Page images


Although I had at parting, hastily written my, a visitor was shown into the apartment which, address on a card, and given it to Lord Tarra- having in it the best piano, did duty as a musicgon, I did not, as I fondly anticipated, receive a room as well as show-parlour. The lady talked letter from him. And a new source of distress so loud to a small and particularly youthfulhad arisen since this meeting. Benvolere's looking male companion who was with her, that health, broken and shattered, now threatened I was compelled to suspend my labours. She to reduce him altogether to an entirely invalid turned round-perhaps to apologise-and I incondition. If I lost him, where should I find stantly, to my great dismay, recognized Miss protection ? Madame Theresa would probably Jukes. She knew me in an instant. “My!” not long survive her brother, and I should be she exclaimed, with her old transatlantic intoshut out, not merely from my proper station, nation exaggerated, “I reckon I hardly knew but from what was worse--love, companionship, you; you air grown quite tall and spry-you and friendship. For my dear master's sake I air that now, I tell you. Hav'n't left school was content to put up with those airs of patro- yet! well, I guess British females are like nage which people, especially people of mediocre British oaks – they take a long time to reach position, think it necessary to bestow on those maturity; they just do now. American young less fortunate beings who stand in the relation ladies spring into perfection all at once. Ain't of teachers. I frankly confess, that the condi- I right, Theophilus P. Spriggins?" tions which were attached to the work I should The individual so addressed, and who wore else have valued for its own sake, were greatly spectacles, was absorbed in Mr. Candy's lastopposed to that failing of pride which had be published volume of sermons: he uttered some come strangely and wonderfully developed in response, in a thin, querulous voice. The lady my new sphere of existence. Humility was went on : “Of course you have heard that I am easy enough to the unloved daughter of Mr. I no longer Miss Jukes, but Mrs. Theophilus De Trevor Castlebrook, but the pride of the Prince Spriggins ? Oh yes, it's a genuine factsensitive teacher rebelled hourly and daily. I this gentleman is my better half !” had many petty trials to undergo, such as If he were so, he decidedly did himself inappertain indeed, to every woman who dares justice by his looks, wbich proclaimed him not venture forth single-handed in that great battle-l only his lady's inferior in size, but also in age field the world, and who must perforce engage by a good dozen years—not that I presume to in some of its strifes. Well for those who can infer that Mrs. Theophilus was stout, but there don the armour of gentleness and patience, that was a certain lanky amplitude, a large, though has been well assayed in the fiery furnace; but bony development of person, which obscured I was still very young, of a hasty temperament, her insignificant partner's appearance, quite as and possessed of a nature too impulsive to be much as if she had been obese. very prudent. When, therefore, I was some- I congratulated the late Miss Jukes, as evi. times regarded scornfully by vulgar young la dently I was expected to do, on her change of dies, or domineered over by their mammas, I condition. Luckily she was so busy in talking was extremely apt to express my contempt, not about her own fortunes, that she forgot to inin words, but in a mode significant enough, quire about mine. In her own delightful mode even for the perception of common-place and of expression, she told me she had given up arrogant minds, I became suspiciously suscep-conducting the education of young females; that tible about my dignity, and even fancied good Theophilus P. Spriggins was the editor of a Mrg. Candy made a distinction between thriving New York journal, under the resonant Miss Castlebrook and Malle. Montafauconi. I title of " The Consolidated American Ladies' wronged the kind-hearted but fidgetty lady; Emporium!"and that Mrs. Spriggins assisted the she had her own troubles, and keeping a “se- learned Theophilus in his editorial labours. They lect” school, with the expenses inevitable to visited, she informed me, in the first circles of gentility, was not among the least of them. New York, and she was just giving me an in

I was teaching at her house oneafternoon, when I vitation to the United States, as it would seem,


to take tea in a friendly way, when Mrs. Candy | ing in tearing off my encumbrances, I found entered, and presently, to my great satisfaction, my preserver was joined by new aid, and that removed her guests to her family sitting-room. Mr. Quaintly's villains had jumped into their

My lessons having been thus delayed, it was own equipage and were driving off. nearly dusk when I left the school to return “Of trophies that are valuable I have two home. Mary Thornmead accompanied me to obtained,” cried Mr. Quaintly, waving white the door, and said she had hoped Russell would handkerchiefs triumphantly above his head. have called that afternoon, “And then, dear. By this time I became aware that the person Miss Isabella," said the little girl, "he could who supported me-for, by reason of a not have seen you home.” Feeling quite as well unnatural tremor and agitation, I needed suppleased that the young manufacturer was ab- 1 port-was also known to me. It was, indeed, sent, I asked, as I stooped to kiss the child, Mr. Thornmead, who personally seemed much how it was that her brother did not return home. more agitated than even the occasion warranted. She shook her head in the vague manner He seized one of the handkerchiefs, and by the children sometimes have, and said she believed light of the dismal oil-lamp examined it. he had business in London which would keep “I thought 80," he exclaimed “cursed, him some time.

thrice-cursed villain! is he always thus to cross "Of which you are very glad, Mary?” said I. my path ?”

“Oh yes, indeed. Russell is so good, and “Of ciphers that are royal,” observed Mr. London is so dull—that is, school. Russell Quaintly, “this appears to be one." says I must try to grow up just like you."

And it was not merely appearance. “G. P.« Better, Mary, I trust."

was interwoven in a very unmistakable manner. “Oh no; but I mean pretty and clever; and My surmise had been correct, and the Regent my brother says you are so pretty you must be was even personally concerned in this disgraee

ful business. I turned to Mr. Quaintly, and, "A man's reasoning," was my mental reflec- thanking him for his interference, I begged he tion.“ Very good, Mr. Philosopher !" But I would go home with me, and explain to Mr. only told Mary that she must never praise | Benvolere the accident by wbich I had been people to their faces; and seeing her look disap- delayed. As I said this, an idea seemed sudpointed at such rejection of her innocent offering denly to strike Mr. Quaintly with some asof flattery, I kissed her again, and said I felt tonishment. He put his forefinger on his lip, sure she would be all her brother wished. in his usual oracular manner. “Of mistakes

All these matters delayed time; and though I that are curious this seems one," he said. made haste to get home, it was nearly dark “There was no mistake in the matter," said when I reached the grove, which I have before my junior champion. “Royalty had seen a said led to my home. I observed a carriage simple wayside flower, and desired to place it waiting at one end of this avenue, where few among his own sickly exotics of beautypeople were in the habit of passing; but I faugh!” thought little of the circumstance, until I felt “By a name scarcely common he called myself muffled in a cloak, and became aware you," said pertinacious Mr. Quaintly. «Cas that one or more persons were forcibly drag- tlebrook,' I heard the stout man say, and yours ging me towards the place where the convey- is" ance stood, to the driver of which they shouted “Some mistake, doubtless," in as careless a to "come up!"

manner as I could assume. “But it grows As I struggled, the voice of one of these per- late: Mr. Quaintly, I will not refuse your sons sounded strangely familiar to my ear. arm." Twice in my life I had heard those tones, and the Mr. Quaintly still mused, though we walked individual they belonged to was— the Prince quickly on, Presently he again commenced his Regent! The instant this conviction came, it notes and queries. brought another with it, viz., that I was lost, “But of names remarkable Isabella is one ! unless some special Providence rescued me. 'He called you so." I got my mouth free just as the “illustrious”, “Oh, but that name is common enougb," person named, addressed me as “ beautiful and and with some confusion I saw Mr. Thorninead beloved Miss Castlebrook !” and then with all examining my face, which glowed with con. the power of my lungs I uttered three or four sciousness. loud screams.

“Of coincidences that are odd-" With a coarse oath the principal personage in “Here we are, thank beaven, at home!” this affair desired some one whom he called But within there was confusion; voices ra“ Mac" to stifle my cries, which was done, and pidly speaking, feet running bither and thither. I was just on the point of being lifted into the I was kept waiting till, impatiently, I rang carriage, when I was wrested from my ab- louder at the gate, which in the evening was ductors by a powerful arm, and a form of speech always locked. Our little maid-servant came came on my ears, which I had little thought presently, not in haste though, but sadly, and would ever sound so grateful.

with a face pale as ashes--a face looking “Of villains that are infernal you seem to be ghastly, as the candle she held flared beneath it. the worst !"

She saw my companions. “Oh, Miss, are you There ensued a violent struggle, and succeed-'ill? Stay a moment.”

" What for, Martha ?” don't you see I am | troubling the helpless mourners, needful aid not well ?"

came to perform the last sad duties the living “ Master! Oh, sir, tell Miss Isabella, I_» can pay. Then, as Madame Theresa and I sat

Mr. Thornmead stepped forward; his intelli- ! weeping, and bowed to the awful sanctity of the gence divined at once the fact, which, speechless hour, Russell Thornmead, with quiet unobwith sudden terror, I dared not ask for.

trusiveness, came and sat with us. He was the “Mr. Benvolere is ill ?"

Influence I spoke of, and by him, we were “Yes, sir, but-"

saved the distracting cares which come so inThe truth, spite of her caution, was written opportunely to grief. When Madame Theresa on the girl's face, though her tongue strove to became a little composed, she related her soften the fact. I flew past all restraining brother's seizure. He had complained, after power, and rushed into the house. No light my departure. How well I then remembered was in the usually cheerful sitting room. I ran that, as I left him in the noon, he had called to that which was Benvolere's; it was scarcely me back, and solemnly blessed me for my cares, silent, but on the bed there lay a form I knew and the trials which he said I went forth to bravo too well-senseless, motionless; and some per- for the old man! He had fel: a pain at his sons, all strangers except Madame Theresa, heart, and begged his sister to lead him to his were busied around in sad, but unavailing bed. She had scarcely done so, when he gave offices.

a sigh, and so departed-departed in perfect They told me he had only fainted. I franti- peace: such peace we trusted the good man had cally threw myself beside the couch, and up- now, as passeth all understanding-peace which braided the bystanders with giving no aid, As I only crowns a life of virtue. No priest was in raised the dear, dear form -as I held my hand time to shrive my master in the moment of exto the noble, generous heart, which alone in life tremity; but the hearts of those who loved him bad loved me truly-as I pressed my lips to the had faith in that High Priest who, humbly forehead, eyen then damp with the recent adored and obeyed, is sufficient for the salvation agony, I felt the dread certainty that here was of all his creatures who love him. We felt, a the solemn, irrevocable presence of Death-that life so innocent and blameless could be trusted presenca men call an enemy, but whom to the mercy of his God. reason and reflection tell the soul is rather al Grief is mostly unreserved. Although Ma. messenger of peace--80 should we meet it. dame Theresa knew Mr. Thornmead only

I was no stranger to this visitor: I had seen by name, and from my previous descriptions, my own mother shrouded, and Susan Liscombe she seemed to cling to him as if he had been on her early death-bed-Miss Norman, my re- some new-found son. He was so thoughtful and vered teacher, in her coffin : but this last warn- suggestive, that he was of real value; and ining fell on me even still more heavily. I, who tense sorrow is, perhaps, somewhat selfish, so needed a friend and adviser-I, who even and thinks little of any trouble but its now began to feel the strife of passion, knew own. I fear mine was so. Io the inthat a colder, calmer guidance was needed for discretion of the hour, he learned, indeed, me than my own impulsive feelings and unre- that which, engrossed as I was, I could strained love. “Save me from myself," had yet perceive shocked and amazed him—the fact been my prayer for many, many weeks, when that I was not related by ties of consanguinity self-knowledge told me I was pursuing that to the family. But Russell Thornmead, with tortuous path which leads far from duty, far manners quite remote from the polish of drawfrom peace, farther still from heaven.

ing-rooms, was yet that truest gentlemanThose women who have ever loved unworthy | Nature's own. He had too much delicacy to objects, will know how difficult it is to cease pry into a matter with which he had no business.. loving the sinner, even when we suspect his When he told Madame Theresa of the attack I proneness to sin. I knew of no positive crime, had encountered, and saw her look at me sigor even fault, Lord Tarragon had committed : nificantly, I could perceive that he was susbut I had the innate, solemn, sure conviction picious I had some previous knowledge of the

he deserved no good woman's love, a con- persons who had made it; and this seemed to viction which, whether it be instinct or prevision, create in him more annoyancethan really belonged is so often the mirror which reflects a first pas to the occasion, Poor Madame Theresa, forgetful sion in the female breast.

in her sorrow, and with her sudden confidence In that hour of agony, as these thoughts came in Mr. Thornmead, quite lost sight of his not rushing over my soul, with the strange perti- | being in mine, and, clasping her arms round me, nacity which thoughts, foreign to the calamity said, “I fear, my dearest Miss Castlebrook, your suffered under, so often exercise, I felt, rather abode here has been discovered and betrayed." than perceived, that there was an influence in I could almost have felt anger with the sister of the chamber of death which was quietly as. | my departed friend, when I saw the start with suming a power over all. I was gently, but which her utterance of my name recalled to firmly told that all hope was over-had been, Russell Thornmead's memory, Mr. Quaintly's indeed, for two or three hours; and then I previous remarks: but now anger and every knew not how-I was guided out of the room. I other feeling was swallowed in one master-grief. Doctors had been brought, one after the other, As for Mr. Quaintly himself, he had, I was without avail, and now noiselessly, without afterwards told, left the house directly he heard

[ocr errors]

of bis old friend's demise_left it, too, with one on our behalf, and took out my purse to repay of his idiomatic remarks: “Of deaths unex. bim. pected,” he said, "this has been the inost sud- His usual bluntness came to his aid then.. den for long years encountered !”

“I kept no account," he said, “and such Late that night, Russell Thornmead, who re-trifles are beneath your notice or mine. Miss"fused to leave the cottage while his presence a pause, and fixing his eye on mine-“Misscould contribute to our comfort or consolation, Isabella - well that is your name, I believe-my led Madame Theresa and myself into the cham- father is a rich man, I never knew the want of ber where my dear master, clad in the last gar-money in my life, and I have always been taught ments needed for earth, rested with a heavenly that its true use was to assist those who did. I calm on his face. Sobbing and shuddering we have found that is not a general opinion, but I fell on our knees, beside the still form, knowing hope it is yours; you work for your daily bread, the Inevitable Guest was there, full of unchange- so forgive me. You can hardly be rich, except able awe; and the dread Mystery, never to be in doing your duty: there I believe you are explained till we ourselves resemble the dead, richer than I am." came over us with its shadow, bidding our “Nay, I am sure you wrong yourself. Mr. human grief rest and be still.

Thornmead, you have not asked my confidence, Endurance is yet a greater trial than sudden nor under ordinary circumstances should I grief. There was no rest that night, nothing | proffer it; but minutes sometimes make people but speechless woe. Mr. Thornmead left us better acquainted than years. Last night no at last. Two or three brief hours, had brother could be kinder; to-day, let me tell you converted the acquaintance of yesterday into that, which no one who was not related by blood, the friend to whose presence and counsel two or, better still, kind deeds, would ever hear helpless women clung. My hand at parting from me. You know my name is not Montawas placed in his upasked, and, save for a flush fauconi : Mr. Benvolere was no relative, only a and a slight pressure, it was an acknowledg- dear friend of my childhood — a childhood ment scarcely returned. He asked permission which but for him would have been friendless to come in the morning, which Madame Theresa and well nigh loveless. He held another tie eagerly accorded, and to which I made no op- also, he was the dear friend of a beloved mother. position. My situation now was peculiar, and, Accident led me to him when I sought protecapart from its sorrowful aspect, embarrassing, / tion from a deep wrong : he was then in penury and I clung to the hope that even one so and sickness-1, an idle creature in the scheme young might prove a friend.

of Providence. I have felt grateful that I was of I will pass over the details of that first night use to his declining years : it is the sole thought, of bereavement. The oblivion produced every indeed, that gives me any comfort now; for now and then by exhausted energies, the waking the future, I fear, has little of the hope or starts, which brought renewed grief, with a happiness to which youth naturally looks for keener sting-all such feelings are in the expe- ward. I am the daughter of a gentleman, who rience of those who have suffered : they need no never regarded me as anything but a burden. description.

I have a step-mother, whom no effort of mine Very early next morning Mr. Thornmead re could conciliate. I can never return home unturned. He had taken care to send those who asked, because I left it in wrath. I am called were to arrange the interment, and with the Isabella Castlebrook, and to your honour I leave greatest forethought, had provided for every all that is secret in my existence." exigency. But now I began to feel much I uttered this long explanation much faster uneasiness about pecuniary matters. I took than I can write it. Russell Thornmead listoccasion, when we were alone, to name to him ened gravely and thoughtfully. *expenses which had, I felt assured, been con- “You were not, then, brought up to work tracted on the preceding night—the women, for your living ?” he observed, when I had who professionally attend the dead; the under-| finished. takers, who require security before they will “ No; I was a purposeless being, viewed only build the last, narrow house-Oh grief! Oh as a slave to expediency, or to be got rid of as human needs! I roused myself sufficiently for soon as possible.” inquiry. I knew it would be selfish and in- ! “Got rid of ?" considerate to burthen a stranger with the con- “Yes, by an ill-assorted marriage. I was sequences of our loss. How much money was commanded to marry one to whom my heart in the house I knew not. We had lived simply, could never have been attached. How much and my income had been paid pretty regularly. better is work, with independence-even work I had only retained sufficient to dress plainly, not quite congenial-than uncongenial wedyet in good style; but now, amidst my anguish lock !” for the dead, anxiety began to intrude, specu- “Young, indeed, for a sacrifice. Yourlating about the future of the living.

your heart was your own to give ?" I had some money in my purse, which I had I coloured. The answer did not come received for private lessons on the previous day; readily. I therefore insisted on Mr. Thornmead giving “Miss Castlebrook, forgive me: I felt I was me the sum total of the monies he had expended far removed from you before, but now I hear it is in station also. I am the grandson of a rag- I looked at me so significantly that I was forced to dealer, you the daughter possibly of an an- turnaway lest my embarrassment should confirm cient line. That all men are equal is-psha!-a that worthy lady in a mistake which I perceived vain dream, the fancy of a poet's brain.”

she had taken up, and would be loath to part “He who lies there," I said, pointing to the with. chamber of the Silent Presence, that filled the “Ah, my dear," she said, at parting, “genpoor cottage, “can tell now, if such dreams are tility is a duty, but it is a sad trial at times. vain, or such fancies idle. If I ever showed Mary Thornmead's bills are always paid directly symptoms of a pride, baser than any base-born they are sent in, and no extras grumbled at. í human creature, forgive me. It is levelled now wish I could say as much of some young ladies' in the dust, to which we must all return." accounts, whose birth and connexions are very

I bowed my head, and my hand-that hand much superior to the Manchester family. Howonce 80 unwilling-was taken again, not now ever, you know the rag-ancestor was two genethough with theardentimpulse that before offended rations back. Why there might even be a title me. I felt humbled and abashed in this man's some day-money can do such things.” presence, as one who recognizes the power of a) I hoped Mr. Thornmead might rise in the sosuperior nature, to which her own spirit bows. / cial scale, if he wished it; but I did not think I had never thus recognized moral force in he cared for titles. Vincent Tarragon.

“No, my dear; but if he married into a Oh! If he had been like Russell Thornmead good family, it would be an advantage. If he had been the true friend, aiding and help Good bye. Mary desired her best love. ing with all his might, yet silent! Vain dream! | How fond that child is of you! Quite

There was yet another thought recurring ever sisterly in affection, I protest. Well, no, and again with terrible force-Who betrayed to thank you, Madame Montafauconi. I had the Regent and his vile pander my abode? rather not see poor Mr. Benvolere. My nerves, Who, indeed, knew it, save one ?

goodness knows, are tried enough, one way or other. I wish sometimes I was only a poor

teacher again; but, there-one must make sacriCHAP. VIII.

fices in this world, and keeping school as the

wife of a clergyman is, you know, one of the How drearily the next five days passed, when, most genteel things in the world.” the first acute anguish of bereavement ex- She kissed me, shook hands kindly with my hausted, the heart yet preyed on the companion, and departed in the fly, in which to tortured mind! Mr. Thoromead called drive about was—she thought, dear lady-the every day, but no further confidential con | very acmé of gentility. versation passed. He wrote notes, in my name, Then came the solemn task of committing to the schools and families in which I taught, our dead into the hosom of the earth. It was, to inform them of my inevitable absence from of course, a rite performed in Benvolere's own my duties-duties wbich benceforth would lack communion, and, with some of my dear master's the motive power that had hitherto enabled old acquaintances, and Russell Thornmead for me to conquer the difficulties accompanying mourners, he was placed in his last rest, with them. As I looked on Madame Theresa, who, every form of respect. undemonstrative in her grief, had yet grown | When we had returned home (for women folfeeble and more aged in a few days, I thought lowed funerals at that tinie), and the guests, of life passing away, and ending in a dull suc- after some slight refreshment, had left us with our cession of irksome routine.

saddened memories, Russell Thornmead begged Mrs. Candy called one day. She was very permission to remain with us for half-an-hour; kind, but had little sympathy with my acute grief the tea had been brought in, and I was not really at the loss of Mr. Benyolere. She came, how- sorry to have an opportunity of conversing with ever, to make a proposal which considerably him. Madame Theresa made our tea, and, with alleviated one part of my anxiety. She was tender regret, we spoke of him whose presence acquainted with a Catholic lady, elderly and had so lately cheered our every meal. A rich, who needed a companion to superintend carriage was heard to stop at the gate. A loud her household, and chat with her. Mrs. Candy's peal sas rung. The little maid, Martha, in her motive for her visit was twofold- to offer con- new mourning and weepers, ran out to open it. solation and to ascertain if the situation would There was a bustle; heavy footsteps came up suit Madame Montafauconi. Theresa eagerly the gravelled walk; the parlour-door was vioexpressed her willingness to go. The salary lently thrown open, and-Mr. Castlebrook stood was small, but the duties would suit her, “And, before us! my dear child, I shall no longer be a burden to Two of our little party rose up. As for myyou, which indeed has been a terrible thought." | self, I covered my face with my hands, as one

I kissed her, and begged she would not take on whom a terrible sight had fallen. If I had that into consideration; but she seemed quite tried to shut out the fact of my father's arrival, happy in the prospect, and thanked Mrs. Candy he himself soon confirmed it, by the harsh over and over again. On hearing of Mr. Thorn- | tones of a voice which, even in its mildest mead's great friendship and services in our accents, had always inspired me with dread. fiction, Mrs. Candy quite brightened up, and At present it assumed the form of sarcastic anger,

« PreviousContinue »