymple sat down to breakfast, but did not seem able to eat.

He talked freely, however, and was markedly affectionate to Harvey. Hermione's manner too had thawed. Recollections of old days came up, and time went on wings till they had to dress for Church.

"You will not come to-day, I suppose, as you are not well," Harvey remarked to Mr. Dalrymple, but the old man seemed astonished at the suggestion. Nothing short of absolute inability would have been counted by him a sufficient reason for staying at home.

Rain had by this hour ceased, and the walk was pleasant in the soft grey June atmosphere, clouds still low, but a bright promise of future sunshine gleaming through them, and all trees and herbage rejoicing in the past downpour. Hermione wore one of her favourite white dresses, simple enough in make, and Harvey bore her waterproof on his arm.

"You don't use the carriage for this?" he asked as they neared the Church. It was a good half-mile of distance.

"No, no—not unless it were a matter of necessity," Mr. Dalrymple said. "I like my men and horses to have as much as possible of a Sunday, besides myself. Hermione and I are able-bodied people."

Then they were within the old building, replete for Harvey with childish recollections. He seated himself purposely on that same side of the square pew where he had been wont, long ago, to sit beside his fair young mother.

Mr. Dalrymple and Hermione occupied another side of the pew, where Harvey had them in full view. As the service went on, he was impressed with the old man's reverence of manner and look of deep devotion. There was no lounging, no seeking after positions of ease, no occupation with others present. Mr. Dalrymple, albeit pallid still and manifestly not well, stood and sat and knelt as required, with no apparent relaxation in his fixed attention. That was genuine worship, and Harvey knew it.

He did not trouble himself to question what manner of worship his own might be. Marjory Fitzalan claimed his attention next. She was in a pew near, and she too looked pale, even suffering. The long bout of continuous sitting and kneeling was a trial to Marjory's physical powers, and the body was not with her subservient to the spirit, as with Mr. Dalrymple. She wore a worried and depressed air.

Then there was Hermione. Harvey came back to her, casting little glances from the hymn-book which he decorously held open, without any attempt to join in or even to follow the words of praise. He could understand Sutton's use of the word "angelic." Hermione really did look lovely, her blue eyes bent upon the open page, her lips parted as she sang, her face lighted up with a glow of reverent devotion, which might almost have been a reflection of her grandfather's. Was it so genuine as his? and was she at that moment absolutely absorbed, absolutely unconscious of the pretty picture she made? Harvey was disposed to answer both questions in the negative. Like people who are very lenient to themselves, he was not very lenient to others; not disposed always to take the most charitable view of their actions or motives.

* * * * * * *

To Harvey's astonishment the service was at an end, and only the sermon remained. He had scarcely heard a word of the whole. As for any amount of prayer, praise, or adoration on his part, the less said the better, perhaps.

The sermon following was good, forcible, and well worked out. Harvey was not much in the habit, however, of listening to sermons. He sat through them as a kind of duty—whether a duty to himself, to the clergyman, or to society, he would have been at a loss to specify— but he did not commonly take in their sense. Listening means trouble, and Harvey disliked trouble. His attitude of polite endurance was a contrast to the earnest attention of the two seated opposite. Harvey did not even notice the text.

That window, how well he remembered it! The green ivy-leaves clustered around it outside still as of yore, and a gleam of sunshine came filtering softly through the leaves and the tinted panes. The vivid fancy of his childhood came back too, and once more in imagination he seemed to see his mother, clothed in white, mounting upwards by a pathway of wreathed leaves and glowing light— upwards to a far-off land of joy.

Only a child's fancy, of course; but Marjory had declared that children "see farther" sometimes than grown people. After all, why not? A child's picturing may well approach nearer to some grand reality than a man's forgetfulness of it.

Had Harvey any belief in such a land now? Well, yes, after a fashion, no doubt. Practically he knew that this little life may not go on for ever, and he hoped for something agreeable beyond when that beyond had to be reached. He was in no hurry at all to go to heaven; still he did not, of course, wish to go anywhere else after death except to heaven.

"But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy!"

Marjory's quotation flashed up suddenly; he had heard the words years before, and had forgotten their existence till Marjory recalled them. Now they obtruded themselves persistently, not to say impertinently. He could shut off the sermon, but he could not shut off Marjory's quotation. It haunted him, buzzed about him, so to speak, drowning the quiet voice of Mr. Fitzalan, winding in and out of the green ivy which circled the window, saying itself over and over, dying away and reviving again.

"But now, 'tis little joy—little joy—now—now—now—'tis little joy— to know I'm farther off—farther off from heaven—farther off from heaven—than when I was a boy—a boy—than when I was a boy!"

Harvey roused himself with a slight start at the sound of Mr. Fitzalan's "And now—" to find the sermon ended, the congregation rising. He had been sound asleep in his corner. He could only hope that nobody had observed the fact.

But Hermione's eyes wore a look of rebuke, and Marjory's quotation stayed by him still.







"MR. DALRYMPLE did not look quite himself to-day," remarked Mr. Fitzalan, as he sat down with Marjory to the cold early dinner usual on Sunday at the Rectory.

"I don't wonder," rejoined Marjory.

Mr. Fitzalan asked "Why?" not following her train of thought.

"Harvey!" was the comprehensive answer.

"Harvey! You mean the fact of his marriage. Yes, that might worry Mr. Dalrymple in some measure. Hardly to the extent of affecting his health."

"I don't know. There must be the feeling that he can never trust Harvey again."

"Trust him—how?" Mr. Fitzalan was fond of delving to the roots of things and words.

"Father, you know what I mean." Marjory's tone was a degree petulant, and a dent appeared on her brow.

"There are degrees and varieties of trust. You suppose that Harvey will be henceforward materially lowered in Mr. Dalrymple's opinion. I am not so sure."

"He must be lowered; he cannot be anything else."

"That depends upon the stand which he has taken hitherto,—in Mr. Dalrymple's opinion, I mean. He is not lowered in mine."

"Father!" The expression of the emotions in Marjory could at this moment no further go.

"I don't say that I approve of his action. I merely say that my opinion of him is not altered. He has always been a very pleasant fellow, willing and even anxious to please everybody, after himself. So much as that I have trusted him, and so much I may trust him still. He does not wish to distress anybody, and so far as is convenient he will make up for any distress which he may have given. It is not all men who would run away from a bride of three weeks to soothe the feelings of a great-uncle."

"Why did he not bring her with him?"

"Rather a startling step, under the circumstances. Suppose he had telegraphed, 'Expect my wife and myself by such-and-such a train!'"

"But if he had written earlier—if he had written at first."

"Yes, there it is. I don't defend the action, Marjie. I only say that it is nothing new, that it is the same Harvey whom we have known. He does not object to doing what is right, but he will do what is wrong rather than be inconvenienced. And he is ready to do any amount of kindness, after a lazy fashion, only self must be considered first."

"I don't think his hurrying home from Paris was lazy."

So Marjory had actually begun to defend her quondam hero.

Mr. Fitzalan laughed to himself in a noiseless style.

"Laziness has a variety of developments," he said, and the subject was dropped.

Not, however, for very long. Dinner over, Marjory had one of her necessary short rests on the couch, for she was far from strong. She lay perfectly still, after her usual wont, with shut eyes, and long thin fingers lightly crossed, not knowing, and for the moment not much caring, what other people were after. Very soon she would have to rise and bestir herself for afternoon Sunday-school. The short intervening space had to be utilised to the utmost.

Mr. Fitzalan's voice in the passage broke in upon her stillness.

"Hermione! How do you do? You are early to-day, and alone."

"Yes; I came to make excuses for my grandfather," Hermione's silver voice answered. "He seems to feel the heat so much, I have persuaded him to stay in for once, and Harvey is there too, so it really is best. Can you possibly manage without my grandfather?"

"Certainly. If no one else can take his class, I will do it myself. Come and see Marjory. You need not start for a few minutes."

"No. I thought you would rather know in good time."

Hermione entered, fresh, fair, and smiling, not in the least heated with her hot walk. Somehow she always looked the same. Marjory did not rise, for Hermione was never treated as a guest here. The younger girl bent in her graceful manner for a kiss, and then sat down near the couch.

"It is a lovely day," she said.

"Too hot for Marjory," Mr. Fitzalan observed. "Mr. Dalrymple was not quite himself this morning, I think, was he?"

"No. It is the worry about Harvey."

Marjory's eyes opened more widely for a glance at her father.

"So Marjie has been saying," he remarked, "But Mr. Dalrymple has not been entirely as he should for some weeks."

Hermione wore an incredulous air. "He is very well and strong generally," she said. "Nothing was wrong with him until Harvey came."

"You have not noticed any difference? Well, I would keep him quiet. Don't let him exert himself. He is not so young as he was. And tell him from me not to think of Church this evening. Perhaps I may look in afterwards to see how he is."

Hermione was not so fond of receiving as of giving directions. Mr. Fitzalan often aroused in her a small spirit of opposition. She could not have told why, even if she was aware of the fact. Perhaps it was because he did not exactly rank as one of her devotees. Hermione was so accustomed to be "looked up to," as Marjory expressed it, that she could hardly understand being looked upon in any other mode; and though Mr. Fitzalan was most kind and fatherly, he did not bow to her opinion, nor did he cease treating her somewhat as if she were still a child. Hermione loved him as a dear old friend, but sometimes without doubt he did provoke her a little.

She would not pursue the subject of Mr. Dalrymple's health, but said with her pretty girlish dignity, "Harvey has behaved very wrongly. I do not wonder that my grandfather is unhappy."

"Has he told you any particulars about the lady of his choice?" asked Mr. Fitzalan, rather anxious to ward off an exciting duet of condemnation between the two girls. Marjory looked worn enough already. He knew that a very little more would incapacitate her for the afternoon's work.

"Not much. I have not cared to ask," Hermione answered. "He does not deserve that we should show interest. Her name is Julia— Julia Pilchard it was-and she is two years older than I am."

"Ah, a mere chicken," murmured the disrespectful Rector.

Hermione would not notice the interruption. She held herself a little straighter, and proceeded, "Two years older than I am, and Harvey does not seem to know whether she is pretty. That means of course that she is plain. She has only one sister, a widow with one little child. They lost all their money lately. Harvey says I shall like the sister; but I do not know; I do not much care. All this is beside the mark. Harvey has forfeited all right to our sympathy. My grandfather is most kind and forgiving—far more than Harvey deserves. But for me it is different. I have to show what I think for my grandfather's sake, not for my own."

"Take care, Hermione. Self is very subtle."

Mr. Fitzalan hardly spoke the words, he breathed them rather. Hermione's colour deepened a little.

"You do not understand me," she said in a voice as low as his, with a touch of reproach.

"It may be so. But is it certain that you and I perfectly understand Harvey?"

"I understand the circumstances of the case. There can be no mistake, and no excuse."

Mr. Fitzalan made one negative movement of his head, the expressive eyes saying much that he did not put into words. He at least knew more of those circumstances than Hermione could know; and while not at all disposed, as he had said, to defend Harvey's manner of proceeding, he could make allowance for the difficulties of Harvey's position; he could believe that this sharp cutting of the Gordian knot had been done from motives not altogether thoughtless or unkind, though in his estimation mistaken. His view of the affair was perhaps even more indulgent than Harvey's own view, just because he was better acquainted with the strength of Mr. Dalrymple's desire, and the persistency of Mr. Dalrymple's will.

But he was aware that to argue the question with Hermione would be fruitless, and he turned from her towards the couch.

"Marjie, are you fit for school this afternoon?"

"Yes, father. Is it time to go?"

"Nearly. Time for you to get your hat, I am afraid. Would you not rather stay at home?"

"O no. I can't be spared."

She went at once for hat, parasol, and books, struggling against a degree of lassitude which even her father did not suspect, or he would have insisted instead of only suggesting. There were no lounging airs or gestures of fatigue, such as many people adopt in not very strong health; and she would not allow herself to lag behind the other two in their ten minutes' walk to the schoolroom. Rather oddly it had been built at the farther end of the village, not near the Church.

Clouds were gone, and the June sun blazed in through the schoolroom windows, not much softened by yellow blinds. Children and teachers were alike languid that day, with the exception of Hermione, who sat upright in her white dress, cool and collected, speaking with ready words and earnest persuasive looks. She was a very successful Sunday-school teacher. The worst children in the school were by common consent handed over to her, and Hermione could do what she chose with any of them.

Marjory, a few yards off, just struggled through her lesson and no more, the last half hour being one long haze of exhaustion. Once a rush of sounds filled the air, and the row of little sleepy faces receded into a far distance; but Marjory talked on resolutely, not in the least knowing what she said, and somehow things came back to their normal condition. She said nothing to anybody about herself; only hoped she had not spoken utter nonsense, dismissed her children, collected books, and did various small things which always fell to her share. Then she crept home uncomplainingly through the hot sun, wondering at each step how many more would be possible, and on reaching the Rectory dropped down upon her couch. She had done her utmost for that day.

Hermione had farther to walk, but her light step never faltered. She found her grandfather seemingly better, strolling in the garden with Harvey, and enjoying a long chat. Hermione did not give Mr. Fitzalan's message. She was rather averse to doing so, she could hardly have told why, and she decided that there really was no need.

After all, "Grandfather was the best judge."







THE evening service was over, and so was the cold evening meal which followed. Mr. Dalrymple had been by no means sorry for the help of Harvey's strong arm on the way home. His head felt "heavy" again, he said, and once or twice he seemed not able to walk straight. "It was only the heat," Hermione decided; "such extreme heat for June." And, as she told herself, he was less knocked up than Marjory.

But physical weakness was with Marjory the ordinary condition of affairs, a part of herself, a thing to be regretted, yet not to cause alarm. Sudden feebleness, coming upon a strong and healthy man, is altogether another matter; and young as Hermione was, she might have known that difference.

She did for a moment feel uneasy when Harvey remarked, "You ought not to have gone to Church this evening;" and her grandfather answered, "No; I almost wish I had not." Would it not have been better if she had given the message? But Mr. Dalrymple might not have followed the advice; and a good-night would restore him. On the whole, however, Hermione hoped for the non-appearance of Mr. Fitzalan.

They were out upon the terrace now, enjoying the still twilight. Mr. Dalrymple was in a comfortable easy-chair, which Harvey had insisted on dragging out of the library. He did not mind trouble of that description, being too thorough a gentleman not to undertake small courtesies. As Mr. Fitzalan had remarked, laziness takes different forms, and certainly Mr. Dalrymple had found his great nephew most kind and attentive all day, ready to anticipate every wish.



"They were out on the terrace enjoying the still twilight."


None of the three showed at first much inclination to talk. After a while, Harvey broke in upon the silence, remarking, "Delicious scent of roses."

Mr. Dalrymple offered no response, and Hermione started another subject, "What interesting sermons we have had to-day!"

Another irresponsive pause.

"Did you not think so?" she asked, looking at Harvey.

Was the question malicious? Harvey was too honest to answer in the affirmative. He said only, "Were they?"

"This morning's particularly. Yes, I thought so. Did not you?"

"I am not a very good judge," Harvey replied carelessly.

"Were you talking about this morning's sermon?" Mr. Dalrymple asked, rousing himself. "What was the text? I cannot recall."

"I must refer you to Hermione," said Harvey, at whom the question was directed.

"Hermione is sure to know," the old man uttered lovingly.

"Yes, grandfather;" and in silvery tones she repeated, "'Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?' With part of a verse just before, 'Yield yourselves unto God.'"

"Yes, my dear."

"Mr. Fitzalan spoke about the nature of the service as bondservice. Don't you remember, grandfather? That if we yield ourselves to God, we are bound to obey Him in everything; and if not yielded to Him, then we must be yielded to evil, bondservants to the Prince of Evil. I thought all that was very striking, the way he put it. And about the mastery of self too, the being slaves to self, or freed from self." Hermione hesitated an instant, recalling his utterance at the Rectory, which she had not so well approved; then she went on— "He spoke about the choice being left to us, though God has of course absolute right to our service—but still we are told—'Choose you this day whom ye will serve,' and then, 'Yield yourselves unto God.' Yes, it was very beautiful. And all about what is meant by yielding— real yielding—having no care for our own will, but only caring to please God."

Harvey counted an after-abstract of the day's sermons highly unnecessary. He was not interested in the said sermons, and to sit through them without listening seemed to him a sufficient tax upon his patience. Moreover, he was no more disposed to take Mr. Fitzalan's teaching secondhand from Hermione, than Hermione was to submit with meekness to Mr. Fitzalan's dictum, except as uttered from the pulpit. So he stirred restlessly, causing the wicker-work of his chair to utter long creaks, as a vent to his dissatisfaction.

"Would you not like another chair?" asked Hermione, disturbed by the squeaks.

"Thanks—no. This is very comfortable."

Mr. Dalrymple spoke next in quiet tones. "Yes, it is a blessed service," he said. "But the yielding of ourselves is not a matter of one moment's resolving or doing, as some would have us believe. It is a long battle."

"Only there has to be first the yielding of our will, grandfather. We have to give ourselves to Christ; and then, once yielded to Him, will He not keep His own?" She had an air of quiet certainty, and her face was bright in the twilight.

"My child, yes, He is faithful. But He will send tests. He will allow us to learn our weakness. That is part of the whole—part of the battle. Yours is only beginning. Mine is nearing the end. 'I have fought a fight,'—not 'a good fight' like St. Paul's, only a long fight with many failures. And He has been with me throughout. The 'crown of glory' is laid up—ready—safe in His keeping."

Harvey could listen now without any inclination to fidget. There was a humble reality in the old man's confidence which touched him, and even aroused in him a vague wish to possess the same—unlike Hermione's confidence. It vexed him that she should break in upon the dreamy soliloquy—

"But, dear grandfather, you don't really think that one never can have yielded up one's will and one's all to God until after very long fighting? Why should there be delay? Why not yield one's all at once?"

He smiled at her tenderly.

"The sapling doesn't grow into a great oak in one hour, Hermione. Yes; yield yourself now—self, will, and all, keeping nothing back. But you will find more and more to yield as you go on—hidden depths of self, unsuspected forms of wilfulness; and much that you have thought yielded you will find not yielded. That has been one of my latest lessons. It may be one of your latest."

"Would you say that we are never to have a will or a wish of our own?" Harvey asked unexpectedly.

Hermione began, "No, never—" but he turned from her, with two words which plainly directed the question to Mr. Dalrymple— "Would you?"

"Yes, my dear boy, any amount, only never apart from God's will. Give over everything to Him, and He will give back to you tenfold what you have yielded up."

Harvey seemed to be thinking. Hermione, a little offended, remained silent. Mr. Dalrymple presently moved, as if to stand upright.

"I almost think I will go in, if you will both excuse me," he said. "I am over-tired to-night. We will discuss everything to-morrow."

"Are you going to bed, grandfather?"

Hermione had never known such an event before as retirement before his usual time.

He put an arm round her waist, kissing the fair brow, and holding out a hand to Harvey.

"Yes; it is fatigue, I suppose. I shall be all right to-morrow, after a good-night. I do not feel that I can stay up any longer."

Harvey offered his arm, and they went, all three, through the conservatory into the lighted drawing-room.

"Thanks, my dear boy. It is a great comfort to have you here. You must come again very soon, and stay long, you and your Julia. I begin to feel that I am an old man, and it is a comfort to know that my Hermione has a kind brother—a brother and sister too—who will care for her."

"Yes, indeed," the young man said heartily.

"Yes, you would do it—would do all—will do all when the need arises. I have complete trust in your kind feeling. You will be a true brother to my darling—always!"

"Always!" repeated Harvey.

The word was very simple, but it had the force of a solemn promise in his estimation, he could hardly have said why.

Hermione stood somewhat apart, not moved by this as Harvey would have expected, but rather seeming not quite to approve of it. When Mr. Dalrymple turned for another "Good-night" of peculiar tenderness, her response was even a little cold. Whether Mr. Dalrymple noticed the fact it was impossible to tell. He went quietly from the room.

Half-a-minute of silence followed. Hermione remained motionless, the lamplight falling upon her dropped eyes. Harvey wished she would be so good as to sit down, that he might do the same, but she did not. The silence was broken by her voice.

"My grandfather is not well."

"I am afraid not."

"He was perfectly himself until you came. It is the worry."

"Are you sure he has not been failing at all? One does not always notice at first, but he has a worn look—hardly the result of one day's worry."

Mr. Fitzalan's words recurred to Hermione, but she put them aside, and answered in resolute tones, "Quite sure. I have never seen him like this before."

"In that case, I think you would be wise to have advice for him without delay. Yes; to-night—why not?"

"What is the use? It is only that he is unhappy."

"I don't wish to contradict a lady, of course, but he seems to me to be thoroughly unwell."

"Only because of that," she persisted.

"If you are absolutely certain to be in the right, discussing the matter will do little good," Harvey could not help saying. "But I have seen something of illness."

"He is worried, not ill. It is enough to upset him. If only you had written openly from the first! I do not wonder that he feels it so much."

Harvey ignored this.

"Then you will not even ask if he would like to see Mr. Pennant?"

"Now? No; it is half-past nine. I shall see how he is in the morning, of course. Will you read prayers to-night, as he cannot?"

She did not speak curtly. Voice and manner were always soft and gentle, yet Harvey knew that every intonation meant displeasure.

"I have no objection, if it is a matter of reading only."

"Yes; we always have a short psalm on Sunday, and I will show you the prayer that my grandfather would use."

Hermione seated herself with a book, and little more passed between the two until the bell sounded and they went to the library. It was the first time within Hermione's recollections that she had ever been there for this purpose without her grandfather. His absence gave her a desolate feeling. She wished she had kissed him more tenderly, had asked more anxiously after his condition. Mr. Dalrymple was an old man, and not given to unimportant ailments. What if anything at all serious were impending? Might it not even now be best to send for Mr. Pennant, and ask him to look in for five minutes, just to see that nothing was really wrong? Mr. Pennant was so kind, he would not object, even should the errand prove to have been unnecessary. But, on the other hand, it was getting late, and most likely there was no need, and Mr. Dalrymple would dislike a fuss; and, besides—besides— why should Harvey manage things? He had behaved so ill—had forfeited all right to interfere. No, she would wait till the morning, and then certainly Mr. Pennant should be summoned, if Mr. Dalrymple were not better.

Hermione wore a reverent manner, but she heard not one word of the psalm which Harvey read, or of the prayer which followed.

After that they went to bed.


A soft rapping at Harvey's door roused him next morning from comfortable slumbers.

"All right," he answered drowsily, under the supposition that boots and hot water would be deposited outside. But the rapping went on, and in another moment he was wide awake.

A glance at his watch showed him that it was only half-past six, a full hour and more before he was usually called. He had a trick of locking his door at night, the fruit of foreign travel, therefore to say "Come in" was useless. He sprang up, flung on his dressing-gown, and turned the key.

Slade entered, subdued in manner and suppressed in voice, according to his wont. It was not Slade's way to get into a flurry. But the line across his forehead had grown into a deep rut, his hands trembled, and he shut the door behind him, as if fearing to be overheard.

"Anything wrong?" asked Harvey.

"Yes, sir—I am not sure," Slade answered under his breath. "I am sorry to disturb you so early, sir, but would it trouble you very much to come and take a look at my master? Mrs. Milton and me don't know what to make of him, sir; and it don't seem right to frighten Miss Rivers without there's good reason."

"No, certainly; don't say a word to her. I'll come in three minutes. He is not ill, I hope?"

Slade went into a brief explanation. At six o'clock punctually Mr. Dalrymple expected to be called, and this office was always undertaken by Slade himself—more from love to his master than because it appertained to his post. Personal attendance upon Mr. Dalrymple was Slade's delight.

As a rule the old man was found to be already wide awake by six o'clock, and it was rarely indeed that, as on the previous day, he should fall asleep again. But this morning Slade had rapped and rapped in vain. No voice answered, so at length he went in. He found Mr. Dalrymple in a heavy slumber. Slade spoke, and Mr. Dalrymple murmured indistinctly something about— "My head!—don't disturb me—" dozing off again immediately. Slade did not think very much of it at the first moment, and left the room; but presently a sense of uneasiness crept over him, and he sought the housekeeper, who took alarm at once.

"And we went back, sir, but we couldn't get any answer, not either of us," Slade continued. "And Mrs. Milton pulled up a blind, and let in the light—and then we saw, sir!" Slade's voice shook, and his face grew paler. "And Mrs. Milton said I'd best call you directly, for we don't like his look."

"Wait outside for me—three minutes," Harvey answered.

Scarcely more than the three minutes passed before he appeared, already dressed. The two went down the passage silently, entering Mr. Dalrymple's room.

Milton stood beside the bed, watching, and she turned upon Harvey a pair of distressed appealing eyes. Harvey gave her a glance, but at first he said nothing, only stooped to examine the face, to lay his fingers on the wrist. Slade waited near the door, trembling still with agitation, almost sobbing.

But that changed responseless face!—no wonder they had not "liked his look."

"Send for Mr. Pennant," Harvey said.

"Yes, sir. Sir, you think—" faltered Slade.

"Send at once—not a moment's delay!"

Yet as Slade vanished, he bent again to look narrowly under the half-closed eyelids, and almost unconsciously a mutter passed his lips—

"No use! Poor Hermione!"

Mrs. Milton burst into tears.









"What time did Harvey say he would arrive?"

"My dear! as if you were not a great deal more likely to know than I am. Now, Mittie—you are after some mischief with my work-basket."

"Yes; but I want to see if your recollections agree with mine. He was in such a hurry just at last. I don't think I quite heard what he said."

"Harvey generally is in a slow hurry just at last. Like most men who always put off everything as long as possible. Oh, he will appear some time this evening, never fear. Unless he changes his mind, and puts off till another day. Not so very unlikely, after all. He has not seen this ancient uncle of his for a good many years."

"Harvey will not put off. I want to meet him at the station."

"Julia! What nonsense! You and I are going for a drive on the boulevards."

"I don't care for a drive. I want to meet Harvey."

"And go through an ecstatic meeting in public! All very well if he were a Frenchman or a German. Unfortunately he is English, and doesn't appreciate gush. Depend upon it, he will be much better pleased if you leave him alone to walk in when he chooses. Mittie, come away from that basket."

"He said he would be with us in time for table d'hôte, I know."

"Well—then, that is all right. We shall manage our drive first. I have some shopping to do, which I can't possibly put off. Mittie! do you hear? Leave that basket alone."

The little girl just glanced up with an air of placid independence, and went on fumbling. The raised tone of her mother's order, and the slight stamp of her mother's foot, produced no impression whatever. Mrs. Trevor was plainly not "used to command" successfully with her only daughter.

The ladies occupied a comfortable private sitting-room on the second floor of a first-class Paris hotel. The windows, thrown wide open for air, looked down upon a busy, not to say noisy street. It was not one whit too busy or noisy for Francesca Trevor, whose idea of happiness was to live in a whirl. Julia Dalrymple's tastes were not altogether the same.

Little resemblance might be found between the two sisters in outward appearance. Julia was tall; not slight, but very well proportioned, and in colouring a decided brunette. Whether she could be called pretty or no, might be, as Harvey had told Hermione, "a matter of opinion," probably depending a good deal upon passing moods. If so, the present mood was hardly favourable. She seemed restless and teased, and the black eyes, by nature soft, had a strained look which could not be called beautiful.

Mrs. Trevor was half a head shorter than Julia, rounded and plump in make. While really years the older, she was still far too young-looking for the mother of a child of eight. Though strictly not in the least handsome, she nevertheless managed so to make the best of herself as never to be entirely passed by. Of all earthly horrors, that of "being passed by" would have seemed to Francesca Trevor one most to be dreaded. So she had cultivated attractive manners, and every item of attire that she wore was always carefully studied with a view to effect. Of course she had still to wear mourning, but too much soberness was obviated by sparkling jet, and her flaxen hair was elaborately arranged under the slight apology for a widow's cap which rested on the summit.

Mittie Trevor, standing near a window, calmly searching with small fingers in her mother's work-basket, had inherited an abundance of that same fair hair, rising in flaxen masses over her brow and falling in flaxen masses to her waist; while with this she had inherited the same large black eyes, soft and serious, as her Aunt Julia. Mittie was an extremely pretty child, and just the child whom a weak mother would be disposed to spoil. Francesca Trevor had character enough of a certain stamp, but she never seemed to possess the slightest notion of training a child to obedience.

Few would have guessed Mrs. Trevor to be a ruined widow, almost wholly dependent for herself and her little girl upon the kindness of a brother-in-law. Not absolutely dependent, since she possessed some eighty pounds a year of her own; but Mrs. Trevor counted eighty pounds a small allowance for dress.

"You can drop me at the station, on your way to the shops, Francesca."

"I am not going in that direction, thanks."

Julia was silent. Certainly no one would have imagined on the face of things, that she was the woman of property and Mrs. Trevor the poor dependent.

Mrs. Trevor looked once more towards the child.


"Yes, mother."

"Leave my basket alone." "Yes, mother. I want a bodkin."

"Well, you have bodkins of your own. I don't want my basket tumbled in that fashion." A pause. "You should have asked leave first."

Mittie searched on undaunted, and presently extracted the desired article from a tangle of silks and cotton.

"Now just see, you naughty child, the state my things are in. I have a great mind to make you put them straight."

"I am sure I would," murmured Julia, as Mittie went off to the window and there sat down.

"Mittie! Do you hear? You ought to put my basket tidy." No response from the cloud of flaxen hair, which was now about all that could be seen of Mittie beyond a table. "Well—I suppose I shall have to do it myself."

"I would not," Julia said in an undertone.

Mrs. Trevor paid no attention to the remark, but perhaps it was not without effect, for she presently remarked, "You have been a very naughty disobedient girl, Mittie. I have a great mind not to take you for a drive."

Mittie did not stir. She only answered placidly, "If you don't, mother, I shall cry."

Mrs. Trevor seemed to count that threat conclusive, for she allowed the matter to drop; and half-an-hour later, when the two ladies dressed, Mittie too put on a picturesque hat and a pair of dainty kid gloves.

"I can't think why you should object to driving alone with Mittie, and letting me go to the station," Julia broke out at the last moment.

"Because I prefer to have you with me, my dear. Driving alone makes me nervous. Besides, it is quite useless your going. Nobody knows what hour Harvey will really arrive."

Julia submitted, but she proved to be of little use in the conversational line. All through the drive she seemed distraite, as if her mind were elsewhere, and when Francesca wanted an opinion on different qualities of black silk, Julia had none to give. Her one desire was to get back early, lest Harvey should arrive and find empty rooms. It would be so forlorn, so chilling, for the young husband to have no welcome. Julia judged him by herself, knowing how she would feel in his place, not perhaps allowing for his more phlegmatic and even temperament. She loved him passionately, all the fervent warmth of her nature, which for years had found no outlet, flowing in the new-made channel. The short necessary absence, which he counted so very short and so very necessary, was to her a long and severe trial; and she reckoned the hours, almost the minutes, to the time when he would be with her again, with something of a child's impatience.

But Francesca would not be hurried. The choice of a few yards of silk was, in her estimation, a serious and weighty business. She bestowed upon it all her powers of thought and attention, utterly disregarding Julia's stifled agony of impatience.

However, everything comes to an end in time, and so did Francesca's shopping. Then they were driving in the direction of the hotel, Julia leaning well forward, as if she could thus urge the horses to the speed she desired. Her eyes gazed fixedly ahead, and Francesca's observations were unheard.

"You are a lively companion, I must say," the latter remarked, as she alighted.

Julia turned from her to hasten up the wide staircase. Francesca paused to make inquiry, and before Julia reached the top of the first flight Francesca's voice followed her. "He has not appeared yet! I told you so."

Nor did he appear. Dinner-time arrived, but no Harvey, and no letter from Harvey. Through the evening Julia watched in vain. She grew heart-sick with disappointment—such a tiny disappointment Francesca thought it, while Julia hardly knew how to face the prospect of another long night and day without him. She was hurt and grieved too that he had not written. He might surely have sent one line.

Till bed-time came Julia kept up pretty well, but when once alone tears were allowed full swing. Nobody would be any the wiser, so why not? The old desolate feeling, often hers in years gone by, resumed its sway, and with it was a new pain. Did Harvey really care for her as intensely as she loved him? If he did, could he stay away one hour longer than was absolutely necessary in this their first month of married life?

Julia knew practically nothing of the help from Above which may be had through these fretting cares. Even theoretically she knew very little. Religion for Francesca Trevor meant going to Church once every Sunday in a fascinating costume, and occasionally adding her name to some benevolent subscription-list headed by a marchioness or an earl's daughter. And since Francesca had had the main part of Julia's religious training in her hands for twelve years past, it is not surprising if Julia's religious education were defective.

As a child indeed she had been somewhat better taught, not personally by her parents, who were in India from her infancy until their death, but by a certain lady who had charge of her till after her ninth birthday. Francesca then, on the death of her parents one after the other, came home—she had not been out more than a year—and the two sisters went to live with an old uncle, Francesca setting herself thenceforth to the deliberate undoing of Julia's early training. She was resolved to prevent all "particularity of views," as she would have described it, in her young sister. By which Francesca simply meant that it mattered not at all to her what was or was not truth in questions touching a life to come. All she desired was that Julia should think nothing, believe nothing, do nothing which might one day stand in the way of "a good marriage."

Francesca's efforts, followed out with a perseverance worthy of some better cause, met with proportionate success. There were unhappily no counter influences. The old uncle left everything in Francesca's hands; and when Francesca married— "well" as she said, looking on the matter purely from a money and society point of view—Julia lived with her still. So by this time Julia really had no "particular views" at all on the subject of religion. She did not know what she thought, or what she ought to think.

When Harvey Dalrymple asked her to marry him, it never even occurred to her to consider whether he were a good man, or what manner of principles he held. She only knew that she loved him, that to know of his love for her filled life with happiness, that she wanted nothing and cared for nothing in addition.

Yet in her secret self she did want, did care. For no purely human love can ever absolutely satisfy the heart which is made for higher things, and in the brightest floods of mere earth-sunshine the question must still arise—What lies beyond?

To that question, old as the human race, Julia had never even attempted to find an answer. She put it aside, thrust it out of sight. She lived solely in the present—a bright present of late, but a cloud had come over the brightness already. She had little expected on her wedding-day to have to sob herself to sleep alone scarcely four weeks later.

Another long and dull morning followed; Julia would not go out. Francesca ordered, argued, and coaxed in vain. Julia held to her point. She must and would be in, she said, when Harvey should arrive. Francesca at length went off with Mittie, not in the best of tempers, and Julia kept solitary watch at the window.

Nobody then could have called her pretty. She looked dejected and careworn, her cheeks pale, her eyes drooping and lustreless. Francesca, coming in before lunch, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "I declare you might be forty years old when you get into this state."

"I can't help it. My head aches," Julia answered.

"No wonder, when you sit mumping indoors the morning. How can you be so ridiculous? Very likely he will not arrive for a week!"

Julia shuddered at the idea. She would not eat any lunch, and how to get through the afternoon was a difficult problem.







"A LETTER for you, Aunt Julia."

Mittie danced into the room, holding out an envelope; then danced back, holding it still. Julia started up.

"Mittie! give it to me," she cried.

"It's from Uncle Harvey! I know his writing. And it has got the English postmark."

"Mittie! how dare you? Give it to me this instant!"

Julia made a forward step, and Mittie sprang to the open door, where she stood as if meditating flight.

"Don't get cross, Aunt Julia, 'cause, if you're cross, I won't give it you at all," the child said saucily, and she shook her great mane of flaxen hair, looking out from the bush with soft black eyes. "Mother always says people have got to keep good-tempered, whatever anybody does. It isn't lady-like to be cross, you know."

"Francesca! make her give it to me!" gasped Julia, not daring to advance, lest child and letter should vanish.

Mrs. Trevor laughed. "Come, Mittie, don't be a little plague," she said.

"I like being a little plague," asserted Mittie.

"I daresay you do; but just give the letter up now, without any fuss— there's a good child."

"Then Aunt Julia isn't to be cross."

"Of course she won't. Do be quick, Mittie."

Mittie hesitated still, and Julia could endure the suspense no longer. She made a rush forward, and caught the child's dress. Mittie struggled furiously, broke loose, and fled to the window. Before Julia could overtake her, she was out in the balcony, hanging over the slight parapet.

"Aunt Julia, if you touch me, I'll drop the letter! I declare I will."

But Julia's grasp was on the hand which held the letter. Mittie fought fiercely, her lissom figure bending more and more outwards. Suddenly she overbalanced herself. There was a scream, a clutch, a sound of something tearing,—and Mittie was all but precipitated on the pavement below. She had actually gone so far as to hang suspended, with no support but Julia's arms. Even the letter could not be thought of in that moment. Julia held on with all her force, in response to the child's convulsive clinging; but to lift her back over the parapet unassisted was not possible, Julia's muscular powers being less than one might have expected from her height and build. Fortunately Francesca at hand. Mittie's shrill cry drew an answering shriek from her as she ran forward, and after one moment of terrible suspense the child was safely landed.

For three seconds no one spoke, only each looked at the deathly white faces of the other two. It had been a frightfully near escape. Julia seemed stunned, hardly able to stand, and Mrs. Trevor was panting.

Mittie broke the silence. "It's gone!" she said. "It's down in the street. And I'm glad! Aunt Julia nearly killed me."

The excitable child flung herself on her mother in a tumult of sobs, and Francesca too was in tears. Julia still said nothing. She did not feel as if she could speak. The peril had been so very imminent, and the results might have been so very terrible. Her throat felt rigid, and black specks were dancing still before her eyes. But the letter— Harvey's letter—that must not be lost! Julia went downstairs slowly, her limbs shaking under her, and was met at the foot of the stairs by a waiter.

"Mademoiselle had dropped something," he said, presenting her with a muddy envelope. "It had been seen to fall from the window." Julia thanked him, and returned to the sitting-room.

"So you have got it," Francesca said coldly, as she entered. The child was clinging to her, and sobbing still. "I think you might have been content to wait half-a-minute, instead of behaving like a wild cat. Poor darling Mittie! It was awful."

Julia sat down, the letter pressed between her hands. "Mittie was wrong," she said.

"I dare say! A little innocent fun! And you were right, of course, as you always are."

"No. But—"

"Well, you may as well read your precious document now you have got it. After all this fuss! Mittie, my sweet, don't cry any more. You will make such a fright of yourself. Come, it's all right now. We'll have a drive to-morrow, and you shall have a franc to spend in chocolate."

This proved consoling, and Mittie's weeping ceased with astonishing speed. She sat up and began to smile, casting curious glances at her aunt, who had not yet opened the letter, but remained with fixed eyes and cheeks white as paper.

"What is the matter with you?" Francesca asked at length, and Mittie echoed the question in another form— "Aunt Julia, are you cross still?"

Julia could not have answered the first question. She did not know what was the matter with her. It was not crossness, but the moment's horror had stunned her faculties. Suppose Mittie had gone over, and suppose—suppose—only a little corpse had been brought up from the street below! What would life have been after? and how must Francesca have felt? and what would Harvey have thought—nay, what must he not think now? Of course the child was wrong—wilful, pert, disagreeable; but what of her own ungoverned excitement? Julia grew paler and sadder as she thought. And it was all on account of this letter, of her love for Harvey! She did not feel worthy to open and read it yet, though her heart was craving for news.

"Do see what Harvey says, and don't sit staring at nothing in that absurd way," Francesca at length said impatiently.

To Julia's surprise, Mittie spoke up in her defence. "Mother, Aunt Julia isn't absurd. I expect she's only sorry."

Mittie quitted her mother, and went across to the chair in which Julia sat.

"Are you sorry, Aunt Julia?" she asked. "You're not cross with me now? I won't plague you again."

"Kiss me, Mittie," whispered Julia.

A cloud of flaxen hair descended round her in prompt reply; but the very pressure of those little soft arms only brought up more vividly than ever the terrible thought of what might have been the child's condition if—only if—Julia's strength had not sufficed to hold her up. Julia shuddered as she pressed her lips to the smooth cheek.

"Why, you are quite cold, I do declare; and I'm as hot as fire with kicking you," Mittie asserted, with childish frankness and exaggeration. "Is that why you're so pasty-coloured? If I had a letter I wouldn't keep it shut all this time."

Julia became conscious that she could "keep it shut" no longer, and her fingers broke open the closed envelope. As she read the sheet within, she drew one or two long breaths of relief, and a glow rose in her cheeks.

"He could not help it," she said.

"Couldn't help what? The delay?" asked Francesca. "Of course not. What man ever could, if he wished to stay away longer?"

"Francesca, you don't understand. He has not stayed for pleasure. He could not get away."

"Of course not," repeated Mrs. Trevor.

"His uncle is dead—suddenly."


"Yes; early on Monday."

"Strange! What did he die of?"

"He was not well on Sunday. Then on Monday he woke quite early, and said something about his head, about not wanting to be disturbed. After that he never spoke again. Some sort of attack like apoplexy, Harvey believes. Poor fellow!"

"Poor old Mr. Dalrymple?"

"Yes—no—I meant Harvey. He has had to go through all this, and I have been thinking—"

Julia did not end the self-reproachful sentence.

"Why did he not write sooner?"

"He says he could not, and he thought a telegram would frighten me."

"He doesn't think you a greater goose than you are, my dear." Then, after a break, "Was this what made you look so happy over your letter? To be sure!—Westford will belong to your husband now."

"Francesca! how can you?"

"Well, if you had seen your own face—"

"I never thought of that or of any such thing. I was only glad to know that he had good reason for staying away—not glad, of course, for what has happened."

"What about Miss Rivers?"

"Harvey does not say much. Only that she bears up well, and that he cannot possibly get away till after the funeral. Nothing can be settled till then."

"And then—hélas!—we shall all have to be buried alive. Don't look so dismayed; I only mean a figurative burial. What else can life at Westford be?"

"I don't see—" Julia began, and stopped.

"You very soon will see, my dear. Depend upon it, that is to be our future." Francesca sighed audibly again.

"Mother, shall we live in England?" asked Mittie.

"In a horribly triste country place, Mittie, with nothing but muddy lanes and cows and sheep. I never did think I should come to that, but beggars can't be choosers."

"Harvey always speaks of Westford as such a beautiful place."

"There's an ancestral glamour about it for him—not for me! I detest ancestors almost as much as cows."

"I like lanes better than streets," announced Mittie, as if her opinion were conclusive.

Julia did not care to enter into an argument. For her part she was content to be anywhere in the world, so long as Harvey was there too. Paris, Westford, Kamskatka, or Zululand, mattered little. A few minutes later she slipped away to her own room, and re-read more than once the hurriedly-written letter-one sentence especially.

"I am much afraid from what I hear that Hermione is left totally unprovided for. I do not think she is aware of this herself, and it is almost inexplicable with a man of such business habits as my uncle; but it appears that he has constantly put off, waiting for my return. I could wish now that I had gone back sooner. Regrets are useless, however. We shall have of course to give Hermione a home, though you need not at present mention this to Francesca, as it will not be known until after the reading of the will. Hermione is a pretty creature, and quite a saint, only perhaps a shade difficile in some of her ways. She bears up splendidly, and one cannot but admire her fortitude. I do not know how she and Francesca will suit, still I have no doubt that we shall shake down together somehow. I must stay here till after the funeral, as it is impossible to leave Hermione alone. You will understand this, my dear Julia, and will, I know, bear the disappointment bravely. After that we shall see what to do."

Julia sat long by the window, thinking. Hermione occupied but a small share of her attention. This sudden death in her husband's family touched her keenly, coming so soon after the shock of little Mittie's narrow escape. She could not yet turn from that recollection, could not shake off the horror of it. A sense of insecurity crept over her, of personal helplessness, of a wide surrounding abyss into which at any moment she or her husband might drop away from the other. For after all, life is not meant only for self-pleasing; and a butterfly existence cannot satisfy; and human love may fail; and there is a beyond to the present which may not be always ignored. Julia had a glimpse of the far beyond in that quiet hour, even while the next few days without Harvey seemed to her apprehension hopelessly long to wade through.







HERMIONE did not break down, as all around expected, under the fearfully sudden blow. When first they brought the news of what had occurred, she grew indeed pale as ashes, but neither fainted nor screamed.

"My grandfather taken ill, and I not told I how cruel! how wrong!" she said reproachfully, and for some minutes she seemed to hold at bay the dire truth that he was gone. When at length it gained entrance, she went resolutely straight to his room, undeterred by all remonstrances—and saw for herself.

Even then she bore up with a fortitude extraordinary in one so young. She turned to no one for comfort, leant upon no one for support. Only as she stood by the bed in tearless sorrow, she lifted to Harvey a pair of anguished eyes and said, "If you had written—if you had done differently—Harvey—your own conscience—" There she stopped, and he had again the curious sense of being called to account by this mere girl, so delicate in look, yet so inviolable in composure.

He made no attempt to defend himself. It was natural that at the moment she should ascribe her grandfather's death, at least in a measure, to the shock of Harvey's unexpected return. Had she known how unwelcome to the old man had been the news of Harvey's marriage, she would have counted the case against him yet stronger. Harvey could not think of this without pain and self-reproach, although for his comfort he already knew that during many weeks past both Mr. Pennant and Mr. Fitzalan had noticed distinct signs of failing in Mr. Dalrymple—so much so that Mr. Pennant had twice warned him to be more careful of himself. But of this Hermione was ignorant, and when, a little later, she was told, she did not seem to believe it.

"My grandfather was so well up to Saturday afternoon," she said mournfully; and after all, no reasoning could explain away the actual fact of a shock received. Mischief might have been brewing, but also the brewing mischief might have been hastened.

Hermione had her own bitter additional grief, but for which she would have blamed Harvey far more unreservedly. If she had followed Mr. Fitzalan's advice, and kept her grandfather at home—as she might have done, for he would always yield to his darling, if to no one else—and if she had followed Harvey's suggestions of sending for Mr. Pennant, who could say but that the fatal attack might have been warded off? This thought pressed upon her with leaden heaviness, yet she spoke of it to no one. She was very reserved, very reluctant always to admit blame to herself as due. Harvey made no allusion in her hearing to his rejected advice; such an allusion could now have been only cruel. Mr. Fitzalan said nothing of the message he had sent, which he supposed to have failed in its effect, for he would not needlessly add to Hermione's distress.

People hear grief in very different ways, and Hermione's fashion of grief-bearing was not to sink beneath it. Though so slight in appearance, she was healthy and vigorous. Where another might have been crushed, she seemed rather to be stimulated into an intense restlessness. She could not read, could not work, could not talk consecutively. No needless allusion to her loss ever passed her lips, yet when necessary she spoke of Mr. Dalrymple with outward composure, gave all needful orders, wrote countless letters, arranged everything, left no duties unperformed.

From the first she had not been known to shed a tear, and the usually smiling eyes had a dry look of fixed sadness; nevertheless she did weep when alone in her own room, and she was not utterly overwhelmed. She did not appear to be suffering in health, but only was always on the move, unable to rest, passing hither and thither incessantly, upstairs and downstairs, from one room to another, her soft step never varying in its style.

Harvey wondered at her. He was full of pity for the poor girl, and this sudden death of the kind old uncle whom he had not treated rightly came to him as a sharp blow. He would have liked to draw nearer to Hermione in her loneliness, to have shown brother-like sympathy, and to have tried to comfort her. But Hermione eluded all such attempts. She was his polite and cousinly hostess—nothing more. Any further approach drove her instantly to "letters that must be written," or "something that had to be done." Harvey acquiesced at length, taking long walks about the neighbourhood, and seeing a good deal of the Fitzalans, but holding very little intercourse with Hermione. And so the slow days wore away until the funeral.

Marjory was by far the more broken down of the two girls. From the moment of receiving the sad news she had scarcely left her couch. She could not sit up or stand without a sickening whirl of everything present. Parish work and other work had to wait. The girl seemed crushed by her friend's loss.

The two had not met as yet. Hermione kept strictly to the house, and Marjory could not go thither—the utmost she was able to accomplish being to dress herself and creep down to the drawing-room.

Harvey commonly found her there when he came in, as he did on some pretext or other once, if not twice, each day. Life at the Hall was dull for him, and he seemed glad to get out of the sombre atmosphere; and Marjory could detect a natural impatience to be with his young wife again. "I should have liked to send for her here," he said once, "but Hermione seems to disapprove; and I suppose, under the circumstances, as they are strangers—"

He looked doubtfully at Mr. Fitzalan, and the answer was, "I think you will be wise to wait." To Marjory's relief; Harvey acquiesced.

Friday came, and all the village followed the remains of the village-benefactor to the grave. Hermione was there, notwithstanding her cousin's opposition. Harvey thought that the ordeal must be too great, and would fain have had her remain at the Hall. But he needed not to have feared. Hermione was entirely composed throughout— "stoical" one person said to himself, and that person was not Harvey, for Harvey could not at all make up his mind about Hermione.

Marjory, who would fain have been present also, had to give it up. She was only able to lie on her couch, weeping passionately for her friend, while Hermione in deep black, with an angelic sweetness on her fair face, stood forward alone as chief mourner, the observed of all observers. Harvey was near, but she would not have his support. Mr. Fitzalan's voice shook, and his hand trembled, while Hermione never faltered. When they sang a hymn round the grave, by Hermione's express desire, her clear tones took the lead, and her blue eyes were uplifted as if verily able to see "behind the veil."

At the words, "I heard a voice from heaven—" brokenly uttered by Mr. Fitzalan, who seemed quite unnerved and scarcely able to struggle through the service, that look came again to her face. Then a sob was heard, but it did not come from Hermione. A young man stood behind her, stalwart in figure, his fine boyish face working with strong emotion. Even in that sad hour Harvey had cast from time to time interested glances at Harry Fitzalan, down in Westford for the day. There were many who could tell him of Harry's devoted affection for Mr. Dalrymple. It was an attachment which did the young man honour.

Over at last! and the crowd broke slowly up. Harry would not go to the Hall, as somebody asked him to do. He did not want to hear the will read, so he hurried off alone to the Rectory. Marjory saw him coming, to cast himself dejectedly into a chair in the darkest corner of the drawing-room, and she checked her own tears to rise and meet him. "Poor Harry must feel it so terribly," she knew. "After Hermione, it was worse for him than for anybody."

"And Hermione!" she whispered, standing by his side, a few words having passed. "And poor Hermione?"

The young man made a movement as if of impatience. He was very like his father and sister in face, having the same irregular cast of features, with loose brown hair and expressive eyes, but he was half a head taller than Mr. Fitzalan, and strong in build, with a sunburnt healthy look, therein a marked contrast to Marjory.

"Poor Hermione!" he repeated, with a touch of mockery. "You need not trouble yourself, Marjory. It was all graceful attitudes and lovely looks—nothing more."

Marjory's eyes filled. "O Harry! indeed you are mistaken."

"I wish I were. She didn't shed a tear—but tears are not becoming, you know." Harry spoke somewhat doggedly, as if determined to stand by his own opinion. "I never do understand female stoicism. It is unnatural. And such a man as Mr. Dalrymple!" The words ended in a groan.

"It is not stoicism—indeed it is not. It is only that she will not give way before others."

"And now she will go home, do her duty to everybody, and be as charming as if—" Harry broke into a sigh. "Well, we needn't discuss the matter. It does no good—only worries you. We never shall think alike about Hermione, I suppose. That six months abroad spoilt her— and I see it, but you don't. I can't see why you need, either. After all, she's a lovely creature, Marjie—nobody knows it better than I do. Sometimes I wish I didn't know it quite so well. I should like to get her out of my head altogether—and I can't. He counted her perfect, dear old man! Only, one does look to see him mourned differently—"

"Don't!" Marjory entreated.

"Poor little woman!" He kissed her brow in tender fashion. Harry was a full year older than Marjory, though in looks four or five years her junior. "Too bad of me, isn't it? I'll never accuse you of being a Stoic, Marjory. And as for Hermione, perhaps you and I agree better than we seem to do on the surface."

"You know very well that nothing would grieve you more than to see her unhappy."

Harry made no response to this. He was so long considering what to say that he ended by not saying anything at all. He knew that Marjory spoke truth; yet quite as truly he could have added, "Except not to see her unhappy when she ought to be so." But this would have pained Marjory; and after all, how could he or any one say that Hermione did not grieve? He could only be sure that she was not overcome by her grief; and the question of being outwardly overcome depends, not only upon kinds and degrees of sorrow, but upon the mode of expression natural to each person in sorrow, upon the condition of health, and upon the strength of will, where that will is bent to the task of self-repression.

Marjory broke the long silence. "Did you speak to Harvey?"

"A few words. There was no need for more."

"He was kind—?"

"Why should he be anything else?" Harry spoke captiously.

"You have heard about his marriage!"

"Harvey Dalrymple's!" Harry spoke in a voice of amazement now, and he stirred himself to an upright posture, as if startled out of his depression.


"But I say, Marjie, I always thought—" Harry hesitated. "Mr. Dalrymple's wish—"

This was the first thought which occurred to every one who knew Mr. Dalrymple. The marvel was that he had never divulged it to Hermione herself.

"I say!" reiterated Harry, in blank boyish astonishment.

"He was married abroad nearly a month ago. He had not written beforehand, and he came home on that account to tell them here."

A curious revulsion of ideas was going on in Harry's mind, a revulsion the nature of which was not distinct even to himself. He sat staring at Marjory with those big grey eyes of his. "Then—Hermione—" he uttered.

"Hermione only cared that Mr. Dalrymple was not told, because it was a slight to him. Otherwise she would have been delighted. She told me so herself."

"And she will live with them?"

"My father does not know what else she can do, and Harvey expects it. But we want her to spend a quiet month with us first, to get over the shock."

Harry sank into a dream, making no response. Marjory had her own theory as to the subject of his dream.







HERMIONE was not in the library when the will was read. Somehow she could not make up her mind to it.

As they drove home she grew paler, and the tearless eyes had a strained look. If Harry had seen her then, the severity of his judgment on her want of feeling would surely have relaxed. When Harvey handed her out she gave a bewildered glance round as if suddenly missing something. Did she only then begin in very truth to realise her loss?

"Must I come too? Is it necessary?" she asked of Mr. Fitzalan in her gentle voice, when a move was made to the library; and without waiting for an answer she added, "I should like to go to my own room. You can tell me afterwards anything that I ought to know." Before he could protest she had glided away.

The library interview came to an end, and all, with the exception of Hermione, knew the state of affairs. It seemed a strange state, considering Mr. Dalrymple's great love for Hermione.

For everything came to Harvey—everything without exception, beyond a few small legacies. The will had been made and signed twenty years earlier, before the birth of Hermione, and while Harvey's father was living. The bulk of Mr. Dalrymple's possessions had been then left to his only brother's son, Henry Dalrymple, and to his heirs—Henry's son, Harvey, being the next heir. Later codicils named the sum of one hundred pounds for Harry Fitzalan, and various lesser legacies for old friends and retainers, but nothing touched the original arrangement. Hermione was not so much as mentioned.

"Inexplicable! extraordinary!" Harvey said more than once, when talking afterwards in subdued tones with Mr. Fitzalan, and with the lawyer, Mr. Selwyn; yet he was not without a secret clue to an explanation.

"Mr. Dalrymple's fixed intention has been to make ample provision for Miss Rivers," Mr. Selwyn said. "I happen to be well aware of this fact. He spoke of the intention repeatedly, delaying only until your return."

"Why should he have delayed?"

Mr. Selwyn bent his head slightly.

"It was a fancy of Mr. Dalrymple's—I can hardly give a more weighty name to his reason—an old man's fancy. I have used influence to bring about an immediate settlement, but without result. He always insisted that there was no need for haste, that a few months more or less could not signify; and he appeared to live in a constant expectation of your coming. In a man of his good sense and good business habits, this procrastination has been the more singular."

"And Hermione has nothing of her own?" Mr. Fitzalan observed.

"Not much. About one hundred and twenty pounds per annum, the amount which was settled upon her mother. Unfortunately, the remainder of Hermione Dalrymple's marriage portion lay at her husband's discretion—and William Rivers made short work with that, as with everything else that he possessed."

"Miss Dalrymple was averse to any larger settlement on herself," said Mr. Fitzalan.

"Yes—woman-like, trusting one who was not worthy of her trust. Mr. Dalrymple yielded to her wishes—weakly, I have always thought. Her child is the loser now, though not according to her wish or intention."

"I only wish I had come home sooner," Harvey almost said, but somehow he changed the sentence into— "I wish Hermione had been present. How can one tell her?"

Mr. Fitzalan wondered silently— "Will not Harvey feel bound to carry out his uncle's intentions?" The same thought was in Mr. Selwyn's mind, less hopefully couched. The lawyer had perhaps seen even more than the clergyman of the money-loving side of human nature, and he knew from experience how gold-greed is apt to grow with gold-possession. Moreover, both were well acquainted with the mental indolence which made Harvey slow in arriving at any practical decision.

Mr. Selwyn drew a letter from his pocket, and handed it to Harvey— an opened envelope, addressed to himself. "I think you ought to see this," he said. "I received it by the morning post on Monday."

The sheet within was written upon as follows, in a tremulous hand:—


"WESTFORD HALL, Saturday evening."
"DEAR MR. SELWYN,—Can you spend Monday night
here? I wish for some conversation with you.
My nephew has returned, and will remain
until Tuesday. He is lately married."
"I have resolved to settle the sum of
twenty thousand pounds upon my grandchild,
Hermione, at once."
"Pray telegraph an answer. I have acted
reprehensibly in delaying so long, and
I am impatient to have everything in train.—"
"Yours sincerely,"


Harvey read the letter twice, and gave it back without comment.

"I telegraphed, as you know, to say that I would come," observed Mr. Selwyn. "The answering telegram from Miss Rivers, probably sent by yourself in her name, acquainted me with what had unhappily occurred."

"No; I heard nothing of any telegram," Harvey said, in a tone of surprise.

"Then Miss Rivers acted independently. She is quite capable of standing alone. A clever girl, with remarkable self-command."

"The sum named in that note would have been a heavy drag on the estate," Harvey said gravely, as if to quash any hopes for Hermione which the other might entertain.

"Possibly; but it was the amount which lay at Mr. Dalrymple's own disposal—which it may be he has always destined for Miss Rivers— unless—"

Mr. Selwyn left his sentence unfinished, and Harvey made no inquiries.

It was of course needful that the true condition of affairs should be revealed to Hermione, but nobody was anxious to undertake the task, and Hermione was long in reappearing. Mr. Fitzalan had to depart, on account of another engagement; and Mr. Selwyn was compelled to catch a certain train to London from a similar reason. Therefore, when Hermione did at length come downstairs, Harvey alone was at hand.

He could not make up his mind to go into the question with her. Harvey always shirked disagreeable duties if possible, and this duty seemed to him especially disagreeable.

No doubt there lay lurking at the back of his disinclination a distinct consciousness of what would be expected of him. He did not suppose for a moment that Mr. Selwyn would publish the fact of the twenty thousand pounds which might have been Hermione's. Probably no living person except himself and Mr. Selwyn would know it. The letter had not been shown even to Mr. Fitzalan, seated in the same room with themselves. But everybody would be aware that Mr. Dalrymple had not intended to leave his darling portionless.

It would have been an easy thing for Harvey to say to his cousin, "Hermione, your grandfather meant to make ample provision for you, and as he has been taken away before carrying out his intention, I will do it instead."

The difficulty in the way of such a speech was that Harvey had not made up his mind. He meant to do something, certainly, but the question was—what?—how much?

He would consider the matter, would perhaps consult Julia. Apart from the specified twenty thousand pounds, "ample provision" could mean no paltry sum. And the estate was not one which would endure unlimited demands. Harvey had been a degree disappointed at the income which would be his. He had expected more.

Not that he was an avaricious man in the bold sense of the world. He was simply a man who valued money for what it would buy, who liked to get and to have whatever ministered to his comfort or pleased his fancy, who never could be happy with less than the best of everything. This of necessity means the command of considerable wealth. Harvey would do any kindness to anybody, so long as it was not too much trouble—Mr. Fitzalan had spoken thus of him truly— but his own needs were always first supplied, and his own wishes might never go unfulfilled. The word "self-denial" did not exist in Harvey's vocabulary. He would now have Hermione on his hands, besides his wife's relatives. These things had to be weighed in the scale. While Mr. Dalrymple yet lived, he had of course the right to settle what he chose of his own upon Hermione; but Harvey counted twenty thousand pounds an unduly large amount, considering the heavy expenses involved in the keeping up of Westford estate—an amount so large that it really seemed as if the old man's mind must have been a good deal weakened before he could arrive at so startling a decision.

This was a comfortable view of the question for Harvey, helping him to shake off the incubus of the private letter to Mr. Selwyn, together with the feeling that in some measure he might be counted morally bound to carry out his uncle's intention. Legally of course he was free. The law could not touch him. But there is a moral side to everything as well as a legal side, and the question of right and wrong thrust itself obtrusively before Harvey's averted gaze, insisting on being seen whether he would or no.

Well, and he meant to do his duty, of course—who could doubt it?—his duty as a gentleman and a man of honour. Opinions might differ as to what constituted his duty, as to what was for him "the right," and there he must be permitted to decide for himself. Certainly he did not intend to subtract twenty thousand pounds from the estate, neither would Mr. Dalrymple have contemplated any such step but for the weakness of old age. Harvey very soon regarded this as a settled truth. But he meant to make "ample provision" for his young cousin.

If "ample provision" for Hermione should imply a call for the curtailing of his own expenditure—

No, Harvey declined to face that question. It was easy to take refuge in vagueness and delay. He would do all that duty and kindness demanded of him. He had not the smallest intention of curtailing his own expenditure for Hermione's sake or anybody's sake. But people seldom say definitely, "I will do what is wrong." It is always a roundabout road which leads to this goal. Harvey only told himself that he would "think," and then he tried as much as possible to drive thought away.


Hermione seemed scarcely to have begun to realise her own position, or to look forward. It was not till late in the evening that she remarked, as if casually, "Are you going back to Paris?"

"For a short time—a month or so," he said, seizing on the opportunity. "You know that the Fitzalans have kindly asked you to the Rectory until we can come."

"Mr. Fitzalan spoke of it," she said doubtfully. Her eyes were a little heavy, as if from tear-shedding, but her manner was composed.

"It will be best. You cannot stay here alone, and the break will be a good thing."

She said slowly, "You are willing to come now—when he—and all those years—"

"I don't know about being willing. I like the Continent best. But of course we shall have to spend part of the year at Westford." Hermione made no answer, and he felt himself impelled to add, "You know about the entail."


Hermione stood up, as if to move away, and Harvey said, "I think we ought to settle something. Julia will be expecting me."

"Why do you stay away from her?"

"I must know what day you can go to the Rectory before I can settle anything. Of course your home will be with us now, Hermione."

She did not thank him, but said simply, "When you are at Westford."

"I hope—always. It would have been his wish for you."

Hermione went away, offering no response. "Impracticable girl!" he muttered impatiently. She might almost have heard the words. At the door she lingered to say, "Mr. Fitzalan asked me to go to the Rectory to-morrow. You can arrange what you like about your own plans."







"THERE'S something stopping at the hotel, Mittie—look!" cried Julia, who was at the farther end of the room, while Mittie sat close to the open window.

The child skipped out upon the balcony, and cried in shrill tones, "It's Uncle Harvey!"

"Now, Julia, pray don't rush madly out, and—" Francesca's exhortation came to an abrupt conclusion, fur Julia was gone.

"She wouldn't hear you, mother," commented Mittie, standing in the open window, while a slight breeze lifted her clouds of flaxen hair and swept them round her face. "Aunt Julia always does scamper when Uncle Harvey comes. I think she's too big to scamper, ever so much. But I like him, too—don't you? I like him better than Aunt Julia, 'cause he doesn't get cross."

"Mittie, there's a spot of grease on your sleeve," said Mrs. Trevor, perhaps not anxious to discuss the respective merits of her sister and brother-in-law.

"So there is," assented Mittie. "And here's another. I can't think why spots of grease come. Don't you like Uncle Harvey too, mother? He's got such a nicey sort of way of doing things, and he always looks kind. He doesn't never frown, you know—does he?"

"Doesn't ever, you mean. Uncle Harvey will frown if you talk bad grammar."

"No, he won't. He hasn't got that kind of pucker on his forehead like Aunt Julia has got when she's cross. Most men have got big puckers, and he hasn't. His forehead is as smooth as yours, mother."

"Well, Mittie! How do you do, Francesca?" Harvey's voice said, as he came in, Julia clinging to his arm with an upturned face of brilliant happiness, undeniably handsome at that moment. Mittie flung herself on him with a little shriek of delight, but bounded off at his kiss, exclaiming—

"Don't scrub! I hate moustaches!" and Francesca extended a hand graciously, without troubling herself to rise.

"So you have had a dismal time of it on the whole," she said.

"Not worse than I have had!" murmured Julia.

"Foolish child!" he said softly.

"Only two days short of a fortnight. It has seemed endless."

"I could not come sooner. It was not my choice. There was no getting away from Westford till late on Saturday, and a day in London on business proved imperative. As I told you, I was not sure of coming even to-day."

He threw himself into the corner of a couch, and Julia sat on a low chair close by, watching him with eager eyes and clasped hands. She could not understand his look. Was he bored, or vexed, or worried? Mittie, too, was gazing in evident perplexity, for upon Harvey's smooth brow lay two upright ruts not wont to be there.

Julia took refuge in the wifely question—

"Are you very tired?"

"No—yes; I believe I am. It has been a trying time altogether. Well, Mittie, what mischief have you been after?"

He held out an arm, and she came near cautiously, with the proviso, "Then I won't be scrubbed?"

"No; all right. I'll take care. How will you like a pretty young cousin to live with?"

"She isn't my cousin," said Mittie. "What have you got those ugly puckers for?" and her small fingers endeavoured to do away with the dents.

Harvey laughed, and the puckers disappeared. "If Hermione is not your cousin, you must adopt her."

"Is it settled that she lives with us?" asked Francesca.

"I believe so. We take it for granted."

"Is she really pretty?"


"And—good?" Julia said, in a hesitating tone.


"I shall be afraid of her. I don't like people of that sort. Must she live with us? Has she nowhere to go?"


"But if she has plenty of money?" put in Francesca.

"She has not." A curious metallic sound came into Harvey's voice, and the "puckers" were again apparent. Mittie endeavoured once more to smooth them out, and he turned from her as if teased.

"Mittie, do be quiet," said Julia.

"I'm quiet. I don't want Uncle Harvey to be ugly," Mittie said, in an injured tone.

"Oh, of course the estate was entailed," Francesca observed, not noticing the by-play. "Still, one fancies the old gentleman would have taken care of her future, if he were so devoted to her as you have thought."

"He has not."

"And she is dependent on you?"

"At present—in a measure."

"How does she like that?"

"She does not seem to know it yet."

"You did not tell her?"

"That was not exactly my business."

"I should think the kindest plan would have been to speak out."

"Her friends can do so. Of course she is aware of the entail."

"Uncle Harvey is frowning most awfully," murmured Mittie.

"I should never have expected Mr. Dalrymple to leave her unprovided for. It is not as if you had been quite the most attentive and devoted of heirs," Francesca said, with a little laugh.

"Your experience of life has not taught you one thing, seemingly."

"What thing?"

"That people are always doing exactly what nobody would have expected of them."

"Well, yes—sometimes; but still, in this case—"

"In this case you wouldn't have expected it? Just so. That only points my doctrine. A 'well-drawn character' in a novel always does what one expects of him, but individuals in real life are not so obliging."

Julia's large black eyes were examining her husband's face.

"Have you been very much bothered? You don't look like yourself—" and her hand stole to his coat-sleeve caressingly.

"Oh, by-the-bye, are we really to be buried alive in that country place?" inquired Mrs. Trevor.

"I shall have to take Julia there in a month or six weeks. You must please yourself about accompanying us."

A touch of irritation showed in the manner, and Francesca's colour rose. She gave him a good look, and stood up, saying coldly, "That was not precisely in your best style, when you know my circumstances. Come, Mittie—it is about time to dress for table d'hôte."

Harvey evidently felt the rebuke. He went to open the door for her, and said as she swept past, "I beg your pardon. I spoke carelessly."

"So I supposed!" —and she was gone, Mittie following in her rear. Harvey came back to his seat, and there was an involuntary motion of his fingers through his hair. Julia watched with eyes of soft sympathy.

"Poor Francesca! I shall have to make my peace with her," he said, half smiling.

"Oh, no need. I have no patience with Francesca. She takes everything as a right, and shows airs when she ought to be only grateful. And just now, too, when you are so worried! Harvey, have things gone wrong? I can't quite make you out; you are not like yourself."

"I shall be all right now I am with you again."

The words were a great delight to Julia. She had the anxious clinging temperament which craves for much outward show of affection, and cannot trust without such evidence. Her cheek came down on his hand, and she said, "Then I don't mind anything—even Hermione."

"You and Hermione will get on well enough."

"Only if she is so very good—desperately, you said."

"I used the word in jest, of course. You don't wish her to be very bad, of course."

"No, no—but in that way—you know what I mean. One can't help being rather afraid of people who talk a great deal very religiously—don't you think so? Though, perhaps—" Julia hesitated— "I am not religious, but sometimes I think I ought to be, and I wish I could be different. If I were like you, it would not matter. You are always so true, so exactly what you ought to be in everything; it seems as if you always did right as a matter of course, not because it is right, but because you can't help it. I can't even imagine your doing anything really wrong. You have your little faults, I suppose, but I cannot see them. I never see any one else quite like you. But I—oh, I am so different."

"You are talking great nonsense, Julia."

"No, I am not; things are just as I say. You are always good, and I am not, and I wish I were. It frightens me sometimes. I had such a dreadful shock one day since you left. Francesca promised that she and Mittie would not tell you, but I should not be happy unless you knew. I could not endure the feeling of something being hidden. Harvey, I nearly killed Mittie."

Harvey looked incredulous.

"Yes, it is true. It was an accident, of course—I mean it would have been—but it was temper too." Julia told him in smothered tones of the arrival of his letter, of the struggle in the balcony, and of Mittie's narrow escape. "It seemed so awful," she said, "to think how I should have felt if it had happened. And it might if Francesca had not been so near. I never have much strength in my arms, and the fright seemed almost to paralyse them, so that I felt Mittie sliding away, and I could not keep her. I can't tell you what a horrible moment that was. It comes back to me now, and turns me cold."

"No wonder; but after all, Mittie is a troublesome little puss."

"Yes; only that was no real excuse for me. Then, when I opened the letter, I found the news about poor old Mr. Dalrymple. And I suppose it was the two things coming so close together—I could not shake them off. I felt for days after as if there was nothing to rest upon, and no safety in looking forward. Do you know what it is to have such feelings? But of course you don't, because you never do anything so wrong. Perhaps the feelings will go now I have you again."

"I hope so. You have certainly been in a morbid state, my dear."

"So Francesca told me—not that she knew anything of what I am saying now. She would only have laughed. And you don't think I ought to become more religious?"

"You are enough so for me."

"But if I ought—"

"I shall leave you to settle that point for yourself. Only, pray don't adopt Hermione as your model."

"Why? Don't you like her?"

"She is charming, as a girl. I do not admire her particular style of goodness."

"No; but you will help me?"

Harvey laughed, perhaps to hide a sense of embarrassment.

"I am not a very religious person myself, Julia. No use to come to me, I am afraid. Come, I really shall begin to suspect you of a small craze on the subject. It is time that you should dress."

"Yes, I am forgetting; no, it will do in ten minutes—I never take long."

"Better not be late; and I have my bag to unpack."

"I'll unpack it for you. Do let me—and then you can be quiet a little longer. Is the key upstairs? Oh, thanks; I'll be very careful with everything."

Harvey had remained a bachelor long enough to prefer unpacking for himself, but a stronger sensation at that moment was a desire to cut short the talk. He would not have had Julia know this for the world, so he fell in with her proposal.

"I'll put everything out ready, so as to save you trouble," she said, hastening away.

For ten minutes Harvey was alone, and during that short interval he came to a weighty decision, reversing a former intention. He would not speak to Julia about the letter from Mr. Dalrymple to Mr. Selwyn, or about the "ample provision" which had to be made for Hermione Rivers. At least—not yet. Harvey's determinations were apt to be somewhat vague. He did not resolve never to speak, but only not to speak "at present." After all, Julia was a mere girl, unversed in business affairs. The matter rested with himself; he would wait and consider. There was space enough ahead for action—why do things in a hurry?

Perhaps Julia's loving belief in her husband's "goodness," had to do with this decision. If she knew all, she might not feel quite so convinced of his excellence. He had no wish, naturally, to lower himself in her eyes. Everybody likes to be esteemed and admired—or, as we are apt to express it, "to be appreciated."

No, he would keep the matter quiet for a while, till he should "see his way."

Somehow Marjory's face came up, pale and reproachful, and her voice seemed to mingle sadly with the busy sounds of the gay street below, quoting the words she had quoted before:—

"But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy."

"Stuff! nonsense!" exclaimed Harvey, almost aloud. "I declare I am as bad as Julia—positively morbid. As if that had anything to do with the question. One would think Marjory had bewitched me! I have to consider my duty to the estate. If my poor old uncle's idea had been carried out, the property must have been completely wrecked—hampered for years at all events. Hermione shall have what is right, but I must have time for consideration. By-and-by I shall know better what really lies at my command."







SEVERAL weeks had glided by when, one day towards the middle of August, Harvey Dalrymple and his party were to arrive at the Hall.

He had not even yet plainly told Hermione that the widow and her child would be permanent members of his household. There was "time enough," and Harvey always deferred the unpleasant till to-morrow. So Hermione only knew that another bedroom had to be prepared.

"A strange time to come—before Harvey and Julia are even settled in," she said, sighing. "Things would have been bad enough without that."

Hermione had slept at the Rectory hitherto, but this night she would occupy her old quarters. Better so; the plunge had to be made, and the sooner was the wiser.

These past weeks had gone very peacefully, and to Hermione not unhappily. The sorrow had been a gentle sorrow, and she was surrounded by kindness. She was so young, and so attractive in her deep mourning, that few could look upon her unmoved. Wherever she went she met glances and words of pity or sympathy, alike from rich and poor. Mr. Fitzalan had never been more fatherly and kind than now in her time of severe loss; Marjory was nothing less than her abject slave; and Harry, returning home for his long vacation, forgot his own past strictures, to place himself, metaphorically speaking, at her feet. Why not? He was no longer bound, in loyalty to Mr. Dalrymple's desire, to hold aloof. Hermione could never belong to Harvey.

There could be no doubt that Hermione was soothed and comforted, that she liked this kind of thing. To find herself a centre of thought and care, of love and adulation, did not beget a conceited mood or manner, but had a gently lulling effect. She accepted all the petting, the care, the admiration, with a soft humility of demeanour which deceived almost everybody, herself certainly included. "So simple and unconscious," was the general verdict. Perhaps nobody in the place saw deeper except Mr. Fitzalan; for, if Harry could have seen, Harry would not see. He put on tinted glasses, and gave himself blindly up to the infatuation of her sweet presence. And Mr. Fitzalan said nothing. He knew that no words of his could make Hermione see herself as she was, and he knew that Hermione's time of trial was yet to come.

She kept well in health, able to sleep, eat, and walk as usual. She had taken to looking gently pensive and depressed, but this was only correct. Perhaps, if it did not sound cruel, one might even suggest that she looked so because it was correct—because she found that it was expected of her. And the pensive sweetness was very becoming. But Harry, poor fellow, was past seeing that now, and Hermione herself was unaware that she looked aught which she did not genuinely feel.

There was cause enough, undoubtedly, for a saddened face. Nobody would have been surprised at any amount of sorrow on her part. If she had been utterly crushed, it would have been considered only reasonable. But then she was not crushed at all. She was as much interested as ever in people and things, and in surrounding life, and as willing to be "appreciated" by everybody with whom she came in contact. People in overwhelming grief do not care much about appreciation, at least for the time.

There had been no talk as to business. Hermione asked no questions, and the subject had been carefully avoided by the Fitzalans. Mr. Fitzalan supposed that she had learnt from Harvey the true state of affairs, and while inclined to wonder at her silence, he respected it. He was not at all disposed to enter into any discussion about the will, or about what Harvey's duty might be.

But, in truth, Hermione knew little as to the state of affairs. She was vaguely aware that the estate had been left to Harvey, and that he possessed a right to live at the Hall. It never so much as occurred to her that she had a right to live there no longer, except with his permission. She was very young—only nineteen years old—and accustomed to have whatever she liked for the asking. All her life had been spent at Westford, except an occasional month at the sea side, and one long bout of six months on the continent with her grandfather; which six months had transformed her from a complete child to a complete young woman. She went away spoilt, passionate, impulsive, yet pretty and most lovable. She came back lovely, composed, self-restrained, confident, and charming.

As for money matters, Mrs. Milton, the housekeeper, managed all household expenses, with merely a nominal reference to Hermione. Up to seventeen years old Hermione had been in the hands a governess—and a troublesome handful that poor governess found her. Since seventeen she had been her own mistress, and had been permitted to buy whatever she pleased, Mr. Dalrymple paying her bills and keeping her purse filled. She was about as well acquainted with the practical value of money as most children of eight or ten. When Harvey was at Westford Hall, he would occupy the same position that Mr. Dalrymple had occupied; and if there were bills to pay, no doubt Harvey would pay them. Hermione could dismiss the question thus easily. She was a clever girl, well-read, and with opinions on abstract subjects at least as decided as opinions are wont to be at the age of nineteen, but in regard to money matters she was complacently ignorant.

Mr. Fitzalan remarked one day that it was "kind" of Harvey to give her a home. Hermione opened surprised eyes. "Why?" she asked, and Mr. Fitzalan spoke of something else. Though he did not know of the letter to Mr. Selwyn, he knew enough of Mr. Dalrymple's intentions to count Harvey morally though not legally bound to provide for Hermione; he knew quite enough, therefore, to deter him from discussing things with Hermione.

Morally, but not legally! So it was the old question again of right and wrong—of what a man would like to do versus what a man ought to do! But money is very blinding to the moral eyesight where legal freedom exists. Mr. Fitzalan wondered often how Harvey would view his own position.


Marjory had afternoon tea at the Hall with Hermione, the day on which the travellers were expected. Hermione did not seem nervous or timid, as Marjory would have been in her place—as, indeed, Marjory was now. She only looked pensive. Milton had arranged abundance of flowers in the drawing-room, and Hermione altered the arrangement here and there, with some critical remarks. Then she went for a walk on the terrace with Marjory, to while away the time.

"I suppose we shall hear the bells ringing soon?" she said.

"If only that need not have been!" sighed Marjory. "Harry has gone for a long walk to get out of the way. He said he could not stand it."

"Poor Harry!" Hermione observed, in her elder-sisterly tone. "He was always so fond of my dear grandfather."

"Do you think Harvey will keep up things as he did?" faltered Marjory.

"I hope so, indeed. I shall use all my influence, Marjory, and if Harvey did not, I should think it right to speak to him plainly."

Hermione, the girl of nineteen, might speak, but would Harvey, the man past thirty, listen? Marjory, with all her devotion to Hermione, was conscious of something a little out of joint here, of something not quite as it should be. For, after all, everybody is not called upon to set everybody to rights. There are limits to our duties.

To suggest that Hermione was labouring under a mistake lay beyond the reach of Marjory's capabilities. She said only, "You like Harvey really, do you not? in himself, I mean."

Hermione wore a look of thought. "Yes," she said; "I like him certainly—as my cousin. That does not always mean much, does it? A cousin may be a great deal to one or nothing at all. He wishes to be a brother to me, and I have no objection, so far as it is possible, though he did not behave as he should to my grandfather. The past cannot be undone, and he was willing to pass it over. I believe it is wisest to drop the thought of the past, and to begin afresh. If Julia will let me, I shall be a sister to her. Only I cannot help wishing that this Mrs. Trevor had kept away just now. Hark, the bells are beginning."

Marjory was in tears. Hermione slipped a hand through her arm.

"Dear Marjory, I know you feel so much for me," she said.

Marjory could not have told whether she felt most keenly for Hermione or for herself at that moment. She was one to suffer keenly from every "new departure" in life.

"I must go, Hermione. They will be here directly."

"Not yet. Cannot you stay with me to receive them?"

"My father thought it best not. I have no right, and it might seem like intrusion."

"Intrusion? If I ask you to stay?"

Yes, even if Hermione asked it, for Hermione was no longer mistress. But Marjory could not suggest this. She did not know what to say. Her own instinct was strongly opposed to the step, yet she could not bear to leave Hermione alone at such a trying moment. They took one more turn together, and when at the farther end of the terrace a sound of wheels stopping at the front door was heard.

"They have come!" exclaimed Marjory, flushing.

Hermione paused. "Impossible," she said. "It is some caller. Slade will say that I am engaged."

"But everybody knows—nobody would come to-day. Had I not better go home?"

Hermione hesitated, sure that her own conjecture would prove to be in the right. The train was one proverbially behind time, and Hermione had not looked for the travellers to arrive until a full quarter of an hour later. Besides, the bells had only just begun to ring.

For once, however, the late train was early; and the bell-ringers, as well as Hermione, were taken by surprise.







THE conservatory door was flung open, and a child came flying along the terrace, her lissom figure bending forward, her flaxen hair streaming, cloud-like, behind.

"Mittie, Mittie! Come back, you naughty child!" sounded from within doors, in faint shrill tones.

Mittie paid no regard to the sound. She rushed on, till within three yards of Hermione and Marjory. There she stopped abruptly.

"Are you the pretty cousin?" she demanded, fixing her black eyes fearlessly on Hermione, whom she seemed to select at a glance with a precocious child's penetration. "Uncle Harvey says I have got to adopt you, because you're not my cousin really, you know. But I think—" and the black eyes roved to and fro between the two faces— "I think I'd rather adopt the other!"

The words sounded comical from those rosy lips. Hermione was gravely silent, wearing a checked, even a displeased look, as if the infantine frankness were annoying. Marjory's heart went out towards the small engaging creature, so daintily delicate in figure and dress.

"Don't you think you might adopt both of us?" she asked adroitly. "We are very much like sisters. No, I am not Hermione—this is Hermione—I am only Marjory Fitzalan. And you are Mrs. Trevor's little girl?"

"I'm Mittie Trevor, of course." That seemed a self-evident fact to the eight-years-old maiden. "And Mrs. Trevor is my mother, and we've come to live here—but I wish it was you that had got to be my cousin. What makes you call yourself 'only' Marjory? I like Marjory for a name, and you are not a poor person."

Marjory could not resist stooping to give the kiss which Hermione ought to have given.

"Not a rich one, at all events," she said.

"Oh, but you know what I mean? I don't mean that, of course—mother isn't rich either, because she's lost all her money, and that's why we've come to live here; but she isn't a poor person, of course, don't you understand? What makes you look as if you had been crying? Grown-up people oughtn't to cry about nothing, mother says, because it makes them ugly—only you are not ugly. I mean to tell Uncle Harvey. I like you ever so much the best. The other looks like Aunt Julia when Aunt Julia is cross."

"Hush, you must not speak so," Marjory said hastily. But Hermione did not seem to hear the utterances. She was standing as if lost in thought.

"Impossible!" she said aloud. "He could never intend such a thing without consulting me."

"Don't you think you ought to go? I had better say good-bye," suggested Marjory.

"If you must. Yes, I have to go in; but—" Hermione faltered, looking at the child. Should she question Mittie? No, she could not stoop to that. Harvey, and Harvey alone, must answer for himself.

"Come to live here!" Those four words rang in Hermione's ears as she turned towards the house, forgetting even to respond to Marjory's good-bye. Mittie stayed behind, to pursue her new acquaintance through the garden, and Hermione entered the conservatory alone.

At the drawing-room door she paused, partly to observe, partly to rally her powers of self-command. For all in a moment it rushed over her how great a change had come in her life.

A tall lady-like girl, handsomely dressed, stood in the bow-window, studying the view. Hand-bags and small packages lay about the room, and Slade with his usual cautious air was carrying something away, it did not matter what. Hermione caught the tone of his assenting "Yes, sir," in mild response to an evident order from Harvey, who stood near the fireplace, with the air of one taking possession, albeit in his usual insouciant and gentlemanly style. A smaller and plumper individual than Julia—somehow Hermione knew at once which was Julia, though the widow's attire was by no means strongly marked as such—had thrown herself into Hermione's own especial easy-chair, and was remarking in distinct tones—

"Rather comical, isn't it, to desert the premises, and give nobody a welcome? But I suppose one may expect a certain rusticity of manners here. My dear Julia, I don't know what your sensations may be, but I am dying for a cup of tea. Do pray ring and order it. That man is a very embodiment of slowness; he will be an hour at least carrying up the tray. Yes, pray ring, Harvey; thanks. And this is the drawing-room! Not a badly-shaped room on the whole,—quite capable of being made pretty. Of course there is no sort of arrangement now. Everything seems to have been plumped down once for all exactly where it stands, and left there for twenty years. Not a vase that hasn't its exact match on the other side—and the way those curtains are draped is antediluvian, to say the least. I'm not sure that it isn't pre-Adamite. As for that row of chairs, with their backs against the wall, they are enough to give one the nightmare. Nous allons changer tout cela, I suppose, and the sooner the better."

"Francesca!" her brother-in-law uttered, in a warning undertone. He had caught sight of Hermione standing in the conservatory doorway, and he went forward to meet her, not without some secret embarrassment, but with a kind brotherliness of demeanour. For he wanted very much to make Hermione happy. He had set his heart on doing all that he possibly could to repay her for what she was losing, short of adequate money-repayment. He did not of course allow that she was a wronged individual, or that she had any actual claim upon him. He had reasoned himself by this time into looking upon the £20,000 settlement as an absolutely preposterous notion. It seemed to him a doubtful matter whether the estate would stand the strain of losing even half of that sum; and after all he was, legally, free to do or not to do exactly as he chose. Still there was a distinct wish to "make up" to Hermione for something—he did not define what!

Hermione's manner could not be called sisterly, and when she allowed him to lead her to his wife there was no warmth in her welcome. Mrs. Trevor's words, involuntarily overheard, did not heat her into outward anger or freeze her into rigidity; and she came forward gracefully as usual, with only a slight deepening of colour; but there was a calm dignity, a displeased distance, in her bearing, curious in one so young.

Julia did not know what to make of it. Her face, which had lighted up, fell quickly, and she scanned Hermione inquiringly as their hands met. Mrs. Trevor's lips wore an odd expression, like one bracing herself for a conflict. She had expected a pretty young girl, whom she might patronise agreeably out of the plenitude of her worldly experience; and this stately young creature seemed hardly susceptible to patronage. Hermione had often looked sweeter, sunnier, more lovable than at this moment, but perhaps seldom more beautiful. And Mrs. Trevor did not like beautiful women. She objected to being outshone.

Remarks trickled slowly from one to another, Hermione speaking just so much as was necessary, not more. She seated herself on the sofa, as if receiving guests, and she made polite conversation in a chilled and chilling manner which Mrs. Trevor thoroughly understood. "That girl has been spoilt, and needs putting in her right place," the widow thought. "Julia will never succeed; she lets things go too easily. I shall have to take her in hand myself."

Queries as to the journey were answered, and Hermione explained her own absence at the moment of arrival, apologising for it in quiet tones. She had not expected their train to be so early, she said. Then Mittie's name came up, with wonderings as to what could have become of her, in the midst of which Mittie herself came flying through the conservatory, to deposit her little person in the big armchair which had always been Mr. Dalrymple's.

Harvey saw and understood Hermione's look. "Come here, you witch," he said; "I want to know what you have been about." But Mittie declined to be dislodged.

"No; I like this best," she said. "You always kiss me, and scrub so with your moustache. I mean to sit here. I've been out in the garden, and it's very pretty. It's a nice place to live in, I think. And there's a person that I like very much. Her name is 'only Marjory,' she says. That does sound so funny, but I love her. She's just as pale as can be, and her eyes look so big and tired, and she's not like nobody else I ever saw. I like her ever so much better than cousin Hermione."

"That child wants bringing into order, Francesca," Harvey said, in a displeased tone.

"She's too much for me. Hold your tongue, Mittie, and don't be rude, or I shall send you to bed."

Mittie did not hold her tongue. She responded simply, "Then I shall cry, mother!" and examined Hermione in a prolonged gaze.

The entrance of tea effected a diversion. Slade hesitated a moment where to place the basket-table, glancing from his former to his present mistress; but Julia paid no attention, and Hermione, as a matter of course, signed him to the usual place. Mrs. Trevor noticed this, with a strengthening of her previous determination. She noted, too, the calm air of possessorship with which Hermione dispensed tea and offered cake. Unmistakably the young girl was, in her own eyes, hostess still. The time had scarcely come yet, however, for speech, and nothing would have been said but for the presence of that embarrassing child. Mittie munched and considered, curled up in the big armchair, with her tumbled mass of flaxen hair and her soft wide-open eyes.

"Does everything here belong to cousin Hermione? I thought Aunt Julia was to be the mistress. Mother said so."

"Mittie, you are a very rude impertinent little girl! If you don't hold your tongue, you shall leave the room," said Harvey, with sufficient sharpness.

"I know mother said so," murmured Mittie, very nearly in tears, for a real rebuke from her uncle was rare, and she loved him dearly enough to mind it.

No further notice was taken, and Mittie subsided into silence. Hermione scarcely seemed to have heard the childish utterance, yet it had stung severely. Her hand trembled, causing one cup to clash against another, and an unwonted flush became fixed in either cheek. Once or twice, when addressed by Harvey, she appeared lost in thought.

For Mittie had done at last what all these weeks since her grandfather's death had failed to do. Hermione's eyes were opened to see in a flash, and that no welcome flash, her new position in the household.

Not for worlds would she have had those around guess what she was feeling. She kept her seat and her quiet manner, doing what had to be done, only a little flushed and grave and silent. Harvey knew that the unconscious arrow had sped, and he was very uneasy in his knowledge; but the two ladies, not being aware of her usual looks and ways, were not struck with the variation. They only thought her cold and proud—pretty in no common degree, but not attractive.

"Can you manage without me for a little while? I have something that must be done," Hermione said, rising when tea was over.

"Pray don't stay on our account," Mrs. Trevor said at once.

Harvey followed Hermione into the hall, with intent to apologise for Mittie's rudeness, but she was too quick for him. He only saw her out of reach, passing up the broad staircase.

Once within her own door, safe from observation, a change swept over Hermione. The fair face grew white and wild, with a look of inexpressible loneliness. She stood in the centre, her eyes cast down, her arms drooping listlessly, her lips moving with scarcely articulate utterances.

"How can I bear it? How shall I be able? Oh, grandfather—oh, grandfather—so utterly alone! Must I stay? It is my home, but so different now! Everything altered! I cannot understand; but I must ask the Fitzalans—not Harvey. Those people to live here, and I not even told! Oh, it was cruel of Harvey—cruel of everybody. And Julia the mistress! Yes, I suppose so; but I did not see before what it meant. O God—oh, God, must I bear it?"

Then there came a sharp struggle with a very storm of sobs, which seemed almost as if they must rend the slight figure. Hermione writhed and bent beneath the agony, yet pride was strong, and she would not yield. Mrs. Trevor and Julia might not, should not, see that she had been weeping; and she did not weep. Not a tear was allowed to force its way from her eyes. The strife was soon over. Strange to say, Hermione did not pray, as one might have expected. She spoke half aloud, to herself, as it were, with but that one brief appeal which could hardly be termed prayer; and then, having conquered the bout of strong emotion, she stood up, going to the looking-glass.

"No, they will not know," she murmured, examining the face reflected there. She even smiled gently to herself. "Yes, that will do. I shall not be overcome now."

Five minutes later she was passing alone through the garden on her way to the Rectory.







"MISS RIVERS wishes to see you, sir."

"Miss Rivers!" The Rector was rather astonished, knowing how short a time had passed since the arrival of the travellers. "A messenger from Miss Rivers, do you mean?"

"No, sir; Miss Rivers is here, her very own self," the girl answered with emphasis, as if appreciating his surprise. "And Miss Marjory is out with Mr. Harry; but Miss Rivers says it don't matter, because she don't want to see nobody except you, sir."

"Show Miss Rivers in here."

The maid vanished, and with a slight sigh Mr. Fitzalan put aside his sermon papers, wondering whether he would find himself so well in the mood for work after a delay. Mr. Fitzalan was an extempore preacher, in the sense of not reading from a written sermon, but his subject was always well worked out beforehand upon paper.

"May I come in? You are not too busy?" asked Hermione at the door.

"Not at all." Mr. Fitzalan would not even suggest haste, whereby the interview might be shortened. Most people would have counted that Hermione looked exactly the same as usual, as she glided gently in, taking a proffered chair, and letting her black draperies fall gracefully. But Mr. Fitzalan saw a difference.

"Harvey and his wife come yet?" he asked.

"Yes; and the Trevors. Mr. Fitzalan, did you know about those people— Mrs. Trevor and her child?"

"Marjory said something."

"Marjory only knows what I told her—that they were to be here for a visit. I thought it bad taste to ask them just now, but I had no idea of anything further—no idea of their always living with us."

"Is that to be the plan? Well, the Hall is large enough," Mr. Fitzalan said cautiously.

"Harvey has told me nothing. But from what the child says—"

Hermione's voice was not so calm as usual, not by any means so calm as she wished. It trembled, and a bright flush rose anew in her cheeks, filling the eyes with a troubled light.

"I remember being told that Mrs. Trevor had lost her money. It is a generous act on the part of Harvey to give her a home. He has the right if he chooses."

"Without consulting me!"

Mr. Fitzalan knew that the time had at last come for speaking out. He answered steadily, "In strictness, yes, without consulting any one except his wife."

"Julia! I don't suppose Julia cares. Mrs. Trevor is her sister. But I!"

The emphasis on the pronoun was unmistakable.

"It might have been a matter of kindness to tell you his intentions beforehand, but perhaps he thought it kinder not to worry you. It is not a matter of right, my dear child. I think you have to resolve to face that fact. Harvey is master here now. The place belongs to him."

"And I! I have nothing to do with anything!"

"Not more than your cousins choose."

"No rights of my own?"

"With respect to the estate—none."

For a full minute the clock ticked busily, with no accompaniment of human voices. Mr. Fitzalan sat with his eyes bent downward. He knew a struggle to be going on opposite, and he knew that Hermione would shrink from observation while it lasted. She would speak as soon as she was able. Till then he waited.

"Must I live there?" came at length.

"I think so; for the present. Harvey offers you a home, and no other home has presented itself. I believe it would have been your grandfather's wish."

"Yes—he—but I don't understand. I don't think I know how things really are. I did not hear the will read. He would wish me to be happy," Hermione said in short sentences, broken by agitation. "If I would rather live somewhere else, I suppose I could. I must have enough of my own. Could you tell me about that?"

"There is your mother's marriage settlement of one hundred and twenty pounds a year."

"And besides—"

"Nothing more."

"Nothing at all. But from my grandfather—"

"No." Mr. Fitzalan spoke feelingly. "He fully meant to make other arrangements, but unfortunately he put off too long. His will was made before your birth, and your name has never been inserted."

Another silence followed, longer than the last.

"It seems so strange, so extraordinary," she broke out at length, in a voice almost resentful. "I could not have thought it. He did love me; but to leave me dependent on Harvey and Julia—"

"He only knew of Harvey's marriage at the last."

"Yes—but Harvey alone—how could he leave me so?"

Tears of wounded feeling could no longer be kept back, strive as Hermione might. She stood up and went to the bookcase, remaining there with her back turned. Mr. Fitzalan would speak no hasty words. He feared to make mischief between the cousins.

"And there was nothing for me, nothing at all?" she repeated, coming back to her seat. "He forgot no one else—only me!"

"He did not forget. Don't let yourself wrong him, even in thought. He had spoken to Mr. Selwyn sometimes of his intention to provide for you more fully, and the day before his death he wrote summoning Mr. Selwyn from London. But—too late."

"He ought not to have put off. It was wrong," Hermione said in distinct accents. Then, with a change of tone, "Does Harvey know this?"

"Yes. He offers you a home; and I think that at present your duty is to accept his offer."

Hermione's face quivered. "I don't know how to bear it all," she said. "Anything else would be easier."

"Anything, except what is given you to bear?"

"You don't know, you don't understand. Nobody outside can guess what it will be. I don't expect to have no trials. One must have them, of course. But to live on there in the dear old home as a mere dependent—as nobody—after what has been!" She broke into her own words with a start, "I am saying this only to you—only for yourself. Others must not know how I mind it, not even Marjory. I can't endure to be pitied. But oh, it is hard—very very hard!" and a sob seemed wrenched from her.

"Poor child!" Mr. Fitzalan said, despite her repudiation of pity. "My dear, it is of no use for me to tell you that things will not be so bad as you expect. Lower comfort is no good at such times. Better take the pain and the help both together straight from God Himself."

She shook her head mutely, placing both hands over her face.

"Think," he went on, "how often you have told others to trust in His love, not to doubt Him in sorrowful hours. Now is the time for you to put your own words into practice."

"I don't think anybody ever had anything like this to bear!"

He did not smile, as he might have done. He knew that she knew little of life yet, and that her loss was very great in her own eyes.

"There is a poor old woman down in the village, whom you and I both know well. She is lonely, poverty-stricken, forsaken by her only son, a great sufferer in body. Three days ago I went to visit her, and I found her very full of a call she had just had. Shall I tell you what she said?" Hermione made no sign. "I think you can guess who had called. She said, 'Sir, Miss Rivers has been, and she's done my poor old heart good. For she do speak like an angel to me, sir, a-telling me how I'm not to be afeared, for if so be I'm "yielded up" to the Lord, and has given up my will to Him, why, I needn't never mind nothing, but just rest upon Him, and take whatever He sends, and be joyful. And I'll do it too, sir, so please He'll help me.'"

Mr. Fitzalan waited a few seconds.

"Oh, I don't know—it all seems so unreal."

The words dropped from Hermione as if involuntarily. She stopped when about to say more, abashed by her own utterance.

"What seems unreal?" He had no reply, and he went on, "It was absolute truth that you spoke to the poor old woman. But, my child, was it truth for yourself, or was it only quoted from the knowledge of others?"

This question came searchingly, and Hermione made no attempt to answer it. She pressed her hands closer over her face.

"If the last—then perhaps a sharp test has been sent, that you may see how things really are."


Half-an-hour later Marjory came to her father's study, with the exclamation— "Has Hermione really been here?"


"Sutton told us, and Harry has rushed off, in hopes of overtaking her before she reaches home."

"Harry might have spared himself the exertion."

"Then you don't think he will succeed?"

"Hermione left me some time ago, and she is a quick walker."

"If only we had guessed that she might come! Father, does she seem happy?"

"What did you think when you left her?"

"I don't know—I thought her very worried. That child Mittie Trevor talked as if she and her mother were to live at the Hall. She is a dear child, I should fancy, but Hermione did not take to her."

"And Marjory did?"

"I can't resist children. She is very small, with a great mane of fair hair, and such a pair of winning black eyes. When she followed me through the garden, and threw her little arms round me, begging for kisses, I found her irresistible. Hermione is not like me in that. She only cares for children in a Sunday-school."

"Seated in neat rows, to be talked to," suggested the Rector, with a twinkle in the corner of his eye, for it did sound very much like Hermione, and Marjory's unconscious satire on her friend amused him.

"Hermione is so good at teaching!"

"Many people are much better at teaching than learning."

"But not Hermione! You did not mean Hermione."

"It comes to her more easily. So it does to a good many of us."

Marjory looked rather tried. "I must not interrupt you longer," she said, and she went away. Nobody heard the sighing utterance— "Strange, while my father is so dear and good to me, he never does appreciate Hermione!"







HERMIONE would never place herself in a false position by striving after that to which she had no lawful right. She had too much tact and sense, too much regard for her own dignity, and for appearances generally.

So soon as she saw clearly that Harvey and Julia were real master and mistress, that she herself was merely a subordinate member of the household, she withdrew all claims to authority, giving everything over into Julia's hands. There were no struggles, no clashings. The change was made at once, well and thoroughly. If Slade appealed to her, "I am not the mistress now, Slade," she would say meekly; "you must go to Mrs. Dalrymple." If Milton brought a complaint as of old, "I have nothing to do with it now, Milton," she would answer, with a touch of gentle sorrow. "I can only advise you to speak to Mrs. Dalrymple." If the head-gardener desired her opinion, "I think I had better leave it all alone," she would reply, sighing. "Mr. Dalrymple must decide. It is better for me not to interfere."

No doubt it was wise and right to refrain from meddling, and so far the change was made not only thoroughly but also well. Still, there are different ways of doing what is right—so different, that even that which is right may become that which is wrong simply through the mode in which it is done. Hermione might have abdicated her authority without giving the impression that she was an injured and suffering person.

Somehow her sweet sad look and pensive utterances had an unhealthy effect on those around. Hermione did not intend this, of course; people seldom do intend to do any harm. She only wanted sympathy, and liked to be interesting; and she did not measure the extent of her influence. But the Hall servants and the villagers began more and more to look upon her as one cheated out of her rights— "That poor dear young lady!" they called her—while in inverse ratio they grumbled over the "new master and mistress," not to speak of "that there furrin lady, with her flyaway hair—and she a widder!!" —this being usually the climax of rustic indignation. Harvey was aware of averted glances and grumpy answers as he came and went, but neither he nor any one, certainly not Hermione herself, knew how closely they were connected with Hermione's "touching sadness," as some neighbours called it.

There could be no doubt that Mrs. Trevor, the dependent "wielder," had the upper hand of her sister and brother-in-law. Where a woman is bent on managing she can generally succeed in doing so, and Mrs. Trevor was bent upon it. That which is tersely expressed by the old saying as "playing second fiddle" was not at all in her line. Julia was nominal mistress, but Mrs. Trevor ruled through Julia.

Though Harvey saw and disapproved, he was too lazy a man to stand out, except where his own comforts were concerned, and he had not much chance against Mrs. Trevor. It would have been his wish that nothing in the house should be altered during at least some weeks, having regard to Hermione's feelings, and Julia had no wish in the matter apart from his. Nevertheless, before a week passed the drawing-room had undergone a complete transformation at Mrs. Trevor's hands. Harvey shrugged his shoulders, but submitted, and Hermione said nothing. She only held aloof, determined to make no sign of pain.

This proud distance of bearing was noted by Julia Dalrymple with a sense of strong disappointment.

For, despite what her husband had said about not taking Hermione as her model, Julia had looked forward much and wistfully to Hermione's companionship.

She was growingly conscious of something lacking in herself, something which she could not at all define, even while she was aware of the want. There was a sense of dissatisfaction, of insecurity, of worthlessness, in all she had to do; express it how one will, it came to this, that Julia hungered after what she had not, and she saw no means of getting it unless through Hermione.

No use to go to her husband. Julia had learnt so much by this time— had learnt it with a new pain. Dear as he was to her, passionately as she loved him, they were in touch only as to the things of every-day life. Beyond all was haze. Julia stood alone and lonely in her higher cravings, for if he ever experienced the same he would not avow it. To consult Harvey on any question of religious import she had found to be almost as useless, though not so impossible, as to consult Francesca.

But here was Hermione Rivers, good, really good; a thoroughly religious person; one who read her Bible regularly, and believed in the power of prayer; one who taught in the Sunday-school, and found pleasure in Church-going, and went in for good works. Julia might have a certain dread of over-much religious talk, yet that dread had gone down lately before the stronger desire to learn. After weeks of delay, she had come to Westford Hall, full of the thought, anxiously expectant of what she might gain from Hermione.

Then disappointment fell. For the first greeting was chill, the after-companionship was nought, the religions atmosphere was nowhere. This excellently good and devoted girl, from whom Julia had expected so much, was hardly more to her than a pensive and lovely shadow, coming and going indeed among them, but keeping aloof, living a life apart, seldom speaking needlessly, persistent in a gentle icy sorrow.

Julia's loneliness grew upon her as time went by. Harvey was very busy, riding about the place, looking into necessary matters which did not interest her at all, except in their connection with him. Mrs. Trevor largely undertook household arrangements, only requiring a nominal assent from Julia. Callers came, but Julia did not take to these new people; they were Hermione's friends, and too plainly pitied Hermione, whereas Julia counted herself the person most to be pitied. Position and wealth went for little in her estimation. She did crave often for a true friend, one who would sympathise and understand below the surface, not merely meet her politely and kindly above it; and though she resisted the craving as almost a wrong to her husband, it sprang up anew.

For there was no getting below the surface with him. He distinctly repelled any attempt on her part to do so, distinctly shrank from it. Julia became more and more aware of a certain something in him which she could not fathom. There was a locked door, and she might not glance through the door.

So weeks passed, and two lonely hearts walked side by side under the same roof—one a girl's, and one a wife's—never touching, for Hermione never guessed that the other needed her love.

Mittie ran wild these summer days, delighting in the country; yet not so wild as some thought, for a new influence had crept into her life, and already the plastic child-nature was responsive to the moulding touch of that influence. A governess was talked of, but Francesca said tranquilly, "No hurry; she might as well enjoy herself first;" and neither Francesca nor any one else at the Hall knew how the child haunted the Rectory. Even Hermione hardly realised it. Perhaps because she had not been herself to see the Fitzalans so often lately as usual.

She was a little shy of another tête-à-tête with Mr. Fitzalan. It was impossible to forget that he had been allowed an unwonted glimpse into her true self, and Hermione could hardly forgive herself for certain things she had said.

Harry Fitzalan was not much at Westford through his long vacation, not half so much as he wished to be. He had made other arrangements in the spring, and they could not now be broken through.

"You look uncommonly dismal this afternoon, my dear," Mrs. Trevor remarked to Julia one autumn day.

"Do I?" Julia had been yawning covertly behind a book. "I suppose there is nothing to be cheerful about."

"Because Harvey is out? You don't expect him to give up shooting, and sit at, home all day?"

Julia merely said, "No."

"Perhaps you will like to hear that I asked him this morning if we were to spend the rest of the year in rural captivity?"

"Did you?" Julia privately thought this question ought rather to have emanated from herself. "And he said—"

"Said he didn't know, of course. Harvey would not have been Harvey if he had made any other answer."

"He was talking of Scotland the other evening-only he seemed doubtful about Hermione."

Julia regretted her own words as soon as they were spoken. Mrs. Trevor rounded her eyes with horror.

"Scotch moors! After this! Very well for Harvey of course, out shooting all day—but imagine our condition! No, no, I had set my heart on Brighton."

"Harvey can't endure Brighton."

"My dear, a man will commonly like what he is told he likes. That is my experience. You leave it all to me, and I'll manage. We don't go to Scotland this autumn."

"But, Francesca, if Harvey and I wish to go—"

"You don't. Neither of you has any real wish that way. Imagine us three—you and Hermione and I—stranded in some dismal inn on a desolate moor, with nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to read, nothing to think about! We should quarrel all day for sheer lack of occupation. No, no—Brighton is the thing. Plenty going on there. We all are getting positively stupified with the lack of a little wholesome excitement. As for Hermione, nothing would do that girl more good than to be shaken out of her pet rut. She has nothing on earth to do now, except to pity herself; and to go gossiping round with the villagers. Mischief-making, in fact."

The door opened slightly and was shut again, nobody coming in.

"Francesca, do be careful. If that was Hermione, she must have heard."

"She will only have heard a home-truth for once. Do her no harm—that."

Francesca snapped her fingers lightly, with a little laugh not quite agreeable in sound.

Mrs. Trevor had a certain desire to "get hold of Hermione," as she tersely expressed it, to feel Hermione in her power, and she had not yet succeeded. Endeavour as she might, Hermione always slid gracefully away, and the effort failed.

"I don't want her to hear home-truths from us. Harvey would be vexed. He is always so anxious that we should make her happy."

"She doesn't make herself so, whatever we may do. I'll tell you what, Julia, if people profess to be religious, they ought, in sheer common sense, to recommend their religion by being civil and pleasant, to say the least. I've no patience with this sort of nonsense—setting up for being a saint, and making everybody wretched with her airs and tempers. And, what's more, I don't believe in it. If religion itself isn't humbug—and I have sense enough to know it is not—then Hermione is a humbug. That's the long and short of the matter, and I believe I shall end by telling her so one day."

A red spot rose to either cheek as Mrs. Trevor burst into these unwonted utterances.

Julia gazed with astonished eyes. "Why, Francesca!" she said.

"Oh, you don't know—you don't understand half. You never see what is before your eyes. I know exactly what it all means, and how we are looked upon here. It's a case of angelic sweetness oppressed by hardhearted relatives! Want of home-sympathy, and all the rest of it! I wonder how long you expect it to be before you get beyond a distant acquaintance with all the people round about?"

"But you don't suppose—"

"My dear, I suppose nothing. I know only that Hermione acts her part consistently and cleverly. She doesn't count it to be acting, of course. Nobody does, except my naughty self. It is genuine depression, broken-heartedness, et cetera."

"I wish you would not sneer at everything and everybody," Julia said, standing up. "I shall go for a walk."

She went alone, for Mrs. Trevor did not offer to accompany her. There had been a shower, and Mrs. Trevor objected to country mud.

A solitary ramble was not ill-suited to Julia's taste. She liked time for thought, and there was a good deal to think about just now in her life.

Francesca's words rankled considerably. Could there be truth in them? Was Hermione unreal?

A difficult question this for any outsider to answer with respect to another, difficult enough for Hermione herself. For with many people self-knowledge is very small in amount, and there are almost unlimited capabilities of self-deception. Reality and unreality are often strangely intermixed, and entire transparency is as rare as it is beautiful.







"MARJORY, you dear!" a soft voice said.

Julia had been for a good ramble, and was now on her way homeward, through the meadow which bounded the Rectory kitchen-garden. It was a low-lying meadow, sloping downward to the willow-fringed border of a small stream, and Julia went among the willows to the very edge, regardless of mud. She had on thick boots, and the trickle of water proved attractive. While standing there, bent forward in the attitude of observation, the lovingly-uttered words reached her from behind.

"Marjory, you dear!"

Julia straightened her back, and glanced round. She recognised Mittie's voice, of course, though the tender intonation was not usual.

Just beyond the willow-margin Mittie had taken up her position on a slight grassy rise, her ungloved hands clasped, her black eyes glowing, her rosy lips pouting as if in readiness for a kiss.

But as Julia turned Mittie's face fell.

"Oh, I thought it was Marjory! Aunt Julia, you'll go right into the water if you stay there. It's as slippery as anything."

So Julia found when she attempted to beat a retreat. The mud was in a half-dry slimy condition, not favourable to upward progress, and the child's prediction was very nearly fulfilled. Julia grasped at the willows, and had a struggle to reach firmer ground.

"What made you go down there, Aunt Julia? Marjory told me I mustn't never, if I was alone."

"I suppose I went because I was not under orders. What made you look so sorry to see me, Mittie?"

Children do not often mince matters, and the reply came unhesitatingly, "I wanted Marjory. She's such a dear."

"You ought to call her Miss Fitzalan."

"Marjory says I needn't."

"Well, it is getting late. You had better come home with me now."

"O no, I can't. I want to see my Marjory."

"But it is too damp for you here. I am sure your mother won't like it."

Julia said her say, and was about to go on, not in the least expecting compliance from the spoilt child. To her surprise a deep sigh sounded, and Mittie's hand stole into hers.

"Yes, I'll come. Though I do want most dreadfully to see my Marjory, but I promised I wouldn't be naughty."

Here was something new, certainly. Julia revolved the matter in her mind for some seconds, as they proceeded by the muddy footpath. Mittie's voice interrupted her cogitations.

"Don't you love Marjory, Aunt Julia?"

"I hardly know Miss Fitzalan," Julia answered.

"Well, I do. I love her, oh, ever so much. She is as good us can be, a great deal gooder than cousin Hermione, only Marjory won't let me say so, but I know it all the same. There's a funny old woman down in the village, and I went to see her with Marjory, and she calls cousin Hermione an angel. Isn't that funny? O yes, and so does old Sutton. He says cousin Hermione only wants wings. I did laugh so; I couldn't help laughing, though Marjory made a face at me to stop. It was so funny to think of cousin Hermione having wings; but I think Marjory is a great deal more like an angel than cousin Hermione, because you know she is so kind to everybody, and cousin Hermione isn't kind to everybody. She isn't kind to you, nor mother, nor me. I don't mean that she's 'xactly unkind, you know, but she makes up a sort of proper face, like that—" Mittie pursed her lips together and stared solemnly ahead for two seconds, "and she won't smile nor have any fun. When she speaks to the servants or anybody that's poor she smiles as pretty as can be, but not to us, Aunt Julia."

"Little girls must not make remarks on grown-up people," Julia replied, somewhat startled by the amount of infantine penetration.

Mittie looked thoughtful. Was she impressed by the rebuke?

"Aunt Julia," came at length, with portentous seriousness, "should you think the angels haven't never any fun?"

"Really, Mittie—"

"Well, I asked Marjory one day, 'cause I wanted to know. And Marjory said there was lots in the Bible about singing, and laughing, and being merry—only she said it has got to be the right sort. I suppose cousin Hermione hasn't learnt the right sort. I think she's dull, and Marjory says the angels are never dull. Marjory is dull sometimes, when her back aches so; but I do think she's a great great deal more like the angels than cousin Hermione. She's always so good and dear, and she never grumbles, and she does such lots for everybody, and she loves me, and I love her—heaps!"

Then, after a long pause—

"And Marjory is going to teach me how to be good too."

Julia's clasp tightened round the small fingers.

"How is she going to teach you, Mittie?"

"I don't know." Another pause. "I think Marjory is different from everybody. Don't you?"

"Different in what way?"

"Why—it makes her so sorry when she's done wrong, 'cause she can't bear to do what makes God sorry. Aunt Julia, I don't mean never to do wrong again. And that is why I'm coming home now, when you tell me."

"I am sure you will be a much happier little girl if you always do what is right," Julia said sedately, not prepared for the prompt return-question—

"Are you happy, Aunt Julia?"

Julia's heart throbbed in quick response. She could not say "Yes," and she would not say "No."

"What makes you ask?"

"'Cause you don't look as if you was—so very?"

"Perhaps I am not," Julia admitted. "But you mustn't repeat that to anybody."

"Not to my Marjory?"

"No, certainly not."

Mittie pressed her little self closer to Julia's side in affectionate wise. "I do love you to-day,—ever so much. And I know quite well why you're not happy. It isn't because you're naughty. You're good."

"No; not good. No; I wish I were."

"Then, Aunt Julia, if you aren't good, why don't you tell Jesus?"

The childish question, falling reverently from those rosy lips, dropped like dew of heaven upon the arid plain of Julia's heart. She said nothing for two or three seconds, only turned the words over in her mind. But a counter-query rose, and she spoke it out, "If I did—what then?"

"Why, Aunt Julia! Don't you know that everybody who came to Him was always healed? Marjory says so."

Julia offered no response. They walked through the village in silence which was broken only by an occasional remark from Mittie, scarcely heard. "Tell Jesus—why don't you tell Jesus?" sounded in Julia's ears like some exquisite refrain, and she would have liked to ask, "Why should I? Would He care to hear?" —but the utmost she could resolve to say was, after they had entered the Hall grounds, "Sometimes you can talk to me about what you learn from Miss Fitzalan."

"Oh, may I? Yes, I'll talk lots. Marjory won't mind."

"Marjory need not know. I don't want you to be chattering about me to her—making her think that I am not happy," Julia said, with questionable prudence, considering the age of her little companion. "Mittie, what did you mean just now by saying that you knew quite well why—"

Julia hesitated how to express herself, but Mittie caught up the sentence with cheerful promptitude.

"Oh, I only meant, Aunt Julia, that when you're not happy it's because of Uncle Harvey being such a naughty man."

"Nonsense, Mittie! What are you thinking about?" cried Julia, indignant at the suggestion.

"I know! Old Sutton told me yesterday."

"Told you what?"

"About Uncle Harvey. He's got all cousin Hermione's money, and it is very wicked of him." Julia was for the moment voiceless, and Mittie proceeded calmly, "Old Sutton says cousin Hermione bears it like an angel, and everybody is so very sorry for her, and nobody likes Uncle Harvey. And I don't like him neither, not near so much as I did, and I think I won't let him kiss me so often."

"Mittie! for shame! You don't know what you are saying!" Julia panted rather than said. She could almost have shaken the child, yet she restrained herself, not even setting free the little hand which she held. Mittie was unaware of her wrath.

"But old Sutton told me, Aunt Julia, and he knows. Don't it make you sorry, Uncle Harvey behaving like that?"

"Mittie, listen to me!" Julia turned upon the child a livid face, spotted with red. She could hardly hold in her passion. "Listen to me! You are never never to say such things about your uncle—never! They are false and cruel. Sutton has been talking wicked untruths. He must be a very bad old man. Uncle Harvey is a dear good uncle to you, and I wonder you are not ashamed to listen to anything against him. The money is his rightly—not Hermione's. It never was or could be Hermione's. The estate was entailed; which of course you can't understand; but it means that Hermione has no sort of right to the place. Your uncle gives her a home, and he is not obliged to do even that—it is all kindness. Will you remember what I am saying?"

Mittie might be in no danger of forgetting, but perhaps she was not fully convinced.

"Sutton said he knew quite well," she murmured.

"If Sutton puts such notions into your head, we shall have to forbid you ever to talk to him. I am sure Miss Fitzalan would not be pleased. Did she hear all this?"

Mittie shook her head.

"I haven't seen my Marjory since Sutton told me. But Marjory does love cousin Hermione, oh so dearly, and she is so dreadfully sorry for her."

"Hermione has lost her grandfather, and of course everybody is sorry. But this about her money is all nonsense. Mind, Mittie, you are not to talk so again."

Mittie seemed to acquiesce in a childish fashion, and on entering the house she ran away. Julia could not resolve to enter the drawing-room at once. She was scared and angry still with the shock of that accusation. It was unendurable that people in the place should be saying such things of her husband. And if the notion were widely spread, how was it to be met? Shutting Mittie's lips would not shut the lips of other people.

Ten minutes later she stole down to the library, believing that Harvey would be there, and her belief proved correct. A small lamp, lighted, stood on the escritoire, and Harvey sat before it, writing letters. Papers strewn carelessly about spoke of a less orderly nature in the present than in the past owner of Westford. As Julia went in he glanced up with a smile, his usual greeting, and then perhaps he noticed something in her face not ordinary, for he asked at once, "Anything gone wrong?"

"I don't know whether I ought to tell you."

"Nonsense. Tell me, of course. Francesca, to wit? Or is it Mittie?"

Julia sat down, just beyond the corner of the escritoire, looking straight at him across it.

"Not Francesca, but Mittie," she said. "I don't mean that Mittie is to blame. She is allowed to chatter with everybody. Only think of the old gardener at the Rectory talking to that child about us—about you—"

"He is welcome!" Harvey said carelessly, as his wife hesitated. The thought of Hermione was not at all in his mind just then.

"You have not heard yet. Talking about Hermione, and actually telling Mittie that you had taken possession of the money which ought to belong to Hermione."

Julia stopped, staring at her husband with wide-open eyes. She had never seen him wear exactly such an expression before as he wore now. The words were evidently startling and unexpected. His face hardened, each feature partaking of a general rigidity, and his colour distinctly lessened.







HARVEY seemed to be conscious of something in his own look which he could not quite control. He pushed the lamp aside with a hasty gesture, and raised one hand to his forehead, placing it as a half shield between himself and his wife, but he did not speak.

For one moment a feeling of horror had possession of Julia. It meant— what could it mean? The unwonted paleness, the stiffened features, the averted eyes, spoke to her of guilt, and of conscious guilt. But—what guilt? How utterly absurd! Julia rallied instantly, wroth with herself for the very idea. He was grieved, of course, with the accusation, even as she had been. How could she expect him not to be distressed at such things being said? Tears rushed to her eyes.

"Poor Harvey! It is horrid, I know. I wish now that I had not told you."

Harvey stood up. "There are letters ready for the post," he said in a curious curt voice, and he carried them himself into the hall, though it was not yet post-time, and Slade always came to the library at the last moment. When Harvey returned he seemed more like himself, as he remarked carelessly, "Quite right to tell me! But, after all, people will gossip. The less notice taken the better, sometimes."

"I did not think you would mind so much; I thought you would tell me I was foolish to care."

"Do I mind? Well—perhaps it is rather an unpleasant notion, at first sight. Besides, I have been seedy all day, to begin with. Westford does not seem to suit me, and I believe I am getting tired of this sort of life."

"Are you?" she said, with regret. He was standing a few paces off from the escritoire, his face in shade, so that she could not see it well. She came close, which was not what he wanted, and looked up anxiously. "I am sorry you are not well. If I had guessed, would not have bothered you."

"There is nothing much wrong. Perhaps I need change, and Francesca advises Brighton." He would have turned away, but Julia's hand was upon his arm.

"Does it hurt you to talk? I am so miserable about what that child said. Of course it doesn't really matter—at least, I suppose not—but I hate to have you accused of such a thing. Can't you take any steps to meet the gossip?"

"I! No. What can be said, except that Hermione has no right to anything not left her by her grandfather?"

"I wish he had left something; people would not talk so, then. It was odd that he did not. Still, I don't see why you are to be blamed. It was not your doing. If Hermione would only explain to the people here—"

"No! Let it alone, pray, Julia!" Harvey spoke sharply, for once even roughly. "The less said the better, I tell you. Pray don't meddle."

Julia scrutinised him in wonder, rather hurt. "Of course I will not speak to Hermione without your leave," she said. "But do you suppose that Mr. Dalrymple did not intend to leave her something—if he had lived a little longer?"

Harvey's look grew hard again. "Possibly," he said.

"If he did—!" Julia's black eyes, soft now as Mittie's, were bent upon him, and her second hand came with the first, holding his arm captive. "If Mr. Dalrymple did intend, and we knew it, should we not be bound to give to Hermione what he had meant her to have?"

"Certainly not."

"Are you sure?"

A red flush had come to Harvey's forehead—not a smooth brow now, but lined and ratted. The flush spread slowly.

"I see no particular object in such suppositions."

"No, for of course we do not know that he meant anything of the kind. Only perhaps the people about here fancy that it is so. I could not understand at first what old Sutton meant, but it may be that. What do you think?"

He shrugged his shoulders slightly. It was an occasional gesture with him, the only un-English result of long residence abroad.

"Old Sutton's opinion is of small importance."

Julia was silent, not satisfied.

"Well, is that all you want?" he asked.

"No; may I say more? You won't be vexed, will you? I am not business-like, I know, but it does sometimes seem to me as if things were not right. About Hermione, I mean. It seems as if she ought to have something more of her own. I can't help the feeling; though of course I would not allow it to any one in the world except you."

"I hope not!" escaped her husband.

"No, of course; but still I have the feeling. I know that you are not in any way bound. As I told Mittie, it is sheer kindness that makes you give Hermione a home at all. Still I can't help fancying that she really had reason to expect more from her grandfather, and that she must be disappointed. And then there comes the question—if he didn't do his duty, ought we not to do it for him? I suppose different people would look upon it differently. But there must be a right and a wrong. It isn't only a question of what one is obliged to do, but of what one ought to do? Don't you see what I mean?"

"You certainly are suffering from some confusion of ideas, Julia," her husband said. He was collected now, and able to speak in his usual manner. "But, as you say, you are not business-like. When women touch upon money matters they are apt to go astray."

"Yes, on the mere business part of it. I don't think this is mere business. It is a question of actual right and wrong."

"If any wrong was done to Hermione, my uncle was responsible."

"But you stand in his place now," Julia said slowly.

"That is different. Hermione was his grandchild. She is merely my second cousin, with no particular claims upon me. Except that I have promised to act the part of a brother to her, so far as she will permit."

"And you do not really know that Mr. Dalrymple ever intended to do more for Hermione?"

The question was very direct, but it had no answer. Harvey moved away to the table, and turned the lamp a little lower.

"My dear, if you have nothing more to say, I should be glad to get my letters done."

"Am I keeping you too long? Oh, I am sorry. I'll go at once."

She kept her word, losing sight of his non-response, and her last glimpse was of her husband sitting down to the escritoire once more.

But he did not remain there, and the letters which he had pleaded were not written. When the door closed behind her, he pushed pen and paper aside, and went to an armchair. The subject they had been discussing insisted upon attention. He could not give his mind to letters.

This "fretting ghost" of Hermione's claims, laid to sleep during many weeks, sprang up in new strength; and the brief letter of the dead man to his lawyer, read only once by Harvey, but never to be forgotten, confronted him anew.

"I have resolved to settle the sum of twenty thousand pounds upon my grandchild, Hermione, at once!"

Yes, that was it. Twenty thousand pounds! Of which Hermione possessed not one penny.

"Actually telling Mittie that you had taken possession of the money which ought to belong to Hermione!" This indignant utterance of Julia's recurred next. But, of course, it was absurd. No "ought" existed, so Harvey told himself, and it was no case of "taking possession." What he held was his own, lawfully his own. While Mr. Dalrymple lived, Mr. Dalrymple had the right to will what he chose to Hermione, apart from the entailed land. Now Harvey had the right to keep or give away, as he chose.

Yet still—

"It is a question of actual right and wrong," Julia had said.

Stuff and nonsense! It was a question of law. Women knew nothing about business. Absurd of Julia to meddle in such matters. Besides, even if it were a question of right and wrong, how could that alter the case?

"You do not know that Mr. Dalrymple ever intended to do more for Hermione?" Julia's voice seemed to ask anew.

Yes, of course he did know, but he was not going to inform Julia. Mr. Dalrymple's wishes did not restrain him. He was entirely free. He was most willing to give a home to Hermione, and some day the question of a marriage portion might come up. He fully meant to act an elder brother's part, consistently with the extent of his means and the requirements of the estate. But twenty thousand pounds! The idea was simply ridiculous.

"My poor old uncle must have been in his dotage," Harvey muttered, rousing himself from a dream, which had lasted much longer than he supposed.

"Did you speak?" The door was opening, and Julia came in. "It is post-time."


"Yes; I told Slade I would ask if you had any more letters ready."

"No, I have not."

She looked surprised.

"Slade will go in five minutes. Is there anything important that you can finish in a hurry?"

"No, to-morrow must do. The fact is, I am not in writing mood," Harvey added, with a little laugh.

Julia went outside to speak to Slade, then returned to her husband.

"I have been all this time in my room," she said, and she came to stand by his side as before, looking down earnestly. He had not left the easy-chair. "I have been thinking a great deal. May I tell you what about? I was so puzzled, so worried before. I could not see what was right. May I tell you what I have been thinking?"

"Well?" Harvey had much ado not to speak crossly.

"Something that little Mittie said has helped me. I don't mean that about old Sutton, but something else. Don't you think that if we—" Julia hesitated, flushing— "if we pray to be shown what is right, we shall learn it in time?"

No answer came, and Harvey did not return her gaze. He merely looked down, and seemed to wait for more. She went on, in a low happy voice—

"The thought is such a comfort to me; more of a comfort than I can tell you. It seems to open out a fresh life—a kind of vista—do you see what I mean? I am afraid I can't explain. But I have been feeling lately that I know so little—and this is like a gleam of light—a way in which one may be taught. At least, I mean to try. Don't you think that if one does honestly want to do the right thing, and if one prays to be shown, there will be an answer? I have had my Bible upstairs, reading parts here and there. I moat begin to read it more regularly now. And I could not help noticing one particular text I learnt the words by heart to say to you. They are just this, 'What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?' Isn't that extraordinary? I never was so struck with anything in the Bible before. Don't you think that is what we have to do about Hermione—to do justly?"

Harvey moved in his seat, with a bored, not to say irritated, expression.

"Anything more?" he demanded.

"But you do agree with me?"

"Certainly. I am sorry you count me capable of injustice towards anybody."

"Oh, I did not mean—Pray don't misunderstand me! You don't mind my having said so much, do you? I thought I might, for once."

"You are at liberty to say what you choose, of course. I should not be sorry if I might, for once, have half-an-hour's peace."

"Harvey!" and tears rushed to her eyes. "Half-an-hour, after—"

"Yes, of course," he broke in. "But I should like a little longer. I beg your pardon for being unsociable," and there was a touch of apology in his manner. "I really have a wretched headache to-day, and this sort of discussion doesn't improve matters."

"Have you? Oh, I am sorry. Why didn't you tell me sooner? I'll leave you directly—only just one word," and her chest heaved. "You are not really vexed with me, are you?"

"There's nothing to be vexed about. Except that I don't wish to see my wife transposed into a feeble imitation of Hermione. As I once told you, I do not admire her style. All I beg is that you don't discuss these questions with anybody except myself."

Julia had had a complete douche. She murmured a promise of compliance, and stole away.







"So it is to be East Bourne, not Brighton," Francesca remarked, entering the drawing-room.

More than a week had passed since Julia's talk with her husband about Hermione—a talk not since renewed. Julia had not ventured to bring up the subject afresh, and Harvey never alluded to it. She was conscious, indeed, of a tendency on his part to avoid têtes-à-tête, and to shirk opportunities for conversation.

Mrs. Trevor's announcement brought startled eyes in her direction, alike from Julia reading in one window, and from Hermione writing letters in another. Mittie, playing with a kitten on the floor, showed interest rather than surprise.

"I should have preferred Brighton, for my part, simply because it is bigger, and I have friends there. Besides, the height of the season will be over in East Bourne, and at Brighton everybody would be coming down from Town. However, I don't much care. Anything for change."

"Are we going to East Bourne, mother? Where is East Bourne?" demanded Mittie's small voice.

"In Sussex, of course, child. Yes, we are going next week."

"Harvey has not told me," Julia observed, in a tone which brought the quick response—

"You needn't be jealous, my dear. He would not have told me if I had not dragged it out of him. I am not sure that he knew it himself half-an-hour ago."

Julia could well believe this.

"He said he was not going to be hauled to Brighton, for he detested the place—a great overgrown imitation of London. And I said I was not going to be hauled to Scotland, to die of ennui on the moors. So we adopted East Bourne between us as a compromise. I believe he was glad at last to consent to any thing to get rid of me. Once away, he'll not be in a hurry to come back. I shouldn't wonder if East Bourne were a stepping-stone to Paris. He is not looking well, and I told him so, and he allowed that he might be the better for a bout of sea air. So we are to write and ask about lodgings—on the Esplanade, of course. I shall be glad enough to be out of this depressing atmosphere. There's certainly something in Westford which affects one's general organisation. My complexion is growing positively yellow, and everybody looks dismal."

"Westford is counted particularly healthy," Hermione said, laying down her pen, and facing the trio.

"Places often gain false characters. It doesn't suit me."

Mrs. Trevor's patronising air of superior information was secretly exasperating to Hermione, just as Hermione's distant dignity annoyed Mrs. Trevor. Generally Hermione held studiously back from aught in the shape of argument, refusing to put herself into Mrs. Trevor's power; and this had gone on so long that she counted her own composure inviolable, and did not fear being upset. But now, for once, she was taken by surprise, shaken out of her usual line of action. The idea of leaving Westford was altogether new to her, and she could not at once resolve how to meet it. To a girl of her age, who had seen so little of the world, the prospect of a change might have come pleasantly, but all the pride of her nature rose up in arms against the manner of the announcement. Why were not her wishes to be consulted as well as Mrs. Trevor's wishes? Was it to be taken for granted that she would calmly acquiesce in whatever was arranged, without a desire or a voice in the matter? She would not condescend to ask what was meant or expected, but resentment flushed her fair cheek, and lent sharpness to the tone of her retort.

"A stranger's opinion can be worth little. Those who have lived in Westford for years know better."

"One may become acclimatised, no doubt," Mrs. Trevor answered carelessly, depositing herself and her draperies in an easy-chair. "But I should be sorry to go through the years of previous misery."

"Is East Bourne healthy, mother?" asked Mittie.

"Splendid air, Mittie. As different from this as can be imagined."

"And will cousin Hermione come with us?"

The opportunity of giving that proud girl a set-down was irresistible. "Of course," Francesca answered decisively. "This house is to be shut up, and left in charge of Milton. We shall all go."

"I beg your pardon. I shall not!"

Julia looked frightened, for the suppressed voice spoke of no ordinary passion. Hermione stood upright, her blue eyes blazing with anger, her face crimson. Not one of the three had seen her thus before.

Mrs. Trevor laughed. "Oh! You will stay with the Fitzalans, I suppose."

"That will be as I choose to decide. Your advice will not be asked."

Mrs. Trevor was not easily disconcerted, and to be conscious of power over Hermione was what she had long desired. She showed no annoyance at the very haughty utterance, but lifted her light eyebrows with a half-droll, half-contemptuous air.

"Really? Well, advice is a cheap commodity. But I don't know what I can have said to rouse so much ire! Do you, Julia?"

"Francesca, do be quiet—don't go on, pray!" implored Julia, in a undertone.

"Not go on with what? My dear, I shall begin to think you are both a little demented. Effect of Westford air, perhaps. I merely made known Harvey's decision. If anybody has a right to be vexed, it is yourself; for not having been told first. As for Hermione and me—why, we merely have to obey orders. If Harvey settles to go to East Bourne, I supposed it to be a matter of course that we should go too."

Hermione was endeavouring in a hasty fashion to put her papers into the writing-case, but her hands shook so violently that the attempt was a failure. She let them drop, and turned again to Francesca, her eyes wide-open and blazing still, while her cheeks, brow, and ears were one uniform burning red. As she stood rigidly erect, a kind of convulsion of passion seemed to pass again and again through the slight figure, and her voice had grown hoarse and rapid. Those who had known Hermione in childhood would have recognised at once a recurrence of the ungovernable childish temper, but such an outbreak had not been seen for years, and her present companions could hardly believe their own eyes, so astonishing was the change in the fair graceful girl they had known thus far. Julia and Mittie stared, aghast, and even Mrs. Trevor felt uncomfortable.



"I will not be managed by you as if I were a mere child."


"You know that it is not so!" Hermione said. "You know that you have the settling of everything—not Harvey or Julia. They have the right, but you have not. If they choose to submit to your dictation, they can do so; but I will not. It is unbearable. I am made a mere cipher in the house—treated as nobody—while you—Yes, you may toss your head and look scornful, but it is true, and you know it! your one wish is to trample on me—to make me feel myself a dependent! And you shall not succeed. If I had my rights, things would be very different; and you know that too. I will not be managed by you as if I were a mere child. Say what you will, I do not care. I will not go to East Bourne."

"If you please, ma'am—" implored Slade at the door, in great distress. He had spoken three times, vainly seeking to win the attention of the listeners to this unexpected tirade. There were other listeners also. Behind Slade, in the open doorway, full spectators of the scene, stood Mr. Fitzalan and Harry together—Mr. Fitzalan wearing a look of most sorrowful gravity, while Harry was actually white to the lips. "This— Hermione!!" seemed written on every line of his face. Slade was almost as crimson as Hermione herself, with his grief and shame for her.

"If you please, ma'am—"

"Oh, it is Mr. Fitzalan!" Julia murmured, with a nervous start, and she stood up to receive her guests.

Hermione looked at no one. Even then a dim consciousness of how her words must have sounded to others did exist; but passion had too complete a mastery to allow of any resumption of her usual manner. Without a word to her friends she rushed rather than walked from the room.

But for Mrs. Trevor's presence, it may be doubted whether anybody would have spoken during the first two minutes. Hands were shaken and seats were found, an oppression of embarrassment overpowering them all. Julia had a scared look, Mr. Fitzalan was lost in thought, and Harry seemed to be dazed. Mrs. Trevor threw herself into the breach, rallying first, and bent upon smoothing things down. It would not do to ignore what the Fitzalans had overheard. Her aim should be to soften the impression made.

"You have come at rather an unfortunate moment," she said pleasantly to Mr. Fitzalan. "Hermione is not often so excited—indeed, I may say that I have never seen her so before. It is quite a new experience," and Francesca sighed. "We were discussing plans, and some little remark of mine gave her pain, I am afraid. She is rather too sensitive, poor girl—natural, no doubt! Her position is a trying one, of course, do what one will to lighten it; and she has seen very little of life, so she is disposed to magnify small troubles."

Mr. Fitzalan bent his head in answer. He showed himself in no hurry to offer an opinion.

"My brother-in-law has just decided on a move to East Bourne for a few weeks, and the idea is unpleasant to Hermione. I do, not know why, for East Bourne is a particularly charming place. No doubt the change will do her good, if she can make up her mind to it."

Julia broke in at this point, colouring distressfully. "I am not sure whether my husband is at home just now, if you wish to see him—but perhaps—"

"No; we met him on our way here. Harry is leaving to-morrow, and we came for a good-bye word with Hermione."

"Yes. So very unfortunate," Mrs. Trevor observed blandly. "But perhaps she will come down presently. A girlish tiff of this sort doesn't usually last long. Hermione is a charming girl, but singularly young for her years."

"I don't think we can wait," Harry said gruffly. "Marjory is expecting us—" and he looked at his father.

"Hermione must come to the Rectory instead," Mr. Fitzalan observed, though privately he felt sure that Hermione would not come until after his son's departure. He called Mittie to his side, and talked about the kitten, with his arm round the child; but even Mittie seemed bewildered, not able to respond as usual; and after paying as short a call as possible, the two gentlemen took their leave.

Francesca threw herself back, with a singular expression, as the door closed behind them.

"Well, I don't envy that girl's sensations. To make such a complete exposé of herself! The saintliness is for once at fault!"

Mittie stood near, gazing with eyes full of wonder. "What was cousin Hermione so dreadfully angry about?"

"Nothing on earth, but because she can't have the management of everything in her own hands. Cousin Hermione is a spoilt child, and that's the beginning and end of the matter. More shame to those who spoilt her!" added Mrs. Trevor, with a virtuous air peculiar to those who are condemning in another their own faults.

"My Marjory says cousin Hermione is so truly good. And old Sutton calls her an angel."

Mrs. Trevor's laugh had a sound of contempt. "It's an uncommonly angelic temper. I doubt if your Marjory's brother will be of her opinion after to-day. He didn't appear to be delighted."

"Francesca, there's no need to talk so to the child," Julia said, in a pained voice. "Things are bad enough already. Why must you make them worse? If I were in Hermione's place, I should be miserable."

Francesca sauntered out of the room, humming a tone to herself, and Mittie remarked in childish imitation, "I should think cousin Hermione must be miserable."







HERMIONE was miserable. She had scarcely reached her own room, when the tide of shame and unhappiness rushed over her, swamping even wrath for the moment.

She knew how she had fallen, knew how she had disgraced herself, knew how this petty ebullition of temper must have lowered her in the eyes of all who witnessed it,—Francesca, Julia, Mittie, Mr. Fitzalan, Harry, even Slade. Hermione went over the names, not refusing to look the truth in the face. A bitter truth it was. She who so prided herself on calm repose of manner and control of temper—she to have been betrayed into a childish outburst of fury. Hermione could not understand how it had come about, how in one instant her shield of composure had given way. The thing seemed incredible, after all these years of self-command.

A very agony of shame overpowered Hermione—shame at having so lowered herself. That was the real grief; the unbearable pain. Her sorrow was for her own disgrace. She despised herself for the fall, and she hated Francesca for being the cause of her fall. As she sat by the bed, her face buried in the pillow, her hands clutching the counterpane, no softer regrets mingled with the bitter shame and anger.

For once she gave full rein to passionate tears. What did it matter? Everybody knew. The very servants in the kitchen, down to the little scullery-maid, all would hear.

No; Hermione wronged the faithful heart of Slade in thinking this. Gossip enough goes on ordinarily in kitchen regions; but Slade was no ordinary servant. Not for worlds would he have breathed to another what should bring discredit on his beloved Miss Rivers. Even Milton heard nothing from him.

As Hermione wept on, the thought of her grandfather came up, dear old Mr. Dalrymple, kind and courteous to everybody, and always loving to "his child." Oh, the difference of those days and these! Hermione sobbed afresh, with a stricture of loneliness at her heart. And then the resentful question arose, "Why, why had he left her so, left her in the power of these people? Things might have been so different. Had he really loved her as he seemed to do?"

A tapping at the door aroused Hermione. In one moment she sprang up, tears ceasing. What business had any one to interrupt her? To come and spy out her wretchedness?

The tapping paused, and soon recommenced. Hermione could not at once respond. She pulled straight the disturbed bed-clothes, and walked to the looking-glass. It was getting dark, still she could see how blistered and reddened her face was. She smoothed her hair, and deliberately lowered the blinds to make the room still darker. After which she unlocked the door, and opened it a few inches, keeping a firm hold upon the handle.

Julia stood there, pale and troubled, evidently nervous also.

"Won't you let me come in?" was faltered.

"I would rather be alone, thanks," Hermione answered icily.

"Harvey wished—he is so annoyed—"

Hermione stood silent.

"If you don't mind—if I might say just a few words," pleaded poor Julia, really to be pitied, for she was almost equally afraid of her husband's displeasure on one side and Hermione's anger on the other, not to speak of Francesca's sneers.

"Well?" Hermione answered.

"May I come in? I don't like to talk outside, for fear of being overheard."

Hermione yielded so far as to retreat three or four steps, carefully keeping her back to the light. Julia entered, shutting the door.

"I wanted so much to say to you—Harvey and I hope you will not mind Francesca. It is her way to say sharp things, but nobody thinks anything of it. She has always done so. Harvey is excessively annoyed. He says he hopes you will come with us to Eastbourne, of course; but she ought not to have said what she did."

Julia's apologies might have had more effect, but for Hermione's smarting consciousness of her own miserable failure.

"I do not see that there was any need to discuss the question with Harvey. I must decide for myself."

"Yes, of course—I did not mean to discuss it, indeed. Only I knew Francesca would talk, and I thought it might be kindest to tell him myself first."


The manner was absolutely repellent. Julia shrank under it. Her mission seemed a non-success thus far, but she would not at once give up hope.

"I meant it kindly, indeed. Won't you believe so much? I can't understand how it is that you seem to think all of us are against you." Julia hesitated, and having no response, she went on earnestly, "I would do anything to persuade you that we really want to make you happy. It has been such a disappointment to me. Before I came I used to fancy that you and I would be like sisters, doing things together. Francesca was always so much older than me, more like a governess than a sister. I thought you would be a friend; and I thought I should learn so much from you, because I was told how good you were."

Was this said maliciously? Like lightning the query flashed through Hermione's mind, and like lightning a negative was supplied by Julia's troubled unconscious face. Then came the thought, hitherto crushed into the background, how grievously she had dishonoured her "good" profession, how unfaithful a "soldier and servant" she had shown herself. Hermione well knew what should have been her next step. Self-humiliation alone, with frank acknowledgment of having done wrong, might tend to undo ill results, side by side with secret confession and prayer for pardon. But alas, pride rose stiffly in the way. Hermione only stood still, listening.

"There are things I want to know—I don't mind saying so much to you. I have wanted it for a long time, and there seems no way of learning. Things which I have never been taught, and which, I suppose, you have always known—since you were a child, I mean. People are brought up so differently. I did hope when I was coming here that you might help me. But it always seems as if you only wanted to keep aloof, and did not care to speak to me. Don't you think things might be a little different?"

Was this actually Julia—the worldly irreligious Julia!—venturing to imply that Hermione had been in the wrong—venturing to suggest what Hermione ought to do? True, the suggestion was made humbly, and Julia's eyes were full of tears as she spoke. But Hermione did not love to have her duty pointed out even by her clergyman—much less was she likely to tolerate it from Julia. Conscience was speaking loudly, imperatively, within, yet Hermione drew up her head, answering in cold tones—

"I do not see what difference I could make."

"Is there anything I could do differently so as to please you? I would try, indeed I would, if I only knew how!"

Again there was a sound of tacit blame, not intended by the speaker, and Hermione chafed beneath it.

"If you would only believe me! I do so want to have things smooth and pleasant, not to have Harvey worried."

Hermione turned half away. "Harvey must take the consequences of introducing such a person as Mrs. Trevor into the house!"

"My sister!" Julia said only these two words.

"She is not mine!" Hermione replied, resisting an impulse to apologise.

"No; but—" Julia hesitated, having said almost as much as she dared. "Hermione, won't you try to forget all this of to-day? Won't you kiss me, and let me be your sister?"

The kiss was rather accepted than given. Julia sighed, with a baffled feeling that she had done her utmost and had failed.

"It is so cold up here. Are you not coming down soon?"

"Not till dinner-time."

Julia left the room without another word, and half-way downstairs, as she passed a little alcove on a landing filled with plants, Mittie seized upon her.

"Aunt Julia! Aunt Julia! come in here! Mother's in the drawing-room, and I want to speak to you first. Have you been to cousin Hermione?"

Julia had not meant the fact to become known. Being a bad hand at fencing, however, she said, "Yes," and submitted to be dragged into the retreat.

"Is cousin Hermione angry still? Or is she miserable?"

"I dare say she is not very cheerful; but that is not your business, Mittie?"

"But I want to know." Mittie twined an arm round Julia's as she spoke. "Because my Marjory says that if we do love God, Aunt Julia, we must be awfully unhappy to make Him sorry. And cousin Hermione was in a dreadful temper, wasn't she? So she ought to be miserable."

"People are unhappy in different ways," Julia answered judiciously. "When were you in a temper last?"

"Oh, not for a whole week. And I don't mean to be, never again!"

"But everybody does wrong sometimes."

Mittie shook her head. "Nobody oughtn't," she said. "And when they do, they've got to be awfully sorry, and go and tell Jesus, and try harder."

"Yes; that must be right," said Julia, with a sudden wonder in her heart—why had not she tried this plan?

There was sufficient light for her to see the upturned face of the child, with its surrounding cloud of flaxen hair.

"Mittie, how do you know enough about—about Him—to be able to love Him?"

"Why, Aunt Julia! You love Him!"

Julia made no reply.

"I know quite well you do, 'cause you've been ever so much nicer lately. And that's why. I expect—" and Mittie paused thoughtfully. "I expect cousin Hermione doesn't love Him much to-day, else she wouldn't have got into such a rage."

"I don't think you had better talk about Hermione. We have to do right ourselves, not to discuss other people."

"That's just exactly what my Marjory says," Mittie answered, in a tone of profound satisfaction, as she clasped both arms round Julia's waist. "Aunt Julia, I love you heaps more than I used. I told my Marjory so, and I said I wished you'd come and hear her talk. And she said you was too old."

"Too old!"

"Yes; you're as old as she is, and you don't want to be taught. My Marjory said you was old enough to read your own Bible, and to listen to everything in Church. And she said God's teaching was the best. I do try now to listen in Church as much as ever I can, only I s'pose I'm too little to understand it all. There's some hard words, you know. But I always know what it means when His name comes in, and it does come in so very often. That's nice, isn't it? And I s'pose by-and-by, when I go to Church, God will teach me; but now, you know, Marjory teaches me."

Julia would have wished to hear more of the simple prattle. Somehow, it seemed to help her. Through the infantine words she caught glimpses of truths hitherto veiled from her eyes.

Old enough to read her Bible, and to listen to everything in Church. That suggestion would remain, Julia had read her Bible regularly of late, but the reading had been formal, mechanical, superficial— a thing that had to be done because it was right, not an earnest searching to find out the mind and will of God. She had gone to Church regularly, often of late twice instead of once on Sunday, but the going had been from a sense of duty, not to join in heartfelt worship, in prayer, in praise, and not with thirsty craving for instruction. At least, if the thirsty craving had been there, she had not looked to have it satisfied. Something of this dawned upon Julia as the child spoke. But no more could be said, for Mrs. Trevor's voice sounded in raised tones—

"Julia! Where are you? What are you doing?"

"I am here," Julia answered, coming out of the alcove, and descending the lower flight. Mittie remained behind. Mrs. Trevor retreated before Julia into the drawing-room.

"Where have you been? You might have remembered that I should be alone all this time? Except when Harvey appeared, which was worse on the whole than solitude. What made you go and tell him all about that scene? He is in a nice state of mind!"

"I thought he ought to know."

"Another time it is to be hoped you will think differently. I never heard such nonsense. As if a man could understand! I only hope for my part that Hermione will not come with us to Eastbourne. I am perfectly sick of that girl's airs. Have you seen her yet?"

Julia again said, "Yes."


"In her room."

"You went there! I declare you are more courageous than I should have supposed! Well—what manner of reception had you?"

"She has not got over it yet."

"Of course not. And won't for another week. That's her style of saintliness, my dear."

"Whatever is wrong, it is not Hermione's religion that is in fault. It is herself!" Julia answered.

Mrs. Trevor was so astonished with the unexpected utterance, that she stared at Julia, and made no further remark for full two minutes.







HARRY FITZALAN walked home by his father's side in absolute silence, and Mr. Fitzalan was too wise to break it. On reaching the Rectory they separated, still without a word as to what they had witnessed.

"Poor boy!" the Rector murmured audibly in his own study, thinking of the dazed look in those grey eyes, and the troubled set of the lips.

He said nothing to Marjory when she presently came in. It was not Mr. Fitzalan's way to speak of another's wrong-doing unless there were a needs-be: and there could be no doubt that Harry exchanged no confidences with his sister. Marjory's unconscious talk about Hermione in the evening showed this conclusively.

It was not till the afternoon of the following day that Harry would leave. He was very restless and irritable meantime. Since he "had not seen much" of Hermione the previous day—for he confessed to this— Marjory suggested going with him to the Hall before lunch, and she received a sharp snubbing for her pains. Marjory bore the snubbing meekly, and made no further proposals. Harry betook himself to a book, and seemed to be reading diligently, though he never turned a page. He thought he had no wish to see Hermione again, not the slightest. His idol had fallen from its pedestal with a crash. That crimsoned face, blazing with anger, rose up as an impassable barrier between him and the fair girl who had been lately the centre of his thoughts.

No; he did not want to see her. He had done with Hermione. It was time to shake off all that nonsense. She was not the being he had imagined her.

Yet somehow he could not make up his mind to leave the house that morning. If he wished to avoid Hermione he ought to have done so, for at any moment she might look in; but he stayed resolutely at home. Perhaps there was a half-unconscious hope that if she came she might appear in a mood of gentle penitence, which should do away with a little of yesterday's cruel impression.

Hermione did not come, however, and Harry went off with a look of fixed care upon his features. He would carry that vision of wrath with him all through his next term of college life.

"Father, what has happened?" Marjory asked quietly, an hour later, when Mr. Fitzalan entered. She was lying on the couch for one of her short periodical rests.

"Sutton thinks the elm in the back garden ought to come down. I have refused consent for the present."

"No; but I mean about Harry and Hermione. Do you know of anything? Something is wrong, I am sure. He is not like himself."

Mr. Fitzalan debated what to say, standing by the table, and opening a note which he found there. He had a wish that Marjory should be unconscious when the two girls first met. But he knew that she must hear soon of what had occurred, certainly from little Mittie, if from no other quarter. He read his note slowly, and Marjory lay with her eyes fixed upon him.

"If you would rather not tell me, I will not ask," she said. "Harry is generally so open, but he has not been this time. So I dare say I am not to know. Perhaps I can guess. Harry has been imprudent, and has spoken too soon, and Hermione has given him a rebuff. That is what I fancy, only you need not say 'Yes' or 'No'!"

"Nothing of that kind, Marjory," the Rector answered, looking up. "We came upon a certain domestic scene which we were not meant to witness; and sometimes the less one says the better in such cases." His eyes fell upon a figure passing through the garden. "Ah, here is Hermione herself. So we must put off explanation till by-and-bye."

Marjory thought there was relief in the tone. Hermione came in a moment later, entering, as she always did, without ringing the front door bell. She seemed to be restored to her usual self, but the ordinary graciousness of manner had given place to a rather haughty air. She held her head higher than its wont, and the blue eyes had a combative expression, as of one on the look-out for opposition. Mr. Fitzalan would fain have seen different tokens.

"Harry has gone off. I am so sorry," Marjory said.

"Yes, I supposed he would leave before this. I—could not well come earlier," and there was slight hesitation. She turned then to Mr. Fitzalan; "I was sorry to see so little of you both yesterday, but I— it could not be helped. Mrs. Trevor had behaved to me in a most trying way. Of course—" and a faint flush arose— "I am vexed to have been betrayed into speaking hastily. But I had great provocation."

Her eyes went to Marjory as if in appeal, and Marjory said at once, "My father and Harry have told me almost nothing, so I do not understand. I think I had better leave you with—"

"O no!" and there was a manifest shrinking from the proposal. "I have nothing to say which you may not hear. I have come to ask something of you both—a great kindness. Did they explain to you yesterday, Mr. Fitzalan, about this East Bourne plan?"

"It was mentioned. I do not know particulars."

"I cannot go, of course. May I come here for a time? Will you take me in?"

Her lips remained parted with a look of entreaty, but a motion of Mr. Fitzalan's hand checked the eager response springing from Marjory. "Why cannot you go?" he asked gravely.

"It is impossible."

"The change would be pleasant, and you are not absolutely tied to Westford by duties which cannot be laid aside. I suppose it will be a matter of a few weeks only."

"I don't know. It may be longer. But—"

"You have had very little variety as yet. It is good for both mind and body to come in contact with fresh scenes and fresh phases of life. There is a danger of getting cramped and narrowed by moving always in one small circle. I should be sorry if you did not take advantage of this opportunity."

"I cannot!" she said.

"There may be difficulties which I do not see. The thing itself is certainly desirable. East Bourne is a particularly bright healthy place, with a good deal going on. The change from this quiet country life will be thorough."

"I do not want change. I cannot go!"

"Why not?"

"It is impossible. I have said that I will not."

"That would hardly be a sufficient reason. The mere fact of having been betrayed into saying a thing hastily—"

Hermione flushed up. "I cannot take back what I have said."

"Even if that which you said was wrong?"

Marjory gave one quick glance at them both, said quietly— "I will be back in a few minutes," —and was gone. Hermione's hasty, "Oh, don't go!" did not deter her.

Hermione held up her head rigidly, but her lips were trembling. "Then you will not take me in!" she said, in a tone of grieved reproach. "I did not think I should have asked that in vain from such old friends. I see now how alone I am!"

"The question is not what you or I would wish, my dear child, but what is right. I am anxious not to help you to a hasty decision, which you will some day regret."

"It is not hasty. I have been thinking half the night. I cannot and will not go to East Bourne, after the way in which I have been treated. You are judging me hardly, not knowing all."

"Try to tell me all; I should like to understand the matter fully."

Hermione found herself in a difficulty. She began to detail exactly what had passed, and came to a standstill. The words uttered did not sound nearly so heinous on a repetition as they had first sounded to herself. After all, it had been more a question of tone and manner than of words, and Hermione was not clever at reproducing another's manner. After a break she began again, only to come to a second standstill, tears of vexation filling her eyes.

"Is that all?"

"No; I can't make you understand. There was more, of course. But, it was the way she did it—"

"That I can believe. Much more depends upon the way in which a word is said than upon the word itself. Still, I can see no real cause for a serious break with your relations."

"I don't want to have a break. Only I cannot go to East Bourne."

"Because you were not told of the plan till after Mrs. Trevor!"

Hermione rose suddenly. "I see I shall have no help or sympathy here. I thought things would be different. It is of no use my staying longer. Please tall Marjory—"

"No, I am not going to tell Marjory anything. You shall tell her yourself. Why, Hermione, my child," he went on kindly, "you are not going to take offence with such an old friend as I am. That would be strange indeed. Try to be wise, and to look upon this matter in the right light."

"I am not bound to go to East Bourne unless I wish."

"Not bound in the abstract, but some attention to your cousins' wishes is their due. If Mr. Dalrymple is content to leave you behind—"

"Harvey has no control over my movements."

"Yes; he is head of the household, and you are his dependent."

The words seemed cruel to Hermione. "I am not likely to forget that," she said, in choked tones.

"Then we need say no more about it. After all, the whole question hinges on one point—what is the right thing for you to do?"

"I cannot go to East Bourne," she persisted.

"Not if you distinctly see it to be right?"

"I have said I would not. I cannot take that back."

"Then, Hermione," he answered gravely, "it is very evident that with you the pleasing of self ranks first, the doing of what is right ranks second. Is that true service?"

Hermione burst into tears; but still there were no signs of yielding.







"So you and Harvey are going for a drive?" Francesca remarked.

It was a tolerably fine afternoon three days later. The high dog-cart, Harvey's favourite vehicle, stood before the front door, the two spirited horses, Prince and Emperor, champing their bits and tossing their heads, eager to be off. The men at their heads seemed to have some trouble in restraining them. Julia was on the doorstep, dressed in hat and jacket, a pair of gloves in her left hand. Mrs. Trevor had come out of the drawing-room, with a woollen shawl round her shoulders.

"I thought I had told you. Harvey has some business to arrange with a gentleman eight miles off—Captain Woodthorpe is the name, I believe. He asked me to go with him. You would not care for the drive."

"Thanks—not I! If Paris boulevards were in question, that would be another matter. Nothing is more dismal than interminable country lanes, with dead leaves dropping in all directions, and the prospect of coming home in a pelt. Nothing to see, and nobody to see one! No; I'll wait for East Bourne. There'll be a chance of meeting some human beings on the parade. Besides, I don't like those horses. The last time I went out they frightened me to death with their pranks."

"Harvey would know if they were not safe."

"Harvey knows everything, of course! My dear, what man ever thinks about safety in connection with horses? He just wants to make a show. So long as he has the best thorough-breds in the country round, his neck may take its chance, and his wife's too. But I prefer not to have mine broken."

"You won't keep well if you never go out."

"There's nothing to go out for in Westford. I don't want to cultivate a country complexion, thanks—and my wardrobe wants attention. One will have to be respectable in East Bonnie. Is Harvey still set upon not going till Thursday or Friday in next week?"


"Absurd! We shall just lose those lodgings in Mostyn Terrace. It's nothing on earth but Hermione's nonsense, otherwise we might be off on Tuesday. What does she mean to do?"

"I don't know," Julia answered, in an undertone.

"Nor anybody else, apparently. Mittie asked Miss Fitzalan if Hermione meant to come with us, and Miss Fitzalan said she was not sure. If I were Harvey, I would make her say 'Yes' or 'No' at once, without any more nonsense."

"She has said 'No."

"In a passion; but that means nothing. I believe the Fitzalans won't take her in, and she is waiting to arrange something else before she speaks." A shrewd guess this on the part of Mrs. Trevor. "And Harvey is just giving her extra time to make arrangements. If he had decided to go straight off without delay, she would have had no choice about coming. Much the best plan! Not that I want her in East Bourne, but I shouldn't be sorry for once to see her compelled to give in."

"Francesca, do be careful! You will be overheard," Julia entreated, in alarm at the raised tone.

"No fear, my dear! John hasn't any attention to spare from the horses. And as for Hermione, she's going the round of her favourite cottages, I suppose, preaching patience to all the old women, and expatiating on her own wrongs. I wish some of them would preach to Hermione for a change. She needs it, if any one does."

To Julia's relief, Harvey appeared. He seemed in unusually good spirits, and she was much delighted at his proposal to take her with him. Of late he had systematically avoided prolonged and unnecessary têtes-à-tête. Twice, at least, when she had offered to be his companion in the dog-cart, he had had out the brougham instead, persuading Francesca to join them. The feeling appeared now to have worn off.

The horses, once off and out of the garden, claimed all Harvey's energies. John sat aloft behind, with folded arms and stolid face. Julia was supremely happy, quite content to be silent and to watch proudly her husband's capable handling of the reins. Ordinarily she was apt to be nervous about horses, but when Harvey sat beside her she did not know what fear meant.

"We have done our first two miles in style," Harvey remarked, when they came to a hill so steep that the horses showed themselves willing to walk. John dropped to the ground, and strode in their rear, apparently glad to use his limbs.

"Have we really come two miles already? I never know distances in Westford."

"What was Francesca saying about Hermione?"

The question took her by surprise, for he usually shirked as far as possible all talk respecting Hermione and her doings. Julia glanced at him quickly, but failed to decipher his look.

"She was wondering what Hermione would do about East Bourne. Nobody seems to know."

"Hermione must come with us, of course. I depend upon you to arrange that."

Julia felt and looked dismayed. "But I have no power over her."

"You are the right person. Francesca has nothing to do with it."

"But I don't think either Francesca or I could turn Hermione, if she has made up her mind. She is so very determined."

"I always thought there was a spice of obstinacy—"

"Is that obstinacy? I thought it was firmness."

"People generally confuse the two. Determination will hear reason, and obstinacy won't. Obstinacy sticks to what it has said, just because it has said it. That is Hermione all over."

Julia could not question the assertion. She was aware of its truth.

"The fact is," Harvey added, "I particularly wish Hermione to go with us, and I look to you to bring it about."

"Would you mind so very much if she paid a visit to the Fitzalans instead?"

"Yes; and she will not go to them. I have had a few words with Mr. Fitzalan; but don't mention this. He thinks with me that it is too soon for a break, and that she will shake down better among us if we have a few more weeks together—especially away from Westford. There has been too much talk among the good folks here as to her real and supposed troubles."

"Yes—perhaps—" Julia began, and paused. "Francesca will have it that Hermione gossips with the old women in the cottages."

"It is not supposed to be gossip, but I dare say she manages to look pathetic, and to work on their feelings. I want to get her out of it all for a time."

"I don't see what I am to do."

"You must arrange it, my dear, one way or another. Women can always manage these things. I should be extremely annoyed if Hermione stayed behind just now. It would give additional colour to a great deal of nonsense that is talked about her and us. And you must contrive somehow to hinder Francesca from exciting her."

Two "musts" easy to utter, but hard to carry out—how hard Julia knew too well. She made no further protests, however, only gave herself up to consideration of the difficulty. The top of the hill was reached, and John swung himself up behind. Then they were off again at full speed, trees and hedges sweeping past unnoticed by Julia in her abstraction.

"Is this Captain Woodthorpe's?" she asked, waking up with an astonished start when the horses came to a standstill.

"This is Captain Woodthorpe's—queer little house, isn't it? And a queer place for any man to choose! Not even a cottage within a quarter of a mile."

"I suppose the village is not far-off."

"A mile or more. It must be deadly dull—two people living together."

"His wife?"

"No; his daughter. Will you come in? They are rather agreeable people."

"O no; I would rather wait outside."

Harvey put the reins into her hands, John taking up his position once more at the horses' heads. Julie studied dreamily the trellis-work of the porch, and the jasmine trained prettily thereon, till roused by voices.

A grey-haired man, thin and upright, stood beside her husband on the gravel-walk; and beyond them was a lady in black, perhaps about thirty-five years old, somewhat tall and largely built, with a pale strong face, hardly handsome, but interesting from its sweetness and its calm capability. The thought came to Julia, "That is one whom I could lean upon in trouble!" She little dreamt how soon this should be put to the test.

"Julia, Captain Woodthorpe and Mrs. Ogilvie wish you to come indoors for a cup of tea."

Harvey handed her down, and Julia made no resistance. She was willing to see more of Mrs. Ogilvie—a widow evidently, but a widow of a different type from Mrs. Trevor. Greetings were exchanged, and the two gentlemen returned to the Captain's study, whence apparently they had emerged, while Julia found herself in a small sitting-room, old-fashioned but cosy. Mrs. Ogilvie led her to a seat near the fire. "It is chilly to-day," she said, "especially for driving. Will you not take off your jacket, for fear of a chill when you go out?"

"I never take cold, thanks," Julia answered; and soon the question followed, in some wonder, "Do you really live here all the year round?"

"Except a month in London at Christmas."

"And you like it?"

Mrs. Ogilvie smiled. "My father does," she said.

"But you?"

"I should not mind a few neighbours near at hand."

"Have you none?"

"None near. I am a fairly good walker, and we have an untirable pony. It is not, perhaps, the life I would choose; but, when a life is chosen for one, apart from one's own wishes, there is the comfort of knowing that it must be right."

"Is Captain Woodthorpe so fond of the country?"

"Yes, of absolute country, as country. He does not like a chimney-pot to be within view, except his own. Not from any real objection to society. I hardly know what gives rise to the feeling. He says he cannot breathe comfortably among houses."

Julia looked her sympathy. Mrs. Ogilvie asked next—

"How is Miss Rivers?"

"Quite well, I believe." Julia grew suddenly shy. "Are you one of Hermione's friends?"

"Not in any intimate sense. I was very fond of her mother in my childhood, and that gives me a particular interest, of course, in Hermione. We only meet occasionally, however. She is a pretty girl."

"Yes," Julia assented.

"She was quite 'the old man's darling' while Mr. Dalrymple lived."


"And now, perhaps, she is a great pet with all of you?"

There was a curious expression hovering round Mrs. Ogilvie's lips as she put the question. Did she expect an affirmative in reply? Julia hesitated, then said—


"Ah!" said Mrs. Ogilvie.

"I don't know why she is not. I wish she were. My husband and I wish so much to make her happy. And everybody thinks Hermione so wonderfully sweet and good; yet somehow we don't get on well. I could love her if she would let me, but I always have a feeling of being almost despised by Hermione. Perhaps I ought to say 'disdained.' 'Despised' is too strong an expression."

Julia had not had the least intention of saying all this. The words broke from her, drawn out by that quiet comprehending face. She caught herself up suddenly—

"I am sorry to say so much. Harvey would not be pleased. He hates gossip, and, indeed, it isn't my way. Please don't let it go further; and forget it yourself. Such things are best not talked about, and I dare say we shall fit in better by-and-by. Perhaps it is partly my fault that we don't now."

"No, I think not. I hardly expected to hear anything different," Mrs. Ogilvie answered. For half-a-minute she studied carefully the young face before her. Twice Julia's black eyes were lifted to meet the gaze, and sank before it. At the half-minute's close, to Julia's exceeding surprise, Mrs. Ogilvie bent forward and kissed her cheek. Julia flushed up brightly, with an odd shy sense of pleasure.

"Hermione is a girl of peculiar temperament, and she has had a peculiar training," continued Mrs. Ogilvie. "I know her character well. You need not regret having spoken frankly, for I never repeat things. Perhaps I am as good a confidante as you could have chosen, for having loved her mother so dearly seems to give me a kind of right over the child herself. She is not a child now, but one clings to the term."

"I don't think I have heard Hermione speak of you."

"Very likely not. I am not a great favourite of Hermione's."

Julia's wondering eyes made Mrs. Ogilvie laugh.

"My own fault, I am afraid. I had once to suggest to her that a certain line of action was not right, and Hermione did not seem grateful for the suggestion. But perhaps she has got over it now, and I should like to see her again. Cannot you both drive over to lunch one day next week?"







"I AM going to take you two or three miles round, instead of straight home," Harvey said, as they started. Julia was turning back to wave a farewell. "So you like Mrs. Ogilvie?"

"Very much. Oh, very much, indeed. She is charming!"

"Mrs. Ogilvie says the same of my wife."

"Does she? I am glad if she likes me. But when did she say it?"

"When you ran back into the house for your shawl."

"She had not much time then. Harvey, isn't it odd that she should be an old friend of Hermione's mother, and that Hermione should never have spoken her name?"

"I don't pretend to understand Hermione's ways. Hermione's mother must have been considerably Mrs. Ogilvie's senior."

One of the horses shied, and both were off at a pace which required Harvey's best handling. For a while neither spoke. He glanced round presently to say, "Not frightened?"

"O no; not with you here."

"Some women think it necessary to scream on these little occasions. Of course, if you wished to ensure the horses running away, that is as good a mode as any."

"But I don't wish it," Julia answered, laughing. "And they never do run away."

"Well, not seriously," Harvey answered, with one or two recollections in his mind which were not known to Julia. "I am taking you this way, that you may see a pretty view from the common."

"Not the common near us?"

"Seven miles or more off. You have not been to it yet. There is a steep hill to climb, and then a flat tableland extending any distance. John will have an opportunity to stretch his legs again."

"Yes, sir!" responded John smartly from behind.

The hill was reached in no long time, being about a mile distant from the captain's little house, as Harvey informed Julia. Steep it was unquestionably, but the horses went up in brisk style, apparently no whit fatigued. John, who had dropped down for a walk as a matter of course, was left in the rear.

"After all, he might as well have kept his seat. We have to wait for him now," Harvey said, when they gained the top.

"One minute won't matter."

"Not unless the horses object."

The horses plainly did object. A vision of food and stable no doubt lured them onward, and they had at all times a marked dislike to standing still in harness. They grew exceedingly restless, and Harvey's strong grasp could barely hold them in.

A broad common stretched far ahead, and the road led straight across it, while on either side lay short grass dotted by occasional clumps of furze.

"Make haste!" cried Harvey.

John obeyed, coming at a run. They had not to wait many seconds, and he was already within six yards when a pig rushed grunting from behind the nearest clump.

That settled the matter. Almost before Julia caught sight of the intruder the horses were off, and John could be seen as a diminishing object in the distance.

Julia uttered no sound, for she knew her husband's dislike to interjections at critical moments. Not that she counted the moment critical. She merely said to herself, "How tiresome!" and expected that Harvey would at once pull up.

But he did not. A feeling of surprise dawned upon her first, and then a consciousness of the tremendous pace at which they were going, and then—she looked up into Harvey's face, and knew from the set lips that something was wrong.

"John is so far behind. Must we not go back?" she asked.

"Presently. Keep your seat, Julia. Hold on firmly."

"Can't you stop them?"

"Presently," came again.

"Is there any danger?"

"Plenty of room ahead, fortunately. I shall let them have their swing. Don't be shaken out, that's all."

Julia obeyed his orders, and sat perfectly still. On and on they flew in a mad rush. The road was very straight, and so long as this lasted the danger might be counted small; but there was nothing to check the horses; no human being was in sight, and in time the common must end.

It seemed to Julia that their speed increased rather than diminished. She had never known anything like it. It was evident that Harvey had at present no choice about allowing the horses to go, for go they would, and the utmost he could do was to use some measure of guidance, keeping a sharp look-out for obstacles.

Grass and furze-bushes flashed past in dizzying style. Julia felt bewildered, hardly able to think. Fear existed, but was kept under. Her one distinct wish at the time was not to embarrass her husband. She sat by his side like a statue, only swayed by the swaying of the vehicle.

"We are coming to something different," she said at length quietly. For the road in advance rose a little and disappeared among trees.

Harvey knew that the common ended there, and that a long descent followed; not so steep, happily, as the ascent by which they had reached the common, yet steep enough to be a very serious matter if they were to go down at this rate.

"Can't you stop them?" Julia asked once more.


The monosyllable, the absence of comfort or encouragement, said much. So also said Harvey's bent brows. Julia grew paler, and shrank an inch closer to him. The thought came to her that she ought to pray, and she tried, but her mind was a blank, every faculty being concentrated into one fearful expectant gaze ahead.

Up and up the slope they thundered, till in a moment burst upon Julia the long vista of that straight descent which had been in Harvey's mind as a vivid picture of peril near.

A strong rutted road, with a wall on one side, a hedge and a ditch on the other, scarcely curving at all until far below, where a sharp bend shut off what lay beyond.

"Harvey!" did at last leave Julia's lips in faint cry. No answer came from him, only a strange pallor had come into his face, and his eyes seemed to be looking blankly far on.

Both knew that this might well be a rush to death. But no time for thought remained before they were whirled downwards.

Pebbles were dashed aside by the horses' hoofs, and the wheels jolted with bounds over the larger stones. It was as much as Julia could do to keep her seat. She held on firmly, noting with a singular keenness of perception her husband's blanched look. Could it mean fear? He was a brave man ordinarily, not given to showing fear.

Suddenly he spoke, not turning his head—

"If we get round that corner it may be all right, but if not—"

A pause; and as if the words were forced from him, drops standing on his brow, he said—

"If I am killed, and you get through, take care that Hermione has her rights!"

She had no space in which to answer him. A glance alone was possible. Then the bend was reached, and with a great swerve they went round, safely so far, but not to safety. Before one breath of relief could be drawn, they saw the road ahead lying level, and in the very middle of it an old ramshackle cart, with no room on either side for them to pass. The owner of the cart was out of sight, and the unharnessed rough pony, browsing in the hedge, lifted his head with a look of mild interest at the thunder of horses' hoofs.

A gasp; a moment's despair; a crash; a sense of everything collapsing; and a brief darkness. Julia came to herself slowly. She sat up, bewildered and faint, but conscious of no injury. At first she could not make out where she was, could not recall exactly what had happened. Only there was an impression of wild rattle and rush; and now all was so still; not a sound to be heard, except leaves rustling near.

It dawned upon her stunned senses that she had been tossed clean out of the dog-cart and over the hedge, falling on a great heap of weeds gathered together for burning, soft almost as a feather-bed. And she felt herself unhurt!

But Harvey!

Julia struggled to her feet. All around seemed to sway and surge, yet she could not attend to such sensations, could not yield to weakness. The other side of the hedge had to be gained, and she hastened along it, seeking vainly for a gate. A gap at length appeared, and Julia fought her way through, heedless of scratches and torn clothes.

Once more upon the road she saw a heap of something not far-off, which her dazzled eyes could with difficulty make out to be the prostrate horses and the shattered remains of cart and carriage, all in one piled-up mass, except that two wheels and much lesser debris were flung loosely around. And Harvey—Harvey—her one agony was for him. As she hurried nearer, trembling and sick with terror, she saw him to be part of the mass, lying half underneath it, while two hoofs of the nearer horse were almost touching his chest. His face was ghastly pale, the eyes wide-open in helpless appeal.

"O Harvey! what can I do? What shall I do?" was Julia's cry.

"Hush don't call out. If Prince begins to struggle, it is all up with me."

"Is it the cart keeping you down? Are you hurt? Oh, let me help you away!" she gasped. "You will be killed there."

"I can't move; don't touch me. Julia, listen. You must sit down on Prince's head at once. If he tries to get up, I am done for!"

Julia understood, though she was so dazed as to be hardly able to distinguish one horse from the other. But those iron hoofs were guide sufficient. The poor creature's visible panting showed him to be alive, while Emperor lay to all appearance dead. Julia stumbled forward among the debris, and sat down upon the huge glossy head, rumpled and foam-speckled. She would have been afraid of the position generally, for horses were a source of timidity always, unless she felt herself under Harvey's protection; but fear could have no place now, except for another.

"Are you hurt much?" she then asked tremulously.

"I don't know. Yes."

"Where? Please tell me."

"I don't know."

"If I could only do something! What can I do?" she implored. "If I might help you to get away."

"No, you must not stir. Mind, Julia, if you value my life, don't let anything make you get up till help comes—till I am away. It is the only hope for me."

He spoke distinctly, but in a faint far-away voice, as if the words came with effort, his eyes closing.

"I will not!" Julia said firmly.







SHE sat on, resolutely, bravely, though with a heart-sinking which she had never felt before, as she thought of the time which must pass before John could possibly come up.

Now and then a heave or quiver passed through Prince's massive frame; and Julia knew that but for her weight upon his head he would doubtless begin struggling to get up. Sometimes the quiver passed on to those great hoofs, all but resting against her husband, and each time Julia's heart leaped with a wild fear lest the struggle should take place despite all she could do. She knew little of horses from practical experience, and she could not feel Harvey's security that so long as she sat there he was safe.

The other horse lay entirely motionless, with every appearance of death. Poor Emperor! he had borne the brunt of the collision, his broad chest coming full against the cart.

It was lonely country around, with no sign of human habitations. The pony browsing in the hedge browsed still, but farther off, whither he had been startled by the accident. Had any human being stood near, that crash must have acted as a summons. Julia felt this, and though she forced herself to call for help, she did it hopelessly, expecting no result.

When she called, Harvey opened his eyes for a moment. That was all. He seemed unable or disinclined to speak. Julia was frightened at his increasing ghastliness of hue; yet there were no actual signs of pain on his face, and he lay quietly, not appearing to suffer from the weight which held down his lower limbs. She longed to get to him, to do something for his personal relief; but he was out of reach, and she dared not stir—knew she must not. Would John never come?

Twice again she asked her husband how he was, and each time he answered faintly, "I don't know." She longed to know what was wrong and where he was injured, yet she dreaded to annoy him by questions if he wished to be let alone.

So there seemed nothing to be done but to wait, keeping her seat, and refusing to listen to her own fears. She watched for John intensely, yet he did not come. Now and then a horrible doubt assailed her; what if John tried some other road, and failed to find them? But this she knew was not likely. They had come in a direct line, following the main road.

How the minutes dragged, one by one, each trailing its slow length more wearily than the last. Julia began to feel that she must have sat there for hours. Her head swam and her eyes grew heavy with the strain. She had left her watch at home, and had therefore no means of gauging the lapse of time.

Harvey's eyes opened again, and she said, "Do you feel very bad? Please tell me."


"Where? If you could just say what is wrong!"

"I don't know."

"Do you think any bones are broken?"

"I can't tell."

"But is it great pain anywhere? Your leg?"

"No—not pain—only—"

"If you would tell me just once! Only—what?"

"I don't know—" in the same dull undertone, as if he were scarcely conscious of what he said.

"Is it sinking—faintness?"


"If you had a little water!—" and a craving look responded, but he only whispered—

"No; don't move."

"No, I know I must not. Harvey, it is only faintness, nothing worse!"

For another thought had come, with a beat of anguish at her heart. How if this were death? The ghastly pallor, the dim and half-shut eyes, the panting breath, the feeble voice, these might mean the worst! Julia had seen little of illness, and she knew nothing of how death might look, but the terror assailed her.

"If I am killed, and you get through!" he had said. Those words recurred now.

And she could not get to him; she might not stir to touch him; she was debarred from seeking help. She had only to sit there, close at hand yet parted, looking on at what he had to bear.

Again she spoke, because she could not endure the terrible silence and her own helplessness, but there was no reply. Harvey did not seem to hear.

"Take care that Hermione has her rights!" This command came up next. One thought after another floated through Julia's mind, while her whole attention seemed to be bent upon the present emergency and upon her husband's condition.

Hermione's rights! But what rights? Harvey had plainly declared to his wife that Hermione had no rights, that he was in no sense bound. What did he mean by Hermione's "rights"? And how was Julia to reconcile his two utterances?

"What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

Julia's whole being cried out at this, "Have we 'done justly' towards Hermione?" She did not say, "Has Harvey?" though in truth the responsibility was his, not hers; but she linked herself with him, she felt that she might perhaps have said more, have used stronger influence, and tears came streaming at the thought. If Harvey were in danger, if he were to die, and if indeed he had allowed himself to do not justly, how should she ever forgive herself? She could not get over those few strong words, "Take care that Hermione has her rights!"

"Aunt Julia—why don't you tell Jesus?"

It was curious how this simple little question of Mittie's flashed into Julia's mind. For she was so helpless, so direfully in need, so terror-stricken with her own position and her husband's peril. There seemed to be absolutely nothing that she could do. The one thing which she might do she had scarcely remembered. Here it was, briefly and childishly stated, but holding a mighty truth for all that. Why should she not "tell Jesus"?

Julia did not hesitate. She bent her face into her hands, and sobbed out a prayer. No words were audible, but the passionate appeal went up through those heart-rending sobs.

"Julia!" The hollow voice startled her, "Don't cry. It's no use."

She dashed away her tears in a moment.

"Yea," she whispered.

"No signs of John?"

"I can't see him yet. If only—"

"Hush! listen!" Harvey spoke with a faint imperiousness. "If some one doesn't come soon, I don't believe I can hold out."

Julia's lips whitened.

"Something is wrong—I don't know what. I feel as if—"

Another pause. Drops stood out like beads all over his brow.

"Harvey, you are faint. It is only faintness. If I could get you some water."

"No, don't stir. This brute's hoofs would be the death of me—if—but I feel—" and again there was a break. "Julia, if I don't get through— mind—"

His voice sank, and he seemed to strive for speech in vain. Julia could hardly bear up against the wave of terror and grief which threatened to overwhelm her, yet she spoke at once in answer.

"Yes, I will—I will—indeed. I will not forget Hermione's rights."

The drooping eyelids half opened.

"How could you know? Who told it?"

"You did—you yourself, as we came down the hill."

"Ah, I forgot," and a gasp broke into the words. "Yes, twenty thousand pounds. Mr. Selwyn knows. Julia, I think—I almost think I must be—dying."

The eyes closed, and the breathing grew more feeble.

"Harvey! Harvey! Oh, what can I do?" sobbed Julia in agony. "Oh, this is terrible."

And in her distress she did not see, any more than did her unconscious husband, that John, with three stout labouring men, was hastening from the corner to their help.







"MOTHER, shouldn't you think Uncle Harvey and Aunt Julia would soon be at home?"

"Really I don't know. Yes, most likely. What are you after with my work-basket?"

"I want to find some red silk. I'm making a pin-cushion for my Marjory."

"Well, another time you can ask my leave first. I have no red silk, so please stop all that fumbling."

Mittie desisted immediately, as she would not have done once upon a time.

"I do wish I had some red silk. Mother, are there any shops in East Bourne?"

"Of course there are—heaps."

"And can I get some red silk there?"

"Of course. What a silly question!"

"And can I send my pin-cushion to Marjory by post?"

"If you choose. What are you going to ask next, I wonder?"

"I do wish we weren't going to East Bourne, mother. I don't want to be such a great way from my Marjory."

"Really, Mittie, you are crazy about her. I am perfectly sick of the name. A good thing we are going, I say, if it is only to get some of that nonsense out of your head."

Mittie promptly inquired, "What nonsense?"

"You know. The sort of talk you have favoured me with lately."

"Marjory teaches me, mother."

"Yes. I wish people would mind their own business, and leave other folks alone."

"Marjory teaches me how to be good. Don't you like me to learn to be good?"

An embarrassing question, rather. Mrs. Trevor evaded it.

"I like you to be sensible, of course, child."

"And not good too?"

"You are perfectly demented, Mittie. What makes you ask such ridiculous questions? Yes, I like you to be good, but I don't want you to be always chattering about it."

"My Marjory doesn't never chatter."

"There you go again! Always that perpetual 'my Marjory.' I hate to have a person's name drummed into my ears. If you want to make me detest her, you are setting to work in the right way. Miss Fitzalan is all very well, but one may have too much of a good thing."

Mittie stood near the table, her little arms folded, and her drooping face hidden by its cloud of fair hair. She made no answer. A touch of compunction came over Mrs. Trevor.

"Well, I dare say I can find you some red silk after all, if it's an affair of such immense importance. Not in my work-basket. Get me that little Indian box from the side-table."

The child obeyed silently, keeping her face turned away.

"Here, you can fish out something from this tangle. I dare say it is not more than two or three needles-full that you want, and Miss Fitzalan will not be critical about the colours matching. Mittie, you goose!" at the sound of a sob. "What on earth is the matter now?"

Mittie could not have explained. She did not herself know what made the tears come so fast. It was only a child's nameless pain at hearing hard words spoken against one whom she loved, but a child's pain may be very keen while it lasts. Mrs. Trevor mentally resolved to pass no strictures on Marjory Fitzalan in the future. She never could endure to see Mittie cry.

"Do stop, child, pray! You'll make such an object of yourself. You are quite welcome to think what you choose of Miss Fitzalan, if it makes you happy. I am sure I don't care. I wish Julia and Harvey would come home, for the afternoon is perfectly endless. It is a mercy we are going away soon. I really think I should end by a fit of melancholy madness if this sort of thing lasted much longer. Now, Mittie, I won't have another tear. Just think what fun you are going to have down on the shore at East Bourne, picking up shells and digging in the sand. Yes, of course, there is sand—and shingles and rocks too."

This proved comforting, and Mittie was wiled out of her grief. Another hour passed, and still the absentees appeared not. Mrs. Trevor grew vexed, counting herself ill-used. But yet another hour went by before Slade entered the drawing-room and stood within the door.

"Somebody wanting Mr. Dalrymple, did you say?" Mrs. Trevor asked, waking up to a consciousness of his presence, and unaware that he had not spoken. Her faculties had been buried for the last twenty minutes in a yellow-backed novel. "Mr. Dalrymple is out still. I cannot understand his being so long."

"No, ma'am. There has been an accident," Slade's suppressed voice answered.

"An accident! Not to the dog-cart?"

"Yes, ma'am. It was not far from Captain Woodthorpe's, and Mr. and Mrs. Dalrymple have gone there. John has returned with a message. The horses ran away down a hill into a cart. Emperor is killed, and Prince—"

"And—and—" Mrs. Trevor could hardly speak in her impatience at his deliberate utterance. As if the horses mattered! She was angry at his putting them first, yet she knew that Slade was only trying to break his news gradually. Had he worse to tell?

"And my sister? And Mr. Dalrymple?"

"Mrs. Dalrymple was thrown out, ma'am; and at first she was not supposed to be hurt at all, but that is found to be a mistake. John does not know particulars. He was left behind when the horses ran away; and when he got to the spot he found Mr. Dalrymple unable to move, and Mrs. Dalrymple sitting on Prince's head to keep him down."

Mrs. Trevor exclaimed at this, knowing Julia's timidity with horses, "I always did say it was insane to keep such wild creatures," she added, with the instinctive desire to blame somebody which belongs to many people in trouble. "Mr. Dalrymple will believe me now! Is he very much hurt?"

"I am not sure, ma'am. Not so bad as was first thought," Slade answered dubiously. "I believe Mr. Dalrymple was very faint, and there's two ribs broken. But he's not, so to speak, in danger, and John's afraid as Mrs. Dalrymple is the worst. You see my mistress kept up, ma'am, and wouldn't give in, and nobody suspected it till, all of a sudden, she was took bad. She was so bad, Mrs. Ogilvie couldn't leave her to write to you, and John's brought a message asking if you could please go?"



Two of the men carried Harvey, while his wife walked by his side.


"Yes, of course. I must go at once. Call John, if you please. I should like to speak to him. John does not know what is wrong with Mrs. Dalrymple, I suppose?"

"He does not precisely, ma'am." Slade's formal voice was lowered. "He believes it to be something internal—from what Mrs. Ogilvie said— but the doctor was in hopes."

"Poor dear Julia!" and Mrs. Trevor's eyes were filled with genuine tears. "Is John outside?"

She followed Slade to the door in her impatience. John appeared quickly, and he made some material additions to Slade's abstract. He described the accident more fully, with evident appreciation of his young mistress's courage, and he showed some natural gratification over his own foresight in having secured by the way three able-bodied men to go on with him to a possible scene of disaster.

Mr. Dalrymple had looked "terrible bad," John said, on their first arrival, and Mrs. Dalrymple, seated on Prince's head, not much better. Mrs. Dalrymple had, however, declared herself unhurt and all attention had been directed to Mr. Dalrymple and the horses. Emperor was found to be dying, nearly dead, and Prince also a good deal injured. Mr. Dalrymple appeared to suffer much from being moved, and having to be carried more than two miles on a hastily-improvised stretcher. One of the men stayed behind in charge of the horses, two of them carried Harvey, while his wife walked by his side, and John hastened on to give warning at the cottage of their approach. He was in hopes of bringing the pony-carriage to meet Mrs. Dalrymple, but Captain Woodthorpe had gone off for a drive, happily leaving Mrs. Ogilvie at home. She immediately despatched the gardener in quest of medical aid, and prepared for her visitors.

Ill as Mr. Dalrymple looked when he arrived, there could be no question that his wife looked much the worst of the two. Everybody had been startled by her appearance.

"The colour of a table-cloth, ma'am—only a sort of yaller too," John graphically explained. Yet she had kept up, resolutely refusing to be cared for, and bent upon doing everything for her husband. This lasted until the doctor came. An examination of Mr. Dalrymple resulted in the cheerful verdict, "Two ribs broken, but no danger!" and then in a moment, almost without warning, Julia failed. John could not tell particulars here. He only knew that Mr. and Mrs. Dalrymple were in different rooms, that Mrs. Ogilvie could not leave Mrs. Dalrymple, and that the doctor counted her state serious.

"Those horrible horses!" Mrs. Trevor reiterated, as a kind of vent for her own distress. "I always did think something dreadful would happen some day!" Then she inquired how she was to get to the cottage, shivered at the notion of the Captain's pony-carriage which had brought John, decided to put up at once small bag of requisites, and asked where was Miss Rivers.

Slade believed that Miss Rivers had not returned from the village.

"As usual!" murmured Mrs. Trevor. "And what am I to do about the child?"

She was assured that Mittie would be all right. Milton appeared on the scene, promising to take Miss Mittie under her own wing. Also Miss Rivers would see to everything.

"I hope to goodness she will!" sighed Mrs. Trevor, hastening towards the stairs. "Oh, what a thing it is!"

Before leaving, she loaded Mittie with injunctions how to behave, and how not to behave, the leading idea throughout being that she was "not to bother" Hermione. Mittie listened with a scared face.

"No, mother. I won't bother cousin Hermione. I'll go to Marjory for everything."

"Nonsense, child. I don't mean that, of course. Nothing would offend Hermione more. But just keep out of her way as much as you can."

"Yes, mother. Must I keep out of everybody's way?" asked Mittie, in a forlorn tone.

"Oh, if you are dull you can run and talk to Milton. I don't expect to be away long."

"Will you come home to-morrow?" Mittie inquired.

"I don't know. It must depend on how your aunt is."

"John says Aunt Julia is so dreadful bad. He says perhaps she'll die." Mittie's eyes were full of tears.

"John had no business to say anything of the sort to you. He is a foolish fellow. You are not to listen to him, Mittie, or to talk to the servants—except Milton and Slade. I don't believe Aunt Julia is nearly so bad as John makes out. Mind you are a good child, and go to bed early, and don't be dull. It won't last long." Mittie held up her face for a kiss, trying to smile. She kept fairly bright until the pony-chaise drove off, carrying her mother and John. Then Mittie's self-command came to an end. She rushed away to a corner of her mother's room, and sobbed out her little heart in a flood of lonely tears.

But Hermione was not in the village, as Slade supposed.

She had gone that afternoon for a walk alone, towards the big house and grounds, nearly two miles distant, where dwelt the Dalton family, Mr. and Mrs. Dalton, and their one daughter, Anna.

She had not once seen the Daltons since that memorable afternoon when Harvey had just returned from abroad, and the three had dropped in for a long call. The Daltons were wealthy people. Mr. Dalton had made a large fortune in business, and had therewith purchased the property lying next to Westford, no long time back.

Hermione did not care much for these Daltons. She knew that her grandfather had not liked them, and she knew also that Harvey was by no means anxious for a closer acquaintance. There was a tinge of commonness about their speech and their manners which grated on her, so she could well understand Harvey's feeling; and they had few redeeming qualities. Mr. Dalton was counted a hard landlord; Mrs. Dalton was said to give herself airs; and Miss Dalton, though a good woman, was an universally-acknowledged bore in society. Hermione, however polite she might be to them in their presence, had fully concurred in these criticisms.

It was not in the least necessary that she should undertake a four miles' walk for the express purpose of a call on the Daltons. They had left their cards, it was true, one day lately, when she was out, but they would not expect to see her for a good while. Her sad loss was still very recent, and during the life of Mr. Dalrymple calls between Hermione and the Daltons had been carefully rendered few and far between by his particular wish. There was no reason now for a change, and six weeks later would have been soon enough.

Yet Hermione went, regardless of mud, saying nothing to anybody.

If she had mentioned her intention, Harvey would at once have proposed driving round thither, that she and Julia might call together. Hermione felt no doubt about this. However little Harvey might care for the acquaintance, he was irreproachable in his gentlemanly kindness to her where such matters were concerned. And she did not wish to go with Julia. She was bent upon paying the call alone.

For the East Bourne question remained still open. Mr. Fitzalan had not changed his mind; had not, as Hermione expected, offered after all to take her in. She was very much hurt at what, in her heart, she called "his unkindness;" so much so that for three whole days she had not been to the Rectory at all.

June was passing, and, unless she meant to accompany the others, something had to be arranged. Hermione was resolved against East Bourne. She had said she would not go, and go she would not. The mere fact of having once declared her will—even in a fit of passion—was enough to make Hermione stick to her own declaration. The question of right and wrong was subordinate to the question of having her own way—of not being "beaten" by Mrs. Trevor.

Hermione did not see in herself the contemptibleness of this small obstinacy—as she would have seen it in another.

She was seriously perplexed what to do. She had many acquaintances, but not many real friends. Her aim had been, unconsciously, rather to attract admiration than to win love; and the admiration had been hers, but not always the love. Mr. Dalrymple had encouraged real intimacy with very few families in the neighbourhood, and among these Hermione could think of no one who, from one reason or another, would be just then able to receive her.

The thought of the Daltons came up. As already said, Hermione cared little for them. They did not suit her, and she knew they had not suited her grandfather.

But she was bent upon some plan whereby the East Bourne trip might be escaped. Anything rather than to have to give in. Hermione felt little doubt of her own power to bring about an invitation to Dalton House, if she so willed. The Daltons would be only too delighted to push their acquaintance with the Dalrymples. As for what Harvey might think—

"I cannot help that; I must act for myself!" Hermione said, as she set off upon her lonely walk.







HERMIONE was shown into a lavishly-decorated drawing-room, which might have been taken as a very symbol of City wealth set-down in a country corner. She did not like the style of the thing, for her tastes had been educated in chaste lines, and the superabundance of money-outlay, witnessed to by every inch of the room, went against the grain with her. Even where beauty existed, it was spoilt by ostentation.

The three Daltons, father, mother, and daughter, appeared in quick succession, each more or less flurried, and all disposed to welcome her with empressement. Mr. Dalton was stout and plain, Mrs. Dalton plump and comely, Miss Dalton thin and excitable. They were charmed to see Miss Rivers, but amazed to hear that she had come on foot. What a pity that she had not driven! In her dear grandfather's time—but of course things were different now! Everybody was talking of it. But Miss Rivers would sit quiet and rest, and have a cup of tea presently; and by-and-by they would drive her home themselves—delighted to do so! No trouble at all to have the carriage out, but quite a pleasure—and all those lazy horses in the stables wanted exercise. Positively Mr. Dalton did not know how to give them enough.

"I assure you I prefer the walk," Hermione said somewhat distantly. For although she had come to seek a favour, she did not wish to have favours thrust upon her unsought; and it was too much to have these people supposing that she had walked because she might not drive if she chose. The slight figure straightened itself, and the fair cheek flushed a little.

"Well, we will see—we will see!" Mrs. Dalton responded, nodding her head. "Yes, you are a good walker, no doubt, my dear, but it begins to get dusk early, you know, and you are much too young and pretty to walk home alone after dusk. Is she not, Anna? Much too young and pretty. And we see you so seldom, you are not going to hurry away now you have come at last."

Hermione again could have resented the patronage of that "my dear," but taking offence at such trifles was hardly compatible with the aim of her call. So she restrained herself.

It had not been her intention to remain long,—certainly not longer than was needed for the object in hand. But that object seemed for a while to elude her grasp. Every conceivable subject came under discussion except the one which she wished to bring forward. She did not wish the bringing forward to be too obvious an action on her own part. She wanted it to come up naturally, and this it refused to do.

Mrs. Dalton and her daughter were people who liked to air their ideas before a good listener, and Hermione was a very good listener, for whether interested or no she always looked interested. Mr. Dalton had a way of appealing deferentially to ladies for their opinions on vexed questions; and as he usually made their notions the text for a supplementary address by himself, the process consumed a good deal of time.

"I really must leave," Hermione said at length, seizing on a minute break, and she sighed, but did not rise. "There is so much to be done, in preparation for leaving home next week!" Hermione sighed again.

"Are you really going away? But, as I was telling you, Miss Rivers, the article which my husband read to me—"

"Yes, we are leaving. It is a trial to me, of course," Hermione said, with her gentle air of sadness, ignoring the elder lady's desire to discuss the last Quarterly. "My cousins have decided to spend a few weeks at East Bourne. But—"

"How delightful!" exclaimed Miss Dalton. "The very queen of watering-places, as—Who was it that said so, mother?"

"But I—" persisted Hermione.

"Yes, indeed, a most charming place," added Mrs. Dalton, dropping the Quarterly to pick up East Bourne. "A few breezes on Beachy Head will soon bring a little more colour to these pale cheeks, my dear Miss Rivers."

"But I do not—"

"And just the right time of year," said Miss Dalton. "Of course, the season is in August. But our friend Lady Maria always says— you remember, mother—she always says the very best time in East Bourne is through the autumn, when the height of the season is over. That is the season she prefers. So Miss Rivers is particularly fortunate to be going just now. Lady Maria says it is often delightful there quite on into November, and even December."

"But I am not sure—"

Hermione's pale cheeks were gaining a good deal of colour already, with the impossibility of making herself heard. She grew so vexed that tears actually rose to her eyes.

"Yes, yes, to be sure, a most enjoyable spot for young folks," Mr. Dalton broke in.

"If I were in spirits for it," Hermione murmured. She did not in the least realise that there was anything untrue, anything of acting in this. The words came naturally at the moment, and she believed that she felt what she said. Hermione was not, strictly speaking, in spirits to enjoy the proposed change. But her low spirits came mainly from a different cause than that which she wished to be understood.

The words were heard at last, and Hermione's three companions, suddenly silenced, noted the tears filling her eyes. Glances of meaning were exchanged.

"Yes, yes, to be sure," assented Mrs. Dalton. "To be sure, my dear; we were forgetting—"

"A gay sea-side place—after what I have gone through so lately," Hermione almost whispered. "My cousins' wish—but—"

"So very thoughtless of Mrs. Dalrymple," Miss Dalton asserted, falling in promptly with the little note of implied blame. "Young brides never do think of anybody except themselves. But after all, must you go at all? Why not stay quietly in Westford? It really is very soon to have to turn out, and be among a lot of strangers. Why not just stop behind?"

"I did think of that—but—the house is to be closed and left in charge of servants," Hermione faltered. "And the friends with whom I hoped to stay are—unfortunately—cannot have me just then."

Was this absolute truth Hermione's conscience gave her a sharp twinge. But the others suspected nothing. She spoke so quietly and simply, with no appearance of expecting anything from them. A little sigh came once more, and then she added—

"But it cannot be helped. One must make the best of things. Only, of course, it is a change."

Hermione had won her will at last. Three sentences broke in quick succession from her sympathising hearers.

"Mother, don't you think you could persuade Miss Rivers—?"

"My dear, it's plain enough what you've got to do! You just come and stay here while your cousins are away!"

"Yes, yes; that's it, Miss Rivers. You make our house your home. Let other folks go their own way. We'll take you in, and count it an honour; and you shall be as quiet as you like—not see a single person, if you don't feel yourself disposed."

"Thank you!" Hermione answered faintly, glancing from one to another, "But, indeed—"

A sudden doubt swept through her mind. Would this plan be really better than the other? Apart from Mrs. Trevor, might not East Bourne be the pleasanter alternative?

Only it could not be apart from Mrs. Trevor. If she went to East Bourne, Mrs. Trevor would have triumphed. That decided Hermione.

"Oh, we won't hear any 'but'! You must come, you positively must," Mrs. Dalton was declaring. "Just to be at home, my dear, for as long as you like, and to do exactly whatever you choose."

It was very kind. Hermione could not but be sensible of the kindness, even while she shrank from the thought of the companionship. There seemed, however, to be no other alternative. It had come to East Bourne or the Daltons! And since the former meant the yielding of her own will, and the chance of a triumphant glance from Mrs. Trevor, Hermione chose the latter.

In ten minutes all was settled, but Hermione could not get away then. Mrs. Dalton refused to listen to any suggestion about departure. Hermione was to stay till five o'clock tea; and then she had to see this, to hear that, to discuss the other, until it was too late for her to think of walking home alone. The sense of obligation put her doubly into their power, and there was not among the Daltons that delicacy of feeling which would have made them fall in at once with her evident wish to leave.

The afternoon at last was gone, and Hermione found herself driving homeward in the Daltons' carriage, with Miss Dalton by her side. Miss Dalton talked ceaselessly, and Hermione listened, putting in a word now and then. Not many such words were requisite. A Dalton could always flow on indefinitely, with small exterior help, and Mr. Dalton alone of the three ever appealed to others for their opinions.

Poor Hermione! It was not interesting talk. She was getting very tired of it already, after only two or three hours of intercourse. How would she feel after weeks of intercourse?

But she had taken her deliberate choice.


When Hermione came in at the front door, Mittie met her, with scared look and tear-swollen eyes.

"O cousin Hermione! have you heard?"

Hermione had found the front door on the latch—unwontedly late—and had entered without ringing, after an effusive farewell from Miss Dalton. The effusiveness vexed Hermione, though she did her best to conceal vexation and to respond only with a gentle dignity. "For of course it is most kind of them," Hermione thought— "most kind, and I am really grateful. But I do not intend to be drawn into an intimacy. I see no need for that. We shall continue on pleasant terms—nothing beyond."

After which her glance fell upon Mittie's troubled face, and the hall-sobbing question reached her— "O cousin Hermione, have you heard?"

"Heard what?"

"About—about Aunt Julia and Uncle Harvey?"

"I don't understand. What have they done?"

"The horses ran away, and the carriage is all smashed, and—and—poor Emperor is dead," sobbed Mittie. "And mother has gone off to Aunt Julia. And Marjory came here, and stayed with me ever so long—she did, cousin Hermione—and you were so dreadfully late, she couldn't wait any longer. And Aunt Julia is very bad, and Uncle Harvey is hurt too."

Hermione stood gravely looking down on the child with an air of grieved concern, exactly the right air for the occasion. Nobody would have guessed the instant thought which shot through her mind, that East Bourne would now be given up, and there would be no need for her to go to the Daltons'. Hermione would have been the last to confess the thought; she scarcely allowed its existence even to herself.

"Who brought the news, Mittie?"

"John did. He came back from Captain Woodthorpe's."

"Are they there—at Captain Woodthorpe's?"

Mittie was crying too bitterly to respond further than by a nod. Hermione led her to the drawing-room, where she rang for Slade. The whole tale was then told her.

"And you understood that Mrs. Dalrymple was in danger?" Hermione said at length. It seemed very terrible. Only a few hours earlier in full health, with every prospect of a long life, and now—!

"I did, Miss," Slade answered solemnly. "John was under that impression."

"Is John here now?"

"He drove back with Mrs. Trevor to see the horses."

"And Mr. Pennant—you say that Mr. Pennant was to follow."

"Mr. Pennant was absent on his rounds, Miss, but Mrs. Pennant undertook that Mr. Pennant would set off immediately on his return. He did return about an hour later, and when he left, Mr. Fitzalan went also."

"I must know when Mr. Pennant and Mr. Fitzalan come back," said Hermione. "Send some one to the Rectory to wait. Mr. Fitzalan may come here, but if he does not I should like a message."

She had to wait long for news. Mittie went to bed, vainly imploring to sit up longer. Hermione had her own ideas of discipline for children, and she counted this no bad opportunity for counteracting in some small degree the mother's spoiling method. So Mittie disappeared, sobbing in a heart-broken style, and Hermione sat alone with a book, keeping anxious watch.

Hermione really was very much grieved and shocked, though not to any crushing extent. Such an accident happening to even a mere acquaintance would come as a blow, and Hermione felt it quite as a blow. She could not settle down to her book in any comfort. Harvey had shown her invariable kindness, and Julia had almost succeeded in winning her affection. "Poor Julia!" Hermione said repeatedly, with a little sigh of commiseration. Perhaps, as she sighed, the recollection would dart into her mind, "Now I need not go to the Daltons'!" followed by a regretful wish, "If only I had waited one more day!" But she did her best to smother down these suggestions, and only to let herself think pityingly of "Poor Julia and Harvey!"

The announcement, "Mr. Fitzalan!" came at length abruptly. Hermione sprang up, greeting him with outstretched hand.

"Oh, I am so glad! You have been to Captain Woodthorpe's, have you not? How are they both? Where is Mr. Pennant?"

"He will not return till morning," Mr. Fitzalan answered.

Hermione's face fell. "Are things so serious? Is it—Julia?"

"Yes. Mr. Dalrymple is in no danger, though much hurt."

"And they thought Julia was not hurt at all at first, Slade tells me. Do sit down, Mr. Fitzalan!" for he stood facing her, with his hand on the back of a chair.

"She did not appear to be."

"Was it true that she walked over two miles? Could she?"

"She did. It was wrong, of course; but till they had gone some distance she was not aware of her own state, and then she struggled on for Mr. Dalrymple's sake. That made matters much worse. She ought to have given in at once. They seem all to have been under the impression that Mr. Dalrymple was much more hurt than has proved to be the case."

"And Julia gave in—when?"

"When the doctor pronounced him to be in no danger."

"Slade spoke of a fainting fit."

"Yes—the result of over-exertion, I suppose—and there are internal injuries. They have not dared to move her from the sofa where she was first carried. Captain Woodthorpe's doctor was obliged to leave, and Pennant said he would remain till morning."

"You did not see Julia?"

"For three minutes I did. It was her wish that I should pray. Talking was not allowed."

"And she did not say anything? Poor Julia! How did she look?"

"Very ill, and very calm. Yes, she whispered a few words. She said, 'My love to Hermione. Tell her—all is peace.'"

Mr. Fitzalan's eyes were moist. Hermione only said, "I am glad. But I should not have expected—"

"Expected what?"

"That Julia—I have never fancied that Julia had much real religion."

"Our fancies about one and another are very apt to be mistaken."

"But—one may sometimes judge—" began Hermione.

"No, that we have not to do. We may judge lines of conduct, but we may not judge individuals. Happily the decision on that head does not rest with us. If it did, we should too often in our conceit shut out those who may be nearer Christ than we are ourselves."







JULIA was very ill, and she knew it, and she had no fear. It seemed wonderful. For years she had dreaded the end of life, had shrunk from the thought of death. And now suddenly it might be close at hand, yet she was not terrified.

It had not occurred to her that while she, the wandering sheep, sought the Shepherd, the Shepherd also sought her. And not till the moment of dire peril and need came did she realise that He had found her, that she was actually safe in His keeping, that under the shadow of His Hand no harm could arrive. She had not known Him well hitherto, but knowledge grew fast in the hours of silent suffering, when she had just to lie and wait for what He might will to do to her.

Julia said little through those days of weakness. Much talk was forbidden and impossible. If it had not been, her sense of peace was too new for careless handling. She wanted to learn, not to teach. The peace was apparent, however, in her quiet face, in the absence of all murmurs. From time to time she asked anxiously after her husband, and smiled to hear that he was doing well. For herself, she wished to get better, but there were no impatient longings.

Then the tide turned, and Julia knew that she was on the highroad to recovery.

A certain reaction followed, not in actual loss of peace, for that remained, but in thronging recollections and conjectures. The burdens of common life had to be taken up once more, or they would have to be soon. Julia could not put them aside till the necessary moment: Her very lack of physical power made control of thought the more difficult.

She could not get Hermione out of her head, and the remembrance of her husband's words, at the moment of extreme peril, was incessantly present.

What where Hermione's rights?

Did Harvey know something more than she knew? If so—what did he know?— and what would he do?

What had he meant her to do if his life had been taken? To give Hermione twenty thousand pounds? Was that it? Had Hermione a right to so much?

Mr. Selwyn knew! Then of course there was some additional fact hidden from herself. She would have had to appeal to Mr. Selwyn.

Would have had—if Harvey had died, and if she had been left a lonely widow! Julia shuddered at the thought!

That great sorrow had not come. She and Harvey were spared each to the other.

But Hermione's "rights" claimed attention still from Harvey and Julia together.

What "rights" again? What had Harvey meant?

Something precise and definite surely? Something beyond the general sense that Hermione ought not to have been left unprovided for.

Things might be easily set straight. Only, since Harvey felt so strongly on the subject, why had he not taken action sooner?

Thus round and round on one pivot Julia's mind circled, sometimes for hours together, as she lay recovering.

But Julia would not breathe a word of all this to any human being. She had no notion of betraying an iota of her husband's confidence. What she had to say would be said to himself, not to Mrs. Ogilvie or Mr. Fitzalan, least of all to Francesca.

"How soon are we to be allowed to see one another?" she often asked, and Mrs. Ogilvie always answered, "Before long, I hope." Julia knew that Harvey might be expected to come to her before she would be allowed to go to him. She did not know that he already had leave, if he could or would arouse himself to make the effort.

Somehow Harvey seemed very inert, very averse to the said effort. He was so affectionate a husband, so full of solicitude about Julia's state, that those around were puzzled. It would have seemed to them more natural if he had been in a hurry to go to Julia before permission was given, than that he should fail to use the permission when it came. His reluctance was ascribed purely to physical weakness, still it was looked upon as odd.

Nobody knew what had passed between him and Julia just before the accident. Harvey forgot it himself for a short time, but after a few days the whole came back vividly.

Came back, yet with a difference. He was not disposed now to view matters precisely as he had viewed them from the standpoint of immediate danger to life. It is one thing to be willing to give up twenty thousand pounds or so, if one does not expect to have any further use for the money. It is quite another thing to give up the same, if one expects to feel the loss permanently through thirty or forty or more years of earthly existence.

Somehow, too, that old simple question of right and wrong is apt to assume new aspects when looked upon from the bank of a certain dark river, into which one may have immediately to plunge. Right is unequivocal right, and wrong is unequivocal wrong, seen thus. But when a man leaves the said river behind, and gets back into the foggy atmosphere of common life, right and wrong sometimes assume very misty shapes, and so many matters of will and inclination are involved that the question loses a good deal of its simplicity. The question is of course the same, and the answer must be the same, but the mode of viewing it is different.

Not that approaching death necessarily makes a coward of a man, but it clears his eyesight. We are all much given to thinking that life will last indefinitely, and that what is crooked will somehow manage to get straight before the end. Many a deed is done in broad earthly daylight, quite placidly and with scarcely a whisper from conscience, which would not pass muster for an instant if the doer stood face to face with the last enemy.

This was Harvey's experience. As Prince and Emperor rushed madly down the hill, Harvey had very clear views indeed of right and wrong in connection with a certain vexed point. There was no hesitation at all in his mind just then as to what might or might not be Hermione's claims upon himself. The legal aspect of the matter slipped out of his thoughts altogether, as not worth consideration. The great moral question of right and wrong overshadowed all else.

But now Harvey was back in the fogs again. He remembered what he had felt, and he told himself that it was absurd—extravagant—mere over-excitement, and so on.

He would have given a good deal for power to blot out those short utterances to his wife. Harvey could not resist a consciousness that Julia's conscience might prove less malleable than his own—not that his own was quite so submissive as he could have wished. But Julia— why, Julia was a woman, more than that, a mere girl. Women never would hear reason, if they took up a certain notion on any subject. It was always with them a matter of feeling, not of logic. And as for Julia, she knew about as much of business and money affairs as little Mittie.

It was a marvel to Harvey how he could have done so unadvised a thing as to speak out to Julia at all. Dear good creature she was, and the best of wives, but Harvey feared she might give him no end of trouble here. The decision of course rested with him, and he was not afraid that she would let out anything to anybody else; still he did not wish to lower himself in her eyes. He would have to discuss the whole question with her; more than this, he would undoubtedly have to settle some amount on Hermione without further delay, as the best hope of pacifying Julia.

Then the old bother would have to be met and answered. How much was the least that would do? How little was the most he must part with?

If only he had kept his own counsel, and said nothing! After all, he and Julia had both come through the peril with only passing hurts. From his present position of safety he could hardly remise how dire the peril had been. It mystified him that for a short space he should have viewed things so differently. For past scenes soon lose their vividness; and earthly life seemed now so full of reality, so likely to go on for another half-century or thereabouts, that Harvey was little disposed to look further ahead. He wanted to get along comfortably in this present life; and to give up twenty thousand pounds, or even half of twenty thousand pounds, would not be comfortable.

"We should have to consider every sixpence before spending it. And as for keeping hunters! But there could not be a more extravagant idea! Absurd! The estate simply could not stand it. I shall have to explain all this to Julia."

Explaining means trouble, however, and Harvey hated trouble. So, much as he really wished to see Julia again, he was on the whole languidly disposed to plead weakness, and to defer the first interview.







MRS. TREVOR was still at the cottage, joint-nurse with Mrs. Ogilvie to the two invalids. It was the natural thing that she should be there, helping to care for her own sister. But Mrs. Trevor soon grew heartily weary of that lonely dwelling. To a genuine lover of chimney-pots, absolute country is a bore.

She made no secret of the fact with her brother-in-law. Mrs. Trevor could not forgive Harvey for the accident which had deprived her of East Bourne delights, and had condemned her to this dismal solitude. So far as practical nursing was concerned she did her duty, no doubt, but Harvey had reached a stage which called rather for amusement than for nursing, and here Mrs. Trevor failed. She was much too dull herself to amuse any one else. Besides, the whole catastrophe was Harvey's own fault. If he had not chosen to keep such horses, the accident need never have happened. Mrs. Trevor took care to let Harvey know what she thought.

"For my part, I think the sooner we get back to Westford the better," she declared one day. "I can't see why you should not go at once. Mr. Pennant says you could bear the drive. There is only the question of Julia, but she would be all right here with Mrs. Ogilvie, and she could follow a few days later. It really is too bad to burden Captain Woodthorpe longer than need be with such a posse of us. And there is poor unfortunate Mittie in a state of utter dismal; left to Hermione's mercies. I'm in constant terror of something happening to the child. Her lessons, too; she is just running wild all this time." The amount of teaching bestowed upon Mittie by Mrs. Trevor was minute in amount, but the argument served a purpose at this moment.

"Besides," Mrs. Trevor went on, "if you can stand this place much longer, I can only say that I can't. Westford is bad enough, but here we are in a perfect Arabia Deserta. A wheelbarrow going by makes as much stir in one's mind as the explosion of a powder magazine would in London. Now, do agree with me, there's a sensible man. Of course, if you go home, I must too, if only to look after you. Mrs. Ogilvie and I have talked over the plan, and she is quite willing 'when the right time comes.' It's my opinion that the right time has come."

"But I have not seen Julia yet," objected Harvey.

"Well, you can see her any time. There's no difficulty. Of course you feel weak still, but it's no such tremendous exertion, if you would make up your mind to it."

Harvey looked listlessly unwilling.

"Oh, I know. You men always think yourselves desperate if anything is wrong with you. But, really now, you might. And I believe the change to Westford would do you all the good in the world. Then the next thing will be to go on to East Bourne."

"It will be getting too late."

"Too late? Nonsense! That's the mistake people make. East Bourne is like Brighton, at its best in the autumn and early winter. Not that I've the least objection to going to Brighton, if you choose. That has been my wish all along, for the bigger the town, the better for me. I've had enough of grass and trees lately to last me all my life; and there are trees and grass in East Bourne, but one hasn't much chance of them in Brighton. However, it doesn't matter—either will do. Just imagine that girl settling to stay with the Daltons while we are away!"

"Hermione? No!" Harvey said, starting.

"She did! I have heard nothing from herself, of course, but it came round to me. I dare say the arrangement will hold good for the future. And she knows them to be people whom you can't endure, not to speak of her old grandfather's dislike to them. But that is Hermione Rivers all over! She is equal to anything, if it is a question of having her own will. I think she wants looking after just as much as Mittie. Now, what do you think? Home the day after to-morrow?"

Harvey was not unwilling. He did not care for his present surroundings, he had grown tired of the Captain, and he was heartily weary of an invalid life, though lacking energy to get out of it even as far as he might. Nothing pleased him that any body did, and no suggestions were to his mind. Mr. Pennant privately decided that "something was weighing upon" Mr. Dalrymple, and Mrs. Trevor, not privately, declared him to be "fearfully cross."

She had her way, however. Going home in two days became a settled plan, and on the morning of the last day, an hour or two before starting, Harvey saw Julia.

The interview came about suddenly so far as she was concerned. Till that morning she had not been told of this new arrangement. It was something of a shock to find that Harvey was willing to go and to leave her behind, yet this she knew to be unreasonable, and she controlled herself resolutely. "I shall be able to go too—soon!" she said in a wistful tone; and when Harvey came in, walking more invalidishly than was quite needful, she met him with the peaceful smile which had of late characterised her.

He was aware of a difference which he could not have defined, which he did not try to define. His one wish was to get through the interview without the remotest allusion to Hermione, and the moment he came in he saw "Hermione" written in Julia's eyes.

Mrs. Ogilvie was working in the room beside Julia's sofa, and he said "Don't go!" most earnestly. But Mrs. Ogilvie rose at once. "Yes, you must take this chair," she said. "I have promised ten minutes to Mrs. Dalrymple—not more, I think."

Harvey could have dispensed with the ten minutes, but he had no choice. "And you are better, Julia? Very thin, though," he said kindly. "How naughty you were to take that long walk, when you ought to have kept still! Another time I shall not trust your report of yourself. It is provoking that you cannot come home yet, still I hope it will be only a week or so. As Francesca says, we ought not all to remain here longer than can be helped. Captain Woodthorpe will be glad to have his house quiet."

He wanted to get through the ten minutes with nothing more than chit-chat. Julia submitted for two or three minutes, answering questions as to herself, and asking how he was. Then, putting both her hands on one of his, and looking into his face with earnest eyes, she broke into another question.

"Harvey—can you guess how much I have thought of something you said to me just before it happened?"

"It—" the accident, of course. No need to ask. But this had come even sooner than Harvey expected, and he wanted time. "It?" he said inquiringly. "Oh—ah—yes, the smash, you mean. Poor Emperor! It is a serious loss. I never had a better horse. And Prince will never be worth anything again. I shall have to get rid of him."

"But, Harvey, about Hermione?"

"Well?" he said irritably.

"You know what you told me. I have been so longing to ask more. Did you really mean what you said about Mr. Selwyn, and twenty thousand pounds?"

She remembered the whole, then! He was much annoyed, for he had hoped that her recollections might at least be indistinct.

"My dear, I really cannot be responsible for any nonsense I may have talked at such a moment."

"Nonsense!" she repeated.

"Yes, certainly; one is apt to get off one's balance, and to say foolish things—things which one would not say in a calmer mood. It was exciting, of course. You felt that yourself?"

"But I am not jesting," she said gently, tears filling her eyes. "It was real, you know, not mere nonsense or foolishness. You said to me so plainly—don't you remember?—that if anything happened to you I was to be sure and let Hermione have her rights. What are Hermione's rights?"

"She has none. If I had not been upset and off my balance, I should not have made use of so aboard an expression."

"You did not think it absurd then!" she said in a low voice.

"No. It was a moment of agitation. The expression is none the less absurd. Hermione has no legal claim upon me whatever. Of course there is the question whether, as a mere matter of kindness—as a matter perhaps of what may have been my uncle's intention—whether it would be well to settle upon her a small sum. I am quite prepared to do what seems right. We will consider it together by-and-by. Not to-day, however."

"Ought such things to be put off?" asked Julia. "Harvey, please answer one question. Does Mr. Selwyn know what your uncle intended to do for Hermione?"

"If he does, my uncle's wishes are not binding on me. My position is altogether different from his."

"But—" and she looked at him with sorrowful eyes. "I am so disappointed," she breathed.

"There is no need for any kind of disappointment. Hermione shall have whatever is her due. Her due as a matter of kindness, I mean. That is the word I ought to have used. She simply has no rights."

The distinction seemed to Julia to be void of difference.

"Will you not consult Mr. Selwyn?" she asked with eagerness, as the idea came. "He is a very dependable man, is he not? I have heard you say so."

"Quite dependable, on any point of law. But this is no legal question, my dear. I am legally free. All I have to do is to act a brother's part to Hermione—which does not mean that I am to impoverish the estate."

"Would twenty thousand pounds impoverish the estate?"

"Given away in the lump? Yes, certainly."

"And yet, yet you said that. You meant it at the moment, did you not?" she inquired gravely. "There is one thing you have not answered, and I want so much to know. Will you not, please, tell me—does Mr. Selwyn know exactly what Mr. Dalrymple intended to do for Hermione? Did Mr. Dalrymple intend to leave Hermione twenty thousand pounds?"

Harvey was on the verge of being very angry. He could have been so. Julia's persistency was most amazing. If she had not looked so thin and changed, and if this had not been his first glimpse of her, he would have got up and walked out of the room. Somehow he could not resolve on this step, neither did he dare to agitate her by any marked show of displeasure.

"My dear, do you know that you are meddling in business matters? Women know nothing about business."

"Perhaps not. Still, you will tell me," she pleaded. "Did Mr. Dalrymple intend that?"

"He wrote a note to Mr. Selwyn just before his death, stating some such intention. It was merely a passing fancy. The truth is, he had been a good deal agitated,—altogether upset."

"What about?"

"About my marriage, if you will have it. He was in a weakened state already, and I have not the slightest doubt that the agitation affected his brain." Harvey did not add that, whatever might be thought about that particular note, and the particular sum mentioned therein, no possible doubt existed as to Mr. Dalrymple's fixed intention to provide amply for his granddaughter.

"Why should he have minded your marrying so much?"

"He had had a dream for years that I should marry Hermione. Most absurd and impossible, but that was partly my reason for staying so long abroad. I foresaw a collision, and I wished to avoid it. Mind, all this is in confidence. Hermione knows nothing of her grandfather's fancy, and she must not know. When he found that I was actually married, and that his favourite idea could never come to pass, he was—well, certainly much vexed and very much over-excited. The news had the effect upon him of a shock. If I could have foretold this, I should have broken it more cautiously. He wrote to Mr. Selwyn, under the moment's impulse, speaking of a twenty thousand pound settlement upon Hermione. Highly ridiculous, as he would have known himself in cooler moments if he had lived."

"I thought everything was entailed."

"The landed property, not the money property. He had, I suppose, as much as that at his disposal. You see you do not understand these things, Julia. It is much better not to try. The last thing the poor old gentleman would really have wished would have been to wreck the property. You may depend upon me to do what is right for Hermione."

"To do justly!" she said in a low tone.

"Yes, certainly—I hope so."

Then Mrs. Ogilvie came in, and no more could be said. Julia did not look satisfied, however. Tears were again in her eyes when Harvey bade her good-bye.

But if she was not satisfied, neither was he. He felt that his arguments had not been conclusive, and he knew that Julia was not convinced. Worse than this, he was not convinced himself. Say what he would, he could not lay the matter to sleep. Hermione's claim— Hermione's due—call it what he might, rose perpetually before him, overshadowing his peace. The talk with Julia had only weakened his own side of the question. He could not forget how things had looked to him, seen in the scathing blaze of desperate peril.

Legally, of course, it was a very simple matter. Legally he was not bound. Nobody could call him bound. All Mr. Dalrymple's property had descended to him. All the property was his. Hermione could not legally claim from him a single penny as her due.

But there was another side of the question. How might it be in the sight of God?


Harvey reached his own room tired out with the short discussion, and not at all disposed for the further exertion of a drive. Francesca half-scolded, half-coaxed him into a different mood, but the drive had to be deferred till nearly dark, and she could not cheer him up. He sat long in moody silence, going over the things Julia had said, and the things he had said in answer, till his head ached with the strain.







"COUSIN HERMIONE, what time will mother and Uncle Harvey come home?"

Hermione was writing letters at a davenport, when the little voice timidly invaded her absorption. Somehow Mittie had grown timid lately. She always had a sense of being "in the way" with Hermione.

"I don't know exactly. You can ask Milton."

"I did ask Milton, and she thought it would be rather early. But I don't know what 'rather early' means; and she's so busy, she says she can't be bothered. May I get some flowers for mother's room out of the conservatory?"

"No, certainly not," Hermione answered. "You will spoil the whole look of things."

"But I do want it so much," sighed Mittie.

Hermione wrote on, unheeding.

"Then if I mustn't get any flowers out of the conservatory, I think I'll try to find some pretty leaves in the fields," murmured Mittie. "I'm sure mother would like them. If Marjory wasn't away all to-day, I'd ask her for some. But I dare say some nice red and yellow leaves would do. Do you think mother won't come for half-an-hour, cousin Hermione? Because I don't want to be out when she comes?"

Hermione looked up vacantly.

"Half-an-hour? No, I dare say not! Do run away, child. I am busy, and I cannot attend to you just now."

Mittie stole off without another word, and Hermione finished her letter, having no further interruptions. She closed, addressed, and stamped it. Then leaning back with a grave and worried air, Hermione drew from her pocket the scrawled note which she had received from Mrs. Trevor the day before. It was as follows:—


"DEAR HERMIONE,—Harvey has decided to go home to-morrow,
as he is quite equal to the drive; and I shall come also.
Julia will have to wait, probably for another week—
not longer, we hope."
"I don't suppose we shall get to East Bourne for another
"Harvey wishes the brougham to be here before three
o'clock, as he would like to start early.—Yours
sincerely, F. TREVOR."


"What made her say that about East Bourne?" murmured Hermione. "It was unnecessary. They will not get off in a fortnight. If Julia cannot stand this short drive for another week, she will not be fit for a long railway journey only one week later. But Mrs. Trevor cannot rest without making me feel her power. That is to say, her power over Harvey and Julia. How Harvey can be so weak is astonishing. She has no power over me. When they go to Eastbourne I will go to the Daltons. Not for enjoyment, certainly! It is not a friendship I would choose. But if the Fitzalans fail me, and if I am driven to it by Mrs. Trevor—"

Hermione's fair brow was contracted, and a flush rose in her cheeks.

"Anything rather than to be under Mrs. Trevor's power! Right and wrong! I do not see that I should be wrong." This was in answer to a distinct whisper of remonstrance from within. "I am not bound to go to East Bourne."

Then it struck her, with a passing sense of compunction, that she might after all have answered Mittie's question if she had taken the trouble to look at Mrs. Trevor's note.

"That child leaves one no peace!" was the self-excusing comment. "The brougham to be there before three; yes, of course, that was what I told Slade. But I did not remember at the moment. One cannot always remember. Three o'clock! They ought to be here by four."

The clock struck four as if in response, and Slade came in with the letters, three for Hermione.

"Thanks!" Hermione said, with the gracious manner she always put on towards the servants. "I suppose Mrs. Trevor and Mr. Dalrymple will arrive directly. Better have tea up as soon as they come. I will ring when I want lights. Do you know where Miss Mittie is?"

Slade did not know. Hermione went to her letters, without troubling herself to inquire further, and Slade disappeared.

Two were lengthy epistles from distant friends. Hermione went through them sheet by sheet in leisurely style, paying small heed to the flight of time. Then she opened the third, finding, to her surprise, that it was from Miss Dalton. What could Miss Dalton have to say?

"She need not suppose that I am going to get into a correspondence!" thought Hermione, with a touch of something like resentment.

But the letter had to be read. It covered two sheets, and the writing was not peculiarly legible. For a while Miss Dalton appeared to have nothing particular to say. There was a good deal of chit-chat about her own doings, about the Parish and about the neighbourhood, and there was a certain amount of sympathetic gush about Hermione and Hermione's trials. Miss Dalton was past girlhood, but not past girlish gush. She seemed to be eagerly expectant of Hermione's visit, when "the rest of them," as she tersely expressed it, should be gone to East Bourne.

So far the letter was only commonplace and wearisome. On the second page of the second sheet, however, Hermione came upon something unexpected.


"I've only just come back from a week in London, and only think— one evening I met at dinner a very old friend of your dear grandfather's. His name is Ogilvie—Mr. Ogilvie—and I believe he is some sort of relation of the Mrs. Ogilvie at Brierly Cottage; not that I know Mrs. Ogilvie, for I never even met her, but just now, of course, her name has come up in connection with all of you. Mr. Ogilvie said something about a 'niece by marriage' living near Westford. But we did not talk of her; we talked about you. He seems a very frank kind old gentleman, and he said you were the prettiest and sweetest child he had ever seen, about six or seven years ago."

"Then he said how he regretted hearing of the death of his dear old friend, Mr. Dalrymple, and how he hoped you had been left properly provided for. I hope you will not think it very interfering of me to say all this, but really I think you ought to know exactly what passed. I said I was afraid things were not at all as they ought to be; and he said he was afraid they were not either; for the fact was, he had received a letter from old Mr. Dalrymple, written just before his death, speaking of what he meant to do for you. Mr. Ogilvie was almost sure from the date of the letter, and the date of Mr. Dalrymple's death given in the papers, that very little could have been done."

"I said that I thought he really ought to make Mr. Dalrymple's letter known for your sake, and he said he would be very willing to do what was right. He had kept the letter, as being the last written by his old friend. Of course he had not got it with him that evening, but he quoted it from memory. He said it was written in a scrawled weak way, not like Mr. Dalrymple's usual hand, and it spoke of the writer feeling very unwell. Then the letter went on something like this, 'You will remember my sweet grandchild, Hermione Rivers. She is lovelier than ever. I can feel no real fear about her future—so attractive as she is, so sure to make friends wherever she goes. But I have to provide for her future. The Westford estate is entailed. I have this morning resolved to leave ten thousand pounds to her!'"

"Now, my dear Miss Rivers, you see!! You see what ought to be yours. The letter was written on the Saturday, only two days before Mr. Dalrymple's death, so, of course, nothing was or could be done. And you are actually defrauded of this ten thousand pounds! Whatever you have of your own, this ten thousand pounds ought to be yours also. My father and my mother and myself feel most strongly on the subject, I assure you. We feel that it ought to be made known. We feel that if Mr. Dalrymple is made acquainted with his uncle's intention, and if pressure is brought to bear upon him, he surely cannot—as a man of honourable sentiments—he surely could not refuse to carry out what his uncle would have done had he lived long enough."


Hermione read so far, and neglected the effusive wind-up. She sat long, still as an image, lost in thought. The room grew darker, but she did not notice it. Her whole mind was bent upon this information which had so strangely come.

Ten thousand pounds! That would mean complete independence! It would mean being able to go where she would, to live with whom she chose. It would mean freedom from control, from Harvey, from Mrs. Trevor!

Mr. Dalrymple had fully intended this sum to be hers. He had that morning resolved it—only that last morning! Extraordinary! Why had he come to no such resolution earlier?

Hermione could not solve the puzzle. It was only another form of the old perplexity—why he had let all those years go by, and had made no provision in them for his darling?

She was more struck with another aspect of the matter, with the simple fact that so soon as he had come to a resolution to act, death had intervened, and the resolve could not be carried out.

With all Hermione's faults, she had been trained up into a very simple and child-like belief in God's overruling and absolute power. And this seemed to her very strikingly, very forcibly, like His interposition. Mr. Dalrymple had willed to leave her ten thousand pounds, and the Divine controlling touch had come, withholding from her what she might have had.

Was she now to grasp at the thing withheld, to condescend to the use of such means as Miss Dalton advised for the possible attainment of that which had been withheld?







"No!" Hermione said aloud, as this question came strongly into her mind. "No, I could not do that! And to stoop to what Miss Dalton proposes! To make it a matter of county gossip, under her leadership! No, indeed! I would rather be penniless all my life."

Pride and principle had both a share in this decision. She struck a wax match, lighted one of the small green candles affixed to her davenport, and wrote a brief note without hesitation.


"DEAR MISS DALTON,—Thanks for your kind letter just
received. I am interested, of course, in what you tell
me about my dear grandfather's intentions, but I must
beg of you on no account to let the matter go farther.
I should be distressed if it were generally known.
The letter to Mr. Ogilvie was of course written
in confidence.—Excuse haste, and believe me,
yours truly,"


Hermione read her note through. "Yes, that will do," she murmured. "They are the sort of people that one has to be very decided with. And all this in consequence of one call, and one favour accepted! Should I find myself frightfully in their power, after weeks in the house? I wonder if, after all, it might be better not—"

She did not finish the sentence even to herself, but went to place her note with other letters in the hall ready for the post. Then the carriage drove up, and she waited to welcome her cousin.

Harvey came in listlessly. His altered looks did not strike Hermione, since she had been to the cottage two or three times since the accident. Her greeting was kind but pre-occupied, so much pre-occupied that she even forgot to ask how Julia was. Mrs. Trevor extended three gloved fingers, with a careless "How do?" and preceded the others into the drawing-room, exclaiming, "No lights! Well, that is cheerful, I must say. Only a single farthing dip! You seem to be doing things economically!"

This was addressed to Hermione, and Hermione answered—

"I have been busy. I do not know why Slade has not brought lights." Slade, following with an armful of wraps, cast one reproachful look. "Yes, I remember, I said I would ring," continued Hermione. "But it does not matter. We will have lights now."

"It may not matter to you. It matters a good deal to me," Mrs. Trevor responded in aggrieved tones. "After a dismal drive in the dark to come to a room looking like a tomb! I declare it gives me the cold shivers all over. Do make a blaze with the fire, Harvey. And not a sign of tea! I suppose we are not expected to care for creature-comforts. You had yours, no doubt, an hour ago."

"No; I have waited," was the frigid reply.

Mrs. Trevor showed no gratitude. She shrugged her shoulders, muttered "Economical!" and eat down with her feet on the fender. "Where is Mittie?" came next.

"I do not know."

"Banished to the housekeeper's room, no doubt!"

Hermione really was trying to be patient, in consideration of Harvey's tired look. Somehow, that which went before had drawn her nearer to her cousin. She felt as if a conspiracy were afoot to rob him for her benefit, and the better part of her nature was called up. Whatever old Mr. Dalrymple ought to have done and had not done, Hermione did not feel that Harvey was to blame for the state of things. But Mrs. Trevor's manner was exasperating to the proud girl.

"I do not know," she repeated. Mrs. Trevor turned to Slade, who had brought in the lamp and was drawing the curtains. "Tell Milton to send Miss Mittie here," she said.

Slade responded with his usual composure, but in three minutes he returned alone.

"Mrs. Milton has not seen Miss Mittie all the afternoon, ma'am."

"Then where has she been? Who has seen her?"

"Mrs. Milton was under the impression, ma'am, that Miss Mittie was with Miss Rivers."

"Under the impression! Why couldn't she make sure?" cried Mrs. Trevor indignantly. "She might have known better than to suppose anything of the sort. I have no doubt the poor child has been upstairs in one of those fireless rooms, catching her death of cold. Do, pray, find her at once, and send her here. I'm too chilly to stir."

Slade quitted the room with evident intent to obey, and she called after him, "No, you had better bring up the tea, and send somebody else to look, for we are half famished."

"If I had known when you would really arrive, I could have had the tea waiting," said Hermione.

"I told you as much as I knew myself. Slade might have had the tea-things here ready, at all events. But of course that was too much trouble for anybody to think of. I should have fancied that the child's existence might have been remembered by somebody."

Tea came in, and Hermione began to pour it out in silence. Slade put down the silver cake-basket in its right place, then said—

"Miss Mittie is not upstairs, ma'am."

"Not upstairs? But she must be?" exclaimed Mrs. Trevor, aghast. "Where else can she have gone?"

"Mrs. Milton and the maids have looked into all the rooms, ma'am, and Miss Mittie is not to be found."

"She can't be out of doors. It is absurd, at this hour. Of course she can't. When did anybody see her last?"

"Mrs. Milton saw her for a minute after luncheon, ma'am—some little time after. Mrs. Milton was very busy, and Miss Mittie said she was going to speak to Miss Rivers."

"Yes; she came to me," Hermione observed calmly. "She asked when you were expected to arrive."

"Was that all?"

"Not quite. I was busy, and could not attend to her. She said something, I think, about going out to get some flowers, I did not exactly hear what."

"Didn't hear, and didn't care! What o'clock was that?"

"I am not sure. It may have been about half-past three."

"Mittie is most probably at the Rectory," said Harvey.

"No, sir; I thought of that. But Mrs. Milton says that Mr. and Miss Fitzalan are absent for the day. Miss Mittie told Mrs. Milton so; and also Mrs. Milton knows that Miss Mittie intended to be at home when Mrs. Trevor should arrive."

"She may be at the Rectory all the same," said Harvey. "Somebody had better go and inquire. Yes—you will be the best. If not there, you may hear of her elsewhere. Unless she has gone to sleep in some corner of the house. That is as likely as anything. Another cup of tea, please."

Hermione complied with the request, trying to conquer a sense of uneasiness. Why had she not attended to the little one's wants, instead of so curtly repelling her? That brief scene did not look beautiful now, seen as a thing of the past. She felt half disposed to go and search for Mittie herself, only Mrs. Trevor's manner was so annoying. Pride protested, and she sat still. Mrs. Trevor muttered something and vanished, and presently Harvey followed her. Hermione could hear the sound of feet on the stairs, passing up and down, of doors opened and shut, of Mittie's name loudly called. It did not seem kind or gracious that she should remain here alone, taking no share in the search, and Hermione, suddenly ashamed, stood up, purposing to help.

But it was too late. Mrs. Trevor came in alone, walked to the rug, and turned upon Hermione a flushed face of disquiet.

"Mittie is not in the house or at the Rectory," she said in a hard hoarse voice. "Slade can hear nothing of her. Not a soul in the place has seen or spoken to the child—since you!"

Hermione's heart sank. "It is extraordinary," she said.

"Extraordinary! Is that all you have to say?"

"No—I am sorry—" Hermione began, forcing herself to be composed. She was going to say, "I am sorry I did not look after her more."

"A nice sort of sorrow! When you can sit here, amusing yourself, not even taking the trouble to walk upstairs and look for her. Oh, you needn't go now. She is not there. Nobody knows where she is, the poor little darling! Unless you do!"

Hermione kept cold silence.

"I'm not sure that you don't. I believe there's something more in it than any of us know. She spoke to you last. Why should she have gone away and hidden herself directly after? What did you say to her, pray? Speak, girl! What have you done to my child?"

Mrs. Trevor stamped one foot angrily. She seemed to be almost beside herself with grief and wrathful suspicion. Hermione grew pale.

"I have done nothing to Mittie. You are wrong and cruel to accuse me. She wanted flowers from the conservatory, and I was too busy to see to it. She said she would go out. Nothing more passed."

"Nothing more than an ordinary snubbing, I suppose. Poor pet! she wasn't used to snubbings before she came here. It was left to a saintly being like yourself to teach her what that sort of thing means."

"You are hard upon me—for what I cannot possibly help," Hermione said with difficulty.

"You could have helped it! Common attention to the child was all that was needed. Hard upon you! As if this were the only time! As if it had not been going on ever since we came to Westford! Oh, you count yourself an immaculate being, I know, but I can tell you other people don't hold the same opinion. You may be an angel among the cottagers, but you're not at all an angel in your own home. Talk of religion! I'm sick of the word. You just care to please yourself, and that's all. Your religion is to do what you like! It's selfishness out and out! You haven't even the bare kindness to look after a poor forlorn child left in your charge. Oh, you were too busy, of course—about your own concerns—and my poor Mittie just had to take her chance. All I can say is, that if ever I want religion, I'll not come to you for it. I'll go to somebody who acts instead of talking. I don't believe in such saintliness as yours. It's all a sham and a delusion,—nothing but show! There! I've told you plainly, for once, what I think. I don't care whether you like it or not."

Mrs. Trevor hurried away, and Hermione stood as if stunned, white to the lips, shuddering all over with long shivers as if of bodily pain.

For the arrow had struck home.







MITTIE did not mean to be half-an-hour absent when she started on her little excursion.

Hermione's "snubbing" had an uncomfortable effect, as such snubbings always had upon Mittie. It was true, as Mrs. Trevor said, that she was not used to them. Much spoiling and very limited scolding had fallen to Mittie's share before she came to Westford. An occasional sharp word from her mother had meant little, and had been always manageable by a tear from Mittie. The child had really been never allowed to feel herself in the way, and her loving sensitive nature suffered keenly from this novel sensation under Hermione's rule.

It was an intense delight to Mittie to think of having her mother back. Other people might count Mrs. Trevor no wise mother, and no very estimable person in some respects, but she was Mittie's mother, and there was genuine and hearty affection between the two.

If only Mittie might have rigged up a big flag of welcome! She confided the notion to Milton, however, and Milton quashed the scheme at once. "Miss Rivers wouldn't like it."

Mittie thought it "funny" that cousin Hermione never seemed to like anything that she wished to do. But she was far too simple and child-like to bear malice. If anybody had asked her within five minutes after if she loved cousin Hermione, she would have answered unhesitatingly, "Oh yes! 'course I do—only not like my Marjory, you know!"

Failing the flag, she thought of the flowers, and here an appeal to Hermione, as present head of affairs, was needful. Poor Mittie was sorely disappointed to fail anew.

One resource remained. Once or twice lately in a walk with Marjory she had found prettily-tinted autumn leaves, yellow and red and golden-brown. "Mother" would surely like some of these placed on her dressing-table.

Hermione did not forbid her to go out, therefore Mittie felt free. She was accustomed to a good deal of liberty for so small a person.

It did not take long to get ready. Hat and jacket were soon donned, and Mittie skipped away through the garden, gloves in hand, bent upon reaching the meadows behind the Rectory. Tinted leaves might be nearer, but there she knew they could be found without doubt.

There they were too; only, as it happened, all the best and prettiest were out of Mittie's reach. She stood beneath tempting branches, and looked up with longing eyes before resolving to go farther.

The next meadow might afford what she wanted. Mittie resolved to venture so far. If she ran fast, going home, she would almost certainly be in time.

A stile had to be climbed, and Mittie found herself in a large field, covered with a succession of long rounded ridges of grass, like petrified earthwaves. Near the encircling hedge grew in one spot a good many scattered small trees, and about half-way between this spot and the centre was a very fine young Wellingtonia, surrounded by a brick wall. A fence had formerly enclosed the Wellingtonia, but the fence having been repeatedly broken down, a wall had been substituted by the owner, who was very proud of his American specimen.

Mittie stole along by the hedge, breaking off here and there a tinted twig which caught her fancy, till she had quite a bouquet of variegated colours. Then she resolved to turn home, but she thought she would take one look in passing at certain small bushes growing just inside the wall which protected the Wellingtonia. So the little feet set off thither at a light run.

Suddenly some sound, or perhaps an instinctive sense of danger, made Mittie turn her head and look back.

To her horror she was being chased. A large bull with lowered horns was rushing at full gallop straight towards her.

Mittie had not known before that any creature beside herself was in the field. Had she seen the animal she would have retreated at once, for years of town-life had made her timid in this respect. Probably he had been browsing behind a group of trees at a short distance till attracted by her running.

One faint shriek burst from the child's lips, but she did not pause. At her utmost speed she fled wildly over the grass towards the Wellingtonia. Happily, she was a fleet runner, as well as a good climber. Many a wall and small tree had Mittie learnt to scale since Westford had been her home. Whether the bull really meant to hurt her, or was merely trying conclusions as to speed, might be questioned, but Mittie had no doubt whatever of his murderous intentions.

Not a dozen clear yards lay between pursuer and pursued when Mittie gained the enclosing wall, but that was enough. She knew of the one rugged and broken corner where she could ascend, and in another instant she had gained the summit, safe, but gasping for breath, blanched with terror, her poor little heart beating so madly that she could scarcely see what lay before her eyes. She dared not drop down within the wall, since it might not be possible to get up again on the other side. There was nothing for it but to sit on the top, which happily offered a fairly broad and secure surface, and to watch with fascinated eyes her terrible foe.

One thing became at once apparent, that the bull had no notion of climbing a wall. Mittie had had her doubts on this head, and was consoled. Finding his prey out of reach, he stopped running, and seemed disposed to take the matter coolly; but he showed no intention of taking himself away. He browsed about carelessly here and there, always within twenty or thirty yards of the enclosure. It would have made little difference if he had gone to the utmost verge of the field. Mittie felt that she could never venture to descend alone, to cross the wide space between the wall and the stile, while the enemy was anywhere within reach. She was on a fortress, practically invested, hopelessly cut off from the rest of the world.

For a while Mittie bore up pluckily. She was accustomed of late to rove about much alone, and to depend upon herself, and she felt no doubt that somebody would soon come to the rescue. Only it did seem very hard not to be at home to welcome her mother, and tears rose with the thought.

The wall seat, though tolerably safe, since Mittie was not given to giddiness, could not be called comfortable. Mittie debated several times whether she might not venture to descend inside. But it would not do. She would be out of sight there, and getting up again might prove impossible, so smooth was the inner surface of the wall.

As time passed and no human being approached Mittie began to realise that things were growing serious. Light faded fast, and soon her little figure would be invisible, even if somebody did pass near. It grew very cold too, and Mittie felt quite chilled and stiff with long exposure. The idea of being all alone here after dark was terrible to the sensitive child. Fortitude failed at last, and she broke into bitter sobs, crying out for help.

In an interval of crying her eyes were caught by a faint light beyond the first meadow. Mittie knew it to be the Rectory light, and the very sight brought a thrill of hope. "O Marjory! Marjory! do come!" wailed Mittie at first; and then— "But Marjory would tell me to ask God," she thought. And with the wailing sobs, which she was too cold and frightened to check, were childish murmurs of prayer and trust. Was ever such pleading unanswered?







"MISS RIVERS, if you please—there's a woman just come—"

Hermione turned upon Slade a face of such marble whiteness that he stopped, dumbfounded. She looked like one who has received some sharp blow. But she said only—

"Yes, go on. A woman has come—"

"The one who sometimes does a bit of weeding, Miss. She says her little boy saw Miss Mittie go into the meadows behind the Rectory this afternoon."

"She would not be there now, of course. Has any one been to look?"

"I don't know, Miss. I thought I should find Mrs. Trevor here. It did just come to my mind as Miss Mittie might have got hurt or been frightened. The banks are slippery down by the stream. And besides—"

"Yes?" Hermione said inquiringly.

"Mr. Haye has taken to putting that big bull of his in them meadows the last three days, Miss Rivers. And Miss Mittie's mortal afraid of cows. I don't know as he'd hurt anybody; they say he isn't so fierce as he looks. But he does run; and if Miss Mittie saw him coming, she might get a fright and tumble down somewhere."

This was a long speech for Slade to make. Hermione listened, with her pale face turned towards him.

"Yes—it might be something of that sort. I don't see how she—But we can find out. Don't say anything to anybody, Slade. You and I will go."

"Yes, Miss." Slade's manner showed none of his surprise.

"I must do something. I can't rest," said Hermione in a low voice. "Dinner is put off, is it not? There will be time. Besides—nothing matters. She must be found. Wait one moment, and I will come."

Slade obeyed, with only a look of sympathy. In two minutes Hermione appeared, wearing hat and ulster. Milton alone was told of their expedition. Hermione set off at such a pace that Slade could hardly keep up with her.

It was by this time quite dark, and many others were out searching. Even Harvey ventured a short distance, though very unfit for the exertion. Mrs. Trevor stayed indoors, with despairing tears and complaints.

Nobody seemed to have thought of the meadows behind the Rectory. Probably Marjory Fitzalan would have done so, but she and her father were absent still. Few knew so much as Marjory of Mittie's favourite resorts.

Slade had procured a lighted lantern during his two minutes of waiting, one used already in the search. But for its help they could hardly have followed the meadow-path.

An examination of the muddy bank of the stream proved fruitless, and they went on till the stile was reached leading into the next large field. "You'll catch cold, Miss," Slade said solicitously, noting a shiver. "I don't know as it's much use going farther. Miss Mittie isn't likely to be there."

"Hush! O hush!"

Hermione stood like a statue, listening.

"I can't hear nothing," Slade declared. He was too much excited for his usual careful choice of words.

"O hush!"

Slade obeyed, and there was another pause.

"Yes, it is her voice! A child crying! Oh, make haste!"

"Are you sure, Miss?" Slade's voice was more than dubious.

"Quite sure. Quick, Slade! she is somewhere near!"

Hermione sprang over the stile, and took the lead. She pressed forward eagerly, pausing from time to time to study the direction of the sounds, which grew more distinct as they advanced. Slade was soon obliged to admit that "there was something!"

"Not as I don't know that it isn't some sort of a creature caught in a trap," he added. "They do cry, some of 'em, wonderful like a child."

"But that is Miss Mittie's voice! Slade, can't you hear? She is sobbing and calling for help."

Slade's doubts were silenced. There could soon be no hesitation as to the nature of those wailing cries, and the very words became distinguishable. "Mother, mother! O Marjory, do come!" But no mention of "cousin Hermione!" A few hours earlier Hermione might not have noticed the omission. She did now, with a sharp pang.

"Hallo! That's the brute!" exclaimed Slade, with exultation over his own foresight, as a great creature retired promptly before the blaze of his lamp. He had not breath for much more. Hermione led at a run.

"The bull! Is it, really? Then you were right. Slade, come quickly. He will not touch us—and just hear that poor child! Mittie! Mittie! we are coming!" she cried cheerily, and her voice rang far ahead.

"Marjory! Marjory!" was the answering appeal. Poor little Mittie could hardly picture such an event as cousin Hermione coming to the rescue.

Half a minute more, and the wall was reached. Slade swung up his lantern. "She's on the—top—" he panted. "I'll get her—down."

"O Marjory! that dreadful dreadful bull!" wailed Mittie. "Slade, hold me tight; don't let him come! I'm so frightened, and so cold! O Marjory—"

But Hermione's arms, not Marjory's, received the little shivering figure lifted to the ground by Slade, folding her round in a protecting embrace, and Hermione's voice, not Marjory's, said pityingly, "Poor darling! No, he shall not hurt you—he shall not touch you, Mittie dear! you are quite safe now. Don't be frightened! Don't sob so! Slade, she is so terribly cold; I don't think she can stand! What can we do? Oh, there is this!" and she drew off a small shawl which she had thrown about her own shoulders, putting it round Mittie. "Poor little thing! but don't cry, darling. Try to walk, because it will warm you."

"Is it cousin Hermione?" came with an amazed gasp, and then Mittie put up her face. "I'll try—try not to cry. I don't want—want to be naughty. But oh, don't let the bull come!"

"He shall kill me first, Mittie. But you needn't be afraid. Slade is here, and the bull is frightened of the light."

"God sent you, didn't He?" came in an unexpected whisper, amid the sobs and shivers which the child had no power to control. "I thought— thought He would! Sweet cousin Hermione—you are so—so kind!"

"You'd best let me carry her, Miss," Slade said gravely.

No; Hermione could not resolve to unloose those little clinging arms. Her heart ached with bitter self-reproach at this loving response after all her past coldness. She was very strong, and Mittie was so small and slight. Hermione lifted her off the wet grass, and held her firmly, accepting such help as Slade could give, but refusing to part with the child. Mittie's cold face lay on her shoulder, and more than one tear fell upon it.

"Cousin Hermione, are you crying?" asked Mittie wonderingly. "Oh, I know you're tired. Mayn't I walk? Why, cousin Hermione, I didn't ever think you cared one scrap for me. Sweet cousin Hermione, I do love you so."

Hermione almost felt as if her heart would break under the childish tender words, coming so soon after the sharp stab of terrible truth given by the mother.







A WEEK later Julia came home. The day before, she had a letter from Francesca, which she re-read carefully in the carriage on her way back. Part of it ran as follows:—

"You will find things different in certain respects, not altogether disagreeable respects. I told you about Hermione finding poor Mittie on the wall, and actually carrying her part of the way home, with Slade there by her side. Why she couldn't let Slade do it passes my comprehension, but I suppose Hermione always must do things after her own fashion, unlike other people. Anyhow, she is oddly changed since that day. I must confess that I did for once speak out, when I found how she had been neglecting that poor child, and I gave her a good piece of my mind. She didn't say a word in answer, only turned so pale that really I almost thought she meant to treat me to a fainting fit by way of mild revenge. So perhaps the shot told. If so, I'm sure it is not to be regretted."

"Anyhow, whatever is the cause, I am glad to have her moderately civil to myself. More than civility I don't ask. As for the devotion which has sprung up between her and Mittie, I suppose I might be jealous if I were disposed to jealousy, which happily I am not. It is too much trouble. Mittie is better, but we can't let her come downstairs yet. She has had a narrow escape of rheumatic fever. Hermione sits with her by the hour together, reading and telling stories, which saves me trouble, so I don't object. Mittie's raptures are about equally divided now between 'My Marjory' and 'Sweet cousin Hermione.' So long as the child is amused, I really don't care what amuses her."

"I am giving you this little hint beforehand as to the present posture of affairs, for fear you should blunder. Hermione evidently objects to remarks on her proceedings."

"Harvey is getting impatient to be off to East Bourne, I can see. I haven't an idea what Hermione will do. Miss Dalton paid her an immensely long call two days ago. Yesterday I told her that we should most likely be off before the end of next week, and she merely said 'Yes,' in her most composed tone. Harvey is by no means lively just now, but I dare say you will put him right. He gets nervous about himself, I suspect—wants a thorough change. I doubt if he will drive over for you to-morrow, as you say that it is not necessary. The distance both ways is really rather much for him just now, and I am sure I cannot possibly spare the time. Hermione might, but she will not think of it."


Whether Hermione did or did not think of it, she made no offer to go, and Julia's only companion was Milton. Perhaps Julia had a sense of forlornness through the silent drive. Her bodily needs were well attended to, but Milton's ideas of propriety prevented any possibility of conversation, and Julia had ample time for thought and letter-reading. However if any such sense existed, it was driven away by the warm welcome accorded on her arrival.

Prepared by Francesca's letter, Julia showed no surprise when told that Hermione had spent the afternoon with Mittie. She said only, "How kind!" and a softened look in Hermione's eyes showed that she had said the right thing.

Harvey looked, as Francesca had said, by no means lively. Julia could not make him out. He seemed to be under a weight, listless, wanting in energy, often irritable without cause. Was it the effect of the accident only, Julia often asked herself, or was that old question of Hermione's possible claims pressing upon his mind? But she could not bring the latter forward hastily again. She had spoken once clearly and strongly, and Harvey had told her to wait, had desired her to trust him. She did wait, and she tried to trust.

If Harvey did not seem happy, neither did Hermione. Julia noted this increasingly day by day. But every effort on her part to draw nearer to Hermione, during the remainder of that week, was evaded or repelled.

After some hesitation, Thursday in the following week was fixed upon for the journey to East Bourne. Julia begged her sister to say nothing about it either to or before Hermione. She had a keen recollection of Hermione's passionate outburst, and no less keen a recollection of her husband's desire that she should "manage" Hermione's going with them all to Eastbourne. Julia felt that her only hope of success lay in preventing any further collisions between Francesca and Hermione. Fortunately, Mrs. Trevor was so far gratified with Hermione's attentions to Mittie as to fall in with Julia's wishes.

For more than a day and a half Julia put off speaking—not on principle, but simply because she lacked courage, and could not find a good opening. Sunday came, and she had said nothing. "Well, if you don't, I will!" declared Francesca. "I'm burning to talk; and I can't promise to keep mum any longer, with my head full of East Bourne."

This brought Julia to the point. She gave up the hope of a "good opening," and resolved to make the opportunity which had declined to make itself. Directly after early dinner Hermione disappeared as usual for Sunday-school work, but later in the afternoon, when she came home, Julia happened to be alone in the drawing-room.

"Julia—oh, I thought I should find Mittie here," Hermione said, with a touch of embarrassment, and an evident intention to retreat. She seemed to dread anything in the shape of a tête-à-tête just now with anybody. Julia rose to meet her.

"Francesca called Mittie away. I think they are in the morning-room till tea-time. Won't you stay, Hermione? I want so much to speak to you."

Hermione stood still, two or three yards within the door, not approaching any nearer. "Yes. What do you want?" she asked.

"Won't you come and sit down here just for a minute or two?"

Hermione seemed unwilling to comply, but Julia's pleading manner prevailed, and she came slowly to the sofa.

"I must not stay," she said in an uneasy manner, not like her old self-confidence. "I have to take off my hat and jacket before tea— and it is getting rather late."

"Half-an-hour before tea—isn't it? I want much to say something."

Julia's cheeks were flushed, and her hand was unsteady. "Ought you not to be lying down?" asked Hermione.

"No; it doesn't matter. I have been resting, and I am so much better now. Isn't it wonderful to think how different things might have been in that dreadful accident?—and now both of us are getting on so well."

"Yes," was Hermione's response.

"I can never forget it. A time like that must make a difference to one all through life. At least I hope so. I don't feel as if I could ever take things lightly and carelessly again. Won't you help me, dear Hermione? I know you can—as so few could."

Julia spoke with a grave truth and naturalness which showed that she thoroughly meant what she said. But Hermione shrank under the words, and drew her hand away from Julia's touch. "O no!" escaped her lips.

"Won't you?—when there is so much that I want to learn, and you can give me just the help that I need?"

"No, no!" The words seemed wrung from Hermione, and she turned her head away. "I can't. Not I. Mr. Fitzalan—"

"Yes, indeed, he does help me more than I can tell. I am always learning from his sermons. But still—you and I live together, and it does seem as if we ought to be friends. Your training has been so different from mine. Couldn't you teach me the things you have learnt all your life?—the things I have only just begun to know?"

"Oh no! I don't deserve—"

The words were scarcely audible. Julia could not be quite sure what Hermione said, only there was no mistake about the accompanying sob.

"Then shall we help one another?" she asked affectionately.

Hermione made no answer to this, and her face was still turned away, but she did not repel the arm which came softly round her waist.

"That was not all I had to say. There was something else," Julia began after a little break. She was afraid of interruptions. "I have been wanting to tell you all yesterday and to-day. About going to East Bourne—"

"Yes. Mittie says it is to be next Thursday."

Julia augured ill from the cold tone, but she went on, "Yes, I think so. There seems no reason for putting-off longer, and we all need a change. Will you come with us, Hermione?"

The response was delayed. Julia began to tremble.

"Please do. I want it so much, and my husband too. If you knew how anxious he is that you should—"

"I have decided not to go to the Daltons."

"And you will come with us?"

"Yes. Mittie begged it, and I have promised."

"Dear little Mittie!" Julia murmured. "Thank you so much! It is very good to do what we wish. We will try to make you happy there."

"I must take off my hat now."

And Hermione was gone. She could not resolve to unbend farther just then, though not insensible to the kindness of those loving and humble words which made yielding so much easier for her. The contrast between Julia and herself smote her painfully; and at the same time her pride writhed beneath the pain of having to give way, when she had so repeatedly declared that she would not.

Another grief lay below, the grief of a sorrowful new self-knowledge following upon long self-deception. Hermione had only endured it hitherto, refusing to face the truth bravely. But Julia's words took effect. Hermione did face it that evening in Church, solemnly, silently, with many tears.


Mr. Fitzalan went home after the evening service, counting his day's work done, and was met by Marjory, who had arrived first. She said, "Father, Hermione is in the study. She wants a word with you. Slade was to see her home, and he is waiting in the kitchen."

Mr. Fitzalan made a sign of assent, and went to his study, closing the door behind him. Hermione stood near the table, her head bent, and traces of tears on her cheeks.

"Well, my child?" he said kindly, speaking as a father might have spoken.

Hermione put her hand into his. "I am going to East Bourne," she said brokenly.

"That is good news. I am sure you are wise."

"Mittie—wants it—"

"Yes. She is a dear little child."

"I told her—but it is not only Mittie. I know I—ought."

"I think you are right. By-and-by you must come here for a long visit. After your return."

Hermione's head drooped lower, and she clasped her hands, resting them on the table. She looked wonderfully fair, standing thus, he thought— fairer than in her more confident and smiling moods.

"Mr. Fitzalan, is it—"

"Is it—what?"

"Is it—has it been—"

He waited.

"Has it been—all—deceiving?"

"What makes you ask?"

"Mrs. Trevor said—" Sobs shook her frame, and she could not go on.

"One cannot judge another. Nay, more—we cannot judge our own selves fairly. You must take that question to your Master."

"Is He that—to me?" she asked, as if brokenhearted with the doubt.

"Yes, He is that to you by absolute right, and you are bound to His service by Baptismal promise and vow. He is your Lord and Master. And if you have been untrue to Him—devoted to your own interests rather than to His—is not that it, Hermione—?"

"Oh—yes!" she moaned rather than said.

"Then, dear child, what is there for you—what is there for any of us— but to go back to His Feet and tell Him all? Never mind how often you have or have not been to Him truly before. He is waiting to receive you to-night—whether for the first or the hundredth time. He will give you the help you need. He is yours, and you are His bounden servant. But let the service in the future be true and thorough— not half-hearted. Not 'Some of self, and some of Thee!' but 'None of self, and all of Thee!'"

"Thank you! Oh, I will!" Hermione whispered with a burst of gentle weeping such as had scarcely been seen in her before.







"THREE Parades, mother! One at the top of another!"

"One above another, I suppose you mean."

"Yes. And lots of green growing all along. Hermione says it's called tam—something. And there's a Splash-Point, only it's ever so far-off right along the Parade, beyond the pier, and the waves do splash up there. Cousin Hermione and I could only just race round between the waves. And cousin Hermione got such a lovely colour in her cheeks. I saw lots of people looking at her. And cousin Hermione says I needn't call her 'cousin,' cause it's so long—all that lot of it! Hermione is four whole syllables, you know. Oh, I do like going out with her—it's such fun. And I'm sure cousin Hermione—no, I mean Hermione—likes it too."

"She is very kind to take so much trouble with you," Julia remarked.

"But she says it isn't trouble one bit. She says it's fun. I didn't know Hermione liked fun before, and she does. We went up to the Wish Tower, mother, and there's a moat, and a bridge, and a gun, and a man. Oh, and down below there are holes in the great high wall, and I saw birds going in and out. Wasn't that odd? Cousin Hermione couldn't tell me why they went in. I thought grown-up people knew everything. But they don't. And, mother, we saw Beachy Head, ever so far-off, you know, and high up. Three miles away, cousin Hermione says. And I do want to go there some day, 'cause you know it's in the poetry about the Spanish Armada that my Marjory read to me. I've learnt bits, and I know that part. Oh, and mother—"

"Have pity, do, child! The way you chatter!"

Mittie came to an abashed pause, looking joyous still.

"I'll tell you the rest by-and-by," she said sedately. "Only I do think East Bourne is the very most delightful place I ever saw in all my life! And now I'm going back to Hermione."

"It's a perfect craze," Mrs. Trevor remarked carelessly. She did not look annoyed, however. Hermione's love for the child gratified her in the abstract, though the perpetual recurrence of those "four syllables" did at times prove wearisome.

This was their first day in East Bourne, so a little excitement on Mittie's part was excusable. Despite its being the month of November, they had soft mild and clear weather, without rain or fogs, and with many gleams of sunshine. The three ladies enjoyed their change thoroughly, Hermione not less than the others. Harvey still wore a grave and abstracted air, and the dents in his forehead, of which Mittie had once complained, were now so habitual that the child had ceased to notice them.

Nearly a week after their arrival, Julia had one afternoon to take a note to her husband in the small sitting-room which he here used as a study. He received it with a slight detaining gesture, and she stood waiting while he read.

"No answer needed," he said, glancing up. "Sit down, Julia. I don't often get you alone for five minutes."

"We seem generally all together," she replied, with a throb of pleasure at the words. "Harvey, I wish you looked strong again. I think I shall be well first."

"I! Oh, I am all right—should be, at least, if it were not for worries."

Julia did not ask, "What worries?—" at least not in words. Her face was eloquent.

"Why do you never speak to me now about Hermione's—" he hesitated, and at length the word "claims?" followed.

"You told me that she had none."

"And you were satisfied?"

Julia lifted her black eyes to his, answering truthfully, "No!"

"Then why not speak?"

"I thought you might not like it. You told me I mast depend upon you to—" and a pause.

"To 'do justly,'" her husband said.


"And," there was emphasis in Harvey's voice, "and 'to walk humbly with thy God!' Is not that it? But first comes the 'doing justly.' Does that mean that a course of doing unjustly would make the other impossible?"

She bent her head and answered, "I am afraid so."

"And I—have found it so."

Julia's hand came on his arm. "Will you not," she pleaded, "will you not do it—do what seems right——be on the safe side?"

"I cannot make up my mind. Not for want of thinking. It has been before me constantly. But there are difficulties. Something must be done, undoubtedly. The question is—what?"

"Twenty thousand pounds?"

"It would mean pecuniary pressure for years for you and me."

"Ought we to think of that—if it is right—if your uncle meant her to have so much?"

"If? That is the question. Did he mean it calmly, or was it a sudden impulse? Should I be right to part with such an amount? There are certain duties which I owe to the estate, to those living on the estate. How if I could not fulfil those duties?"

"But have we not to 'do justly,' not thinking of consequences?"

Harvey smiled. "Yours is a very straightforward view of the matter."

"Is it the wrong view?"

"Not abstractly—it could not be. Practically there are complications which make decision not so easy. You must remember that I am not bound to give any particular sum. We may have a sense of what is morally right or wrong in the matter, but legally I am free. My uncle's mere wishes have no binding power over me."

"No. But still—" she said.

"But still I agree with you that something should be done. I shall not be at rest till it is settled one way or another."

"Cannot you now—Why put off?"

"I am not able to come to a decision."

"Then why not speak to Hermione? Tell her plainly how things stand, and see what she will say. Would not that be a help? She is so kind and loving lately—so different—I do think she would better help you in seeing what to do. Anything is better than to put off. Suppose you changed your mind again!"

"You have small trust in me!"

"It isn't that! I only know what I am myself. May I call Hermione?"

"At once?" Man-like, he distrusted impulse in a business matter.

"Yes, at once. She is indoors. Isn't it best to be open?"

And after a little more hesitation, a little more pleading, Harvey actually said, "Yes!"


Hermione listened to her cousin's statement with an air of calm attention, sitting opposite to him, her hands folded on her lap, and her blue eyes glancing from him to Julia. His statement was that of a man of business, though gleams of personal feeling came in now and then. When he had mentioned the letter to Mr. Selwyn, and the "twenty thousand pounds," she said in surprise, "No! that must be a mistake!" When he spoke of his difficulty in parting with so much in a lump, she said, "No! oh no! it would not do at all."

"Now you see exactly how things stand," were Harvey's concluding words. "I wish to do what is right and fair, but the estate will not stand unlimited pulls upon it. Julia advises me to consult with you. I do not fancy that my uncle wished to injure the property."

"I know he did not. I can help you here," she said, with her sweetest smile. "If only I had known before that you were worrying yourselves!"

"Then your grandfather spoke to you of his intentions?"

"No; he never talked business to me. It was not his way. But on the Saturday before he was taken from us, he wrote to an old friend, Mr. Ogilvie—a relative of your Mrs. Ogilvie—Julia. You must see the letter. I only heard of it lately—through the Daltons at first— and some days ago Mr. Ogilvie sent it to me. I have not liked to mention it to either of you. Of course the Daltons had no right to interfere, and—But I will get the letter."

She sped lightly away, and Harvey looked towards his wife with a quiet, "You were right!"

Almost immediately Hermione came back, flushed and eager. She gave the sheet to Harvey, saying, "It is there, on the second page. Read to Julia, if you like."

And Harvey read:—"'You will remember my grandchild, Hermione Rivers— a child when you saw her last, but now a young woman. She is dearer to me than ever. I can feel no fears about her future; she will never fail to win friends. But, as you are aware, the Westford estate is entailed, and I have to-day resolved to leave to her, absolutely, the sum of £10,000. I wish I could make it £20,000, but I doubt if the estate would stand so great a loss, and do not feel that I have a right to cripple my successor. You will think it strange that I have not provided fully for my Hermione sooner. Blame an old man's procrastination. It shall be delayed no longer.'"

"Strange!" Harvey uttered.

"You see! The most he thought of was ten thousand," said Hermione. "And I shall never want so much."

"When did you say it was written?" Julia inquired. "On the Saturday? The very same day that he wrote of twenty thousand pounds to Mr. Selwyn!"

"Probably at the same time. That must have been a slip of the pen," Harvey said gravely. "His mind was no doubt confused."

"Poor grandfather! Yes; the illness was coming on even then. But there is no mistake about what he really meant. He gives his reasons for the one, not for the other."

"True!" Harvey murmured. There was a brief silence of two or three minutes, during which he bent his head in deep thought. Julia watched him fearfully. Hermione seemed almost indifferent, certainly not anxious.

Then Harvey raised his eyes, a new light in them. "The ten thousand pounds shall be yours, Hermione. I will take steps at once."

Hermione looked disturbed.

"Is that right? Is it needful?"

"I think so; both right and needful. You have made matters plain. If he had lived another week, it would have been yours. It shall be yours now!"

Hermione could only murmur something inarticulate about, "Very very kind!"

"Only just!" Harvey answered.

Julia bent to kiss the forehead from which all puckers had disappeared, whispering, "I am so glad! oh, so thankful!"


And Harry Fitzalan!

The ten thousand pounds were no bait at all to Harry! He scouted any such considerations. He loved Hermione deeply, but he could not get over that one sight of Hermione in a rage. It "finished him off," he said. No such wife for him!

And though he could not cease to care for her, he held studiously aloof, kept resolutely apart. Perhaps Harry's character was none the worse in the end for this long process of abstention—long, for it lasted four years. Nobody knew what Hermione thought of it. She did suffer, for she did love; but no human being was allowed a glimpse below the surface.

At length, after four whole years, even the sceptical Harry was convinced of that which every one else saw plainly, the real change in Hermione. He found that she was now what once she had only, at least in a measure, seemed to be.

Then he proposed, and was accepted.








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